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As much as we love a boutique fitness class, sometimes we want to get a breath of fresh air (and give our wallets a breather) by taking our workouts outside. San Francisco’s natural geography (soooo hilly), while not ideal for racing to the bus in the morning, makes even a challenging workout pretty picturesque… and who can argue with a workout with a killer view?
Take advantage of that ideal SF weather (hey, even if it’s foggy, it’s very rarely too hot or too cold), grab a buddy (or two), and hit up one of these best outdoor workouts in the city.
If running through the Presidio to Baker Beach isn’t tough enough for you, incorporate a few intervals of the Baker Beach Sand Ladder. You’ll take 200 sand stairs (200 10-foot poles tied together to form stairs) straight up (and back down, of course).
Don’t blame us if you decide to cancel your gym membership after visiting the National Fitness Campaign gym on the Marina Green, because it might win the award for the most beautiful gym in the world. It consists of 30 individual pieces of equipment, a shock-resistant sports flooring, and allows for up to 28 people to use the court at the same time. You can get in an entire workout here or do the NFC’s 7 Movements in 7 Minutes for a simple but efficient strength training routine.
The Lyon Street Steps have 99 problems (spoiler alert: they’re all steps), but a view ain’t one. Whether you’re running the stairs or just walking them, you’ll work up an appetite for brunch after a few times up and down.
You might need a wetsuit to stay warm, but Aquatic Park is the only place you can swim outdoors in the city for free. Each lap (out and back) is about a ⅓ of a mile. Got a furry friend? Your dog can swim here, too! And you can reward (aka warm) yourself with an Irish Coffee at Buena Vista afterward.
With over 24 miles of trails, the Presidio is one of the best places to head out for a long hike without ever leaving the city. We recommend going on Sundays and grabbing a bite at Picnic at the Presidio once you’re done.
Most people take a car up to Twin Peaks and call it a day, but not you! Start at Castro Station (yes, in the Castro, not the Twin Peaks parking lot) and hike up to the top. You’ll be rewarded with views of Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais on a clear day and work your glutes on the steep ascents and descents. Plus, the view is always better when you earn it, right?
Whether you need to get in some speed work for a race or you’re the type who enjoys putting in some serious distance in the track, Kezar Stadium is a little piece of history (it was once home to both the 49ers and Raiders!) on the edge of Golden Gate Park. We recommend doing a warmup and cooldown mile around GG Park before hitting the track.
Start your run anywhere on the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, or Marina Blvd. to get your distance of choice in — with your half-way point being Hopper’s Hands beneath Fort Point. You’ll “high-ten” with former ironworker Hopper who wanted to give runners a place to slap their hands at the end of the road.
Start out at the Lands End Visitor Center and hike the dirt trail to Sea Cliff, near China Beach. You’ll get stunning views at every turn whether it’s the Golden Gate Bridge, Sutro Baths, or when the tide’s just right—historic shipwrecks!
If you’re a seasoned surfer, you’ll want to challenge yourself by hitting the waves at Ocean Beach. The water’s cold and you’ll need a hooded wetsuit, but for those brave enough to battle the high waves and cold water, a hot coffee and cinnamon sugar toast at Trouble Coffee afterward awaits.
If you want to ride your bike, but not ride up all those SF hills, we’ve got you covered with The Wiggle. This zigzaggy path is the flattest way to get from the Panhandle to the Castro, and for that, it’s one of the most popular bike routes in the city.
You don’t have to leave the city to take your rock climbing back where it belongs—outside. This area is part of the San Francisco parks system, so you don’t even need a permit to climb! You’ll find the 45-ft. tall wall in Corona Heights, just northwest of Market Street. The routes on the wall range from 5.8 to 5.12 and most of the rock is very smooth except for around the crack up the center, making it a difficult but fun climb.
Millions of people visit the Golden Gate Bridge each year, and for good reason—it’s pretty magical. Though, if you’re planning on making your way across the bridge by foot or by bike, we recommend going early, as lots of other people have the same idea, and it’s nice to not feel rushed or crowded on the bridge.
Modeled after Central Park (you know — that little park in NYC), Golden Gate Park is the largest man-made park in the world. There are over 1,000 acres for you to bike, hike, or run around. Fitt tip: Sundays are car-free days, meaning you can even take out your other sports equipment (like roller blades) for a spin around the park.