Live in the city? It can be a real rat-race sometimes. What with the pressure of work, the increased cost of living, full-to-bursting-point public-transport, bulging population densities and the ever-present internet, ensuring that you’re constantly twenty-four-seven contactable, you’ve neither got the time, patience, money nor access to the fitness you need to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
However, as you embark on your commute home tonight, let me briefly take you into an imaginary utopia, where every wall is a stepping machine, every tube map a running trail and every public space a workout mat. Yes, I’m talking about fitness in the city, the free (or quite cheap), convenient and resourceful attempt to reimagine your city as one big gym. Here’s 5 fun ways to keep fit in the city:
Racing the Tube.
Ever since it’s invention people have been racing for the tube (probably), but racing against the tube is a new phenomenon. And it’s your new, fun, free(ish) workout for your journey home. Obviously you have to pick your stations carefully, but this intensive interval workout will not only ensure you get home, but will also help you lose weight faster than static cardio-training routines.
Alternatively, you can take up the Tube Challenge, a fiendish race to reach all 275 stations: the current record is 16 hours, 20 minutes and 27 seconds. Perhaps it’s best to leave this for a weekend, but imagine the grin on your face when you’ve completed it – N.B: only for the pros.
HIIT on the Underground.
Continuing the theme of the underground as a HIIT paradise, the Tube is the perfect workstation for a varied, short and intense workout.
Combine planks with handrail pull-ups, air squats, sit ups, burpees, tuck jumps and lunges on a tube and you’ve got the makings of a great workout as you whisk your way to your destination. What’s the only caveat? Well, this one might be a bit tricky in a carriage full of commuters, but a late night, empty tube may be just the ticket.
Leg it up the stairs after your tube reaches its destination for your last intensive burst.
(free)running the City.
There are plenty of beautiful, bizarre and little-known places around London just ripe for exploration, so why not bring together your urban explorer with your intrepid runner. There are many community-sourced running routes around every area of the London, just ripe for plucking.
For starters, check out MapMyRun. This excellent little app allows you to highlight and share interesting routes, from the shortest runs through to long distance efforts. A runner’s dream, this tool is excellent for those new to a city, or those looking for something a bit different to their usual routes.
And for those seeking companionship and community in their run, why not turn to professional instruction? Turning the urban landscape into a running track are a team of dedicated city explorers who enjoy nothing more than running through the twists and turns of the big city with a group of adventurous amateur runners in tow. They also fit in other routines throughout the run and attempt to make the most out of the odds and ends of urban spaces (handrails, steps, lampposts and the rest of urban municipal ephemera).
Planking in public places.
Following the same theme, you can also turn the rough and gritty streets into a full and open, 24/7 gym. Why not attempt your planking in public places, such as on spacious pedestrianised spots or inner city parks. These places are perfect to continue your multi-routine reps. Change up with side lunges, burpees, snowboard jumps, pike push ups and other innovative workouts, combine it with your surroundings (box jumps onto park benches, anyone?) and you’ve got a perfect workout space for free.
Inexpensive night sessions.
When you’re living the city lifestyle, sometimes it’s hard to find time to make it to your gym. You’re either working late, stuck on public transport or simply too tired from your day to get down there and work out. However, there’s always early, early morning, or really late at night (depending on your particular preference). So why not head down to one of London’s many budget 24/7 gyms and enjoy access at a time that suits you?
Although a gym membership could eat into your drinking budget, or your simply-surviving-every-new-day-living-in-London budget, the benefits are obvious. You get access to a full, sheltered-from-the-weather gym, with the newest hi-tech equipment and gadgetry, and what’s more, you can always nudge a PT on the shoulder for a more advanced session.
With so many options out there, you’ll never tire from the fitness opportunities to be had in the city. So have fun turning your surroundings into an inventive and fun workout, and let me know if you’ve got any more suggestions in the comment section below.
Stephen Smith is blogger, writer and under-performing athlete. He blogs about adventures and misdeeds and desperately wants to make the world of fitness a more exciting place. You can read him blogging about fitness, health and exercise across the web and looks forward to hearing your views!