Sporting Life- Sports, Exercise Blog

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Basement fitness centers be damned. There are some places around the world that make your intentions to lace up the runners and don the spandex a whole lot more inviting.

1. MV Stella Australis, Chile

Ever wanted to jog around Cape Horn but thought it was impossible? Well, it’s not.

Brand-new ship (well, in cruise ship terms any ship just past her first birthday is still brand-new) Stella Australis plies the glacier-lined route between Punta Arenas (Chile) and Ushuaia (Argentina).

The gym is positioned on the top deck with full-height double-glazed windows providing an ever-changing view of snow-dusted mountains and glaciers amid forest-clad fjords. The double glazing is important, as summer temperatures barely reach double figures in South American Patagonia.

There’s no problem getting warmed up, however, on modern treadmills, steppers and bikes, as albatross soar on the Furious Fifties winds that buffets the land at the “end of the world”.

2. Andaman Hotel, Langkawi, Malaysia

National Geographic film crews know a good location when they see one. So it’s no surprise to find out that the same ancient rainforest that treadmill pounders gaze at from the Andaman Hotel is a favoured habitat for filming wildlife documentaries.

Located on the northwest coast of Langkawi, the region abounds in rare wildlife on land and kaleidoscopic fringing coral reef beyond the beach.

Hotel designers didn’t quite get it right for water babies but for those who find inspiration in lush plush jungle, you won’t be disappointed with French windows allowing heady tropical aromas to waft around the gym.

3. Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania

Unleash your inner safari man (or woman) when you drop into your own personal piece of African indulgence on a privately held 137,000-hectare concession of Singita Grumeti Reserve.

Incongruously rising above the plains in the style of an Edwardian manor house, the main lodge is surrounded by a handful of secluded cottages, each with its own infinity pool and dreamy heat-haze views all the way to the horizon.

If you can drag yourself beyond poolside tranquilized stupor, the gym is a revelation for such a remote location. Equipped with modern machines, it’s easy to imagine running across the sun-kissed plains, with bounding zebras kicking up their hooves beside you.

4. Aqua Expeditions, Peru

If cruising little-accessible waters of the Amazon floats your boat, step onto the treadmill aboard luxury river expedition vessel MV Aria, departing from the forest-clad port of Iquitos.

Launched in the spring of 2011, MV Aria plies the upper reaches and tributaries of the Andes-fed Amazon, allowing up to 32 guests to immerse themselves in wildlife and wild landscapes of 20,000 square kilometers of Pacaya Samira Reserve encased in floating luxury.

Hitting the treadmill daily is recommended, given that menus are designed by renowned chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, otherwise known as the jungle chef, for his creative use of Amazonian wild foods.

More an exercise room bathed in natural light from immense picture windows rather than a fully blown gym, there’s no denying the inspirational “in-your-face” view gliding by.

5. Chobe Safari Lodge, Uganda

Recently restored to her former 1950s elegance and perched above the bank of the River Nile, water is the main focus of Chobe Safari Lodge.

That is, of course, once you’ve had your fill of the elephants, hippos and buffalo that hang out around this legendary waterway. Attracting wildlife by the safari-load, the three-level swimming pool, spa and gym all overlook the rushing, gushing Nile.

Within the largest National Park in Uganda, Murchison Falls National Parkis not a bad spot for fishos to drop a line once they’ve finished buffing their biceps in the Chobe Health Club and Spa.

6. Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa, United States

It’s unlikely that master mariner Captain James Cook would recognize much about Anchorage these days. Things have changed a bit since he anchored in the bay, now known as Cook Inlet, beneath a couple of active volcanoes and a mountain affectionately known by locals as Sleeping Lady.

On a clear day Redoubt and Spurr mountains, all 3,000 meters of them, poke out above the clouds, all theatrical summits and look-at-me attitude.

Gazing out from the 15th floor gym to the street below, gym junkies shouldn’t be surprised to see one of the 1,000-odd moose who also call Anchorage home wandering the streets.

7. Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, United States

Any hotel that puts step machines front and center behind frameless glass walls that overlook the Pacific Ocean gets my vote.

Add a crystal chandelier to enhance the theatrical movie star opulence, and you’ll be seriously motivated to get your butt camera-ready.

Naturally, equipment is top-of-the-line Precor and Icarian with individual screens and multimedia connectivity. The team at Ritz-Carlton seem to know just how to prop up a narcissistic gym junkie’s habit.

