The amazing Phoenix weather nearly year-round means residents have their choice when it comes to finding free places to workout.

Participating in an organized activity or event is one great, free way to connect with other fitness-minded people while enjoying the boost of motivation that comes from working out in a group.

If organized events aren’t your thing, never fear because the choices don’t end there. There are so many ways to get your sweat on around the Phoenix Valley that your fitness routine will always be fresh and invigorating.

1. Exercise classes

Join one of the many free expert-led classes taking place around the Valley. These events are typically organized by stores or facilities like hotels, but you’ll never feel pressured to buy anything. It’s just an effort to create community and get people excited about fitness.

Lululemon holds frequent and popular classes at some of its locations. At Biltmore Park, a yoga class takes place each Sunday on the lawn in front of the store. On Tuesdays, enjoy the strength-training class FunFit, and Thursdays, stop by for the Run Club.

At the Chandler mall Lululemon location, practice yoga in store on Sundays. Check the calendar for an occasional Run Club.

Lorna Jane, another fitness clothes store, has a dedicated workout room in select stores, where it holds classes. Find updated schedules on the store’s Facebook pages: there’s one in Gilbert at San Tan Village and in Phoenix at Biltmore Park.

2. Phoenix meetups

You’ll find a range of free or low-cost fitness activities on Meetup.com, along with a great group of new workout buddies to make it fun. Join AZ Sweat Saturdays in Mesa, Scottsdale Horizons Running Group, or maybe Gilbert Free Group Fitness Workout.

You’ll find hundreds more groups for every type of activity in every part of the Valley. Some groups focus only on women or specific age groups, like seniors or 35 to 45, while still other groups focus on couples or singles. No matter what type of workout companions you seek, they’re out there.

The great thing about Meetup is that it allows you to fill your social calendar with as many fitness dates as you want because you can join multiple groups. The scheduled activities will help you workout in ways you might not have thought of, and when you connect with new people, you’ll have built-in motivation to keep exercising.

3. Riparian Preserve

Gilbert’s Riparian Preserve is a beautiful, 110-acre nature park featuring 70 acres of lakes, plentiful birds and animals, and easy-to-walk trails, all in a spectacularly tranquil environment that feels miles away from the surrounding bustling town.

The lakes are man-made water recharge basins that are part of the town’s water system, and connecting the lakes is an occasional stream with a small waterfall surrounded by stunning trees and a small picnic area. It’s truly a magical place.

Other special features include grassy areas, large trees, and desert landscape, giving walkers the benefit of enjoying multiple types of scenery all from one place. The preserve is large enough for you to enjoy meandering around its trails for however long you wish without ever feeling like you’re just walking in the same old circles.

Walking is wonderful exercise, gentle on the bones while still getting the blood flowing, and spending time in nature only amplifies the benefits.

4. Phoenix hiking trails

The Phoenix Valley’s many hiking trails are free to use, and offer a great workout while providing spectacular, scenic views of the surrounding desert. Here you’ll find a list of pain-friendly hiking trails. Options include everything from beginner, pain-friendly trails in Papago Park to the slightly more challenging Hieroglyphics Trail in Gold Canyon and Mormon Loop Trail in South Mountain.

The hiking options in and around the Valley are nearly endless. Free online databases like Every Trail and Hike Arizona help users sort through the vast possibilities and find the right adventure for them based on length, difficulty, and region.

Many wilderness parks within Maricopa County offer guided hikes and tours like nature viewing excursions. McDowell Mountain Park, for example, offers free fitness hikes along various trails (although it does cost a small fee to enter the area and park), and trips guided by park rangers who talk about the local flora and fauna.

Similarly, Mesa’s Usery Park hosts hikes exploring the vast area’s trails, along with fun events like the Wildlife Safari that guides hikers along a 1.5-mile trail as a park ranger reveals the secret hiding places of animals in winter. Beginner desert hikes are available for those wanting to learn how to hike safely in this one-of-a-kind environment.

5. City parks

Many city parks offer a range of exercise opportunities, ranging from walking paths to stationary strength-building equipment. You’ll also find sand volleyball, basketball courts, and sports fields, all available to use for free.

At Scottsdale’s Chaparral Park, for example, you’ll find a ten-station exercise course, two volleyball courts, a long multi-use path for biking, walking, and running, and even a pool for swimming during the warmer months.

The website City Park Search offers a database of Phoenix parks, where you can search by feature and type in your address to find the closest options. Search options include exercise courses, hiking, swimming, or specific sports facilities like tennis and volleyball.

6. Tennis

Tennis is a fun workout that can be made less arduous by finding partners and playing doubles. Paying to rent a tennis court can be costly, but thankfully many Valley cities maintain ones that are free to use. Cool wintertime temperatures are perfect for working on your game.

In the west Valley, try Goodyear Community Park, which offers four tennis courts along with a pickleball area. In Gilbert, Freestone Park offers multiple tennis courts. The Chandler Tennis Center offers courts for rental at just a few dollars per player for up to an hour-and-a-half.

Scottsdale’s Chesnutt Park offers free, drop-in tennis courts and restroom facilities. In Phoenix, Encanto Park also offers tennis courts, along with a host of other amenities in this large, 222-acre park.

Where are your favorite Phoenix hotspots for a free workout?

Image by Nicki Dugan Pogue via Flickr

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