6 ways to get involved in the Charlotte fitness scene, from memberships to meal prep

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Grace Borcher and Erin Thomas of SweatNET in Charlotte, NC.

Prior to moving to Charlotte a few years back, I relied on my fast metabolism to ensure my jeans always fit just right. I embodied little-to-no desire to frequent the gym, and Cheetos were a staple of my diet (and still are, oh well).

A few months after unpacking my boxes in my new Southern residence, my mentality completely changed. I began working a 9-5 job at a desk, where the occasional walk to the water cooler was the only exercise I’d get (vs. the rigorous uphill treks to class in college).

My boyfriend always mentioned his friends from the gym, and suddenly I wanted friends from the gym. After finding gym friends, I sampled classes with coworkers.

Charlotte’s comprehensive class offerings make it impossible to not find a new, exciting option. I swung awkwardly on aerial silks, pushed myself to the limit at the STAX bootcamp, and even tried hot yoga. Hot yoga is no joke.

Now to dress the part – my fitness wardrobe transformed from ratty tee shirts and shorts that still fit me from high school to a collection of semi-stylish active wear.

Charlotte as a city embodies a wellness-centric mindset, and there’s no shortage of ways to become a member of the fitness community. Here are six options:

Join a free fitness class

I’d love to enroll in memberships for specialty gyms around the city so I can simultaneously ace a spin class and fly effortlessly through the air in an aerial silks class. However, my student loans have other plans, so I take advantage of the free fitness classes around Charlotte.

Lovers of HIIT will flourish in a STAX bootcamp, free on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Sugar Creek Brewing hosts bootcamp on Wednesdays at 6 p.m., and Red Clay Ciderworks offers a total body bootcamp every other Sunday at 2:15 p.m.

Or, find your zen at a free yoga class around town, offered at the U.S. National Whitewater Center and Free Range Brewing. Most popular breweries also offer weekly yoga from $5-$10 per session and free running clubs.

[Related: How to get a complete workout each week, exclusively at breweries in South End]

Hello May, and welcome back Yoga Series.

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Shop locally-inspired fitness attire

When you step foot in sister-duo Brit and Melanie Morton’s Fit Atelier shop on East Boulevard, prepare to watch your fitness funds dwindle. These entrepreneurial ladies morphed their love of fashion and exercise in the Queen City, and their chic activewear is a millennial fitness-lover’s dream. Whether you’re gym-ready or just want to appear as though you’re on your way to a rigorous workout (when you’re really about to devour a cookie-dough-infused ball of ice cream at Two Scoops Creamery), Fit Atelier carries the look you want to achieve.

[Related: These Charlotte sisters are opening up a fitness hub in Dilworth this month]

Creatively named to blend ideals of luxury and wellbeing, Well Kept houses Charlotte’s first collection of local, upscale fitness apparel. Stop by the shop in Davidson or bookmark 20 coordinated leggings-and-sports-bra-combos on Instagram (@shopwellkept) that will inspire your next workout.

Best friend duo Brittany and Emily also share a passion for high-end activewear, as evidenced in their chic Metropolitan shop, Fityoulous. Featuring lightweight crops and tanks with phrases like “meditate, manifest, & chill,” this boutique just outside of Uptown has the ideal collection at the intersection of fitness and fashion.

If your “sole” exercise passion involves running (apologies for the dad joke), consider stopping by Charlotte Running Co. or Run for Your Life, which were both nominated for the “50 Best Running Stores” in the U.S. by Competitor Running.

Get inspiration from local fitness influencers

Sometimes, the thought of sweat and potential gains don’t motivate me to trudge to the gym. For times like these, I look to Charlotte’s fitness influencers, whose passion for an active lifestyle (and perfect abs) inspire me to fix my ponytail and brave the world’s worst (and best) gym-goers.

Will I look like yoga-guru, Jaimis Huff (@jaimisyoga) when attempting to reach my toes? No, but her impeccable form inspires me to keep working.

Are my dance moves as smooth as those of Urban Cardio Dance’s Corey Brown (@cyobrown)? Absolutely not, but he inspires me to try to raise what my boyfriend calls a “2/10 on the dance floor” (he’s 100 percent not wrong) to a solid 3/10.

Is there a chance I’ll cheer on the Hornets in a uniform like NBA Dancer Brittany Caldwell (@brittanymsc)? Not likely (see dance reference above), but I’ll probably run into her at Chopt, her go-to heathy spot.

Here’s a list of seven more in case you need a little more fit-inspo.

