Downtown Evanston Urban Athlete Class. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Planks, weight lifting, yoga, Zumba and yard games – Evanston residents are getting fit outside with help from local businesses. 

Over the summer months, Evanstonians can enjoy free outdoor fitness classes sponsored by Downtown Evanston, Central Street Evanston and the McGaw YMCA. Wellness Wednesdays, Get Fit Fridays, and the weekly YMCA group fitness classes all encourage residents to get outside and move their bodies.

Downtown Evanston Urban Athlete Class. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Attendees met at Fountain Square Friday morning for Get Fit Fridays with Urban Athlete for a combination of cardio drills and strength circuits.

Ellie Peterson (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Ellie Peterson, a rising sophomore at Northwestern University, said this was her first time attending an outdoor fitness class hosted by the City.

“I haven’t really been doing much; this is a good way to get back into exercise in the summer,” she said. “I need the motivation of a class.”

Laura Brown, marketing and events manager of Downtown Evanston, plans the summer outdoor fitness classes. She reaches out to fitness studios to gauge interest and then organizes and promotes the events.

This is the third year the City has offered summer outdoor fitness classes. Last summer, classes were canceled due to COVID-19 and because of competition from many studios offering their own membership-based classes.

“It’s great to see people come out and try something new while promoting being healthy and getting people outside, especially after the pandemic,” Ms. Brown said.

YMCA Class. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Alyson Mann, health and fitness manager at the McGaw YMCA, taught the Friday group fitness class at Burnham Shores Park.

Alyson Mann, health and fitness manager at the McGaw YMCA. Photo by Sam Stroozas.

Each class has a different theme, with Zumba and yoga being the most popular. Ms. Mann said it is a very non-competitive space with a wide range of fitness levels.

“We try to make the classes something that everybody feels comfortable with,” she said.

At the end of the summer, the YMCA will be offering a new group exercise class – HIGH Fitness. The class can be low or high impact and is similar to Zumba but less choreographed.

Each YMCA class is offered on Fridays with alternating times to best accommodate a variety of Evanston residents. To sign up for YMCA classes, click here. For Get Fit Friday classes, here and Wellness Wednesday, here.

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Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at and...

One reply on “Free Outdoor Fitness Classes Encourage Residents to Exercise”

  1. I just want to call out that while we were just rated as a top City we have many problems going on and I think that they need to be tracked on a spreadsheet. Flying over these issues this is what I see from a bird’s-eye viewpoint:
    1. Dark money that got into our aldermanic campaign including an Alderman’s mortgage getting paid off by someone who is it in on a city committee and also working with the TIF Developers- and there is a public document which shows this
    2. A federal lawsuit against one of our school districts involving a teacher- I am only stating what I know I am not judging this. I am not up on all the facts
    3. TIF gentrification project in the 5th Ward which will mean residents allowing Developers using money from the city coffers and getting tax-free money for 20 to 30 years. Taxes will go up that’s how it works and it is a bad financial product according to Paul Vallas and Tom Tresser.
    4. Lifeguard sexual harassment of at least 56 women, and are there others too- non female who have not come forward? I say this because this is just the known knowns not the unknowns
    5. Reparation embarrassment after we have made BBC international news committing to moving forward on this
    6. Time limit on residents talking at City Council meetings and yet staff can talk as long as they like and refute every point. Also Alderman get to go several rounds without letting residents speak. It is not a dialectic it is a one-sided talk to a piece of paper and Tom Sufferdin and suggested that residents get their comments reviewed later and responded with a piece of paper. This is like talking to someone via email or text. It is saying basically talk to the hand or I want to limit my interaction with you or can seem that way if that is the main method for communication. Limiting free speech and controlling the populace is not Democratic and not what I thought Evanston was but this is what’s happening on the ground because I’m on the ground in the mix listening to individuals that have a blend of emotional intelligence as well as intellectual prowess P. People like, Elliott Zachen, thoughtful, and a mensch who puts the information at people’s feet and allows them to make their own conclusions. I’ve learned a lot from you Elliott in the few interactions I’ve had with you.

    So, what I am asking of the mayor and the council is to seriously look at all the Evanston issues and see how there are more stacking up and to look at what triage will look like in this situation. Further I recommend two books that need to be addressed and maybe Community reads to be able to talk to each other in a way that doesn’t make someone’s amygdala go off. The first is “Difficult Conversations” by the Harvard Negotiation Project people and is crucial because it talks about the three types of conversations going on in any conversation including what’s happening or what happened and the feelings conversation, the other piece to it is what are we thinking about ourselves and each other at the same time. And this goes on in any and almost every conversation. This is crucial because when you see someone acting in an emotional way with something that seems benign if you don’t understand this book it will be a mess. This is the time to use a blend of your head and your heart and be like a word surgeon using human kindness. The other book is dr. Bruce Perry’s book ” What Happened to You?” And is about looking at people through the lens of that they have been through trauma in their life I have dealt with difficult things. He titled with this way because rather than making the other person wrong or shaming a victim being curious and kind and asking in a soft tone of voice what happened to you, showing your there and being there in a steady, way and unflichinglingly for the long haul ( but also taking account of your own emotional needs so you don’t overload your what’s called subjective units of distress or suds is what it is called in psychological circles or therapy terms). Until we can talk about Community issues like this things are going to be messed up. It’s across-the-board though and applies to all of life in all your relationships if you want a life that works

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