It’s the least wonderful time of the year. The London winter blues are a tangible thing, like a sadly dumped Christmas tree and a negative bank balance. But, there are a few reasons to still feel celebratory, even with a limited budget this month. Happily, it’s not just the weather that is frozen this month, the Mayor of London has put a freeze on several transport fares until 2020. This won’t apply to weekly travel cards, but many single fares on buses, trams, the tube and Overground have been.
Other than the gift of non-skyrocketing transport, we’ve rounded up a few reasons to feel chipper about the first month of 2018. From ticking off New Year’s resolutions in exercise to workshops, learning new skills and tech meetups, you’ll have plenty to keep your mind off the money (or lack thereof) in January.
Free and cheap fitness
We cheapos have been championing free and frugal fitness for a while now, from running for free in London Park’s to do voluntary work while getting some exercise
A free (though voluntary donations are welcomed) running community, who also do community volunteering. Tasks including running to visit the elderly, assisting in community projects and one-off tasks to help older people For more info on GoodGym, read our interview with founder Ivo Gormley.
Groups of self-named ‘Parkers’ gather across city boroughs to take free classes from circuit training and aerobics to capoeira and parkour. Parkers can also bring kids along (over age 3) and they run classes for children too. Find out more in our interview with CEO, Born Barikor.
Pop along to St Stephen’s Church in Westminster for free, all-level community yoga every Tuesday at 7:30-8:30—all you need is a mat.
If a more traditional workout is what you’re after to smash your new year lethargy, Pure Gym offer affordable gym membership or day passes. Pure Gym has 35 gyms across London, most with 24-hour access and membership starts from £12.99 a month with no contract commitment. Some boroughs cost more than others, so it’s worth doing your research when picking a venue.
Mindfulness and meditation might seem a bit buzz-wordy at the moment, but they’re no fad. We Londoners are a fidgety lot, but if you can suspend your giggling, it can be a great source of calm. Courses can be pricey, but there are an increasing number of free or donation-based classes around.
Weekly free (around 16) sessions across London, including Walthamstow, Norwood, Streatham, Harrow and Swiss Cottage. The name confuses some, but the ‘Yoga’ just involves sitting on a chair, the emphasis is on focusing on breathing and you can pick up tips on how to meditate at home. There seems to be a class on pretty much any night of the week, so pop in after work to de-stress for nothing.
Satsang Group Meditation
Free silent meditation on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre.
A small bookshop with a meditation space in Covent Garden, facilitating calm in the heart of London. They offer different types of meditation on a free or voluntary donation basis. Not sure which one is for you? Choose from creative meditation, practical meditation (an open-eye practice), afternoon and evening sessions on positive thinking as well as talks on self-esteem and time management.
Learn new skills
Ok, so meetups are very much a year-round thing, but this is great time to stop investigating them and show up, particularly for tech skills.
Pick up an instrument
Peckham’s DIY space has a lot of weird and wonderful events on. One of January’s offerings is to encourage would-be musos to come and have a bash to join a ‘First Timer’ band and play on drums, bass, keyboards and guitars. You have to sign up for membership to attend, but it’s only £2 and a pretty fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Talks and workshops
Still in need of inspiration? There are plenty of interesting talks on for free in January.
Participatory Practice and Creative Exchange
Tate Exchange is teaming up with the University of Brighton to host a series of talks on arts disciplines in society, including engagement with those with mental health issues, the elderly and refugees.
Get your idea ready for startup funding
This one is not a freebie, but we reckon a tenner is a modest investment for a seminar at The British Library that might help you turn your business idea into a reality. Learn about the Government Startup Loan Scheme and how to write a decent business plan.