Getting up and moving is a great way to stay in shape and make new friends. 

Departmental Softball League

The interdepartmental slow pitch softball league is a great way to break up the week. Games are held about once a week in Forest Park between April and July and help build up friendly rivalries and interactions with various departments. New teams can be formed very easily, and several have sprouted in the last few years, but teams from Genetics, Cell Biology, Neuroscience, GSC, Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Danforth Plant Center, Pathology, and at least one team of medical students have been mainstays for several seasons. The league is coed, requiring at least three women on the field for each team. Although standings are kept and a playoff is held at the end of each season, the goal of the league is largely fun. Everyone makes the playoffs. Other than wins and losses, no official stats are kept, so there are no errors, only hits. Some teams bring refreshments to the games, and most have a “uniform” T-shirt. Teams can have students, faculty, postdocs, techs or even friends or family. There is usually no cost to play, although equipment (bats, balls and gloves) is a team’s responsibility. Most teams do not require tryouts or even any baseball or softball experience, only enthusiasm, making it easy to join teams (just ask around a department until you meet someone on a team).

For more information, email league commissioner and All-Star pitcher Dr. Robert Mercer.

Intramural Sports

At Washington University there is a wide variety of intramural sports, and by participating, graduate students can meet new people and remain physically fit. Intramural sports are open to all graduate and undergraduate students, so it will not just be the same people you see every day in lab and in class. The complete list of intramural sports including football, soccer and ultimate Frisbee can be found on the Wash U athletics website.

Ultimate Frisbee

If you’ve never heard of this sport, or are an avid hucker, there is a vibrant Ultimate community in St. Louis for you! Saint Louis Ultimate Association has well-organized leagues in which you sign up and are drafted to a team. Summer league is by far the best with the greatest number of participants, multiple levels of play and the most bang for your buck. DBBS also has a weekly pickup game for all levels in Forest Park. 


​St. Louis has an excellent kickball league that plays throughout the year in Tower Grove Park called Big Balls Kickball.

Dance Classes

Looking for a fun, stress-free way to keep fit in the evenings after class but hate going to the gym? Look no further than The City Studio, located in the Central West End at 4397 Laclede Ave. (entrance is at 8 Newstead Ave). The City Studio offers a positive and encouraging learning environment for dancers of all levels. Classes offered include hip hop/street jazz, yoga, pilates, jazz fusion and Dunham technique, a unique blend of Euro- and Afro-centric movement taught to live percussion created by anthropologist and dancer Katherine Dunham, a style taught almost solely in the St. Louis region. The cost is $10 or less per class for Washington University students, and classes are taught on nights and weekends on a convenient drop-in basis (in most cases, no prior dance experience is necessary). For more information on The City Studio’s class descriptions, pricing, instructors and events, please call (314) 533-4142.

For dance classes in the Delmar Loop area, your best bet is at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), located at 524 Trinity Ave. COCA offers a wide range of classes (in dance as well as theater, singing, fitness, etc.) at different levels of difficulty, but usually at a somewhat higher price. Quarter- or semester-long classes at COCA are offered throughout the day and evening and on weekends. Beware: there are a lot of younger folks at COCA, so if you aren’t yet a strong dancer, you may feel slightly uncomfortable here. For more information on COCA, visit their website or call (314) 725-6555.

The Mahler Ballroom (4915 Washington Ave. in the Central West End) offers ballroom dance classes for a range of levels, from beginner to more advanced. Styles include tango, waltz, foxtrot, and salsa, among others. Group and individual lessons are available.


Soccer is huge in St. Louis, and there are lots of opportunities to play, from well-organized competitive leagues to informal kickabouts in the park. One opportunity to play organized soccer outdoors is through the intramural leagues at the Danforth Campus. The women’s season is in the fall, beginning in early September. The men’s season is in the spring, beginning in late February. Many players who cannot get a team together go to the preseason organizational meeting and get drafted onto a team. The Catholic Youth Council and Monster Sports also organize 11 vs. 11 men’s and women’s soccer leagues during the fall and spring seasons. Organized soccer can be played in the summer months as well, but the level of play is usually higher. La Liga Latina is now part of the USSF and the Bush Premier league is usually made up of current and former college and semi-pro players.

Indoor soccer can be played at one of several Vetta Sports complexes around St. Louis. (The closest is the Soccerdome in Brentwood). Vetta has men’s, women’s and coed leagues. A season lasts only eight to nine weeks (one game/week), but seasons are continually renewed all year. Be aware that Vetta is not affiliated with Washington University, and teams will have to pay a fee. Many people also join existing teams that advertise for players at the soccer venues.

Informal pickup games are held all over St. Louis. Chances are that if you drive around the parks, you’ll find people playing. A popular game is held at the Danforth Campus on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons, and the skill level is varied. Cell Biology meets on Tuesday nights to play. Games are played at Heman Park in University City. The department plays outdoor soccer at 6 p.m. (weather permitting). During the winter, soccer is played at the park’s indoor facility at 8 p.m. For more information, contact Dr. Colin Nichols. Additionally, informal games are held in the Olin gym during the winter months and at the Jewel Box fields in Forest Park on Sunday and Wednesday nights at 5:30 p.m..


