You can throw out your gym routine. On the lower north shore, keeping fit doesn't have to be a chore. If you don't want to spend a cent, there's a massive array of outdoor spaces — from national parks to beaches — where you can walk, run, cycle or paddle. With a few bucks to splash around, you can get moving in places like North Sydney's harbourside olympic pool, or Taronga Zoo's famous Tarzan course. In partnership with luxury Australian property development company Aqualand and its new Blue at Lavender Bay development, here are the top ten ways to train, tone and transform yourself on the lower north shore.
NSW National Parks
BRADLEY HEAD TO CHOWDER BAY WALK
If you don't mind cracking harbour views with your workout, then set off on the Bradley Head to Chowder Bay Walk. This beauty starts at Taronga Zoo and follows the shoreline for four kilometres, winding up at Chowder Bay, where you can celebrate with a dip in a harbour pool or a glass of wine at East Coast Lounge. Along the way, don't be surprised to find yourself sharing the path with Eastern water dragons. To extend your adventure carry on to the Spit Bridge, or if you're going the other way, the Harbour Bridge.
NORTH SYDNEY OLYMPIC POOL
For anyone who's struggled with the monotony of the black line, the North Sydney Olympic Pool provides an antidote. Keep motivated by rewarding yourself at the end of each lap — you couldn't get a better perspective on the mighty Harbour Bridge. What's more, Luna Park is just next door, so you can wrap up your session with a ferris wheel ride. Go hard enough at your training and you might add to the 86 records set at the pool since it opened in 1936. Along with the pool, there's a gym, sauna and spa.
With its trails, steep concreted drops and sealed sections, the Lane Cove National Park has cycling options for everyone. If you're after something mid-range, go for the Pennant Hills West Fire Trail, a three-kilometre journey through gum trees. There's plenty of easy rolling, as well as a scattering of hilly bits. To turn the ride into a loop, return along the Comenarra Parkway. Lane Cove National Park gives you 372 hectares of bush, waterways and fresh air. On top of the cycle paths, there are loads of walks and picnic areas.
Just Run Lah
HARBOUR BRIDGE RUN
Knock over your workout and your sightseeing in one go with this run. It's a ten-kilometre circuit that connects both sides of the Harbour via the Bridge, taking in McMahons Point, Lavender Bay, Luna Park and Observatory Hill along the way. You'll hug the coast most of the time and get cracking views of the Harbour, the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay. With all that beauty around you, you won't even know you're getting fit. Once a year, in September, expect to share the path with thousands of others when the Sydney Running Festival hits town.
NORTH SYDNEY YOGA
When the weather turns — or if you prefer to get flexible when there's a roof over your head — there's North Sydney Yoga. The focus is Ashtanga Vinyasa and the school is one of the oldest in Sydney. It's been running since 1985, with Angelika Knoerzer in charge since 1987. A bunch of classes are available, for everyone from school kids and beginners, to yoga junkies. If you've never done Ashtanga Yoga before, an excellent place to start is the Essentials Intensive course. You'll go to class twice a week and learn all the basics. North Sydney Yoga is at 144 Blues Point Rd, McMahons Point — not far from the water for a post-class stroll.
LANE COVE BOWLING CLUB
Combine your workout with mates and a couple of beers at Lane Cove Bowling Club, founded in 1952. Barefoot bowls are a steal at ten dollars per person — including gear and tips from the club's handy onsite experts. On Sunday, the social games kick off from midday. Should you work up an appetite, pop into the bistro.
Pilates International isn't limited to the North Shore, of course, but it's an excellent choice for a workout because the standard of teaching is so high. Since opening in 2000, the organisation has pretty much stuck to teachers with at least a decade's experience. The North Shore studio is in Pymble and you can count on shiny floors, lots of light and air, splashes of greenery and top-notch gear. There are classes of all types and sizes, from one-on-ones and duet lessons to sessions dedicated to the Pilates mat and pregnancy.
Balmoral and surrounds offer some of the most beautiful paddling scenery you'll find on Sydney Harbour. If you're serious about building up some strength and endurance, then join Sydney Kayaks on their Group Fitness sessions. There are mixed classes, high intensity triathlon classes that include running and swimming, and sessions that combine paddling and yoga. If you prefer to take things at a slower pace, then all you have to do is hire a kayak and set off on an adventure of your own making. After conquering Balmoral, check out these sparkling spots.
TARONGA ZOO ROPES COURSE
Since opening in April 2016, Taronga Zoo's Wild Ropes has been inundated with would-be Tarzans. It's difficult to think of a more fun way to tone up. All in all, there are 40 obstacles, including bridges, tunnels, aerial rock walls and a hover board. While you're proving your mettle, soak up new perspectives of the water, Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and expect to meet koalas, kangaroos, emus and wallabies. The obstacles are divided into four courses, so you can start off easy and work your way up to the scary, challenging stuff. It's a good idea to book ahead online.
Surround yourself with everything the lower north shore has to offer at Aqualand's Blue at Lavender Bay development. The best restaurants, cafes, bars and activities are all on your doorstep.