Top 10 Places to Get Fit Around Vancouver

As west-coasters, we experience significant precipitation during the winter months, but that is no excuse to hibernate your healthy habits!  Feeling the effects of SAD? Trying to shake off the red wine from last night? Get some rain gear, grab a friend and get outside. Bottom line: We live in a temperate rainforest – deal with it.

Here are my top 10 picks for outdoor activities in and around Vancouver:

Easy = relatively flat and family friendly

Moderate = light hills and/or rugged terrain

Challenging = steep hills, steps and/or rugged terrain

  1. Pacific Spirit Park: Nestled on the UBC peninsula, Pacific Spirit Park or the Endowmentlands as I refer to it, is an expansive mecca of trails with something for
    Pacific Spirit Park

    Pacific Spirit Park

    everyone. Many paths are easy and great for the whole family while others are challenging with steps and long hills for those of you looking for a run that doubles as a workout. Dog friendly.

  2. Baden Powell Trail: North Vancouver’s premiere trail system, the Baden Powell has easy, moderate and challenging terrain. Enjoy a short walk with the kids or take on the 12km Deep Cove to Lynn Canyon path for an amazing, but difficult run. Dog friendly.
  3. British Columbia Mountain Club Trail (BCMC): The link will take you to information on the Grind because the BCMC is a secret gem among outdoor enthusiasts. The trail runs parallel to the Grind and provides a rugged, challenging hike for those who are in relatively good shape. Take your time, avoid the crowds and stairs and do the BCMC instead of the Grind. I have one request: Don’t tell too many people about it, we want to keep it a secret!
  4. Everett Crowley Park: Perfect for those looking for a light, outdoor walk. The trails are easy, but the Park still provides that West Coast “rainforest” feel. Ideal if you’re just starting a fitness routine, pushing a stroller or bringing mum and grandma along. Dog friendly.
  5. The Chief (Squamish): Not as hard as the Grind and the hike gives you the
    Howe Sound

    I took this shot at the top of the Chief. Reg and I cycled from North Vancouver, hiked the Chief and cycled back. It was crazy. We had just started dating and I think I was trying to impress him.

    biggest bang for your buck (view-wise). The first peak of the Chief is a moderate hike with challenging parts, but you can do it – trust me! The view of Howe Sound is breathtaking and well worth the physical challenge you may experience. A couple of words of advice; bring a snack because you’ll want to hang out at the top and be prepared to descend. There is no gondola, so give your joints and quads a fair warning.

  6. Hollyburn Trail: This is a moderate hiking trail at Cypress Mountain which is great in the summer, but even better in the winter. Bundle up, strap on some snowshoes and enjoy the fresh mountain air while trying something new. There is a tasty bonus at the end; hot chocolate. Yum! Dog friendly.
  7. Golden Ears Hiking Trail: Another great trail system just outside the city. Golden Ears is good for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. I have taken on a challenging hike to a secluded camp ground and also brought my dog and pregnant belly for an easy, but still enjoyable walk. Dog friendly.
  8. Urban Beach Walk/Run: More of a water person? Take this easy walk by starting at

    Jericho Beach

    Kits Beach, where you can pause to people watch the pretty folk. Then, keep heading west and after about 1 km of road walking, you’re back on the beach at Jericho. Jericho Beach seems to go on forever, but actually merges with Locarno Beach and eventually ends at the Spanish Banks. Spanish Banks is where the long, steep hill up to UBC begins. At this point, unless you are keen on a challenge, turn back. Dog friendly.

  9. Dog Mountain: Moderate trail on Seymour Mountain. I love this one when I’m looking for a fun outdoor activity that will get my heart rate up, but still allow me to carry on a nice conversation with my fitness companion. The view at the top is amazing and bring some nuts to get a whiskey jack feeding out of the palm of your hand. Truly be one with nature! Dog friendly.
  10. Alta Lake Trail (Whistler): I will admit that I have retired from skiing. I was once an enthusiast, but last year I decided to focus more on my other winter loves; running and snowshoeing. For those of you who enjoy Whistler, but don’t ski/snowboard, sorry, you still must get outside and rosy those cheeks! The Alta Lake Trail is perfect for an easy walk, moderate hike or challenging snowshoe. Walking distance from the Village, I highly recommend you experience this beautiful trail at any time of year. Dog friendly.

Let’s grow the list! What is your favourite outdoor spot to get fit?

Hot, Wet, Dirty, Hard – I Digg It

Are we old enough for this?

Are we old enough for this?

In April, I found out I was six weeks pregnant. Unexpected, but very exciting. As I basked in the nauseating euphoria of my first trimester, I couldn’t help but feel a wee bit of disappointment. Spring had sprung, meaning training season as a Pacific Northwester had begun. However, this year, as I carefully incubated my offspring, I realized that my “training” would consist of leisurely laps in the pool, slow rides in the hood and gentle walks through the forest. Absent from my life would be intense swims, quad-killing hill rides, sweat-inducing stair climbs and oh so extreme trail runs.  For someone like me, the change in lifestyle was bittersweet.

About a month ago, I came across an amazing blog by a woman named Susan who subscribes to my mantra; Life.In Balance.Sort Of. So, so true!

I scrolled through her posts laughing at her dry humour and feeling inspired by her obviously determined approach to life. She’s a working professional, mom of two and an athlete (though she would probably never describe herself as one – she is). Three attributes I have an immense amount of respect for. As I’m chuckling and scrolling, I come across the title: Hot, Wet, Dirty, Hard. Did that get my attention? Um, yes. Four adjectives that, when strung together, are very intriguing. I read the post. I Digged the post.

Olympic Triathlon, 2011

Here’s why: She was describing her recent experience completing a gruelling race. During the race, she was hot, she was wet, she got dirty and it was hard. Wow, did I love living through her words! I could relate to the mixed bag of racing indignities and once again laughed and felt totally inspired. I won’t being be competing in any triathlons this year. My body has a much more important project in the works, but reading blogs like Susan’s, help me stay in the game.

Pregnancy is not an excuse for lethargy. Maintaining a healthy level of fitness has numerous pre and post-natal benefits (see 33 Reasons to Exercise Now), and at seven and a half months pregnant, I still enjoy being outdoors and getting my heart rate up. I do miss the physical intensity of training for a race, but reading about it will definitely do – for now.

My question to you is: With the rainy season upon us, what inspires you to still get out, get wet and get dirty?