Richmond’s own Parks and Rec department is a treasure trove of fitness, dance, sports, swimming, hiking, camping, kayaking, and many more classes for the entire family. Did you know that!?
Presenting our second annual Fitness Guide, which has expanded from one week to two! Keep an eye out for more wellness-related content through January 24th, including a couple of really good giveaways.
For years I have been researching classes for my daughter (soccer, dance, karate, that kind of thing), and my online searches for “sport” plus “Richmond” link to businesses billing themselves as Richmond’s finest or best, all inconveniently located in places like Glen Allen.
I know Richmond is small, and we’re surrounded by a Greater Richmond Area, but I’ve found a lack of affordable and accessible classes in the city for kids–classes that won’t involve a commute that eats up a precious Saturday morning. If I have to spend an hour waiting around with other parents during a class, it would be nice for them to be parents in my community, so we can dish about the same schools and neighborhoods and learn things from each other.
How have I managed to grow up and raise a child in the city and have no idea that Richmond offered a variety of classes for youth and adults that include sports, visual arts, and park programs?
I recently overheard a parent at my daughter’s school say her child was in a dance class given by the City. I found the program guide (PDF) for Parks and Recreation, located the dance classes and looked over the other available courses, and in about 10 minutes I had the next 13 years of my child’s after-school activities planned. Even an evening class sounds less intimidating when it’s just 10 to 15 minutes away.
How have I managed to grow up and raise a child in the city and have no idea that Richmond offered a variety of classes for youth and adults that include sports, visual arts, and park programs? Judging by the number of classes offered, it’s clearly not a secret, and the activities are as diverse as the city is.
“There is something for everyone. Our program offerings range from Introduction to Whitewater Kayaking to learning how to belly dance,” said Tamara E. Jenkins with the Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities.
The community centers throughout the city–in addition to the City parks, First Tee of Richmond Golf Complex, and indoor aquatic centers at Bellemeade and Swansboro–host a variety of ways to keep people of every age engaged with opportunities to get fit year-round.
For youth, the usual activity suspects are present: karate, ballet, soccer, football, cheerleading, basketball, and swim (both lessons and a swim team, the Richmond Waves). Beyond that, kids can take water polo classes, modern dance classes, tennis clinics, and track and field. Most of the sports are co-ed, though there are some girls-only teams, like softball.
More advanced dancers have the chance to audition for the City Dance Theatre, an award-winning company that performs classical ballet, jazz, and modern dance throughout Virginia.
For adults looking for fun classes to take, there are many aquatic options (basic swim lessons, water aerobics, and the River City Magnolias for good, old-fashioned synchronized swimming). Out of the water, you can work on your movement skills with the aforementioned belly dancing, cardio line dancing, a Chicago Steppers class, and Zumba.
Dance classes are taught by professional teachers, and sports are run by volunteer coaches and community center staff. The costs for classes vary (and there’s an added $20 fee for non-city residents). Some classes cost as little as nothing. Dance classes start at $65, basketball starts at $25, swim classes are $45 (and if you haven’t priced classes before, those are bargains). The program will offer reduced fees in order to make classes affordable for any child who wants to participate.
Basically, anything you can want to do that gets you off the couch, Parks and Recreation has you covered.
Currently the Fall/Winter program guide is available online (PDF). Most classes will wrap up in February. The course offerings for the spring and summer will be similar, but expect more to be scheduled to include the James River Park System. Additionally, the year-round programs have library events, activities for senior citizens, visual arts, theatre, and crafting classes. Basically, anything you can want to do that gets you off the couch, Parks and Recreation has you covered. There’s the possibility that you or someone you know can become a tennis playing lifeguard who dabbles in kayaking and praise dancing.
Can’t wait until the spring to get started? There are a few outdoor events coming up that can involve the whole family. James River Park adventure hikes, Belle Isle History Hike, and Family Camping 101 are offered in February. James River Parks are also used for bird walks, yoga, biking activities, and white water kayaking clinics.
Registration for spring dance classes begins February 9th, with other programs beginning in March. Summer camp registration opens on February 8th for city residents, and March 1st for all others. Registration can be completed online.