I used to tell people we try to live in New York City like it's an outdoorsy town like Portland, Oregon. Which means me and my son Jules adventure within our urban boundary HARD.
When we travel, sometimes cities can feel very disconnected from athletics or the outdoors, and like the only action happens in a gym.
So, today I bring to you some of my favorite ways to create a bigger adventure in any town, and get your sweat on whether it’s someplace you’re visiting or where you hang your hat at home.
Establish A Mission
To add purpose, Jules and I sometimes organize our adventures around a mission that helps guide where we go. Sometimes, these are about visiting a notable site. But, I’ve often found the easiest way to get people to move is in pursuit of special food.
My favorite: When Jules was young, and his whole world revolved around trains, we’d follow the Acela all the way from Harlem, through Queens to where it enters the tunnel to Penn Station, on scooters of course. And there was a special taco stand along the way.
Stretch City Miles
Let's say you come up with something fun, but the distance is shorter than you hoped. How do you make the miles count? My answer is: make them harder.
Rucking - as in walking with weight - can turn an urban stroll into a fitness adventure; especially in a city with stairs.
My favorite: Transporting my son and his best friend on the back of my cargo bike. They were sitting there eating ice cream, with huge nerf guns strapped to their backs… us zipping down the middle of 5th avenue. It’s a lot of extra weight and I’m always stronger for it.
Use Transport To Go Far
Sometimes, the good stuff is further away. So, we make transport part of the adventure by using trains or ferries to access new territory that gives us more room to roam.
My favorite: We rode to the end of the 2 train, switched to scooters over a bridge to the Rockaways, snuck in a very cold early season Atlantic Ocean swim. Total distance under our own power was almost 10 miles. PS. No swimsuits required.
In an urban environment, there are lots of opportunities to make high intensity activity more interesting through a game; like maybe racing something across town.
My favorite: Once in Portland when Jules was young, we handed a woman on the streetcar a $10 bill right before the doors closed. Ring, ring went the streetcar bell, and we were off to the races. Block after block as we chased the streetcar to its next stop, we fell behind as it gained speed, but also caught up when it waited for lights. At the next stop we claimed our $10 bill, completely out of breath but relieved… and a little proud.
It’s Possible To Play Sports
The thing about cities or towns is there are often opportunities to join sports with the locals. From playing tennis at a local court to taking a short dip in a community pool, the infrastructure is there. Arguably, the best way to do this is to play soccer with local kids, on a field or in an alley most anywhere in the world.
My Favorite: The pool on the banks of the Rhone in Lyon, France where they compelled us to buy a swimsuit out of a vending machine.
If you’ve never tried…
One of the things I find exciting about cities is that there’s a community for nearly everything. Painters have classes, rock climbers have gyms. The list is extensive.
My Favorite: Practicing archery in Chinatown.
When we travel, it can feel like there are typical things we are supposed to do at every destination (like in Paris visit museums, eat amazing food and maybe fall in love). The thing is, no matter where we go, we bring ourselves. So, if you’d rather be learning fencing over climbing the Eiffel Tower, then en garde!
But, if you do climb it, bring a heavy pack.