Join the fitness crowd in the New Year

Getting in shape is usually more effective, and fun, when done with friends.

With the holiday festivities grinding to a halt with a couple of polar bear plunges on Thursday, now is the time to seize the opportunity to get in shape for the New Year. And Charleston's dynamic fitness community offers an array of opportunities to join with others in working toward a goal.

Most notable is the various training camps for the 38th annual Cooper River Bridge Run, which will be held March 28 (one week earlier than most years because Easter falls on the first weekend of April.)

Barring any others, there are a half dozen Bridge Run training camps. Five of the six do not include the registration fee for the Bridge Run, which has gone up to $50.

The "official" Cooper River Bridge Run clinic kicks off next week. The 10-week clinic will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesdays at the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center and 6 p.m. Wednesdays at the Mount Pleasant Municipal Complex track. The cost is $75 and the deadline to enter is Monday.

Among an array of other New Year running clinics, Fleet Feet Sports in Mount Pleasant will hold a 10K training program to get locals ready for the Bridge Run. The information meeting for the program will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at the store. Workouts start Jan. 20 and will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and 8 a.m. Saturdays. The cost is $75.

Louie's Kids, the locally based nonprofit dedicated to fighting childhood obesity, is getting into the game with its first Bridge Run training camp, dubbed "Meet Under the Bridge to Get Over It."

The program, taught by local volunteers in the health and fitness community, is designed for families of any physical fitness level to come together and get fit in a 10-week course prior to the 10K run.

It will be held 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Jan. 20 at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. The cost is $25 per family. Attendance is mandatory and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Local triathlete and trainer Lauren Wilson is gearing her Bridge Run camp with performance in mind. Weekly group training sessions will incorporate endurance, speed and strength work to make participant run faster and more efficiently. The 10-week program, which costs $99 and starts Monday, includes a TrainingPeaks account to received daily workouts.

Gaia Fit running coach Jennifer Tyson will hold Bridge Run training camp weekly group distance runs at 7:30 a.m. Sundays either at Smythe Park on Daniel Island or the Cooper River bridge, and speed workouts at 5:30 p.m. at the Bishop England High School track or the bridge. The camp, which cost $100, starts Jan. 18.

Not quite ready to jump in a Bridge Run clinic? The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission is starting its "Run/Walk Your Way to a 10K" clinics, geared for the Bridge Run, later in January.

A clinic held 8:30-9:30 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at James Island County Park will start Jan. 26. One held 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Palmetto Islands County Park in Mount Pleasant will start Jan. 27. And one held 7:30-8:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursdays at Wannamaker County Park in North Charleston will start Jan. 27.

The cost is $68 for county residents and $82 for nonresidents. The cost includes the registration for the race.

Meanwhile, the Summerville Family YMCA will hold 10K training programs for its Shamrock Shuffle (the former Flowertown Festival Run), to be held March 14 in Summerville.

The camps, which start Tuesday, will be 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the YMCA at The Ponds and during the evenings Tuesdays and Thursdays at the YMCA in downtown Summerville. All will meet for runs at 8 a.m. Saturdays at various locations.

The cost is $65 for YMCA members and $90 for non-members. The price includes the entry fee to the Shamrock Shuffle.

Beyond running, Fleet Feet will hold a "21-Day Challenge for Change" designed as a jump-start for the new year starting Saturday. Limited to 30 participants, the challenge includes a fitness test, weigh-in and measurements at start and finish to gauge progress, unlimited access to Les Mills fitness classes, private weekly 30-minute high-intensity interval training sessions and access to a registered dietitian. The fee is $50.

Two downtown Charleston studios, CHS Revolution indoor cycling studio and Pure Barre, are combining efforts for a "Ride and Burn for a Green Heart" on Jan. 10.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with a 30-minute spin, then moves to barre studio for a 30-minute class. It concludes with a healthy street party.

The event costs $35 for a class or $50 for both. Proceeds benefit the Green Heart Project, a local nonprofit that creates school gardens and fosters healthy eating in local public schools.

Spinning meets nutrition at Charleston RIDE, where a three-day nutrition workshop is an effort to "Get in Gear for the New Year."

Jen Ward, a Spinning master instructor and registered dietitian, will present three workshops Jan. 23-24, including "Am I really hungry?" 6-8 p.m. Jan. 23, "Caloric Deception" 9:30-11:30 a.m. Jan. 24 and "Mindless Eating" noon-1:30 p.m. Jan. 24.

The cost is $49 for the general public and $45 for certified Spinning instructors for the first two sessions and $39 for the general public and $35 for instructors for "Mindless Eating." Verde will provide food for the first session and Blue Barn smoothies at the second.

Want to try something new? Aerial Fit will hold two, 12-week "Intro to Aerials" classes, giving beginners a chance to try out the four most common aerial circus apparatuses: aerial sling, aerial silks, static trapeze and aerial hoop.

The classes will start next week and be held at 10 a.m. Mondays or 7 p.m. Tuesday. The cost is $180.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.