 

8. Wickaninnish Inn, Canada

The favored destination for storm chasers, those climate-crazy souls who time their holidays to encounter the worst weather, Wickaninnish Inn sits tall, proud and somewhat weather-beaten on a point jutting seaward. Beachcombers and surfer dudes also find their way to wild tumbled Chesterman Beach.

Looking west across the Pacific Ocean from Vancouver Island, 10 years ago the inn built a new wing to capitalize on their beachfront location, thrilling gym junkies no end by placing the workout room center stage.

9. Paresa Resort Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is home to sea gypsies who live on floating villages earning a living from ever depleting fish stocks, as well as the seething, writhing, pumping tourism hub of Patong Beach which attracts modern-day travelers.

Treadmill joggers who bother to look south from the gym at Paresa can catch a glimpse of the ever-present partying integral to the beachfront strip.

But for my money, the real attraction is the uninterrupted cliff top view from high above the Andaman Sea, particularly at dusk as the blazing tropical sun disappears below the salt-laden horizon.

10. Hotel Icon, Hong Kong

Opened just two months ago, Hotel Icon represents the combined efforts of Hong Kong’s most creative geniuses.

Clearly health-conscious designers who appreciate the benefits of positioning the pool and gym on the rooftop, it’s hard to imagine a more exciting cityscape than Hong Kong’s.

Particularly so at night, when all bets are off when it comes to conserving energy and the city lights up like the a Christmas tree.

Naturally, being a brand-new luxuriously appointed hotel with a heavy focus on glamour, gym equipment is state of the art and open 24 hours.

(By Fiona Harper, CNN Travel )

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Through rainforest, over mountain ridges, across open plains, beside lakes and oceans, Australia has so much to offer the hiker who’s prepared to pull the boots on and get stuck in.

With the peak walking season for Tasmania’s stunning Overland Track beginning on October 1, here’s our list of great hikes, taking from half a day to a week.

Multi-day treks

Overland Track, Tasmania

What would Frodo do? The writer stands atop Mount Ossa.

What would Frodo do? The writer stands atop Mount Ossa.The Overland Track covers 65 kilometers over six days through the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, part of the World Heritage Area.

Walkers can trek independently but must book with the Parks & Wildlife Service, or use one of the many guided-walk operators.

We went with Cradle Mountain Huts, known for its eco-friendly lodges tucked away from the track.

Highlights include Marion’s Lookout with (if the weather’s good) great views of Cradle Mountain; Barn Bluff towering over an exposed alpine plateau; and the beautiful D’Alton and Ferguson Falls.

Worth the challenge, weather permitting, is the five-hour side trip climbing Mount Ossa.

Our guide points out two rocky towers, nicknamed The Gates of Mordor, after that dire place in “The Lord of the Rings.” And up we go.

Larapinta Trail, Northern Territory

Trekking along Euro Ridge on the Larapinta Trail.

Trekking along Euro Ridge on the Larapinta Trail.The Larapinta Trail winds through a rugged and ancient landscape in the Northern Territory.

Waving goodbye to Alice Springs from the Euro Ridge, walkers head westward, experiencing the beauty of Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm and Ormiston Gorge and ascending Mount Sonder at the end.

Being remote, this trail is best tackled on a group tour.

Michele Eckersley of World Expeditions (WE) says: “It’s our No. 1 trek worldwide.”

Apart from the six-day classic experience — support vehicles reduce the total walk — there’s also a 14-day end-to-end option (the whole 223 kilometers).

Both treks are organized by WE subsidiary Australian Walking Holidays.

Great Ocean Walk, Victoria

The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Walk.

The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Walk.Since 2006, the Great Ocean Walk has enabled us to go where its namesake road could not.

Stretching 104 kilometers from Apollo Bay, the track meanders through gum and eucalypt forest, reaches Cape Otway Lightstation, traverses sand dunes, beaches and cliff-top tracks.

There are shipwrecks to inspect and magnificent views of the Twelve Apostles, those much-photographed limestone sea stacks.

If you’re walking independently, there’s a shuttle service transporting gear from one stop to the next and the VisitVictoria site has information.

For guided walks or self-guided inn-to-inn packages try auswalk.

Six Foot Track, New South Wales

Crossing the Bowtells Swing Suspension Bridge over the Coxs River.

Crossing the Bowtells Swing Suspension Bridge over the Coxs River.Marked out in 1884 as a six-foot-wide (1.83 meters, if you really must know) track to allow loaded horses to pass each other while traveling from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves, the Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains is iconic.

Taking three days and two nights, the 44-kilometer track starts at the Explorers’ Tree, drops into Megalong Valley and crosses Coxs River by the Bowtells Swing Suspension Bridge.

