What is the Free Fitness Movement

Stephen Bierbrier

Every Thursday at noon our community of Hubbers comes together to hear the stories, lessons and advice from members who have something to share.

Last week free fitness ambassador Stephen Bierbrier joined us to tell us about the free fitness movement and the opportunities open to everyone in Ottawa to get active outdoors together.

Stephen is a 50 year old government lawyer and father of three. Until eight years ago he never seemed to find time for fitness and hadn’t run more than 2km since high school. Today he is EPIC Fitness + Lifestyle’s community events project manager, a Parliament Hill Move Camp ambassador, a yogi, as well as a dedicated member of November Project, Stadium Workout and Ottawa City Run Club.

So what changed? “I decided to take ownership of my life. I became interested in yoga, hiking and running”, he says, “I learned about Blue Zones and decided to figure out how to incorporate the learnings from them – movement, nutrition, nature, tribe – into my life”. Getting active and eating well wasn’t hard but finding opportunities to connect with like-minded people, and to do fitness outdoors with them wasn’t easy. At least not in 2009.

“Nowadays there is really no excuse. Every week there are multiple activities taking place across the city open to everyone, all ages, all levels of fitness, completely free”, says Stephen, who is directly involved in organizing and promoting many of them. Some even run all year long, yes, even here in Ottawa where winter temperatures go well below freezing.

Every Wednesday, come rain, shine or snow, the Ottawa chapter of the November Project meets at 6.29am for a 31 minute outdoor workout. The November Project started in Boston and is now a global community of individuals who regularly organize free outdoor workouts open to everyone in 50+ cities. “It’s part run club, part fight club, part fitness cult. But most of all, it’s FUN!” says Stephen. Judging by the numbers, he’s right: around 70 people show up to do burpees, squats, jumping jacks and more each week. “It’s not about how many reps you do, it’s about creating connections with other human beings, about creating accountability, about supporting each other and showing up”.

OK, we’re sold. So here is the Ottawa summer calendar of free fitness events compiled by Stephen. See you there?


Monday 7:30am – Movement with Mediation – NAC

Monday noon – Happiness on the Hill

Monday noon – Yoga at UO Tabaret Hall lawn (tbc)

Tuesday noon – Yoga at City Hall (tbc)

Tuesday 6:25pm – Natural Fitness Labs trail run club – Gatineau Park (@naturalfitnesslab)

Tuesday 7:30 pm – Ottawa City Run Club (@OttCityRunClub)

Wednesday 6:29am –  November Project (@NovProjectYOW)

Wednesday noon – Parliament Hill Yoga

Wednesday 6pm – Salsa at City Hall

Wednesday 6pm – Running Room and Run Ottawa runclubs

Thursday 12:15pm – Parliament Hill Movecamp (@movecampottawa)

Thursday 6:30pm – MEC Run Club (@mec_Ottawa)

Friday evening – Karma yoga $5-$10 (Pure, Elevate, Yogatown)

Saturday 8am – Somerset Runners (@somersetrunners)

Saturday 8:30am – Bushtukah trail run club – Kanata

Saturday 9.00am – Parkrun 5km run / walk – Beaver Pond Trail Kanata

Saturday 9:30am – Running Room run club

Sunday 8am – Stadium Workout (@stadiumworkout)

Sunday 8:30am – MEC trail run club (@mec_Ottawa)

Sunday 8:30am – Running room run club

Sunday 3pm – Zumba on Parliament Hill


Community hikes: EPIC fitness (@epicfitnessottawa), Hike Addicts (@hikeaddicts), Meetup

Community yoga: Full moon yoga Lansdowne June 28, July 27, August 26

Community yoga: Glow yoga: June 15