SF gym for the anti-gymbot
March 17, 2011 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Workouts for the anti-workout set. San Francisco specific ideas especially.

My friend is pretty down lately, and interested in trying exercise as a strategy, but is very put off by the idea of joining a gym. Today she described gyms as a place for anorexics to find hook ups.

I promised to send her a list of suggestions that might work for her. I'm imagining SF specific gyms that are welcoming to people of all sizes and abilities. Alternately, I can suggest styles of workouts or classes that are a) really fun and addictive so she'll be motivated to get into it and stay into it and b) might work for someone who hasn't done a lot of structured exercise before, and is also not looking to turn into a hardbody.
posted by serazin to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, from what people have told me of the local topography, walking is actually pretty intense out there. Or ride a bike (with gears and brakes, please) if she wants to take it one step up.
posted by d. z. wang at 4:14 PM on March 17, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, she actually walks a lot, but in my experience really vigorous aerobic exercise helps me more with mental health issues than even hilly walking.
posted by serazin at 4:17 PM on March 17, 2011

As a Saturday morning activity, I love to run along the Embarcadero and end at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market (she could also walk or bike). I get breakfast, and then buy fresh fruits and vegetables for the week. She could take BART there, and do an out-and-back from the Ferry Building. There's also one parking garage around there that charges $6 for 4 hours on Saturday mornings (couldn't tell you the exact intersection, but it's near the big sculpture of a bow and arrow). It's exercise, but also a nice weekend ritual.
posted by pompelmo at 4:19 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

She might check out the gym at UCSF/Mission Bay. There's a short waiting list for community members right now (though there isn't for the "Express" membership type with reduced access hours). The clientele there runs the gamut. There are a lot of students and faculty but it's definitely not a singles scene or all that image-focused. I see all body types and ages there from little kids in swim lessons to retirees. The trainers there are pretty eclectic, too.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:24 PM on March 17, 2011

individual biking is fun. either in the city to destinations (farmers market, golden gate bridge, the cliff house). or take a drive and bike around marin, watch the sunset, could be lovely for your friend, or a group.

random other ideas: sf critical mass is a fun, community drive bike ride that takes place each month - could be a fun start to riding with folks and a good way to meet bike riding buddies (ignoring the naked folks, if that's not her thing) - next one is the 25th.

an offshoot of that is the aids lifecycle ride. it's a ride from sf to la june 5-11 this year. it's NOT competitive and although you have your lance armstrongs in the group, lots of folks of all sizes and abilities take part in it. the best part for me when i did it a few years ago were the weekend training rides, which were not competitive, built on each other and were fun. plus the $ went to a good cause.

a bunch of my friends play soccer and did other community league sports and made good friends through that, lifted their spirits. that's another option.

(using the past tense because i moved away over a year ago).
posted by anya32 at 4:24 PM on March 17, 2011

I started running lately and it is great. It's like walking except better - you get the benefits of being outside and seeing your neighborhood, but you get to see even more of it, and you get the benefits of exercise. And best of all, no gym. As someone who gets turned off by gyms, I doubt you could recommend one I would like more than running outside, even in the cold and rain. I know it's cliche but recommend the couch to 5K -- it got me going and I am thrilled by it.

Alternatively, one way you might lure me into a gym is an organized team sport like indoor soccer or dodgeball or something like that. Does she have any sports she enjoys?
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:34 PM on March 17, 2011

What about hooping? There's a pretty active hooping community in SF; check out Bay Area Hoopers or Hooping.org for events near you.
posted by mogget at 4:43 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really love and have had great success with Alavie Boot Camp (they have morning classes in Golden Gate Park).

Good things:
1) Working out first thing in the morning outdoors means you start your day doing something you feel positive about. (It's not as cold as it seems, I swear.)
2) The camps can be modified for many fitness levels.
3) The Golden Gate head coach, Jen, is awesome and funny.
4) You never have to plan your workout. You just show up and they tell you what to do. (Good if you feel intimidated by coming up with a workout strategy.)

Bad things:
1) Expensive. (But for me, this was a huge motivator: If I paid for a class, I was going no matter what because I didn't want to lose my money.)
2) Happens in the morning. The classes are at 6 or 7 a.m. Or 9:15 if, I guess, you don't have an office job. As not-a-morning person, it's an obstacle that can be overcome, but if you're doubtful about being able to go to bed early and wake up early, it's tough.
posted by purpleclover at 5:16 PM on March 17, 2011

Dance classes. Fun and you meet new people. I've taken ballet, hiphop, cheerleading, burlesque, bhangra, hooping, hula, etc. All awesome and don't feel like working out (which I also hate).
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:22 PM on March 17, 2011

Well, what does she like? Going out dancing? Mountain biking in Marin? Kayaking? Road biking? Yoga? Many activities that she finds enjoyable and/or uplifting could be modified to be more exercise-oriented. (Like painting? Well, go paint from a perch on the rocks at Lands End. Bike to the Marin Headlands with your watercolor set.) Another option are streaming exercise classes on Netflix, which can be done in the wonderful privacy of one's own home at any hour.
posted by salvia at 7:11 PM on March 17, 2011

Looks like there's a few indoor rock climbing type gyms in SF. It's a good workout and when you finally get to the top, you feel like you accomplished something.
posted by novalis_dt at 7:22 PM on March 17, 2011

The Lyon Street Steps in Pacific Heights go three blocks up a steep hill, with a gorgeous view of the Bay at the top. Here's a VR panorama (the house on the right was where Sharon Stone's character lived in Basic Instinct).
posted by kirkaracha at 7:21 AM on March 18, 2011

What about Parkour?

In SF there have to be regular meet-ups. I'm in TX and going to my first one Sat (taking my 4yo too). I'm no Ninja Warrior (at all) but I've been doing C25K (week 5) and am really looking fwd to trying something new. And as far as fun and addicting...yeah I think this would be it! It's for all ages and skill levels (don't get it confused with free running).
posted by doorsfan at 7:26 AM on March 18, 2011

CCSF has a gym that you can use if you take gym class--I think it tops out at $60 for a semester of access. You get college credit as a bonus!

From what I hear the gym is very much used by women and not so much by beefy dudes or exercise fanatics of any kind.
posted by blandcamp at 9:29 AM on March 18, 2011

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