Work Out Like a London Local: What to Do and Where to Stay
If you're London-bound for the 2012 Olympic Games, chances are you'll get inspired while watching thousands of athletes push their bodies to the max. Sure, you may not be inclined to train for a triathlon in your spare time, but a little run through a historic park sounds nice, right? Or maybe you'd rather skate through the streets of London? Whichever your preference, you can easily get a workout in during your time abroad. And to help you keep it cool, we've found all the spots where locals like to break a sweat. Perfecting your British accent, however, is up to you.
The Workout: Run in Hyde Park
Originally a deer park for Henry VIII in the 16th century, Hyde Park is a popular spot among visitors and locals. Its numerous memorials and monuments as well as beautiful gardens may make it an ideal park for a stroll, but don't let the sights distract you from getting in a solid workout: Turn your jaunt into a jog and run along one of the park's many footpaths. And if you start to feel a bit woozy, don't fret -- a celeb may just come to your rescue! After all, Dustin Hoffman called the paramedics back in May when he saw a runner collapse in the park. Good news: The dude ended up being fine. Better news: He can forever tell the story of the day Dustin Hoffman saved his life.
- Where to Stay: On the north side of Hyde Park, the 416-room Lancaster is a behemoth compared to most London hotels. Its soaring height means some upper-level rooms have beautiful views of the park.
The Workout: Take a Pilates on the Go class
Located in the South Park Studios, Pilates on the Go is an en-vogue workout class that reportedly got Pippa Middleton's bum in tip-top shape for her sister's wedding -- and who can forget that now-legendary, curve-hugging dress? Frankly, we were impressed Princess Kate let her little sis wear that Alexander McQueen show-stopper to her nuptials. But we have to give more kudos to Pippa and her hardcore workouts than the dress -- she really put in some serious effort. So if you're aiming for a tush that could earn a royal stamp of approval, head to the studios where you can join a class or even set up a private or semi-private lesson.
- Where to Stay: For those traveling on a budget, the 63-room Base2stay is an ultra-affordable option in a decent area of Kensington. It's just a seven-minute drive from the Pilates studios, or uber-active types can choose to jog the 2.5 miles from the hotel instead.
The Workout: Roll along at London Friday Night Skate
A weekly event in the city, London Friday Night Skate takes place every -- wait for it -- Friday night, starting at 8 p.m. Several streets are shut down so skaters of every age (children must be accompanied by an adult) and type (roller bladers and skaters are welcome) can roll free and get in a good workout. While there's also a leisurely "Sunday Stroll," the Friday night skate involves more hills at a faster pace to guarantee you get your heart pumpin'.
- Where to Stay: The Lanesborough is less than a two-minute walk (or roll) from Wellington Arch, where the Friday Night Skate kicks off. Oh, and did we mention it's one of the most luxurious hotels in London? The 93 rooms have palatial bathrooms, big flat-screen TVs, and free butler service. Stately decor is inspired by the early 19th century, and free Wi-Fi and laptops are available in every room. Hotel highlights include fine dining at the Michelin-rated restaurant Apsleys, a ground floor piano bar, and traditional afternoon tea.
The Workout: Play tennis in Regent's Park
Don't make the mistake of completely overlooking Regent's Park just because Hyde Park is so beautiful. Not only does Regent's Park also boast pristine gardens and a rich history, it's home to the London Zoo and is a great spot for working up a sweat. From a lake with paddle boats to "the Hub" where exercise classes are held, there's something for everyone. But we'd suggest swinging a racket to work on your fitness. Regent's Park has it's own tennis center, as well as three outdoor courts for when the weather's nice.
- Where to Stay: A 20-minute walk from the park (or a 5-minute drive), Ambassadors Bloomsbury offers bright rooms with crisp white linens and flat-screen TVs. This hotel is a good value for the location, especially with free Wi-Fi and a small fitness center if you need to bolster your workout with some free weights or a quick treadmill jog.