Want to get fit on the cheap? Try this free bootcamp

Gold’s Gym locations in Austin will offer free bootcamps on weekends throughout the month of April. Photo courtesy Gold’s Gym


More for your free fitness files …

Gold’s Gym is offering free bootcamp classes on weekends throughout the month of April. All Austin Gold’s Gyms are participating, but schedules vary by location.

For a complete schedule, go here, select a location and click “see class schedule” to see when the bootcamp is offered.

Gold’s Gym operates the gyms at the following locations in the Austin area:

• Bee Caves, 12480 Bee Caves Road

• Downtown, 115 East Sixth Street

• Highland, 6001 Middle Fiskville Road

• Austin North, 9101 Research Boulevard

• Austin South, 4404 W. William Cannon Drive

• Austin South, 1701 W. Ben White Boulevard

• Austin Southeast, 801 E. William Cannon Drive

• Westlake, 701 S Capital of Texas Highway

• San Marcos, 1180 Thorpe Lane

• Anderson Arbor, 13435 North U.S. Highway 183, Suite 102

• Cedar Park, 1335 East Whitestone Boulevard

• Cypress Creek, 1314 Cypress Creek Road

• Georgetown, 1019 West University Avenue, Suite 100

• Pflugerville, 21315 North State Highway 130, northbound service road

• Hester’s Crossing, 2400 South Interstate Highway 35

• North Round Rock, 4201 Sunrise Road

• Techridge, 235 Canyon Ridge Drive

Join former race champs at Cap10K warmup run Saturday

Runners in the Statesman Cap10K stream across the Congress Avenue Bridge during the 2017 race. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Want to run with the folks who will contend for title of this year’s Statesman Cap10K champion?

Meet in the Austin American-Statesman west parking lot, 305 S. Congress Avenue, to run with former race winners and members of the women’s and men’s elite field at 8 a.m. Saturday.

RELATED: Austin woman headed to her 40th Cap10K

The athletes will be introduced, and you’ll have a chance to ask them for race tips and advice before heading out on an out-and-back run up Congress Avenue toward the University of Texas.

Parking is free. Refreshments, a photo backdrop and more will take place after the run.

For more information go here.

Want to run naked? Head to Star Ranch for Bare Buns 5K

A runner participates in the 5k Bare  Buns Run on Saturday, April 8, 2017, at the Star Ranch in McDade, Texas.Catalin Abagiu for AMERICAN-STATESMAN


A year ago this month, I peeled off my clothes and ran a naked 5K race, just to see what it would feel like.

It felt great.

The most awkward moment came when I initially removed my clothing. After that, it was just running as usual as I scampered over pine needle-covered hills, sandy expanses and a hay field. I wore running shoes and a straw cowboy hat, which blew off my head at one point.

RELATED: What’s it like to run a naked 5K? Fit City finds out

Although runners can wear whatever clothing they want (sports bras for women, for example), most go nude except for shoes. Last year’s race drew about 120 runners, most of whom didn’t live at the park. The residents were enthusiastic, though, handing out timing chips and directing athletes along the course. Afterward, everyone gathered by the newly-renovated swimming pool for a celebration and burger cookoff.

This year’s Bare Buns 5K Fun Run is set for April 14 at the Star Ranch Nudist Resort in McDade, a private residential community that opened in 1957 in McDade, east of Elgin.

Runners line up for the start of the Bare Buns 5K at Star Ranch in 2017. Photo by Catalin Abagiu for AMERICAN-STATESMAN


The resort is member resort of the American Association for Nude Recreation. The Bare Buns 5K is part of a series of naked races in the organization’s southwest region. This year, for the first time, Star Ranch will also host the closing race in the series – the Fall Bare Buns Fun Run on Oct. 13.

The chip-timed race starts at 1 p.m. A 1K kids fun run is set for 10 a.m. Entry fee is $35 for adults. Sign up online at http://www.starranch.net. Registration fee includes a T-shirt and goodie bag. Margie’s Nekkid Cafe will serve food beginning at 8:30 a.m. Refreshments will be available at the pool, with burgers starting at 2:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the Star Ranch office at 512-273-2257, go to http://www.starranch.net or email info@starranch.net.

At Pease Park, explore a village of twig huts

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Today’s get-out-and-explore-your-city tip from Fit City – visit the Yippee Ki Yay sculpture at Pease Park.

I felt a little like I was visiting the Three Little Pigs house made of sticks when I parked my bike and wandered among the five leaning structures, all made of twigs from local trees and bushes. (Please don’t huff and puff when you drop by to check it out.)

Patrick Dougherty’s twig installation “Yippee Ki Yay” opened in Pease Park in Febrary. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

North Carolina-based artist Patrick Dougherty, with the help of about 200 local volunteers, built the little village by bending and lashing together stems of Texas ash, ligustrum, depression willow and other plants. The Pease Park Conservancy funded the project, which cost about $106,000 and was installed in February.

RELATED: Visit an enchanted hamlet made of sticks at Pease Park

It’s temporary, and will serve another purpose in its afterlife. Crews will dismantle it after a few years and use the materials for mulch in the park.