Local Yoga Studios

Many gyms and yoga studios (WellAware included!) offer Groupons and LivingSocial deals for new members, which will allow you to try out classes and the facilities for a reduced price. If you are hesitant to join a gym, try it out for a short term and see if you like it, then commit after you’ve made the rounds! ClassPass is also a popular option for students looking to try multiple gyms before making a long-term commitment.

Rock Climbing

Many students frequently several local climbing gyms. UpperLimits is particularly popular, owing to its location, grad-student-friendly hours, reasonable prices, and friendly staff. The downtown location is approximately 2.5 miles away near Union Station and features 10,000 square feet of climbable surfaces up to 40 feet high, as well as a bouldering wall. The routes range in difficulty appropriate for everyone from a climbing novice to an experienced mountaineer It is possible to take the MetroLink to the Union Station stop and walk to the facility. The West County location is slightly larger, but significantly farther away. They rent harnesses, shoes and belay device, or you can bring your own. If you’re just “bouldering” (climbing without protection and lower than 6’) then you can get away without any rental equipment at all. Wednesday and Friday nights are college and kids’ nights respectively, and are often avoided by grad students. Call for current hours of operation, (314) 241-7625. You can purchase annual memberships (often least expensive in January), daily passes, or groupons.

Besides UpperLimits, there are other places with indoor facilities such as the Center of Clayton and a newer gym in downtown St. Louis, Climb So Ill. Jackson Falls is the nearest outdoor climbing area near St. Louis, appropriate for a variety of skill levels. More experienced climbers, several other parks throughout Missouri offer climbing, subject to park rules.


If you are a runner, two websites provide an events calendar of racing/walking events in the area: and WashU Med Campus has a morning run club. For those ambitious runners out there, the website has information about the St. Louis Marathon that takes place in the spring, as well as a half marathon that occurs every fall.


​St. Louis is rapidly becoming a very bike-friendly city, with the emergence of designated bicycle lanes connecting popular destination neighborhoods. The Medical campus has several free and secure bicycle storage areas for students and employees. For recreational cycling, forest park has over a dozen miles of bike trails, and is conveniently located directly adjacent to the medical center. A great general resource is the website of STLBiking.

For those looking for a more robust experience, check out:

  • The Katy Trail is, at 225 perfectly flat miles, America’s longest rails-to-trails project. It begins in St. Charles, just west of St. Louis. If you do not have your own bike, you can rent one at any of the trailheads. You also may enjoy stopping at one of the wineries along the way for some refreshment. The surface is packed gravel that is suitable for both mountain and road bikes. The most scenic parts of this trail are after Augusta, so you might want to start there. For more information, check out Missouri State Parks.
  • Once part of the magnificent Route 66, the Chain of Rocks Bridge bikeway is definitely something you’ll want to try. Condemned and closed only a few years ago, it has been reopened for non-motor vehicle traffic. The cool feature of the bridge is that it has a kink in it to accommodate local river topology and boat traffic.
  • Another fun biking event is the Moonlight Ramble, the largest nighttime cycling event in the world. It takes place in St. Louis on the Saturday night nearest the full moon in August, and starts at 12:01 a.m.
  • The Bicycle Fun Club sponsors dozens of rides throughout the spring and summer seasons. One-day ride fees are typically around $10 if you register ahead of time, but are discounted if you visit a local bicycle shop that sponsors the particular ride.
  • For additional opportunities, consider the book Mountain Bike! The Ozarks: A Guide to the Classic Trails by Steve Henry. Ironically, you may need a car to drive out to the best cycling in St. Louis. If you’re ever at the Maplewood Bicycle Shop pick up a copy of the Missouri Bicycle Trails Reference Map with directions to nearly 100 trails.

There are also plenty of places to buy bicycles and bicycle equipment. Check these websites if you are looking for new or used bicycles:

Water Sports

On one of those hot Missouri summer days, you may want to try floating down one of Missouri’s beautiful rivers. Less than an hour and a half away lies the Meramec River, which provides nearly 100 miles of floatable river with caves, springs and scenery along the course. The most floated section is between Meramec Springs and Meramec State Park. For a slightly farther but more pristine experience, try the spring-fed Current or Jack’s Fork rivers. Outfitters offer canoe, raft, and kayak rentals, as well as camping, along all of these rivers. For more information, go to Missouri Canoe or Missouri White Water depending on your boating style. These sites provide information for canoeing, kayaking, floating, rafting and tubing down many of Missouri’s rivers. They list locations of rental facilities and provide maps and descriptions of several rivers. The Alpine Shop in Kirkwood also routinely holds kayaking seminars that range from free to $75, a cost that also includes equipment rental. REI in Brentwood is also a great place to pick up brochures for various outings, wet and dry. For more information about activities in city and state parks, check out Missouri state parks and City of St. Louis, Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry.