3dots founder Timo takes over the Big Apple and and encounters many surprises
As for so many others, New York has always been on the very top of my bucket list. I can vividly remember sitting spellbound in front of the TV as a kid, and devouring every movie that took place in the Big Apple. Think about all the large Hollywood productions that were made in the city of dreams: “Harry and Sally“, “Home Alone“, “Men in Black“, “The Godfather“, and famous TV shows á la “Friends“ and “How I met your mother“. The list is longer than New York's phone book.
Even though these were amazing movies, they also shaped my image of America in a negative way. In my mind, fast food and laziness determined the American's everyday life. It comes as no surprise, that McDonald's and Coca Cola grew into giants here, and still generate sales in the billions. Did you know, that the Hamburger was invented not in Hamburg, but right here in this turbulent metropolis? Granted, this theory has never been properly confirmed. Nonetheless, the State of New York advertises itself with the slogan “New York’s Gift to World Cuisine, The Hamburger”... and with a glance at the rising numbers of overweight people in the USA, it's not hard to believe. Today, more than every third US- American is obese, and the numbers of heavily overweight people is predicted to rise steadily over the next few years. What a scary notion! Fitness and a healthy diet are as important to me as the air that I breather, but to the majority of people in the States, they must seem like foreign words.
Nonetheless, I always knew that I would find myself in New York one day. When I had the opportunity to visit for a few days, I didn't hesitate, and immediately booked a ticket to the city that never sleeps. Of course, I took my personal prejudices with me.
As soon as I had landed, I dropped my bags at the rented apartment, and grabbed a bike to explore the city my way.
I was stunned! And it had less to do with the monstrous buildings, the noise and the thick, humid city air of New York...and thick air.
As I was sitting with my laptop in Central Park, my attention was caught by a pretty young woman, whose long blond hair was tied up in a ponytail. Her legs slim, tanned legs were hanging in the air,swinging while she was trying to follow the instructions of her super-fit Tai Chi teacher. In that moment, I realized everyone around me was active in one way or another. I saw joggers, that were completing one lap after another, even though it was 35 degrees. The park was full of skater and cyclists. People were walking their dogs, or simply enjoying a stroll at the (for New York) unusually fresh air.
I suddenly realized, that my assumptions had been completely wrong. At least in New York, my expectation of American aversion to fitness was not met at all. Quite the contrary - where were all the big, fat Muricans, that I’d heard about? Not in the Big Apple, apparently. The city was vibrating with energy and vitality.
My stay here taught me a lesson: Whether you are a complete beginner or a freak in the gym, NYC definitely has the perfect workout for you! Here are some typical activities that will make your heart race:
Doesn't sound thrilling at first, but watch out: The New York Road Runners are the coolest fitness group in town right now. No matter if you just want to get fit, or are already training for the next New York Marathon. This is the perfect opportunity to be active, and meet some great people at the same time. The road runners hit the streets and parks of the city on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays - come sunshine or rain.
The best thing: It doesn't matter if you are a couch potato, or training for the next iron man, there will always be a group that suits your level.
You prefer training indoors? No problem: The Mile High Run Club is the first studio to offer daily treadmill classes for the group.
The West Side Highway path along the west side of Manhattan is a 16 mile stretch of iconic road. Continuously following the skyline of the city, it divides the concrete island that pierces the blue sky with shards of skyscraper steel from the dark, glistening Hudson River. I recommend riding from the George Washington Bridge down to Battery Park, then looping back to the Freedom Tower. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can continue on over the bridge into Brooklyn. Don’t make the same mistake as me, though, and avoid the Brooklyn Bridge, as it’s inundated with tourists. The Manhattan Bridge is definitely the better choice. Continue through the Brooklyn Bridge Park and head north towards Williamsburg and Long Island City. From here, you can easily return to city by crossing the East River. The Midtown Bridge will lead you into Central Park. An incredible day trip!
Skateboarding and rollerblading seem to be the hippest way to get around the concrete jungle. At any rate, you’ll be quicker than everyone that’s stuck in rush hour traffic, or waiting for the next subway train. Any New Yorker deciding to hit the streets like this must have a ridiculous amount of courage. Unless you have nerves of steel, follow my advice and stick to the safe paths in the parks.
Ever heard of Aerial Yoga? Don’t worry, the trend is still quite fresh. And where else could it be borne, but in the city of dreams. While visiting Prospect Park in Brooklyn, I (literally) stumbled into a Yoga-Festival was promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, and was overrun with leggings-clad yogis, super fit athletes, and the typical yoga mums with their state-of-the-art prams, which they were pushing through gras, way too high for their buggies. While I was watching the spectacle from a close vantage point, my attention was drawn to a couple, who had found some shade under a tree to attach a cloth, and practicing the wildest contortions with it. It’s called Aerial Yoga, and it’s the latest fad. By now, there are several studios in New York that offer courses, so you don’t need to drape your cloth in a park. I’m pretty sure that making use of an instructor might also save your life. For those of you who want to stay safe, there are normal and free yoga courses in many of New York’s parks. All you need to bring is a yoga mat.