Pease Park is located at 1100 Kingsbury Street in Austin.

The best way to celebrate spring? Run the Cap10K, of course!

Bobbi Jo Chapman runs in a Rubix cube in the 40th Annual Austin American-Statesman Capitol 10,000 in 2017.


Have you registered for this year’s Statesman Cap10K?

On April 8, the largest 10K in Texas will snake up Congress Avenue, head west toward the big hill on Enfield Road, swing south near MoPac, then fold back along East Cesar Chavez Street.

If you’ve done it before, you know it’s much more than a run – it’s a rolling party. Costumes are encouraged, fans cheer on family and friends, and somebody along the route always tries to tempt participants by shoving a tray of doughnuts or bacon under their noses as they stream past.

Samuel Sydney, left and Sanjuanita Zavala race to the end of the race in the 40th Annual Austin American-Statesman in 2017.

As of Monday, roughly 20,000 people had registered for this year’s run. That’s about 1,000 people ahead of registration at this time last year. Race organizers hope to top off at 22,000.

The finish line festival will feature the circus-themed party band Electric Circus, followed by The Matt Wilson Band, which plays soul, R&B, rock, blues, funk and gospel.

Chavelo Jimenez Jr celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the 2017 Statesman Capitol 10,000.

The first Cap10K took place on March 12, 1978. Eight hundred runners were expected; 3,400 registered.

The crowd grew steadily in subsequent years. At its largest, 28,341 people registered for the run on March 29, 1987. Anyone who ran that year certainly remembers it: Temperatures hovered around 33 degrees and sleet fell.

Today the race ranks as the seventh largest 10K in the country.

Thinking of joining the fun? Registration is $50 for adults or $35 for ages 10 and under. (Prices increase next Tuesday). To register, go here.

Jacob Burzynski as Spiderman pose for a photo in the 2017 Statesman Capitol 10,000.

Graffiti mars rocks at Pedernales Falls State Park

People have carved and scraped their names onto rocks at Pedernales Falls State Park. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman


Look at these photos. This is how people treat our state parks.

Without much rain lately, flow rates have dropped on the Pedernales River. Some of the channels cut by the river at Pedernales Falls State Park are dry, or nearly dry. That means hikers can climb down into the twisting passages – and while they’re there, some of them deface the landscape.

Some of the graffiti is in paint; some is scraped onto the rock or the scum on the surface. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

RELATED: Two arrested in Enchanted Rock graffiti case

These photos show a spot spot at the main falls, where entire walls of limestone are covered with names, dates and messages. Some of the graffiti is made with paint or marker. Some is etched into the rock. Some is scratched into algae and scum on the surface.

All of it is ugly.

Come on people. Mind your manners.

Water levels are low at Pedernales Falls State Park. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

RELATED: Stevie Ray Vaughan statue vandalized with graffiti

Our parks are special places, where people go to get in touch with nature. We don’t care about your romantic relationships, the date you visited the park, or your handwriting skills.

Please appreciate the natural beauty of the place, and leave it for the next person to enjoy.

Pedernales Falls State Park is located near Johnson City. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

The park is located at 2585 Park Road 6026, near Johnson City. For more information, go here.

Like running and beer? Try the Brewery Running Series

The Brewery Running Series moves to Southern Heights Brewing Co. this weekend. Photo by Jo Huang

Imagine a foot race where nobody really cared about pace. You simply trotted 5K through a neighborhood, getting to know a new part of Austin, then someone handed you a beer while a band played live music.

That’s the Texas Brewery Running Series, and this week’s race is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Southern Heights Brewing Co., 6014 Techni Center Drive.

At the end of every run, participants get a free beer. Jo Huang/Brewery Running Series

The series started in Minnesota in 2012. Founders Nate Herrington and Morgan Jappe wanted to combine their favorite things – being active, drinking beer and supporting their community, so they organized a series of casual runs at local breweries.

RELATED: Ride the wave to NLand Surf Park’s new brewery

Gabbi Lindgren participated in the races when she lived in Minnesota, and missed them when she moved to Texas four years ago. She reached out to organizers, who agreed to help her launch the series in Austin last years. The races started small, but have grown to draw between 80 and 100 runners each.

The key, she says, is keeping them small and friendly.

The series started in Minnesota and branched out to Austin in 2017. Photo by Jo Huang

“It’s a really simple, fun idea,” says Lindgren, founder of the Texas edition of the Brewery Running Series. “Our motto is ‘Be active, have fun and give back.’ People come and do the 5K, and afterward everyone drinks beer.”

Ten percent of proceeds are donated to a local charity of the brewery’s choosing.

“A lot of people get this idea of running a 5K, and they’re not sure they can do it,” Lindgren says. “This is casual and non-intimidating – and you get to drink a beer at the end.”

RELATED: At Urban Axes, drink beer, throw sharp objects

The 2018 series started in February, and races have already taken place at 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative, Hops & Grain Brewery and Black Star Co-Op. Plenty of opportunities to run and drink beer remain.

