Your guide to outdoor fitness in south west London and Surrey

Ellie Holmes on how to take your exercise outside and make the most of the stunning spaces of SW London

Main image: Sunrise yoga at art’otel London Battersea Power Station

With the lighter days of spring comes the chance to switch up our exercise routine and take it outdoors where we can soak in the wellbeing benefits while also getting a workout. Here’s how…

Make a splash

Outdoor swimming has become more popular than ever, with benefits including boosting immunity and improving circulation. There are many fabulous options in London and Surrey. Tooting Bec Lido has reopened after £4m of refurbishment and is open to the public from 1 April to 30 September.

You could also try Hampton open-air pool (open year-round) or Richmond’s Pools on the Park. Shepperton Open Water Swim offers swimming on a lake, with numbers controlled for safety – book in advance.

Paddle-boarding and kayaking

Prefer to be on the water rather than in it? There are plenty of places where you can go paddle-boarding or kayaking. Paddle-boarding, whilst not immediately cardio heavy, requires balance and core strength to keep you up on the board, and provides a far more strenuous workout than it first feels. The same goes for kayaking, which is a great upper body workout, as well as being good for mental wellbeing where you can admire the views and wildlife on the water as you glide by.

Try Active 360 (Kew, Paddington and Brentford), the London Stand Up Paddle Company (Richmond) and Hampton Court Paddle Sports where you can kayak around this scenic part of the river.

The Surrey Hills Adventure Company runs a variety of paddle-boarding classes on the pretty Buckland Park Lake, including 1:1 and group tuition, as well as free-ride sessions.

Active 360

Horses for courses

Horse-riding uses a huge range of muscles as well as being great for mental wellbeing. We have loads of great places to get in the saddle, including Kingston’s Barnfield Riding School, which offers lessons and hacks in Richmond Park. Deen City Farm, near Merton Abbey Mills, offers lessons with an assessment on its horse simulator, which can be a great introduction to riding for first time riders and young children.

Fancy something different? Try polo at Ham Polo Club. Group days (for six or more people) can be organised and are great for work team-building days. They also offer lessons for children.

Epsom Polo Club has hacks on polo ponies in Horton Country Park.

Take a hike

Just as good as a gym work out, with better views, hiking is great cardio exercise that can give your calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads a real stretch and strengthen.

Unlike the treadmill or road running, hikes often involve a variety of terrain and levels, so can be excellent for fitness as well as a sociable workout with a change of scene.

Venture out into the Surrey Hills for some glorious hiking options – one of our favourites takes you on a seven-mile circular walk from Denbies vineyard to Polesden Lacey.

Holmbury Hill

On your bike

As the weather warms, why not take advantage of a family bike ride as a means of exercise and a chance to explore the local areas of SW London. For stunning views on a spring day, take a cycle through Richmond Park, Battersea Park, a stretch of the Wandle Trail, or along the riverside from Kingston – cross over the bridge and take the path towards Hampton Court for an easy cycle of three miles one way.

We have the BEST bike routes here!

Yoga in nature

The benefits of yoga include improving back health, flexibility and balance. It can also help with heart health, and improves mood and sleep. Practising yoga outdoors can enhance all of these benefits.

Good Life Yoga in Wimbledon offers classes outside and Body & Brain offers holistic wellness across London, including outdoor classes.

You could also try a sunrise vinyasa flow session on the rooftop at art’otel London Battersea Power Station with incredible views of the London skyline.

Fresh air fitness

If you really want to up your fitness, then Be Military Fit is one to try. Its 60-minute workout use military training strategies but it notes that you don’t need to be a ‘superstar athlete’ to try, just a willingness to give it a go as it is tailored to all abilities. Try it in Battersea Park, Clapham Common and Nonsuch Park.

Boxit Bootcamp offers fitness for all levels. Their studio is a minute away from Clapham Common tube station and they encourage “people that have never put a boxing glove on in their life” to attend. In the warmer weather, they head out to the common. Boxing is proven to be one of the quickest ways of getting fit, and incudes high intensity interval training, cardiovascular and strength and conditioning all rolled into one.

You could also join a running group. Common Runners is a women-only group in Wimbledon that will help you learn to run progressively and safely.

Enjoy your own boat race

Rowing is a sociable sport and also provides a great cardio workout as well as creating strength in the upper body and legs.

Whilst in London we may be used to watching rowing rather than partaking, there are a growing numbers of rowing clubs available, which cater for all levels.

London Rowing Club in Putney hosts TopRow: a team that specialises in getting people onto the water for the first time and offering an easy way to give it a go. Kingston Rowing Club welcomes all ages to try out the sport.


Dust off your whites

As the sun comes out and we hear that strawberries are being picked ready for the Wimbledon Championships, this brings out a flurry of fair-weather tennis players on to court. Across London and Surrey, there are hundreds of private and pay-as-you-go clubs for those looking to swing a racquet. Search and book a court on the LTA website.