Go on a steep learning curve
There’s nothing like a steep incline to get your heart racing, and if you’re rewarded with a killer view at the top then it makes the challenging run worthwhile. Barrenjoey Lighthouse is 91m above the Palm Beach and is short enough (2.3km) that you could do it twice.
If you think you’re all that - go the distance
An hour’s run at the local park is OK, but why settle for an episode when you can have a feature film? If you’re already a decent hiker, lock in the 26km coast track in Royal National Park. Start at Bundeena, stop for a picnic at Wattamolla, then run across the soft sand to get your heart rate up and calves bulging on Garie Beach. A night at beach-side North Era campground will break it up and, anyway, the weight of the camping gear on your back will only boost your resistance.
Chuck a nudie run
A lot of us work out so we can look good naked, so why not literally workout your way to a nudist beach? An hour away from Sydney, at the bottom of Royal National Park, is a 4km return track to Werrong naturists beach, with some glute-flexing hill climbs en route. The water is wildly unpredictable and the rips can get so strong that swimming’s not permitted here. Stay safe and let it all hang out while you splash in the shallows and celebrate your newfound freedom.
Don’t wait for the fun runs: organise one yourself and get your mates to hold you accountable (they say this is the best way to reach your fitness goals). Get a few friends together, find a coastal track of at least 10km, make an upbeat playlist and hit the road. Let’s call it destination running. The challenging and panoramic 10km loop from Spit Bridge to Manly works well. Or if you’re on the south side of town, try the Curra Moors track. Once you can run a half-marathon, you can start running for charity.
Hike like a pro
If you’re a keen but unseasoned hiker and can’t face the prep for a multi-dayer, there are some epic mini-adventure tour companies based in and around our national parks that will do most of the thinking for you. Primal Adventures plans trekking trips and can equip you with a pretty thorough training plan, which you can practise across Sydney parks. Before you know it you’ll be interval training on your commute to work and lunging in the coffee queue.
Kayaking is hands-down one of the best ways to get fit (think the rowing machine at the gym), and you can do it so easily all around Sydney. We hate to sound like Michelle Bridges, but you can actually burn around 400 calories an hour with all that paddling, and your core, biceps and forearms get a furious toning. Try Manly Kayak in the north, EcoTreasures (Manly to Ku-ring-gai) or Bundeena Kayaks in the south.
When it comes to getting fit, SUPing is it: Stand Up Paddleboarding turns your core into a rockface to rival any climbing course. It’s a great way to explore the NSW coast’s inlets and estuaries, too, like Manly, South Head, Jervis Bay, Shoalhaven and Ben Boyd National Park. Try EcoTreasures SUP tours at The Basin, so you can start small and work up to big.
Sistas! Do it for yourselves!
Strength in numbers, right? Get your pals together for a girl-gang workout with Summit Sisters, who do seasonal trail retreats that mix either running or hiking with a bit of yoga and meditation. Also check out Wild Women on Top, which offers trek training sessions across Sydney parks.
On ya bike
Cycling means great legs and a pert booty, but spin classes are uninspiring at best. The wild scenery and fresh air of the outdoors will have you pushing longer and farther, and there are stacks of paths near the city worth cycling that won’t cost you a cent. A common one near the Sydney is the La Perouse Loop, which finds its turning point at La Perouse and Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Other options include the Hanging Rock and Mount Banks cycling tracks in the Blue Mountains, or, if you’re more into mountain biking, you can try the purpose-built trails at Gahnia and Serrata in Garigal National Park.