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Arboretum Hill Club. Photo: Stephen Bierbrier

Weekly community fitness events to get you through the fall

By Stephen Bierbrier on September 24, 2018

Summer was amazing, right?! Community yoga, community meditation, community workouts, community runs. They were everywhere: Parliament Hill, the University of Ottawa, City Hall, Ottawa Art Gallery, TD Place, Gatineau Park… you could be blissed and sweated out every single day from June to August and your credit card never took a hit.

It’s September, you say? It’s all gone, you say? What are you going to do now that you are back to school and the bank account is already a little thin?

We got you.

Run clubs, trail runs, workouts, hills, meditation, and more. Here are 12 free weekly wellness activities in Ottawa this fall that will set you up for—gasp—winter. All are welcome regardless of whether you are a first timer or a seasoned pro.


Mondays

Happiness on the Hill Meditation

Where: Parliament Hill

When: 12pm on Mondays

What: Started this spring as an idea from Catherine Hull, there is now only one more meditation practice in September (Sept. 24). Meditation grounds all humans and provides the roots needed to be able to breathe effortlessly. If you have never participated in a meditation session, here’s your chance.

Factoid: The 2nd annual Mass Meditation Experience will took place on Friday, September 21, 2018 on Parliament Hill.

Facebook: Happiness on The Hill


Tuesdays

Natural Fitness Lab Trail Run Club

Where: Usually Gatineau Park. Check their website or their Tri Rudy page for locations.

When: 6:25pm on Tuesdays

What: You can’t miss a Natural Fitness Lab member on the trails because they have the extremely cool looking black-grey-red signature clothing. Dave McMahon and Lise Meloche have created a centre of excellence for the outdoor athlete. This is not a first timer trail running club, though all are welcome.

Factoid: Former winter Olympic athletes probably know a thing or 2 about how to get the maximum performance out of you, right?

Facebook: Natural Fitness Lab Club


Ottawa City Run Club

Where: Dundonald Park (corner of Somerset & Lyon)

When: 7:30pm on Tuesdays

What: Recently celebrating its 3rd birthday, OCRC founder Kayla Nettleton created a run club that she would want to join: a little running, a lot of socializing, and a whole lot of fun. This evening run club in Centretown brings out the best in Ottawa’s running community (and even their fast canines). Usual runs are between 6k to 12k and incorporate the beautiful Rideau Canal or Ottawa River pathways. Pace is usually between 4:15-7:00/km, but you can go at your own pace and you don’t have to do the whole circuit that is posted weekly on their Instagram story. Just make sure you return to Dundonald Park for some smiles and a pic. Depending on the vibe, the crew has been known to extend the social time to a bar or restaurant to discuss the latest gear, the weirdest races, and whatnot.

Factoid: OCRC participants have now put together teams in 2 Ragnar relays in Ontario and Massachusetts.

Facebook: OTT City Run Club


Wednesdays

November Project Ottawa

Where: Currently at TD Place (Lansdowne Park – 1015 Bank Street). Meet outside Eastern end zone near the Lansdowne hill. November Project Ottawa “moves” around (Parliament Hill, Supreme Court of Canada) so track their weekly location on social media.

When: 6:30am on Wednesdays

What: Rise and shine! This year-round outdoor workout (rain, shine, snow, sleet, hail – they’ve seen it all. They even have a weather hashtag #weatherproof) could be the 31 minutes when you receive the most high fives, hugs and smiles all week.

Co-leaders Lauren Carter and Elizabeth Mackenzie bring a fresh workout each week to the 613. After spending a good chunk of time working out in front of the Parliament buildings, NP stormed the stadium (TD Place) in April 2018 with stairs workouts. On PR (Personal Record) Days, participants get to see how far they’ve advanced fitness-wise with a hills or stairs workout that has been known to cause “jelly legs”. It’s a workout for every fitness level that is fun and involves the famous November Project “bounce” to kick off the weekly festivities. Is there a maximum number of people who can attend this workout? Absolutely not. This is for the community by the community. If you show up once, it’s guaranteed that you’ll want to be back.

Factoid: Ottawa became the 37th November Project chapter (“tribe”) in April 2018. There are now 49 November Project locations on earth working out every Wednesday before 6:30am.

Facebook: November Project Ottawa


Meditation at City Hall

Where: Ottawa City Hall (Councillor’s lounge, 2nd floor)

When: 12pm on Wednesdays

What: We do so much to take care of our body, but do we apply the same attention to our minds? Every Wednesday in September (and maybe beyond), enjoy a fulfilling does of guided meditation, helping you to achieve increased levels of stillness, peace, clarity, and most of all happiness.

Factoid: A regular meditation practice can reduce stress and anxiety.

Facebook: Meditation Class at City Hall Weekly


Running Room

Where: Multiple locations in Ottawa: 160 Slater Street (downtown), 901 Bank Street (The Glebe), 418 Richmond Road (Westboro), 1518 Merivale Road, and 260 Centrum Boulevard (Orleans). Check their website for more details.

When: 6pm on Wednesdays

What: The Running Room is an icon in Ottawa’s active living landscape. Since founder John Stanton went looking for a decent pair of running shoes in 1984, you can always spot the Running Room tribes walking and running as a group with their pace leaders.

