The Ultimate Philly Fitness Bucket List: 25 Things You Have to Do
If you live here and love to get sweaty, consider this checklist your official game plan: 25-only-in-Philly things you must do, see and experience at least once in your life.
1. FINISH A TRIATHLON
Because three is better than one. Bike, swim and run your way to victory at Fairmount Park’s TriRock Philadelphia Triathlon. Plan it: June 20-21, 2015.
2. PRACTICE YOGA ON THE ART MUSEUM STEPS
Because savasana’s better when it’s for a good cause. Yoga on the Steps, which fetches thousands of yogis for an hour-long class on the Art Museum steps, raises funds for Haverford-based national breast cancer organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer. We’ll say om to that. Plan it: Mid-May.
3. RUN WITH A NEIGHBORHOOD RUNNING CLUB
Because running with friends is way more fun than running solo. One idea: the Fishtown Beer Runners. You’ll refuel with a cold, well-earned brewski at the end. Plan it: Thursday at 7 p.m. (Check out other local running clubs here.)
4. RACE ON THE BEACH
Because sand isn’t just for sand castles—it’s for shredding your calves. We promise: They’ll be spent—and then some—after the Captain Bill Gallagher 10-Mile Island Run in Sea Isle City. Plan it: August 1, 2015.
5. TAKE 20 FITNESS CLASSES IN ONE DAY
Because we couldn’t not include the best fitness fest of the year on this list. Sure, we’re biased (it is our marquee event, after all), but Be Well Philly Boot Camp, a day of wellness for women, is one of the most empowering, inspirational events in town. Besides, you’ll sweat your brains out, all in the name of fun. (Ladies only—sorry, guys.) Plan it: Early June.
6. FINALLY RUN THAT MARATHON
Because the Philadelphia Marathon is the ultimate in bragging rights. Don that race shirt with swagger—you’ve earned it. Plan it: November 23, 2014.
7. CHEER ON A REGATTA
Because rowing is a Philly tradition. The first Schuylkill regattas on record were held in the 1830s, and today rowers from universities, high schools and local clubs maintain the tradition. There are regattas throughout the year, but pencil in the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, a decades-old event that draws teams from 125 colleges across the country and Canada. Plan it: May 8th and 9th, 2015.
8. CLIMB LEMON HILL
Because it hurts so good. Your legs and rear will be screaming at you to stop as you ascend the winding .2-mile hill from Boathouse Row to the Lemon Hill Mansion, but ignore them. The skyline view at the top is worth it.
9. DANCE, DANCE, DANCE
Because when’s the last time you tangoed? The citywide Philadelphia Dance Day fest, organized by the folks at Philly Dance Fitness, includes more than 20 free dance workshops from bhangra to tap to hip-hop, live performances, and an evening dance party for the ages. Plan it: Late July.
10. COMPLETE A DECATHLON
Because you’re more than a runner—you’re an athlete. If the 10 CrossFit-like challenges at the Unite Fitness Decathlon don’t kick your behind, the 5K trail run afterward will. And that’s entirely the point of this badass race. Plan it: Mid-October.
11. SIGN UP FOR A BIKE RACE
Because we all have an inner Lance Armstrong (you know, minus the whole doping thing). Before the pro race, the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic opens its course to amateurs for Velothon Philadelphia, a ride on 28 miles of car-free city roads. Plan it: Early June.
12. RUN 39.3 MILES IN ONE WEEKEND
Because you love a good challenge. It’s not enough to run the Delaware Canal Half Marathon. Nor it is enough to run the Bucks County Marathon. You must run both, in the same weekend, to conquer the Bucky. That’s almost 40 miles—you game? Plan it: November 15th and 16th, 2014.
13. RACE THROUGH PHILLY’S BEST NEIGHBORHOODS
Because Philly’s been dying for a race like the Philly 10K. Need proof? The debut race sold out in just 70 minutes. Here’s why: It’s one of the few non-city-run races that don’t include time on MLK Drive or the Schuylkill River Trail. It starts and ends in Passyunk Square, and the closed course hits Midtown Village, Spring Garden, Old City, Queen Village and Pennsport. It’s a race through the city you actually live in. Plan it: August 30, 2015.
14. DO A MUD RUN
Because you haven’t played in the mud since you were 10. Choose between a three- or six-mile course at the Philadelphia Merrell Down & Dirty Obstacle Race, and tackle challenges like mud pits, cargo climbs, water crossings and more. Warning: You will get unrecognizably dirty. Plan it: Late July.
15. SPRINT THE ROCKY STEPS
Because you can’t say you live in Philly without having run the Art Museum steps at least once.
16. GO FOR A HIKE
Because you’ve been meaning to scratch this off your list for ages. Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Valley Park is lovely for a stroll, but if you’ve been there, done that, the 50 miles of backwoods hiking trails along the park’s twin ridges are just begging you to explore them.
17. PADDLE THE SCHUYLKILL
Because the Schuylkill River is drop-dead gorgeous. As part of the Schuylkill River Sojourn, you’ll kayak 112 miles downstream from rural Schuylkill Haven to Boathouse Row and camp along the way, with field-trip-like educational stops, three daily meals and snacks, and Instagram-worthy scenery included. Plan it: June 6th through 12th, 2015.
18. RIDE YOUR BIKE ALL THE WAY TO PHOENIXVILLE
Because you want to see if you can. The trick to conquering the 52-mile round-trip ride along the Schuylkill River Trail from the Art Museum to Phoenixville is to stop along the way: Grab a bite in Manayunk, make a pit stop in Conshy, explore Valley Forge. It’s a sightseeing expedition with a good dose of adrenaline.
19. DO A TRAIL RUN
Because you’re sick of running on the roads. Even better, there are eggs hidden along the wooded Sloppy Cuckoo Trail Run course in Pennypack Park, and if you find one, you could win a sweet prize. Choose between half marathon, 10K or 5K races—or do all three. Plan it: Late September.
20. RIDE THE WALL
Because it’s a killer. Cyclists far and wide fear the nearly half-mile, 17-percent-grade hill climb on Lyceum Avenue, reverently referred to as the Manayunk Wall. Which, obviously, is why you need to crush it stat.
21. WATCH THE PENN RELAYS
Because it’s a classic. Next year’s event marks the 120th anniversary of the international track and field meet—trivia alert: It’s technically called the Penn Relay Carnival—that’s attracted more than 100,000 spectators and 22,000 athletes for the past several years.
Go on Saturday to see the best events. Plan it: April 23rd through 25th, 2015.
22. PEDAL TO THE SHORE—YES, ON A BIKE
Because it’s better than sitting in traffic. Bonus: The National MS Society’s annual City to Shore Ride is also a very, very good cause. Plan it: Late September.
23. RUN (ALMOST) THE EXACT ROUTE THAT ROCKY DID
Because someone (Phillymag.com blogger Dan McQuade) mapped the 31-mile training route montaged in Rocky II, and then another someone (ultra-marathoner Rebecca Schaefer) went ahead and turned it into an organized run. This year’s Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run—it’s untimed, unsanctioned and just for fun—should definitely be on your calendar. Plan it: December 6, 2014.
24. RUN ACROSS THE DELAWARE RIVER
Because the view is amazing on the Ben Franklin Bridge. Run it on your own—across the water and back is just over a mile—or try the Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10K, which starts in Camden, crosses the bridge, and goes back to Camden to the finish line inside Campbell’s Field. Plan it: November 2, 2014.
25. CONQUER BROAD STREET
Because everybody’s doing the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. ’Nuff said. Plan it: May 3, 2015.
This article first appeared in the 2014 Be Well Philly print magazine.
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