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GoNOLA Guide to Health & Fitness Classes in New Orleans in April

Church of Yoga offers yoga classes set to live music every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 6 p.m. (Photo credit: Katie Sikora)

April might just be the most beautiful month of all in New Orleans. With the sun shining and temperatures hovering in the mid-seventies, it’s the perfect time to get outdoors. This month’s fitness classes will get you outside and experiencing the beautiful weather, from yoga and meditation in public parks, to a world-famous road race that zips through the French Quarter.

With festival season in full swing, we’ve also included equally festive workouts, from picking up booty-bouncing moves at dance classes to a pre-festival yoga class in the Tremé. Now get up and out there and enjoy!

1. Church of Yoga

Tucked away in the Mid-City/ Tremé area, this funky yoga studio offers flow-based classes set to invigorating tunes. Situated in a renovated church, the studio is full of delightful surprises. Look for the fountain filled with glitter in the foyer and the stunning mural of Mardi Gras Indians painted by local artist Jay McKay in the rear yoga room. Movement and music are at the heart of every class at Church of Yoga, and each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, classes are set to live music at 6 p.m. Insider’s tip: located just a few blocks from Jazz Fest, the studio is hosting an art show, “Art by Jay Presents: A History of New Orleans,” on Friday, April 26 from 5:30-9 p.m. Swing by after the fest and enjoy refreshments and a bit of New Orleans culture.

When: Classes take place seven days a week. Sign-up here.

Where: Church of Yoga, 1480 N Rocheblave St.

Admission: All classes are by donation, suggested $15-$20

Dancing Grounds offers classes seven days a week in the Bywater (Photo credit: Maiwenn Raoult)

2. Dancing Grounds

Looking to hone your dance skills for festival season? Look no further than Dancing Grounds. Located in the Bywater, this friendly studio offers youth and adult dance classes that are appropriate for all fitness levels. Here are my top picks for April: Bounce ‘N Line, a class set to New Orleans bounce music from the 90s to the present day (note: this class takes place at Capulet at 3014 Dauphine St., a gorgeous restaurant in the Bywater), and TWERKSHOP, a class that encourages you to move your booty. There’s also Beginner’s Ballet, Carribean Dance Hall, and an array of other classes, including yoga.

When: Classes occur seven days a week. Pick one from the schedule and get grooving!

Where: Dancing Grounds, 3705 St Claude Ave.

Admission: $12 for single class drop-in

Stop by Duncan Plaza for free meditation, yoga, and cardio classes Monday through Thursday (Photo: Footprints to Fitness)

3. Free Spring Wellness Series in Duncan Plaza

Monday through Thursday, the Downtown Development District is offering free cardio, yoga, and meditation classes. All classes are hosted outside in the grassy expanse of Duncan Plaza so you can soak up the gorgeous weather. Find calm with meditation on Mondays and Thursdays from 12:15-12:45 p.m., relax with yoga Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m., and raise your heart rate with cardio Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. There are a few mats to borrow for yoga, but make sure to bring your own if you have one.

When: Classes take place Monday through Thursday through May 23. See the full schedule here.

Where: Duncan Plaza, 1201 Perdido St.

Admission: FREE

Mats & Meows is a fitness class with kittens that benefits Zeus’ Rescue (Photo: April Dupré)

4. Mats & Meows

Did you know that studies show that petting a cat decreases stress? This Yoga + Pilates flow class takes place alongside frolicking kittens and brightly painted artwork in the Renaissance Arts Hotel in the CBD. Benefiting Zeus’ Rescue, an organization that seeks to end pet homeless, this fitness class is also kid-friendly. As you move through the workout, you’re welcome to take a break to cuddle a kitten. There are extra mats on hand, but participants are encouraged to bring their own.

When: Wednesday, April 3, 10, 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Renaissance Arts Hotel, 700 Tchoupitoulas St.

Admission: $21, register in advance here.

5. Spring Shape Up with barre3 at Canal Place

Part core work, part stretching, part meditative movement; this was my experience at a barre3 class, and I loved it. This month, barre3 is hosting a complimentary class in Canal Place, a mall nestled in the French Quarter directly next to the Aquarium. This class will leave you stronger and calmer, with better balance to boot. If you’re hooked, barre3 has classes at two locations in New Orleans: 611 O’Keefe Ave. in the CBD and 5235 Magazine St. uptown. Make sure to bring a mat and a hand towel – you’ll get sweaty!

When: Wednesday, April 3, 6-7 p.m.

Where: Canal Place, 333 Canal St., Third Floor outside of Saks Fifth Avenue

Admission: FREE, register here.

Runners line up at the start of Crescent City Classic (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

6. Crescent City Classic

Over 20,000 runners from around the world travel to New Orleans over Easter Weekend to run this 10K race (6.2 miles). In other words, it’s pretty darn special. You’ll lineup outside the Superdome, dash through the historic French Quarter, sprint under oaks on Esplanade Avenue, and end in City Park. Along the route, you’ll see elite runners chasing records and recreational walkers wearing bunny ears and sipping mimosas. This race is truly for everyone. The after party is filled with food, music, and, yes, beer. You can skip the race and purchase a party-only ticket here. Bonus: The top 500 male and female finishers score a free race poster.

When: Saturday, April 20, 8 a.m.

Where: Starting line: Poydras St. & Loyola Ave.

Admission: $50, runners must register in advance here.

7. Free Meditation in the Japanese Garden

Wander through the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park to this oasis: a Japanese Garden with a tearoom and sitting platform. Teachers from Balance Yoga & Wellness will lead you through a guided meditation each Wednesday in April as you soak in the beautifully landscaped garden. Outside of this series, you can also attend yoga class at the studio itself, located just off Canal Street at 120 S Cortez St. in a two-story historic house that boasts stained glass windows. After meditation, take a peaceful walk to the nearby Sculpture Garden in City Park for a special Wednesday happy hour with live music, drinks, and extended hours until 8 p.m.

When: Wednesday, April 3, 10, 17, 24, 6-6:45 p.m.

Where: New Orleans Botanical Garden, 5 Victory Ave.

Admission: FREE

8. Twerk Ya Brass

This  high-energy dance class will leave you beaming. Located in Crescent Park under the covered Mandeville Wharf, classes are set to booty bouncing music with views of the Mississippi River. You’ll undoubtedly break a sweat, but don’t be intimidated: this class is designed for all fitness levels, and the instructor, Tim Anderson, has a single goal in mind: “leave with a smile on your face.”

When: Thursday, April 4, 11, 18, 25, 5:45-6:45 p.m.

Where: Crescent Park Mandeville Wharf, N. Peters St. & Mandeville St.

Admission: FREE

The French Quarter Festival hosts free swing classes at the French Market Traditional Jazz Stage (Photo: Zack Smith Photography, Courtesy of French Quarter Festivals, Inc.)

9. Dance Lessons at French Quarter Fest

Can’t fit a fitness class into your busy New Orleans weekend? There’s no better way to workout than to dance to live music. During French Quarter Fest, stop by the French Market Traditional Jazz Stage for dance lessons Friday-Sunday. Learn swing and Charleston dance moves, then stick around to practice to live music afterwards. Lessons last 30 minutes and take place throughout the day – check out the full schedule here under the “French Market & Moonwalk” stage.

When: April 12, 13, 15 throughout the day. Find the schedule here.

Where: French Market Traditional Jazz Stage, Decatur St. & St. Philip St.

Admission: FREE

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