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City breaks for fitness fanatics: how to stay fit when you travel

Lonely Planet logo Lonely Planet 06-06-2015 Joe Minihane


Bondi Beach is popular with surfers of all abilities. Image by Kokkai Ng / Moment / Getty Images © Provided by Lonely Planet Bondi Beach is popular with surfers of all abilities. Image by Kokkai Ng / Moment / Getty Images

Staying fit on the road needn’t mean hitting the hotel gym or trying to find a decent running route on crowded city streets. Follow these tips and not only will you feel the burn, you’ll also get an alternative look at some of the planet’s coolest destinations.

Sydney

Take a surf class at Bondi Beach

You can’t go to Sydney and not surf. Bondi‘s famous waves attract all levels, from those trying to stand on a board for the first time to seasoned pros carving through white water. Let’s Go Surfing (letsgosurfing.com.au) has a plethora of courses on offer, including a two-hour beginner session for AUD $99. Amazing fun and guaranteed to work muscles you never knew existed before you hit the waves.

If not surfing, then…

Play a game of beach cricket

You only need a bat, ball and a few willing participants to play this take on Australia’s favourite sport. Remember the game has specific rules: there’s no LBW and stumps can be made from anything from a surfboard to a sweater.

Flights to Sydney 

Hotels in Sydney 

New York

New York © REX New York

Stretch out at a yoga class in Brooklyn

Long walks through NYC are always a great way to see the sights and walk off those killer portions. But for a proper workout, nothing beats grounding down onto a mat at one of Brooklyn’s myriad yoga studios. Shambhala Yoga and Dance in Prospect Heights (shambhalayogadance.com) has classes for all abilities, with prices starting at just $11 for 60-minute sessions. After stretching out, grab coffee at nearby Hungry Ghost (hungryghostbrooklyn.com) or brunch at the world famous Junior’s (juniorscheesecake.com).

If not yoga, then…

Get sweaty at Church Street Boxing

This famous fight gym (csboxinggym.com) lets you sweat out your stress, with muay thai and jiu-jitsu alongside standard boxing. Have a break and kick back in City Hall Park afterwards. It’s just half a block away.

Flights to New York 

Hotels in New York 

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is incredibly bike-friendly. Image by Dag Sundberg / Photographer's choice / Getty Images © Provided by Lonely Planet Copenhagen is incredibly bike-friendly. Image by Dag Sundberg / Photographer's choice / Getty Images

Hire a bike and feel the wind in your hair  

Copenhagen is one of the world’s best cycling cities. There are 350km of segregated bike lanes, so even the wobbliest of riders will feel safe. Copenhagen Free Bike Rental (copenhagenfreebikerental.org) salvages old whips and hands them out to visitors gratis to explore the Danish capital on their own. To get a local’s insight, check out Bike Copenhagen With Mike (bikecopenhagenwithmike.dk), which takes in sights such as the Tivoli and Little Mermaid, as well as heading to lesser-known parts of town.

If not cycling, then…

Climbing at Blocs and Walls

Scandinavia’s largest indoor climbing centre boasts brightly coloured walls and boulders for all abilities and ages. Watch the pros from the fancy cafeteria at the foot of the main wall.

Flights to Copenhagen 

Hotels in Copenhagen 

Vancouver

A paddle down Vancouver's False Creek is a great way to see the city. Image by Chris Cheadle / All Canada Photos / Getty Images © Provided by Lonely Planet A paddle down Vancouver's False Creek is a great way to see the city. Image by Chris Cheadle / All Canada Photos / Getty Images

Paddle a kayak away from the city

Taking a kayak out onto the waters around Vancouver is a must, not to mention a great way to get a killer upper body workout. Tour options are plentiful, but for city sightseeing check out Ecomarine’s (ecomarine.com) guided trip from Granville Island around False Creek. You’ll get great city views, not to mention a chance to see the area’s outstanding bird and marine life up close. If you want more, try paddling around Stanley Park from English Bay Beach.

If not kayaking, then…

Skating at Britannia Park

Vancouver has a number of year-round rinks. Britannia Park offers skate lessons for all levels. More advanced types can turn up and try out their hockey skills at adult stick and puck sessions.

Flights to Vancouver 

Hotels in Vancouver 

London

London © USA Today London

Go for a jog with Run Dem Crew

Can’t work up the motivation to pound the pavements? Then hook up with Run Dem Crew (rundemcrew.com). Over 200 runners meet every Tuesday in east and west London locations, with groups of various abilities exploring new routes led by experienced athletes. Set up by DJ and poet Charlie Dark, it’s billed as a place to meet interesting people, with any competitive urges to be checked at the door.

If not running, then…

Take a dip at Hampstead Heath

There are three beautiful ponds in London’s finest park: men’s, ladies’ and mixed. The latter opens from May to September and has a green space for sunbathing.

Hong Kong

Reward yourself after a long hike with a dip in Big Wave Bay. Image by AsianDream / iStock / Getty Images © Provided by Lonely Planet Reward yourself after a long hike with a dip in Big Wave Bay. Image by AsianDream / iStock / Getty Images

Pull on your walking boots and hike the Dragon’s Back

Just a short bus ride from the chaos of Central, the Dragon’s Back ridge is a great way to stretch your legs and see a greener side of Hong Kong. Well signposted, it’s impossible to get lost and the route gives up stunning views of the main island’s peaks and beaches. Those who want a longer stroll should try the Hong Kong trail, a 50 km path running from Victoria Peak to Big Wave Bay.

If not hiking, then…

Stand up paddle boarding on Stanley Beach

HK Aqua Bound (aquabound.com.hk) offers a variety of water sports at this famous beach. Hire a stand up paddle board or take a class with an expert.

Hotels in Hong Kong 

Rio De Janeiro

Joining a kickabout on Copacabana is a top Rio experience. Image by Peter Adams / Photolibrary / Getty Images © Provided by Lonely Planet Joining a kickabout on Copacabana is a top Rio experience. Image by Peter Adams / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Enjoy a kickabout on Copacabana

No matter whether you hit Copacabana in mid-afternoon or in the early hours, you’re bound to find some local kids showing off their skills. If you’re brimming with confidence, feel free to join in. For those whose ball skills need work, Rio Football Tour runs a dedicated beach football workshop, helping you release your inner Pele. Best of all, you get a caipirinha thrown in once the class is over.

If not football, then…

Wake boarding at the Rio Wake Centre

Strap yourself in and learn to ride the waves off Rio’s beaches in this most extreme of water sports. Be prepared to get wet and worn out after an hour behind the boat.

Flights to Rio De Janeiro 

Hotels in Rio De Janeiro 

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