Working out in Charlottesville

Charlottesville has long been known for its access to natural beauty. 

On any given day or weekend you can see people out walking the Downtown Mall and in surrounding neighborhoods, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains or on the local Rivanna or Monticello trails, running in a local 5k or just for fun, and biking. 


If the weather is iffy, there’s always swimming at the Smith indoor pool or heading to any number of local gyms.

This town has a lot to offer those who are serious about getting fit, and even those who just like the social aspect of working out with friends.

Here are some great places to start.


ACAC has the largest share of members and places to workout, from Downtown to Albemarle Square, and Crozet to Short Pump, with a Kid Zone that helps busy parents out. You can find everything from Nia and yoga classes, to swimming, racquetball, CrossFit, spinning and traditional aerobics classes.

Snap Fitness Studio 24/7 offers access whenever you want. Located in the Seminole Square shopping center, it’s easy to get to at any time of day or night. According to reviews, it is a “no-frills” gym, but for those who just want to work out and then leave this might be the perfect choice.

For those who want to concentrate on weight lifting, The Gym on Allied Street offers 24-hour access to its membership and a staff that will work with you one on one.

CrossFit training has gotten a lot of attention over the years – one gym dedicates itself to that – CrossFit of Charlottesville on Bellevue Avenue.

Planet Fitness is a newcomer to the gym scene – it opened in November 2016 in the Fifth Street Station shopping center – otherwise known as Wegman’s Center. If cost is a concern, this might be a good choice to start with until you can figure out what machines and workouts work better for you.

Yoga & Pilates Studios

Yoga and Pilates are both practices that can be done at any age and at any skill level. With yoga, all you need is a mat, comfortable clothes and a quiet space. Once you learn the basic moves you can either practice on your own, or meet up with friends. 

Several yoga studios to try are: Common Ground Healing Arts at the old Jefferson School, Opal Yoga on West Main Street, ACAC and Bend Yoga, which caters to young children, moms-to-be and moms.

PIlates requires the use of a special machine or reformer. After ACAC, TruPilates is a great source for those who want to help you learn how to strengthen your core the right way.

Skill Training – Where can I go to learn martial arts?

As any parent in Charlottesville knows, Laughing Dragon, located down from the Rt. 29 Starbucks on Berkmar Drive, has the best intro to kung fu courses around – they are fun and engaging for the kids, and parents can also learn along with them if they choose. 

Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, located in McIntire Plaza, offers classes for adults and children in the grappling art of jiu-jitsu and also adult classes in Muay Thai boxing and the Israeli-developed defense system known as Krav Maga.

The Charlottesville Tai Chi Center, located in the Old Michie Building off the Downtown Mall, offers training in the Cheng-Ming System as taught by Great Grandmaster Wang Shu-Jin.

T’ai Chi Ch’uan (Taijiquan) is a martial art characterized by soft, slow flowing movements of the torso and arms coordinated with weight shifts and steps. It emphasizes relaxation, and is a form of meditation in motion. The benefits of T’ai Chi Ch’uan include improved balance, muscle tone and stress reduction. 

Where can I go to join a swim team?

Smith Aquatic Center, ACAC at Four Seasons, Fry’s Springs Beach Club, Blue Ridge Swim Club and Fairview Swim & Tennis Club all offer great resources for kids and adults alike who want to swim. 

Are there any local bicycle clubs?

Walnut Creek Park has been a popular spot for bikers, while the Rivanna and Riverview trails have also gotten a lot of use.

When the weather’s not cooperating, local bikers have access to Zoom Indoor Cycling on Arlington Boulevard, near Barracks Road, to keep in shape. 

The best way to meet other bikers is to go to the local bike shops and ask around. Performance Bicycle, Community Bikes, Blue Wheel Bicycles and Blue Ridge Cyclery are great places to start.

Sporting Goods – Where can I load up on sporting gear?

This used to be an easy question to answer, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports was the go-to spot for those who wanted to head outdoors with the best equipment and advice from knowledgeable staff. 

Downtown Athletic is still outfitting all the sports kids and adults can think of, while Total Soccer has become the go-to spot for soccer fans. 

You can also go to Dick’s Sporting Goods and Gander Mountain, but there are a number of local businesses that cater to niche markets.

For runners, head over to The Corner and stop in at “Central Virginia’s Community Running and Walking Headquarters since 1982,” otherwise known as Ragged Mountain Running Shop. 

Owned by Mark & Cynthia Lorenzoni, this store has built a large fan base and you can often find Mark on the local radio giving out running advice dosed with a great sense of humor. The store has gait trackers that will help them fit you to the right shoe based on how you normally walk or run. 

Over in Crozet, locals can stop in at Crozet Running and talk with John and Michelle Andersen, both are avid runners and competitors and offer great advice.

For those with kids who go through equipment frequently, Play it Again Sports, across from Lowe’s and just of Rt. 29, is a great place to find gently used items. They also carry new.

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