Laura Merkel of Dance Waterloo will lead a free fitness class at Recycled Reads Photo courtesy Dance Waterloo

Add this to the list of free fitness opportunities around Austin – classes from Dance Waterloo, designed to improve your base fitness and alignment.

The What the Fit?! classes (fitness is better than cussing, we agree) combine techniques used in yoga, restorative yoga, Pilates and Barre classes. They take place inside a store that sells used books, which (we think) makes it even cooler. And they’re taught by Laura Merkel, who mashes up a blend of yoga, Pilates and barre techniques in the sessions. It’s an all-body workout, but each week she turns the focus to strengthening and stretching a separate area.

“It’s super fun,” she says.

Laura Merkel

The classes take place at 1:30 p.m. Saturdays at the Austin Public Library’s Recycled Reads Bookstore, 5335 Burnet Road. The March 24 class will focus on hips, the March 31 class on shoulders, the April 14 class on core and the April 21 class on spine. No class is scheduled for April 7.

The classes are open to all ages, levels and abilities. Bring a yoga mat, a towel and water. Thera-Bands, support blocks and yoga straps will be provided. The classes are free, but RSVP in advance here.

The small, Austin-based dance company offers performances and classes in public spaces. The lineup includes a dance-making class that combines story telling and activities for families with young children, a dance in public spaces class, and a modern dance class at Mueller Park.

“We’re trying to use either underutilized or under-appreciated spaces. The idea is to bring dance, fitness and education to people instead of making them come to us,” Merkel says. “All of our programming and performances are either free or pay what you can. We’re really trying to make dance accessible to everyone.”

Waterloo Dance’s classes are all free or pay what you can. Photo courtesy Dance Waterloo

The group’s next performance will take place in May on the patio behind Epoch Coffee in the Village Shopping Center, 2700 West Anderson Lane.

Dance Waterloo is part of the Austin Creative Alliance. The classes are funded in part by a grant from the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division. For more information about Dance Waterloo, go here.