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Category: Bham Fit

Bham Fit: Finding Balance at The Yoga Circle

yoga circle birmingham


You want the yoga studio experience: a connection to yogic tradition, not a mere exercise  regimen. But you still want to feel like you’ve gotten a workout. It can be a tricky combination, yet the answer in Five Points South is clear. You want The Yoga Circle.

Like the neighborhood’s combination of historic charm and linear modernism, The Yoga Circle is a natural combination of opposing influences. The studio space is bright — light bamboo flooring, a wall of mirrors, and floor-to-ceiling windows. It has the tidy polish of a sleek fitness studio, but the colorful wall motifs and sanskrit lettering feels properly yogic.

Classes here are warm at least and generally hot, with clear Bikram leanings. “Every visit has left me sweating yet energized, renewed, peaceful, and with a reinforced sense of comfort about my yoga practice,” wrote Yelp reviewer Janece M.

I also like that this studio makes an effort to be creative about what they offer,” wrote Carrie R, also on Yelp. Their unique lineups “show that The Yoga Circle is committed to keeping their classes fresh and interesting and is willing to have a little fun with yoga even though they take it seriously.” We agree that the mix of classes like Candlelight Slow Flow and Fat Girl Yoga set this studio apart.

The Yoga Circle’s online signup system reflects the combination of busy students and professionals who populate much of the neighborhood. It’s perfect for folks who appreciate both a digital environment and the time saved by knowing what you’re getting. Signing up online, you know if there’s room to drop into a class, wasting no time in transit if there’s no more space.

That transit time shouldn’t be long, though. Located just east of the main business and entertainment district, it’s walking distance for many Southside residents. Even when driving makes more sense, it’s likely on the way to and from your regular destinations.

In fact, The Yoga Circle’s location — heading into town from the crest of Red Mountain — showcases the general convenience of Five Points as a neighborhood. It’s a quick hop over the mountain by Vulcan and a straight shot down 20th or Richard Arrington to the city center.

Bham Fit: Workouts for All at Railroad Park

railroad park


We started this fitness series with local gyms and fitness studios in mind — the kind of specific small businesses that help define a neighborhood’s wellness bent. But one of Birmingham’s best fitness secret isn’t a business at all; it’s Get Healthy on the Railroad at Railroad Park. If you live Parkside, in the Loft District, or even in the northern sections of Five Points South, this is a seriously wonderful neighborhood fitness amenity.

All year long the park is open to walkers, joggers, and those interested in body weight exercises on the park’s west side equipment. It may be cold and rainy some days, but it’s always there and always free. (Though the park definitely accepts donations to help fund the upkeep on this jewel of a public/private partnership.)

From April through October, though, the park offers weeknight group fitness classes that are free to the entire city, courtesy of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. The park’s website has full class descriptions, but we’ve distilled them to a quick guide. Want high-energy music and fun choreography? Try Jazzercise and Zumba. Looking to work on your personal running program? Get help at Happy Feet. Relax with Yoga on the lawn, or rev up your week at Boot Camp. All classes start at 6 p.m.

We like that Boot Camp and Happy Feet can give you ideas for independent fitness pursuits at the park, which comes in handy during the class off-season. And while the yoga classes may not be as hands-on as a local studio could offer, can you think of a more beautiful place to practice?

There’s no exclusivity to the atmosphere at Railroad. It’s the ultimate example of Parkside’s healthy neighborhood branding by making fitness accessible to everyone: You simply show up, sign up, and work out. With the park and Region’s Field at its core, this neighborhood is more or less the playground of the city. Living here means it’s in your own backyard.

Bham Fit: Downtown YMCA

downtown ymca


Amenities are a big part of selling a neighborhood. You’re not simply paying for a given house or condo, after all, but for the package of resources that make a community. Certain things show up often as people weigh neighborhood options — walkability, entertainment, and green space are all major ones — but we think fitness resources matter too.

If you’re anything like us, a fitness commute simply isn’t going to happen, which means that wherever you work out needs to be en route to home or work. To help identify the fitness perks for your next home, we’ll be exploring the options by neighborhood, starting with the Loft District’s Downtown YMCA.

This is no sprawling suburban location. Instead, it’s multiple floors of fitness stacked within half of a city block. There’s the street-level pool and racquetball courts, plus gymnasium and indoor track options upstairs. But where the facility really shines is in its open, airy third-floor space.

Free weights, strength training and cardio machines, and a group fitness studio are all within sight lines of each other. In fact, the fitness studio’s glass enclosure means you could easily check out a Body Pump class from the safety of an elliptical trainer before you commit to joining a session.

What we appreciate most, though, is that this workout space feels urban. There are open, industrial ceilings and minimal walls, plus the windows on one side have a view of the neighboring building’s exterior brick. It feels like working out in a loft, albeit one with multiple residents.

For the area’s eclectic mix of buttoned-up professional workers and more free-form creative types, the Y offers a broad range of class options. There are yoga and barre classes, CrossFit-inspired sessions, spinning, and water-based options. Classes are scheduled around early morning, lunch hour, and after work windows, offering plenty of options whatever your workout clock.

The best part, though, is that Loft District residents need not drive to the gym. It shouldn’t be more than a ten-minute walk from most parts of the neighborhood, which we figure is the perfect warm-up time.