Spring has Sprung: Fun and alternative ways to get fit in London

London, Great Britain

9 places
Spring has Sprung: Fun and alternative ways to get fit in London

Harriet Wiseman

As the weather begins to warm up and summer draws closer, now is the perfect time to explore and get stuck into a new exercise routine. London has some brilliant and unusual options for getting fit that will ensure boredom is kept well away! From canoeing down the Thames to cycling at the famous Olympic velodrome, these activities are sure to get your pulse racing.

Located just 40 minutes from Central London is the world famous Lee Valley White Water Rafting Center, if thrill seeking and adrenaline rushes are your thing then this is the place for you. The venue was used in the London 2012 Olympics and is renowned for having excellent rapids and highly skilled instructors. Rafters must be at least 14 years old as this is a tough, physical exercise that requires concentration and teamwork. All equipment is provided and there are instructors and safety professionals at key points of the course. The rafts take groups of 9 and it is worth booking in advance, however there are a large variety of packages from solo outings to large corporate events available, just have a look on their website and see which one appeals to you.

The Urban Tri is a hard-core (but fun) fitness event that takes place every first Sunday of the Month and is spread across three sites. If you like your exercise varied then this is the perfect workout for you.

The event begins with 45 minutes of Hot Yoga at Yotopia studios in Covent Garden, followed by a 3-mile run through the streets of London in which the running experts from Sweatshop will guide you to your final task: an 8 mile indoor cycling session at BOOM cycle in Holborn. Water, a yoga mat, towels, pace runners, cycling shoes (if you want to wear them) and showers with luxury toiletries are all provided in the £40 that you pay for the event.

Both Yotopia and BOOM cycle have a lot to offer on more everyday basis too. Yotopia runs a large selection of normal, warm and hot yoga classes in sessions catered around many levels of competence, from beginner to those who are highly experienced. BOOM cycle has two sites to choose from, a main one in Holborn and a smaller, basement-style venue in Shoreditch. The environment is fun, energetic and cool – the music is loud and the lights are turned low. BOOM cycle offer spinning classes from 07:30 in the morning until 19:15 at night and you can pick which lesson will best suit your music taste by listening to the instructors playlist before you visit.

2020 Archery in London Bridge is a safe, indoor experience that will challenge your concentration, aim, co-ordination and build up muscle in your arms and upper body, all whilst having a lot of fun. The tutors help you to hone your skills and get the most out of the bow, and encourage a bit of competition between the archers in the class. This is an activity that is suitable for beginners and those that want to focus their mind at the same time as testing their body. 2020 also offer ‘Archery Tag’- a hilarious activity that is like paintballing but with bows & arrows (all harmless/no bruising) it is best to go as a group as you divide into teams and have inflatable barriers to hide behind. Archery Tag is offered at 2020’s Canary Wharf and Bermondsey sites and costs £34.50 per person for a 1.5 hour session.

Using one of London’s many outdoor gyms is perfect for those looking for an exercise option that comes at a good price, as you can’t get much cheaper than free of charge! London has many outdoor gyms, where good quality equipment is available for anyone to use. If you pick a bright, sunny morning then this really is a great way to spend some sweat, why not run around the park to get your heart rate up and then use the gym equipment to target specific areas of the body. You can even finish off the workout with some time on the swings! Check out the Great Outdoor Gym Company’s website at http://www.tgogc.com/Find-A-Gym/United-Kingdom/London/ for a list of all of the free outdoor gyms in London, as well as how best to use the equipment there.

If you would like your exercise to be tied in with some site seeing then kayaking down the Thames could be the activity for you. The ‘Big Ben and Back’ tour lasts for two hours and is with the tide both ways, which means that it is suitable for all abilities, included in your ticket is all of the equipment and an experienced guide who leads the tour. ‘Discover London’ is another trip option that goes from Chelsea to Tower Bridge and back, it lasts for 4 hours and includes lunch.

Moo Canoes are an alternative option; based in the Limehouse Basin, they offer canoes or kayaks and often use the fleet to enhance and protect London’s waterways. The routes run around the East London canals and Moo offer many packages from free paddling to pub crawls (although that is for days when you are feeling not so health focused).

Housed in an old pipe engineering works is the Mile End Climbing center with its relaxed atmosphere, 16,000 square feet of climbing space and friendly staff – this is the place to come if you want to try something completely different. There are areas for low level climbing without ropes, large walls where you can wear a harness and abseil back down as well as advanced training areas where you are encouraged to try and climb on the ceiling. Rock climbing is an amazing workout – it pushes your core, legs, arms, chest and shoulders as well as your strategic thinking and determination. The Mile End Climbing center is in the middle of Mile End Park and surrounded by interesting little cafes, pubs and Matt’s Gallery, which always shows really interesting exhibitions.

Parkrun UK is a truly brilliant initiative; they organize free, timed 5K races that take place every week in various parks around the city. Everyone is encouraged to take part, regardless of your ability level and it really does push you to take your running to the next stage as you begin to compete both against the clock and other people in the race. From Alexandra Palace or Hackney Downs to Richmond park, there is bound to be a Parkrun near you and in fact it is a fun way to explore other areas of the city that you might not usually visit whilst also keeping fit.

If you enjoy a spot of cycling, why not visit the Olympic velodrome in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park, Stratford? Choose from cycling the track in the velodrome itself, racing on the road circuit, tackling the mountain bike trails or jumping the berms of the world-class BMX track. You can hire all of the equipment and receive excellent tutoring on how to use the specific bicycles and assorted tracks. You will certainly work up a sweat and it is perfect for those that want to try something new and push themselves to the limit.

When you have a huge body of water like the Thames it is the perfect opportunity for learning how to sail. Sailing is an all over body workout that is so full on that you forget you are even exercising! The Docklands Sailing and Watersports Club offers everything from private tutorial lessons to large group activities like dragon boat racing. It is fast, furious and open to elements, there is a really strong club atmosphere and the DSWC run many social events throughout the year (although it is also perfect for casual drop-in sessions too). If you want something a little more avant-garde then why not try learning how to windsurf?

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