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Exercise opportunities in your area

Taking a local approach to exercise

Whether you live in a bustling city or a small town, there will still be a number of exercise options open to you in your local area. Whether taking advantage of local sports clubs or the great outdoors, exercising can be done anywhere so there really is no excuse not to get fit and healthy just because you live off the beaten track. Here’s our guide to making the most out of your local area and exercising accordingly.

If you don’t live near a gym, or wouldn’t be seen dead in one, your excuse for a couch potato lifestyle is still not good enough!

Even the tiniest, most remote places have a remarkable number of exercise opportunities on offer - whether it’s taekwondo, yoga or a local running or walking club. And bigger, busier communities are literally spoilt for choice - it’s just that you may not know what exercise options are available and where.

The best bet for finding out what’s on offer in your area is by surfing the web. Type in something like ‘exercise and fitness’ plus the name of your local town or area into a search engine and see what you get. Or, if you know the kind of activity you are interested in, type the name of that specific activity, to narrow your search results.

Other good places to look for activities that are going on outside the realms of the typical health club are your local newspaper or library notice board. Even in a tucked-away town you should be able to find yoga, Pilates, Biodanza, aerobics, circuits, martial arts and horse riding - as well as private gyms and perhaps even a handful of running clubs.

But perhaps even more useful is word of mouth. It’s all very well knowing that there are a handful of Pilates studios within a 5-mile radius - but which one is the best? Ask active friends for their opinions on different fitness facilities, and wherever possible, go and check them out before making any commitment. The same goes for personal training - it’s crucial that you find someone qualified and experienced, which you can do by going to the National Register of Personal Trainers website: www.nrpt.org.uk. A good point to remember when choosing a personal trainer - they need to be someone who you click with, who has the same philosophy and values as you do.

But, of course, not everyone wants to get - or stay - fit in the company of others. Luckily, there’s always Mother Nature’s spacious gym - the great outdoors. If you live close to the sea, why not take the plunge and try surfing, bodyboarding, windsurfing or sea swimming? If you are near a river; what about trying your hand at rowing or kayaking? You don’t need to be wearing lycra and trainers to be getting a real workout, you know!

Try to think laterally about your surroundings as well as what activities you like to do. Live near a river but don’t like getting wet? Then what about cycling or running along the towpath? Don’t fancy getting in the sea but live beside it? Try rollerblading along the promenade. Or rock climbing on the cliffs …

Stuck in a bustling, busy city? Get up at dawn and have the streets to yourself. Use a map to find the best way to link all the green spaces on your page … or better still, buy as big a scale map as you can find (cycling maps are great) - to start discovering what your best routes are. There are thousands of miles of footpaths - rural, suburban and city - just waiting to be walked, hiked or run. Alternatively, explore potential routes in your car to see whether they are suitable.

If all this still leaves you cold, you could work up a sweat doing conservation work. The BTCV’s ‘Green Gyms’ (see www.greengym.org.uk) operates nationwide and ensure that the end-product of your workout is more enduring than aching muscles and expended calories.

Overall, the best advice is to be curious, and get out there to start discovering what exercise options are on offer. Where there’s a will, there’s a workout ...