Misery loves company – but so does joy. Whether you’ve got to be dragged into the gym kicking and screaming or love working out so much that you’ve just got to share it with others, a fitness group might provide the spark you need. Here are some local options.
The Narragansett Running Association is a dues-paying (only $10/year) group of running enthusiasts who participate in weekly runs for fun or distance, train for races together and generally just cheer each other on. Their weekly fun run starts every Thursday evening at 6pm from Camire’s Athletic Soles (20B Main Street, Wakefield) through April (May-September they start from Narragansett Town Beach). They also do weekly track runs, a Wednesday morning sunrise run (5:30am at Bagelz, 90 Pershing Avenue, Wakefield), a Saturday long run (start time and meeting place vary by week) and even a Sunday morning Newport run for their “over the bridge” members. gansettrunning.org
The AMC Narragansett Chapter is the local branch of the Appalachian Mountain Club, which boasts nearly 90,000 members across 12 chapters nationwide. This group of nature-loving outdoor adventurers organizes outings for biking, paddling, kayaking and cross-country skiing, but hiking is really their bread-and-butter. Despite their name, AMC Narragansett organizes hikes all over the state. Members also engage in conservation activities and help tend trails for other hikers. Non-members are welcome to participate, and events are led by qualified and trained AMC volunteers who ensure safety and environmental responsibility. amcnarragansett.org
If you’re more hiking enthusiast than novice, the Rhode Island Hiking Club may be your crowd. This group engages in a variety of hikes from beginner to experienced, but they always emphasize embracing the challenge of something more than a casual stroll. Hikes are organized around the state (and even into nearby Connecticut), and some can take on pretty rough terrain (at least by Rhode Island standards). Members also occasionally organize teams for things like the Pell Bridge Walk/Run, which they billed as the club’s “most epic stream crossing yet” (or at least since the end of Ghostbusters). meetup.com/RhodeIslandHikingClub
The Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition isn’t some group of weekend mountain biking enthusiasts; it’s a full-fledged advocacy organization for people who regard bicycling as a way of life. Get Your Bike On! is a twice-monthly event to encourage casual or aspiring riders who need to get more comfortable with biking, away from the spandex-clad intensity of serious bikers. Once a month, the Coalition teams up with Providence City Hall for Bike the Night, a nighttime ride showcasing various neighborhoods. Their periodic Bike to Beer events are pretty much self-explanatory and, perhaps fittingly, aren’t organized on a regular schedule. ribike.org
The Narragansett Bay Wheelmen might be the better biker gang for you if recreational and adventure riding are more your speed (unless crossing busy city intersections at rush hour is your idea of an adventure). Every Sunday they crisscross Rhode Island, eastern Connecticut and southeastern Massachusetts for adventure rides that showcase areas one would seldom travel by car. The Wheelmen also organize the annual Flattest Century In the East in September, a 100-mile recreational tour that’s been a local biking tradition for over 40 years. nbwclub.org
If a leisurely bike ride or hike lacks the bone-crunching intensity and naked aggression you need to get those endorphins pumping, perhaps you should head out onto the rugby pitch. There are options on both the north and south ends of the bay with Providence Rugby and Newport Rugby. Both are members in the New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU), and the Newport club has hosted the NERFU Cup Tournament for the past several years. Members of both clubs range from serious players to eager novices and grizzled old timers, and they always welcome those who just want to learn to play. providencerugby.com, newportrugby.com