As one of the fittest cities in the country, Austin has no shortage of gyms and fitness studios. In a town with so many options, the key to setting your gym apart from the competition is all about community – both cultivating the community within your gym, and connecting with the surrounding community. Three local gyms, all Austin gems in their own right, are going above and beyond to give back to the community that has helped shape their culture.
Lift ATX’s motto, “Strength in Community, Community in Strength” says it all. When owner Daniel Hinojosa set out to open a lifting gym on the East side, his main goal was to give back to the community that had welcomed him so warmly 20 years ago. As Daniel describes, “My original vision for Lift ATX was to offer OG East Austinites a space to call their own, a space to build community, a space to celebrate the culture, and a space to promote health and wellness in the midst of rapid gentrification.”
Lift ATX hosts events throughout the year, partnering with other East side businesses for local fundraising, networking events, social events, and holiday toy and food drives to help the community. Daniel believes that “community is key to health, happiness and success and I hope that Lift ATX can serve as a place for people to connect.” Organizations that Lift ATX has partnered with and supported include Contigo Wellness (a non-profit supporting communities of color, where Daniel sits on the board), Colunga Family, Mas Cultura, Live 130, Con Mi Madre, in addition to educational outreach focusing on health and wellness with St. Edward University, Austin ISD, and Del Valle ISD.
The gym is currently expanding their space at 1005 Springdale Road, and will be hosting a three-year anniversary celebration on September 30th, free and open to the public.
Austin Simply Fit is a woman-owned personal training studio with locations in Central and South Austin. They cultivate a sense of community within their walls and in the larger Austin area through a variety of philanthropic efforts, with their ASF Gives Back program. Owner Krista Bergeron says of their ASF Gives Back initiative, “We hope to bring our community of amazing clients and coaches together to make an impact and create the Austin we want to live in. We are focused on prioritizing equity and highlighting the talents and efforts of those that are often overlooked and underrepresented.”
Many of the trainers at Austin Simply Fit have an athletic background, and for the last six years the ASF Gives Back program has included support for graduating athletes through their ASF Student Athlete Scholarship program for AISD seniors. The scholarship fund ties into Coach DJ’s Memorial Bench-A-Thon, an annual bench press competition at Austin Simply Fit that’s hosted in honor of a former ASF Coach DJ Cedent who lost his battle with sickle cell anemia.
Another large charity that the ASF Gives Back program works with is The DAWA Fund, which focuses on supporting people of color that are musicians, artists, social workers, teachers and healing practitioners and are experiencing a short-term crisis. Krista is extremely passionate about DAWA and sits on the board. Of DAWA’s impact Krista says, “As the city grows and we celebrate all creative parts of Austin, we can’t forget the actual artists and givers that are struggling for funding and the ability to still be part of Austin. Help us support the people who are part of the reason Austin is such a wonderful city.” DAWA is currently fundraising ahead of their large annual event on September 19th, find out more and make a donation online.
Of their work, Krista says, “All of the ways ASF gives back are just an example of what a community can do when we come together. These events and contributions have brought us all closer and remind us, nothing is too small, it really does all add up.”
A well-known part of the Austin group fitness community, Castle Hill Fitness offers a variety of group fitness classes, personal training, gym access, and a full-service spa. Castle Hill Fitness has participated in community outreach and charity events throughout their years, most frequently for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and hosted many community food and clothing drives. Once they went fully virtual for their classes in 2020 during the pandemic gym closures, they decided to find a new way to continue their charity work by offering monthly charity donation workouts online that anyone could attend. The Castle Hill community came together in a big way for these events, and they’ve kept them going as a staple of their offerings. Marketing Director Rebecca Brumberg says of their events, “Our mission has always been to enrich and support our community’s health and quality of life – and that extends beyond our walls.”
Since June of 2020, Castle Hill Fitness has been able to fundraise for about 17 local organizations through their charity donation workouts, with many being repeat donees. The class format and instructors vary for the donation workout series, offering a little something for everyone in the fitness community to enjoy. The next class in the series will be in October, and benefit the Breast Cancer Research Center. You can stay up to date on Castle Hill’s donation workouts via their social media or their events page. Rebecca says, “The intention and hope are to support the health and wellness of our wider community beyond the gym, by providing monthly donation classes that support a local non-profit or organization that’s in alignment with our values and mission.”
Castle Hill Fitness are also the owners behind Austin’s Free Day of Yoga, a city-wide event taking place on Labor Day, September 4th, offering free yoga classes from numerous Austin gyms and instructors around the city, as well as an all-day event at Waterloo Greenway Park.