Ahhhhh what a magical, transformative, overwhelmingly exciting last week its been…and there is still so much happening in the next few days, it’s hard to wrap my head and heart around it all. We’re over halfway through the first module of my YTT intensive and I’m inspired and humbled by every student on this journey with me. Thursday begins with the last day of training and closes with an event I’m passionate about, beyond measure. If you’re in Charlotte, this is your invitation to join us: • • Summer ☀ S O L S T I C E ☀ Celebration x International Day of Yoga x Time’s Up Fundraiser with @sweatnetclt • @lululemon • @centerstagenoda • • A yoga experience for all ✨ connect • move • breathe • dance • celebrate the longest day of the year and the transition into the summer season. • • Thursday, June 21st @centerstagenoda Doors open @ 7pm ✨ Movement begins @ 7:45pm • • Our friends from @lululemon • @greenbrothersjuice @1111collection • @fityoulous • @updogkombucha will be there while you settle in + connect, with a backdrop with original art from @kentyoungstrom for photos ✨ • • Giveaways from @airfitcharlotte • @bloc.clt • @vibe5fitness • @cleanyourdirtyface • @lashdolls_charlotte • @fityoulous • @1111collection ✨ • • Free for @sweatnetclt members, $20 for non-members – all proceeds go to the @timesupnow Legal Defense Fund. Sign up link on my website (link in bio) See you there, soul friends. . 📸: @thelittlefieldco . . . . . #summersolstice #internationaldayofyoga #charlottenc #charlottesgotalot #cltfitness #yogainspiration #704lifestyle #peacefulwarrior #lovewarrior #girl #lululemon #yogi #yogateachertraining #inspiration #jaimisyoga #yogaoffthemat #seva #yogachallenge #yogacommunity #community #unity #yogaart #yogalove #yogapants #yogagirl #yogaforall #cltskyline #exploreclt

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Try a unique class offering

Having warmed a lot of benches in sports, I am wary to buy a long-term fitness class membership without gauging my interest first. Charlotte’s myriad class offerings give me the chance to sample options before committing. A couple of favorites include beginner yoga at Yoga One (go for the hot yoga, especially if, like me, you can’t reach your toes despite your Tinkerbell-size legs) and introduction to aerial silks at AIR Charlotte.

If you want to burn upwards of 500 calories before 7a.m., I’d recommend taking a spin class at SWEAT with Deia. (For people who’d prefer not to get yelled at, or “motivated,” by a fitness instructor first thing in the morning, Deia offers kind encouragement and will help you get your spin shoe in and out of the pedal multiple times if you’re an amateur like myself.)  I didn’t think I’d ever desire club beats and strobe lights at 5:45 a.m., but this class opened my eyes to the passion, hard work and fiery quads that makes spinning a successful workout.

Still on my to-do list: sample a HIIT training session at Jamie Scott Fitness and join a “Strong Vibe5” class at Vibe5.

Become a member of the fitness community

Whether you’re a seasoned fitness professional or just an individual who embodies a passion for an active lifestyle, Charlotte acts as a home base for several fitness communities:

SweatNET: Determined to blur the lines of fitness “labels,” co-founders Erin Thomas and Grace Borchers created SweatNET to encourage Queen City residents to try new fitness classes and meet like-minded individuals. For $9.95/month, members receive discounts to health and wellness businesses around Charlotte, including fitness classes, juice shops, and apparel companies. (Read more about SweatNET here.)

bloc.: bloc., or Building Fitness Through Community, is the brainchild of local fitness leader Katie Dixon. Her passion lies in guiding individuals into a lifestyle of wellness and personal empowerment – ideals represented at the Dilworth studio, which offers a combination of cardio, dance, mobility, and strength classes. (Read more about bloc. here.)

CLTFITLIFE: A network for individuals who wish to build and grow an active lifestyle, CLTFITLIFE prides itself on spreading the word about the city’s fitness offerings. Classes, shops and places for a healthy bite are all outlined on their website. Make sure to visit their blog to catch up on the latest fitness news.

Sample healthy lifestyle meal prep services

My passion for fitness wasn’t behind my motivation to try a meal prep service (lack of cooking skills takes the cake there), but I’m glad I did. Whether you’re seeking a rigorous healthy meal plan or just a change in what you eat, Charlotte’s local meal prep services offer a variety of options.

Get Fit Foods offers grab-and-go convenience without the hassle of ordering ahead. Nourish, serving meals to the local market for the past six years, prepares plant-based, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and whole-foods based options. Located in NoDa, The Green Bunny prepares healthy meals each morning and also offers pre-orders, each featuring fresh ingredients that can be tailored to specific preferences.

We weigh the pros and cons of each here.

With so many options to engage in the fitness community, there’s no reason not to give it a try. Join a class, sample a fresh meal, or just dress the part. All that matters is harvesting a mentality of wellbeing.

Featured photo: Courtesy of SweatNET

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