If you’re the type that enjoys an active lifestyle, Vancouver is a city that can certainly deliver on your desire to keep fit. Whether you prefer to sweat it out in an indoor spin class, stretch it out on your yoga mat or climb a mountain before breakfast, there’s something for everyone. If you’re visiting and have a day to see the sights, here’s a peek into the life of a local (that’s me!) to help you build your fitness itinerary and make the most of every minute.
Rise and run the sea wall
A good run sets me up for the rest of the day, and Vancouver’s running routes do not disappoint. One of my favourites is the iconic sea wall, complete with its breathtaking scenery. You’ll see the north shore mountains and the Pacific Ocean in the distance, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, and several beaches along the Burrard Inlet.
Begin at the Olympic Cauldron in Jack Poole Plaza, which was built when Vancouver hosted the Winter Games in 2010. Make your way down to the pedestrian and cyclist-friendly path along the waterfront, following it all the way round to English Bay Beach. This route will allow you to cover nearly 12km (7.4mi) but for a longer jaunt, carry on along the path – the full sea wall is approximately 22km (13.7mi) long with plenty to see along the way. Oh, and don’t forget your phone – there are plenty of opportunities for selfies.
Meet new friends for a group sweat
The Vancouver boutique fitness scene is big, with studios all across the city offering every type of workout from barre to Crossfit. Some of my top picks include:
Tight Sweat at Tight Club Athletics: A mixed bag of high intensity intervals, battle ropes, slam balls, body weight strength training and so much more – every class is a surprise, and always a ton of fun.
Megaformer at Lagree West: This class is only 40 minutes long, but trust me, it’s plenty! This full body, low-impact, high-intensity class takes place on a megaformer machine that’ll help you work muscles you never knew you had.
Spin at Method Indoor Cycling: There’s no shortage of roads to cycle in and around Vancouver, but if it rains (and it often does!) take your ride inside and hop on a bike at one of Method’s two locations. Each class delivers a workout that simulates what you’d do out on the road, so if you’re training for a triathlon or cycling race, you’ll be among others with similar goals.
Escape the city for a hike
Minutes away from Vancouver’s downtown area are miles of beautiful trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to very challenging. While there are plenty of long routes that would make for multi-day adventures, some can also be completed in an hour or two, making for a quick escape from the city.
If you’re up for the challenge, try The Grouse Grind, a 2.9km trail up Grouse Mountain. ‘Up’ really is the key word here – it’s a good climb and you’ll definitely want proper footwear. The trail is open from spring to fall (weather pending) and there are refreshments available in the chalet at the top to reward your hard work. A scenic gondola ride gets you back down to the bottom of the mountain.
Alternatively, check out Quarry Rock in Deep Cove, an easier hike that covers 3.8km (2.36mi) round trip. You’ll find a beautiful lookout point at the top, and on a clear day should be able to see boats and paddle boarders in the water below. Pack a picnic to enjoy mid-hike, or in the park once you return to the bottom of the trail.
My go-to resource for discovering new-to-me trails is the Vancouver Trails website, where you can filter by region, difficulty, time and distance. The site also indicates which trails are accessible via public transit in case you’re visiting without a car. Outdoor enthusiasts frequently post reviews of the trails here, making it a useful tool to consult when you’re trying to decide how many layers of clothing to bring.
1915 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Strengthen and lengthen with a yoga class
After all your morning adventures, chances are that your muscles could use a good stretch. Vancouver is home to many yoga studios offering a wide range of classes, as well as facilities such as showers, mat and towel rentals. One of my favorite spots is the YYoga’s Kitsilano location, which also has an infrared sauna, outdoor patio and community lounge.
Explore Granville Island
This highly popular Vancouver attraction is packed with shops, restaurants and everything you’d expect to find in a market from fresh produce and meats to locally made crafts and body care products. Open 7 days a week, it’s accessible via foot, water taxi, public transit, car, and there are plenty of bike racks if you choose to cycle. Salmon is a quintessential part of British Columbia’s west coast cuisine, so if you’re feeling a little hungry, I highly recommend trying the maple smoked salmon nuggets in the seafood section. With so much to see, you won’t even notice how much walking you’ve done!
Enjoy a sunset stroll along the beach
After dinner, take a walk down to Kitsilano beach, one of the best places for taking in beautiful sunsets. Expect to be joined by many Vancouverites playing tennis or beach volleyball, tossing around a Frisbee, taking a dip in the water or enjoying ice cream while relaxing on the sand.