Challenging climbs take walkers to the Black Range ridge before heading for the caves.

Cape to Cape Walk, Western Australia

Walkers heading for Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.

Walkers heading for Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.The Cape to Cape Track in the southwestern corner of Western Australia follows the ridgeline for 135 kilometers through the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, between the lighthouses of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.

This seven-day walk can be done independently or on a guided group tour with Inspiration Outdoors; participants carry a day pack and accommodation and transport is included.

The track mostly follows the coast, sometimes along cliff-top paths, at other times crossing beautiful beaches.

Several inland loops traverse sections of karri forest, while staff at the spectacular lighthouses at both ends run guided tours.

Do these in a day

Kosciuszko Walk, New South Wales

One of several streams on Mount Kosciuszko that will become the legendary Snowy River.

One of several streams on Mount Kosciuszko that will become the legendary Snowy River.From the Kosciuszko Express chairlift at Thredbo in the summer, a 14-kilometer return walk (five hours) goes to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko — at 2,228 meters, Australia’s highest peak.

The landscape features rocky granite outcrops, wildflowers and glacially carved Lake Cootapatamba.

Many walkers seem oblivious to the stream near the trail, but we pause to see the beginning of a waterway that became a legend thanks to Banjo Paterson’s poem “The Man from Snowy River.”

Passing the sign at Rawson Pass, it’s not much further before there’s a carnival atmosphere among hikers who have made it to the top of Australia.

The route’s easy to do independently but guided walks are an option.

Kings Canyon Rim Walk, Northern Territory

The sheer wall of Kings Canyon, a feature of the Rim Walk.

The sheer wall of Kings Canyon, a feature of the Rim Walk.It’s one of the world’s best short walks.

The reasonably fit should not be deterred by the 500-step climb to the top because it’s then quite flat.

This walk of six kilometers (four hours) follows the rim of Kings Canyon in a horseshoe fashion.

There’s a sense of awe at this ancient land with 100-meter-high sheer cliff walls, weathered dome-like structures called the Lost City and the Garden of Eden with its permanent waterholes. It’s enough to make one feel humbled.

Stay the night before being sure to start early to avoid hiking in the midday heat.

Kings Canyon Resort lays on various accommodation levels and guided tours.

Dove Lake Circuit, Cradle Mountain National Park

Looking back at a brooding Cradle Mountain, towering above Dove Lake.

Looking back at a brooding Cradle Mountain, towering above Dove Lake. This six-kilometer walk leads around the shores of Dove Lake in Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in about two hours.

It’s an easy grade of walk, much of it on boardwalk, and one of Tasmania’s most popular.

Highlights include the much-photographed boat shed, built in 1940 by the first Ranger at Cradle Mountain, Glacier Rock, which bears the marks made by Ice Age glaciers and the peaceful cool temperate rainforest known as the Ballroom Forest.

Towering above it all is Cradle Mountain. Look several times to see its mood change from bright to brooding with the weather.

Binna Burra to Green Mountains (O’Reilly’s), Queensland

A peaceful moment on the Binna Burra to Green Mountains walk.

A peaceful moment on the Binna Burra to Green Mountains walk.Part of the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk, a multi-day hike, the section from Binna Burra to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park makes a good full-day walk.

The Border Track passes through stands of Atlantic Beech forest, subtropical and cool-temperate rainforests and along the rim of the Tweed Valley volcanic erosion caldera.

From Wanungara Lookout views extend over Limpwood Valley, Mount Warning and sometimes as far south as Byron Bay. The 23-kilometer hike takes six or seven hours and can be done in either direction, completely independently or with transport by O’Reilly’s.

Manly to the Spit Bridge

Walking the Forty Baskets Beach section on the Manly to the Spit Bridge walk.

Walking the Forty Baskets Beach section on the Manly to the Spit Bridge walk.Hiking in the middle of the city? Absolutely.

Walks through Sydney Harbor National Park provide a peaceful perspective.

A favorite is Manly to the Spit Bridge, a 10-kilometer one-way walk of three hours.

No human guide is needed and manlyguide.com has an excellent map.

Catch the ferry from Circular Quay, alight at Manly Wharf and head west along the foreshore.

Having crossed the picturesque and oddly named Forty Baskets Beach, the track heads up through a reserve with spectacular lookouts.

Quiet beaches like Castle Rock give the walker reason to pause, before everything becomes busier approaching the Spit Bridge, which we see open for a ferry to pass.

(From: Bruce Holmes/ CNN Travel)


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