Here’s the rest of the schedule:

  • April 7, Adelbert’s Brewery
  • April 14, Celis Brewery
  • April 21, Meridian Hive Meadery
  • May 5, Oskar Blues
  • May 19, Friends & Allies Brewing

Registration is $30 in advance or on site the day of the event. For more information, go here.

The course is open; roads are not blocked to traffic. Runners must obey all traffic laws. Volunteers will help direct athletes. Bring a valid ID or driver’s license. Registered runners age 21 and up get a free beer. Those who are under 21 get a free non-alcoholic beverage.

Seeking to unite community, Austin trainer launches free fitness series

Trainer Sarah Stewart (top) and Rabah Rahil exercise at the Hills Fitness Center in this 2012 file photo. 01.26.12 Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN


The serial bombings put the city on edge, and one Austin trainer wanted to do whatever she could to keep the community united and uplifted during the trauma.

Trainer Sarah Stewart this week announced she planned to launch a series of free fitness classes that would begin on Friday.

Shortly after she announced the sessions, Austin police announced that the suspected bomber died in a bombing early Wednesday as law enforcement officials closed in on him. She decided to move ahead with the free classes as a way to encourage community solidarity.

Sarah Stewart

“We’re all Austin,” she says.

The first sessions will take place at 7 a.m. Friday at Pease Park, 1100 Kingsbury Street. The group will meet at the picnic tables. Depending on response, the free classes will continue on the last Friday of each month.

“I have a passion for teaching the science of movement,” Stewart says. “Not everyone can afford personal training or good instruction, but everyone needs it. This is an opportunity to take advantage of quality instruction in a safe environment.”

The 45-minute sessions will include a warmup, core-based movement, compound movement and cardiovascular work, followed by a 15-minute yoga and stretching session. Bring a mat, water, and hand weights (2-20 pounds) if you have them. The classes are open to any fitness level, any age and any capacity of movement. Stewart will wrap up the sessions with sponsor giveaways, and T-shirts will be awarded for various challenges.

Sarah Stewart will lead a free series of fitness classes starting Friday at Pease Park.

“Just come out, come move your body and get healthier,” Stewart says. “Austin is a pretty cool place and there’s a lot out there, but I know what I have to give and I want to give it.”

One more thing. Stewart is a form perfectionist. Consider yourself (happily) warned.

For more information, email Stewart at kineticms@gmail.com.

RSVP for free dance, fitness and cooking classes at Saturday’s Urban Health Expo

The Urban Health Expo at Huston-Tillotson University on Sunday will include free classes and discussion panels. Photo courtesy Urban Health Expo


Head to Huston-Tillotson University Saturday for dance and fitness classes, cooking sessions and discussion panels, all part of the Urban Health Expo.

The event is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the university, 900 Chicon Street.

RELATED: Can doughnuts be healthy? Elite Sweets thinks they can.

The expo takes place from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday. Photo courtesy Urban Health Expo


Lone Star Circle of Care is title sponsor of the event, which aims to help close the health disparity gap for Austin’s African American community.

More than 30 speakers will participate, including Marion Jones, a former track and field athlete and professional basketball player; Crystal Wall, owner and creator of MixFitz Studios; Kristina Brown, co-founder of Counter Balance: ATX; and Keith Thompson, founder of KTX Fitness.

For more information go here.

The event is free, but you must RSVP to attend. Do that here.

Photographer Joel Sartore: Saving animals one portrait at a time

Joel Sartore, left, and Laura Huffman, state diretor of the Nature Conservancy in Texas, stand in front of a series of images Sartore shot for his National Geographic Photo Ark project. Pam LeBlanc


It’s all about eye contact.

That from National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, the man behind the Photo Ark project, which aims to document endangered and at-risk animals all over the world.

Sartore’s photographs of cuddly koalas, bug-eyed amphibians, sleek tigers and birds that look like they stepped out of a Fat Tuesday parade are set against solid black or white backdrops, making the animals jump out in detail. You feel like you’re face to face with each one, just by looking at a picture.

But behind the compelling photos lies a greater mission: Protecting rapidly disappearing species.

Sartore compares the project to a giant dating service, where people look at photos and fall in love with one particular species, then do what they can to save it.

“You won’t save it if you’ve never met it,” he told a crowd gathered at the JW Marriott for the annual luncheon of the Nature Conservancy in Texas.

RELATED: National Geographic photo project takes spotlight at Austin benefit

Sartore wove in behind-the-scenes stories of how he got some of the photos, showing video snippets of chimps destroying in a handful of seconds a backdrop he’d worked hard to assemble, and clips of a bird pecking the lens of his $6,000 camera with its long, curved beak.

“They all count, no matter how ugly,” he said. “These are works of art, every one of them.”

Sartore works quickly. His photo sessions typically last less than 5 minutes, and he works hard not to stress his subjects. The key is good lighting and an up close perspective, he says.

RELATED: World’s last male northern white rhino dies at age of 45

After a decade of work, he’s about halfway through the project – and several of the species he has photographed have already gone extinct.

“Does it make me sad? Yes, but mostly it pisses me off,” he said. “Why do we need to wait until things get so dire? The clock is ticking, but I’m here to tell you it’s not too late.”