The pulse of Austin may have slowed, but its spirit lives on in the resilience of its people. Ways to engage in culture have moved primarily to Internet spaces, from art-viewing to live-streaming music. While we are more connected online than ever before, occasional breaks from the screen to exercise are helpful for maintaining mental and physical health. (I know some exercise classes are held online and–in this case–I’ll count that as a break from screen time.)
Everyone is encouraged to stay home during Austin’s current mandate, and there are many exercises you can do indoors. However, our order does not prohibit outdoor exercise, and fresh air during a time of stress can do a body good.
Here are a few simple ways you can get moving through outdoor exercise, and places you can go to do it.
COVID-19 Safety Tips Before You Head Out
Be advised, even though I personally recommend outdoor exercise, common sense dictates you stay close to home, observe social distancing of at least six feet from others, and only visit the following locations if they are in your area. Having fewer cars on the road and traveling short distances reduces the risk of accidents, which cause an unnecessary load on a medical system that is already straining.
Be as prepared as possible with items like water and snacks, so you can avoid unnecessary contact once you’re out. Many water fountains are closed, so it’s important to bring your own.
Modes of Exercise
Following the safety considerations above, there are several options for outdoor exercise in Austin.
The joy of walking, running, and hiking–some of the most classic, time-tested ways of enjoying the outdoors. You already know the feeling. After long hours spent on the computer, or in any situation when you’re thinking too much and need to blow off some steam, a timely stroll or jog helps reset the pace of life.
So, where is the best place to go for a walk during a shelter-in-place? The answer is: your neighborhood! Many people are discovering the joys of exploring their neighborhood on foot for the first time (though if you have canine friends, then this is old news).
If your neighborhood isn’t an option, check for the nearest non-crowded green space near where you live. Keep reading for more information on local parks.
If you’re an avid runner, then you may already have your favorite routes in place. It can be tough avoiding those well-worn trails (some trails remain busy, even now), so now might be the time to carve a new path.
I enjoy the occasional bike ride, but by no means am I a regular cyclist. However, my impression of biking is that it’s much easier to maintain social distancing than while on foot–the wheels putting you at a different pace.
The Veloway at Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park is one attractive spot for bikers because no foot traffic is allowed on the path. For the more hardcore, there is a list of longer, intra-city routes listed on Bicycle Sport Shop’s website (linked below).
For additional resources on cycling, or if you need your bike serviced, check out one of these local bike shops:
- Mellow Johnny’s – Curbside service available. For shopping, call ahead of time or shop online.
- Bicycle Sport Shop – Provides list of Austin bike routes. Different locations have different closures and hours, with the Bee Cave shop closed during this time.
- Monkey Wrench Bicycles – Indoor shopping with a strict limit of four people in the shop at a time. Temporarily reduced hours.
- East Side Pedal Pushers – Reduced customer service hours. Call ahead of time.
Online Fitness Classes
Okay, I realize many of you who stream fitness classes like to do it in the comfort of your living room, on your fuzzy carpet. But if your Wi-Fi reaches or you have the data, then this can definitely count as outdoor exercise. Do the class in your yard or on an isolated patch of grass in your nearest public green space.
Here is a list of local businesses offering online exercise classes:
- Ballet Austin – Variety of dance and fitness classes, either pay-per-view or free instructor live streams. Includes ballet, hip hop, pilates, barre, and more.
- Black Swan Yoga – Streaming yoga classes on Facebook and Instagram. Donations can be made to the teachers.
- Crux Climbing Center – Streaming yoga and climbing training classes. Donations can be made to the teachers.
- Studio Mantra – Streaming pilates, barre, and yoga classes.
- Wanderlust Yoga – $38 for a month of unlimited livestream yoga classes.
Visit a Nearby Park
Whatever your activity of choice, or whether you want to simply sit quietly and reflect in a peaceful environment, you’ll need a place to do so. Here’s a quick guide to the parks in and surrounding Austin.
Austin City Parks
Before you go out, make sure you check COVID-19 rules and closures for Austin city parks.
There are an infinite number of city parks. Chances are, you already know which ones are the closest and most accessible to you. But if you want to make a new discovery near you, the City of Austin provides a park directory.
The July 2nd closures of the Austin greenbelts will be lifted on August 8, 2020. Reservations will be required to limit capacity, so plan ahead!
Travis County Parks
Check the COVID-19 Preparedness section of the Travis County Parks website. On it, you’ll find a list of Travis County Parks that remain open, and which ones are closed until further notice.
On May 18, 2020, most state parks reopened for day use and camping. Many parks have reduced their capacity, so reservations are highly recommended.
We look forward to the day we can once again gather in community outdoors. Until then, please guard your health and the safety of your neighbors by exercising caution during all of your activities outdoors. Thank you!
@theAustinot wants to know:
How have you been getting outdoors for exercise during COVID-19?
The original version of this article was published April 8, 2020.