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Free Workouts: Top Circuit Training Parks in LA

Looking for a free workout? Angelenos know where to go for their free events and attractions—even places for their free music fix and cheap eats. Rev up your workout and head outdoors to the best free circuit training parks, located across the city—from beaches to mountain tops—and get fit without having to open your wallet.

Santa Monica Stairs

Santa Monica

The workout:

Two sets of stairs: wooden = 170 steps; concrete = 199 steps. The wider wooden stairs allow more room to share with (or pass) your fellow climbers. Water is sometimes available at the top for $1 on a grab-and-pay honor system. The concrete steps offer more stability with metal banisters that you’ll need to hoist yourself to the finish at the top where it gets super-steep.

The scene:

Always packed. The twin Santa Monica stairs are mecca for hard bodied and weekend fitness warriors who also jump rope, stretch, jog and power through pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups in between climbing. Be sure to bring whatever you need as there are no facilities. To relieve yourself, you can make a dash (literally) for the restroom along the running path on Ocean Avenue until you hit the boxed, concrete facilities at Idaho.


Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Culver City

The workout:

282 steep, concrete stairs with various hiking trails at the top of the climb and a windy, paved driveway to walk or jog down.

The scene:

On weekends and weekdays after work, the wide stairs are jam-packed with young locals, couples and groups of friends working out together. It’s best to go during the week or midday to avoid the crowds, but be sure to wear a hat since there isn’t too much shade under the blazing sun.


Pan Pacific Park

Fairfax District

The workout:

With a slew of outdoor facilities, your workout routine will never tire or hit a plateau. Runners can hit the paved, ¾ mile path that has enough inclines, declines, and stairs to keep your run interesting. Those looking to keep their feet on flat ground can spread out among one of the many grassy baseball and soccer fields, which are lighted for an evening pick-up game. For aspiring Phelps-in-training, the outdoor— it’s unheated, so the cold-blooded beware—lap pool is open weekends from 1-5pm, weekdays from 11am-2pm and 3-6pm, with a designated hour for adult lap swim from 6-7pm. Children and seniors get in for free and adults pay $2.50.

The scene:

Located in the hub of the city, nestled next to the The Grove, the 28-acre park is where families come to barbecue, runners and dog owners come for a slice of the great outdoors, sunbathers and lovers lie on the grassy knolls. Runners looking for an intense run might look elsewhere. But if you don’t mind dodging dogs, strollers and kids on bicycles (and the occasional bum) There are bathrooms and water fountains on-site with the Grove and a 7-11 store across the street on either sides of the park.


Swings, Rings, Ropes

Santa Monica

The workout:

Parallel bars, uneven bars, rings swings—it’s a playground for grown-ups (and a smaller version for kids) with an unbeatable ocean view.

The scene:

The original Muscle Beach (located on Ocean Front Walk, off Appian Way between Pacific Terrace and Arcadia Terrace) has plenty of regulars, gawking tourists and a healthy crowd of amateurs. On weekends, you’ll see some amazing beach gymnasts and the vibe is friendly—be courteous and don’t hog the ropes, and they’ll offer tips or share handfuls of chalk (you can also usually find chalk left in the sand near the ropes swings).


Clover Park

Santa Monica

The workout:

A 15-station par fitness Miracle Recreation Equipment course, with a rope climb, balance beam, vault bar, horizontal ladder, push up, dip, chin up, stretching stations and more.

The scene:

The equipment here is in great shape and this park is ginormous! There are softball, baseball, Frisbee and soccer fields; tennis and volleyball courts; BBQ pits; several playgrounds; lots of shady pine and eucalyptus trees; and one giant kick-ass rocket tower.


Balboa Park

Van Nuys

The workout:

Start off your routine with a run or walk along the flat trail stretching about two miles around Encino Golf Course (16821 Burbank Blvd)— the wide dirt path halfway through has some sweet views (for the middle of the suburbs) of mountains and a stream. When you reach the east end of the path, there are ten mechanical fitness machines in stellar condition, including a rowing machine, seated chest and leg presses and a cardio walker.

The scene:

Balboa is a large family-friendly park known for its beautiful lake. Yet the section we are focusing on is more removed and fitness-centered, avoiding the crowds entirely. People who frequent this area of the park are varied, but decidedly less worried about dressing in their finest workout threads compared to many comparable LA spots. SFV locals come to take a break from a busy day for their daily walk or run, not to check out hotties— so come as you are, sweat and flush be damned. Beware of coyotes, who have been known to pop up once in awhile, although typically closer to the brush by the dirt path rather than the street-adjacent circuit training section.


North Hollywood Recreation Center

North Hollywood

The workout:

A one-stop outside fitness center looks like a playground at first glance. With machines for dips, chin-up, push-ups, sit-ups and body curls as well as simplistic bikes, ellipticals, twisters and more, you can complete an entire regimen here without getting bored. Then get your fill of cardio by running around the large surrounding track a few times.

The scene:

The sprawling park never seems to feel overcrowded. A few fitness buffs will be at the workout stations while couples, schoolchildren and dogwalkers are dispersed throughout the fields. The now family-oriented park has improved its reputation but some say the spot can feel a bit shady at times so it’s probably best to bring a friend.


Mar Vista Recreation Center

Mar Vista

The workout:

Warm up with a jog on the dirt path that loops around the large park and then hit the (sparkling clean) nine circuit training stations—located in the shade on the outskirts of the park—for a total body workout.

The scene:

Expect many families on the weekends cheering on the kids playing rec league sports or gathering together for a birthday picnic. During school hours, the park—which is located in a tree-lined residential neighborhood—remains quiet except for the occasional retired folk who can be found flaunting their skills on the circuit training stations.


Sand Dune Park

Manhattan Beach

The workout:

Climb a 100-foot-tall sand dune hill, alongside locals of all ages from bodybuilders to children having fun in the sand, for a truly unique workout. Walk or jog up the warm sand to the top of the hill for vast views and killer calves.

The scene:

When approaching the sand dune—located across a playground—it looks like a mirage that appears out of nowhere in the middle of a neighborhood park that has its typical swings, slide and grassy fields. Post-work happy hour is prime time here when locals hitting the sand. On weekends, expect more of a family-friendly atmosphere.


Yvonne B. Burke Park

Venice

The workout:

18-station par fitness course that are lined up from start to finish with detailed instructions and illustrations of each workout. Do the entire circuit for a full body workout or choose a specific station.

The scene:

Bike paths surround this grassy island, located adjacent to Admiralty Way and across the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey. While the equipment is made of dark wood (beware of splinters) and may be rusty at some stations, the atmosphere—just a block away from the ocean—is serene and mostly quiet.

Source: Timeout LA