Factoid: In addition to the free Wednesday and Sunday run sessions, as a member of the Running Room Club, you have access to customized training data online.

Facebook: Running Room Ottawa


Thursday

Run YOW (Run Ottawa)

Where: Starting point moves around. Check their IG feed.

When: Thursday evenings

What: Run Ottawa’s link to Ottawa Race Weekend is second to none. They believe in grassroots running and provide opportunities for first timers to try out life in the fast lane. Sunday runs vary based on pace and distance chosen.

Factoid: Free Saturday 1k and 5k run sponsored by Sports4 takes place at Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum monthly (check website for details and registration).

Facebook: Run Ottawa


Friday

Arboretum Hill Club

Where: Established in July 2018, this new fitness kid on the block has taken off at the Dominion Arboretum.

When: 6:30am on Fridays

What: This is another year-round outdoor workout which guarantees some hill work. Founding AHC member Jamie Voltz said on a whim “who wants to run the hill with me on Friday?” and the response was overwhelming. Expect a beautiful sunrise from the summit overlooking Dow’s Lake and also expect a high degree of sweat and smiles throughout the workout. Dress appropriately, including maybe bringing a change of footwear and a towel. Current post-workout java takes place at Morning Owl at 538 Rochester Street. The AHC also held their inaugural sunset 6k run for all on September 3rd.

Factoid: Canines are welcome. Hills yeah!

Facebook: Arboretum Hill Club


Saturday

Somerset Runners

Where: Bridgehead Coffeehouse (corner of Somerset & Maclaren)

When: 8am on Saturdays

What: Somerset Runners founder Dr. Kathy Van Zeyl liked the idea that the weekend could be kicked off with a run followed by java (#runtojava). Usual runs are between 6k and 10k and may involve the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal pathways. You set your own pace, but it’s usually between 5-7 min/km. An effort is made to stick together and there are always 2 designated pit stops to gather the troops together: nobody gets left behind! There is no lack of caffeine to fuel these fun-loving runners.

Factoid: Dr. Kathy is a Naturopathic Doctor with a special interest in sports medicine, pain management and performance nutrition. She also has a great smile.

Facebook: Somerset Runners


Bushtukah Trail Run Club

Where: Various trail locations in Ottawa and Gatineau. Check their Facebook page.

When: 8:30am on Saturdays

What: One of the best groups for new trail runners. The trails chosen by Kate and Therese are relatively easy to work with and no experience necessary. Maps are provided. Usually at least 2 trail distances offered. Lots of happy faces throughout the run.
Interesting Factoid: Homemade java and snacks are a staple of this trail running crew post run.

Facebook: Bushtukah Trail Running


Sundays

Running Room

Where: Multiple locations in Ottawa: 160 Slater Street (downtown), 901 Bank Street (The Glebe), 418 Richmond Road (Westboro), 1518 Merivale Road, and 260 Centrum Boulevard (Orleans). Check their website for more details.

When: 8:30am on Sundays

What: The Running Room is an icon in Ottawa’s active living landscape. Since founder John Stanton went looking for a decent pair of running shoes in 1984, you can always spot the Running Room tribes walking and running as a group with their pace leaders.

Factoid: In addition to the free Wednesday and Sunday run sessions, as a member of the Running Room Club, you have access to customized training data online.

Facebook: Running Room Ottawa


Lansdowne Stadium Workout

Where: Goodlife Lansdowne lobby (900 Exhibition Way, Unit 110)

When: 8am on Sundays

What: This is SW’s 4th season and it has increased in its popularity exponentially this summer.. It’s an all levels workout that incorporates stairs, ramps, and Lansdowne Park as a whole. It will challenge you for 60 minutes. If that’s not enough of a carrot, multiple java options and bagels await you in the Glebe right after the workout. Goodlife coaches Tracy Glennon, Nicholas Glennon, Andrea Peel Laporte, Kimberly Duff and Lisa Southall volunteer their time to bring the free fitness movement to TD Place and the Lansdowne lawn.

Factoid: Free underground parking at Lansdowne since GoodLife will validate your SW time.

Facebook: Lansdowne Stadium Workout


MEC Trail Run Club

Where: Various trail locations. Check MEC Ottawa trail running Facebook page.

When: 8:30am on Sundays

What: You know all about Mountain Equipment Co-Op gear, but this is the opportunity to blaze some trails with the MEC Ottawa crew. Most of the fun stuff takes place in Gatineau Park. Katheryn Cochrane and her team have mountains of trail running knowledge and within no time will have you anticipating your next steps on the trails.

Factoid: MEC Ottawa now has 4 trail running races. The final race take place on Sunday, September 30 (6k, 15k) Mont-Ste-Marie. Tickets still available.

Facebook: MEC Ottawa Run Crew


About the author: Stephen Bierbrier (@bytownboy) takes his Ottawa community fitness very seriously… even before there was a name to call it. As a wellness enthusiast, Stephen believes that every Canadian should have the tools to improve their daily fitness, nutritional and self-care requirements. You can usually find Stephen cycling, running, leading a hike, meditating in silence, posing in downward dog or rallying the Ottawa fitness community. When Stephen is not on the fitness clock, he’s being a rockstar dad to his three kids and he’s a legal beagle for Justice Canada.