After a few days here in Sydney, I’m convinced that a bad meal is, if not impossible, highly unlikely. The famous Woolloomooloo meat pies, the fabulous seafood, the chocolate cafes — if you do not over-indulge in Sydney then you just aren’t paying attention.
Fortunately, Sydney is a city where people love to sweat as much as they love to eat (and for this reason alone, I could soooo live here). Here are some of my favorite options for running, cycling, swimming, yoga, and water sports in Sydney.
Swimming and so much more: Australians are water people. They love to swim and they build beautiful outdoor pools right smack in the middle of their cities. Most of these pools also have full gyms and a variety of fitness classes (yoga, aerobics, kickboxing even). For brevity’s sake, I’m going to limit my suggestions here to three incredible pools located in places where tourists are likely to be, but just remember that there are pools everywhere here and most of them have lovely gyms and cafes on-site. If the pools I’ve listed here are not convenient to your hotel, just do a quick search or ask your concierge. There is probably an amazing pool within minutes of where you are.
Option 1: The Charlton Pool is a 50 meter, salt water pool that looks out over Sydney Harbor. It is located right on Mrs Macquarie’s Road (see running routes above) so if you fancy a swim followed by a nice run through the Botanic Gardens, the Charlton pool is a great option. Another bonus: Yoga on the pool deck every morning, and aqua yoga every evening.
Option 2: The North Sydney Pool is another 50 meter, salt water pool nestled in Luna Park, overlooking the Harbor Bridge (4 Alfred Street South, Milson’s Point). In fact, you can see the bridge looming while you backstroke. Go for a night swim to see the spectacular city lights. This pool also has a very large gym attached to it, so you can get a weight workout in while you are there.
Option 3: If you are in Sydney, chances are good that you will head out to Australia’s most famous surfing beach, Bondi. While you are there, head over to the Bondi Baths. This 50 meter pool has incredible views of the ocean, great drinks at the bar, and is very reasonably priced for visitors ($5.50). It is also the home of the Bondi Icebergs, a club that swims throughout the winter months no matter what the water and air temperature, so be prepared: This pool is FREEZING (the Icebergs like it that way).
If you are brave enough to deal with the sharks, several of the more famous beaches have areas cordoned off for a swim (Manly for example). Triathlon clubs tend to go out just about every morning for a group swim at the beaches, but did I mention the sharks? Swims are cancelled only if great whites have been sighted in the area (no one seems to worried about the many other types of sharks common to the area, including bull sharks).
For a quick run close to your hotel, the area around the Royal Botanic Gardens near Sydney Harbor/Circular Quay is picturesque, quiet (in the early morning and evening) and filled with other runners (so safety isn’t an issue):
Option 1: The Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney is shockingly beautiful and it is easy to incorporate this into a quick run. Here is a 4 mile route on MapMyRun, but you really don’t need to think about where you are going too much. Simply find Hyde Park and start running down Art Gallery Road. You can either cut through the gardens or pick up Mrs. Macquaries Road. Either way will lead you around the harbor on an incredibly beautiful run. Stop in the gardens after for a good stretch and a few minutes of meditation in a quiet, peaceful setting.
Option 2: You can actually run over the famous Harbor Bridge. Simply pick up the Harbor Circle Walk path or download this 7 mile harbor bridge route from Map My Run.
Option 3: Double Bay to Rose Bay is a flat, 5 mile stretch that doesn’t require much thinking. Start at Point Piper and simply hug the shoreline. Turn around and run back for a good 10-miler.
Cycling: Didn’t bring your road bike to Sydney? Why ever not? ( I did!) If the bike was a bit much to pack, no worries! You can have a high end, performance road bike delivered right to your hotel. Simply log onto www.livelo.com.au to choose your type of bike (all 2013 models from high-end brands like Cannondale) and specify fit details (seat height, etc.) and the type of pedals you want (they even have Speedplay). Not sure where to ride? Livelo will install a Garmin on your bike with pre-programmed routes (including one that goes over the Harbor Bridge) or you can join in on one of many free group rides that leaves from the Livelo store. Rent by the hour (about $25), day or week.
Now you really have no excuse not to cycle in Sydney.
Yoga: As I mentioned, many of the outdoor pools in Sydney offer yoga classes pool side or in an attached studio. I took a wonderful 75 minute Hatha class at the Charlton pool, where yoga is offered several times per day 7 days per week. If you like the idea of yoga at the beach, check out the extensive daily classes at Yoga By the Sea (Bondi Beach). You can always go to the FindYoga website to find a class near your hotel at one of Sydney’s many studios.
If you don’t want to waste a minute of your time in this wonderful city, there are many ways to build calorie-burning activities into your day. Check out the app “Sydney Walker” for 4 full days of walking routes around famous sites in the city. Some of the walks near famous beaches (the Bondi to Cogee walk for example) have astonishing views and and include quite a bit of climbing around the cliffs. You can also take a kiteboard, surf or paddle-board lesson.
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