Free outdoor fitness blossoms in May

O2 Fitness has provided a free outdoor program, ShapeUp Raleigh, in Raleigh, N.C., for years and hopes to bring the same successful effort to North Charleston.

May and October are the best bets for perfect weather in the Lowcountry and the former has become a successful launching time for free, or virtually free, outdoor fitness programs in greater Charleston area.

Both MUSC’s “Adventure Out” and Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission’s “Move It!” were born in May and have evolved to be year-round offerings.

This May, it’s North Charleston’s turn.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based O2 Fitness Clubs, which bought out East Shore Athletic Club (12 facilities in all) in 2013, is partnering with the city of North Charleston, along with healthy food and produce vendors, to offer free public exercise classes this May.

Collectively known as Shape Up North Charleston, the classes will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. on the first four Mondays and Tuesdays of May, starting next week, in Park Circle.

Registration for the program is not required; participants can simply walk up, sign up and shape up. Parking is available at numerous lots, or along the street. Classes will be presented in front of the Felix C. Jones Community Center, 4800 Park Circle.

“Community involvement and general wellness are an important part of our mission at O2 Fitness,” says Michael D. Olander Jr., chief executive officer of O2 Fitness Clubs.

“We are extremely excited to be making this outreach in North Charleston and look forward to growing these types of efforts in the region. We certainly encourage everyone to come out and also invite their friends and family.”

Ed Barfield, the city’s parks and recreation director, says he is encouraged when companies get directly involved with the community, “especially when it is an effort to get our residents outside, more active and fit.”

Next week’s classes include “WERQ,” a dance fitness class, on Monday and kickboxing on Tuesday. Other classes during the month include Les Mills “BodyCombat” and “Body Flow,” “Insanity” and total body conditioning.

In a separate effort, King of Pops, a regional popsicle company, is bringing back its free community yoga event, kicking off 6-6:45 p.m. Wednesday at Riverfront Park in North Charleston.

The event will be held twice a month, on the first and third Wednesdays, through September.

Beth Cosi, founder of Bendy Brewski Yoga, will lead the free, family-friendly event. Bring your own yoga mat.

While the Medical University of South Carolina’s Office of Health Promotion has turned Adventure Out into a year-round offering, it will organize five free outdoor fitness events in May.

Classes are designed for all ages and fitness levels. Children ages 12 and under are welcome to participate in all classes with a waiver signed by an adult caregiver.

Those include a family fitness event 9-11 a.m. May 7 and Zumba 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 14 during the Charleston Farmers Market at Marion Square in Charleston.

One of the most energetic personal trainers, Katie Blaylock, will lead “Good Life Circuit” sessions at 4 p.m. May 11 and 25 at Cannon Park in Charleston.

Yoga instructor Gail Corvette will lead a free yoga class at 9 a.m. May 21 at Brittlebank.

Charleston Transplant Home, a nonprofit founded in February 2015 with the mission to provide housing for out-of-town transplant patients at MUSC, is holding a 5K at 9 a.m. Saturday at James Island County Park.

Board member Ana Guarino says the 5K is the first fundraiser for the program, which was established after MUSC discontinued a program providing a hotel for transplant patients who need to stay locally for up to six months.

Long dubbed as being the “second most fun you can have in bed,” the Charleston Bed Race marks its seventh year at noon Sunday at MUSC Health Stadium (formerly Blackbaud Stadium) on Daniel Island.

The bed races raise money for Camp Happy Days, a camp that helps children who are battling cancer.

The fee is $125 per bed (five people, including four runners and one bed rider). The “grand parade” starts at noon, followed by a series of bed sprints.