Thought you’re too old for this! You thought wrong! There is no age limit for this kind of fun. The New Yorkers know this only too well. It’s almost like they’re developing a high-performance sport: a competition for speed and agility. You can find young Suits playing Frisbee in Brooklyn Bridge Park or Manhattan. In fact, anywhere there’s an open green space and a colleague with a Frisbee. My tip: Just ask if you can play. Many great friendships have developed from this. The things a Frisbee can do ...
You’ll find groups and individuals practicing this style of Chinese martial arts in the parks, early in the morning. Tai Chi includes numerous aspects such as health, meditation, and self-defense, as well as the possibility of personal development. You learn, for example, how to control your breath, and concentrate on your posture. If you want to try it out yourself, your best chances to meet a group that welcomes you with open arms will be in Columbus Park and Washington Square right after sunrise.
With every visit to Coney Island and Rock Away Beach, you will see a ton of people taking advantage of the fresh breeze to get their workout in. And why not? The beach is not just for the lazing around, the soft underground is perfect for lots of exercises. Be it sand or water: Anyone, who regularly runs, will find a challenge in a beach jog. So don’t forget to pack your running shoes, when you visit Coney Island.
New York has a lot to offer. The weather at this latitude is so unexpectedly warm, that the coast is bustling with people from May to September. Because the waves can rise very high, however, mainly surfers and very courageous swimmers are drawn into water. From Manhattan, ride the A train through Queens to Far Rock Away, chill out on the beach all morning, or use the opportunity to hire a surfboard and catch a few waves.
If you’re looking for a real adventure, a jet ski tour on the Hudson River is just the right thing! Several operators have jet skis for hire and offer guided tours, so you can scoot carelessly to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, all while looking putting up a pretty good show. On your way back, you’ll have the full view of New York’s skyline. Two, three hours will be over before you know it, and you won’t even notice the incredible upper body workout. That is, of course, until the muscle ache reminds you of your trip for days to come.
For starters: If you’re no good at basketball, don’t step on the court. Otherwise you’ll be crushed in no time. New Yorkers play fast and aggressive, and won’t hesitate to foul, either. If you can muster up the courage, however, you’re in for an addictive adrenaline rush. Courts are everywhere, just show up and be ready to play.
You’ve probably seen it on TV, here’s the chance to test it out yourself! America’s pastime is traditionally celebrated as a huge spectacle. Instead of just passively watching, you have the opportunity in New York to prove your talent and pitch a few balls. They say it is the hardest of all sports, since hitting a round ball that is coming at you at 220 kph with a slim wooden bat, and have it land within the stadium clearly isn’t easy. But try it out and see for yourself.
There are many ways to connect in New York. There is an entire subculture of social sport communities, who run, play, kick, and sweat together. You can find anything from volleyball, to football, and badminton. Some of these social leagues organise regular competitions, which increases the fun even more. The communities are a great way to meet new people. My tip: Check out meetup.com to find a group of fans for any type of sports!
Whether to the sounds of Bollywood, Latin Music, or Hip Hop: New York offers a thousand ways to get fit with others. Dance classes are the perfect choice for anyone not wanting to notice how much they’re working out. Learn some new moves, and get fit along the way! There are plenty of studios that will teach you how to boogie, dance salsa or even moonwalk. You don't need to drag along a dance companion. There will be plenty of like minded people already there, ready to get moving!
New York is active and invents itself anew all the time. I guess I should have known that the city that never sleeps can’t be a couch potato. New Yorker's are open-minded, efficient, and picky - especially when it comes to their fitness. And they’re proud of it. They expect innovation and excitement at every turn. It’s hardly a surprise that New York is the cradle of tomorrow’s trends. Thousands of studios and fitness groups constantly invent new sports and ways to make you sweat.
She has been living in the city of dreams for several months, and reports on her blog vegannomadlife.com about life in the metropolis, and her love for traveling and vegan food. This is where our interests intersect, because I also consider myself a restless world traveler, and adopted a vegan diet as well, which you can read about here. So we got together to rattle the cage of the New York food scene. Jen was able to give me helpful advice on the best restaurants in town. Luckily, I was on the go everyday, preferred the bike over a cab and remembered to exercise daily - there are plenty of ways to stay active, as you have just learned. Which is totally necessary, with all the great food around! Of course, I pay attention to my diet, and even in New York continued to have Smoothie Bowls and salad. But if you travel the long way to America, you need to indulge in a big fat burger, too! Jen revealed to me, that the men’s magazine GQ had crowned the best burger in the world a few months ago. And where else would he be found but in the Big Apple. The surprise: The thing is vegan! Anything seems possible in New York. If you make it to the city, don’t miss out on paying Superiority Burger a visit! See for yourself if their burger deserves the title.
For more info on New York’s hotspots for healthy foodies, check out Jen's article on the 5 best restaurants in New York