If the 2012 London Olympics have inspired you to get active in the British capital, here are some of the best places to test your skills:
For some swimming action Londoners flock to the Lidos – outdoor pools often in great locations. The best are the Hampstead Heath ponds – year around swimming ponds for men, women and mixed. There’s also the Parliament Hill Lido pool at Hampstead Heath dating from 1938. With great views over London and its wild open spaces, the Heath is a great day out whether you want to swim or not.
Other popular options include Hampton Pool, dating back to 1922 and located on the edge of Bushy Park near the route of the Olympic road cycling events and the Oasis Sports Centre in Covent Garden, with its outdoor pool and sundecks.Or head to The Serpentine in Hyde Park, London’s largest swimming lake.
London is becoming more and more of a cycling city although you need to be really careful on the busy roads. The cheap bike hire scheme known as Boris Bikes or Barclays Bikes make riding around very easy and cheap.
Great places to ride include the many huge royal parks: Hyde Park, Regent’s Park and Richmond Park is also very popular but you’ll need your own bike or to hire one for a longer time than a Boris Bike.
Lee Valley, which has some of the venues for the games, also has excellent traffic-free cycle paths.
The riverside around Putney and Barnes is dotted with rowing sheds associated with clubs and schools, but these can be a bit difficult to approach as a casual rower. Much easier is to test your skills on the Thames River at Richmond, or on the lake in Regent’s Park.
You’ll see joggers weaving their way through the walkers on Southbank everyday and night but it might be more enjoyable to head into the royal parks: Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park and even up Primrose Hill which will reward your efforts with a great view down and across London.
5. Horseback riding
Many stables offer riding lessons for both adults and children, intensive learn-to-ride-in-a-day courses and also morning and afternoon ‘hacks’ which are rides around the park for those who have been on a horse before.
Richmond Park is 2,360 acres of wilderness full of deer, squirrel, rabbits and birds. Kingston Riding Centre is located near Kingston Gate. Stag Lodge Stables is near Robin Hood Gate.
Wimbledon Common has 1,140 acres of common parkland area, this was not a royal hunting ground but was set aside for the use of the public. Ridgeway Stables in Wimbledon Village is close to the common, as is Wimbledon Village Stables.
Hyde Park has five miles of riding trails in Hyde Park including the famous Rotten Row, where people have ridden out for over 300 years. Hyde Park Stables and Ross Nye Stables offer lessons and rides in the park.
No, you didn’t miss something – bowling is not an Olympic sport (yet). But one of the most fun things to do in London while feeling like you’ve had a bit of a workout is tenpin bowling at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes (near Russell Square). They’ve got craft beers, cocktails, music – this is stylish, fun and energetic. Maybe one day it will make the Olympics.