Get outside / Health and Wellness

Five Alternatives to the Gym in Vancouver

By Geoffrey Scoates

Yes, the gyms are open in Vancouver and we are SO relieved for that, but there are still so many outdoor options that get you fit in this beautiful city of ours. If you’re seeking alternatives to the gym, then you’ve come to the right place, because we’ve got the top 5 ways to get fit in Vancouver:

  • Run Clubs
  • Fitness Apps Free Trials
  • Outdoor Exercise Parks
  • Snow Sports
  • Walking Routes

Let’s dive in.

Vancouver Run Clubs

Social Run Club YVR, image from website

A great way to keep moving is running, but in the winter and cold it’s hard to get out, so having a group of regular runners to jog with can make all the difference, plus running in wintery slush can create bonding moments, right?

I’m the founder of the Social Run Club YVR (SRC). Our goal is to create a space that people can meet up to move, connect and have fun. Our runs are less than 30 mins and range from 3-5K. It’s a perfect way to start your regular run habit and meet some great people. We also do a bunch of fun runs like Brewery Run Series, Run Scavenger Hunts, Adult Sports Day and more.

But if you’re looking for some other run clubs closer to home or to train for that first marathon, here are a couple of others:

We know it can be tough to join a new group of people, so check them out on instagram and see if it’s your jam and also read: 14 Easy Tips for Your First Social Run

Fitness Apps

Fitness apps are fighting for market share right now, which means that the consumer always wins (That’s you! Hurray!). While many of them are fitness at home related, a number of these apps encourage you to get outside and motivate you through rewards and activities. Here are the ones I’ve taken note of recently:

  • REI’s Trail Run Project app provides a guide to the best outdoor running trails in your area. Use it to find loops, images of trails and elevation guide. Best of all it’s completely free.
  • Lululemon just released MIRROR – it’s a full length mirror that has your instructor and stats displayed on it. You currently get a 30 day risk free trial of the mirror equipment.

Outdoor Exercise Parks

Douglas Park has parallel bars, chin-up bars and hurdles. Photo: The Unconventional Route

Maybe you didn’t know this, but there are some great workout spots in Vancouver that you can use for free. Although it is BYO hand sanitizer, it’s a small price to pay for getting out there. 

Not all spots have the same equipment, but it’s a great way to get out and move. We couldn’t pindrop the exact location in the parks, so have to explore and adventure to find them*.

Snow Sports

Vancouver outdoor winter sports
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The thing about Vancouver is that you can do winter sports all the way until May or even June, as long as you know where to find it. Here are some of the great snow sports to do around Vancouver:

  • Snowshoeing – Check out our articles on snowshoeing in Vancouver
  • Snowshoe Running – This is the new rage for run cross-training in the winter, luckily in Vancouver we can run most of the year. But for those of you looking for a little more of a challenge, here is snow shoe running expert, Derrick Spafford, talking about his tips with Canada Running Magazine.
  • Skiing/snowboarding – Head up to one of the local mountains (Cypress, Seymour or Grouse) or make a trip up to Whistler Blackcomb.
  • Cross Country Skiing – Cross Country skiing can give you more of a cardio workout. Cypress and Whistler have trails. You can also head out to Manning Park, Garibaldi Park in Squamish or Nairn Falls in Pemberton.**

Walking Routes

Coal Harbour Sea Wall, from

Yep, we went there. In Vancouver, we have a ton of great, accessible trails that you can get out and enjoy nature.

Or check out the City of Vancouver’s Walking Routes and Maps or the Biennale Vancouver Art Tours.


There are a ton of great ways to get out and move without relying on the gym or classes. It’s important to move and diversify your activity to keep your body supple, especially as more and more people are working from home.

You can try out different run clubs to see which one is your vibe and caters to your training goals. There are fitness apps that help you workout out from home and get that intense workout you got at class. There is outdoor fitness equipment at local parks. We are fortunate to have a range of places to enjoy winter snow sports like snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing. You can even create a walking routine that keeps you in shape by following basic cardio principles.

Whatever your choice is, it’s important for mental and physical health to keep getting out and moving. I often say to my run club members, any movement is going to burn more calories than sitting on the couch. 


*7 out fitness areas you can get your sweat on in Vancouver

**10 of the Best Cross-Country Ski Trails and Areas Near Vancouver

***A Physique Coach Explains How Walking Helps Him Get Shredded. 

Geoffrey Scoates is the founder of Social Run Club YVR. Learn more about Geoffrey in our Vancouverite You Need To Know series

No Comments

    Leave a Reply