Want to get fit but don’t fancy spending the rest of summer in a sweaty gym? We hear you. Look beyond your local park and you’ll find that London has some truly spectacular outdoor spaces for a workout with a view, whether you like to get wet and wild in one of the capital’s waterways, or stay high and dry on an urban roof terrace. Read on for our tips on where to exercise al fresco in London.
Rooftop fitness classes at Queen of Hoxton (image above)
Now you really can gym where you gin. Queen of Hoxton’s roomy roof garden doubles up as a workout studio throughout the summer months, with a range of fun fitness activities including several flavours of yoga and even pole dancing to keep you in tip top condition. The programme changes regularly, with new sessions being added all the time: coming up on 5th August is ‘Mermaid Yoga’: a rooftop session that will focus on “animal and superhero poses”, to a backing track of relaxing ocean sounds. Glitter face paint will be provided… 1-5 Curtain Rd, London, United Kingdom EC2A 3JX
The Castle Climbing Centre, Stoke Newington
The imposing ‘castle’ just up the road from Clissold Park was actually a waterworks in its former life, but now it’s one of London’s best climbing centres, with walls both inside and out to allow for all year round scrambling and abseiling. The outer wall has been fashioned like a natural rock face, giving climbers a real taste of the wild.
If that all sounds like fun but your only experience of climbing is walking up the stairs at Covent Garden Tube when the lifts broke, don’t worry: the Castle offers a range of Learn to climb sessions for complete beginners. Book in here. The Castle Climbing Centre, Green Lanes, Stoke Newington, N4 2HA
Outdoor boxing, Clapham Common
Boxing doesn’t have to happen in a ring or a dingy basement, it can be an outdoor activity too. ‘Boxit bootcamp’ is an all-levels boxing class that pops up three times a week on Clapham Common’s South Side, and it’s a great way to get fit fast – as well as being hugely cathartic. Sessions start with a thorough warm-up of lunges, sit-ups and other boot camp ‘favourites’, before boxing can commence. Pads and gloves are provided, so this is a great way to test your abilities. Classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.15pm and Saturdays at 10am. More info here.
Cycle, run or dance in Queen Elizabeth 2 Park
What could be more inspiring for your fitness regime than a trip to the very spot where London 2012 happened? Just by walking or running in this huge open space you’ll be getting a serious workout, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the programme of events at QE2 Park, which includes such fun-sounding activities as Disco Yoga on the summer lawn, outdoor pilates, dance aerobics, circuit training and boxing.
If you just want to explore, cycling is the perfect way to experience the park, either on your own bike or by hiring one at the View Tube community hub, which is located on the Southern edge of the park with spectacular views across the former Olympic site.
Your Local Outdoor Gym
A London gym membership can cost a small fortune, and who wants to be indoors in a sweaty gym during a heatwave anyway? The Great Outdoor Gym Company has taken this common urban gripe seriously, and has kindly kitted out many of our local parks with fitness equipment in a rather lovely lime green.
Forget any preconceptions about basic park fitness centres with their intimidating bars and rusty old benches – TGOC keep their equipment in great nick, and they have excellent safety standards. Best of all though, hanging out in one of these adult jungle gyms can feel bit like going back to the playground.
Find your nearest outdoor gym here.
Words and research by Abi Silvester.