- By Pam LeBlanc American-Statesman Staff
My heart, lungs and muscles would thank me, if they could, for living in a fit city like Austin.
Where else could I water ski before work, pedal my bicycle just about everywhere I need to go and swim on a team alongside Olympic athletes? We live in a place where we can wake up any given day, walk out the door and into the arms of an array of fitness opportunities.
So, where do I head when I’ve got an open day and endless hours to fill?
Outside, of course.
I’ve rounded 10 of my go-to activities. Think of it as my perfect day of fitness. And please — definitely try this on your own.
1. My perfect day begins by easing a boat down the Walsh Landing boat ramp (1600 Scenic Drive) at about 6:30 a.m. The water’s smoothest at dawn, before the winds kick up and hordes of boaters appear. And I’m on the water, slicing back and forth in a slalom run, as the sun casts its first golden rays on the city. My husband and I take turns driving as we make our way to the Pennybacker Bridge, working up a good quad burn along the way. After a few passes under the bridge, where we wave at folks stuck in traffic, we head back toward home. Before we get there, we stop beneath Mount Bonnell, switch off the engine and take a flying leap into the lake. After splashing around for a few minutes, I’m braced for the day.
2. I’ve stashed my bicycle in the back of the pickup truck we use to tow our boat, so I can easily pedal my way to Western Hills Athletic Club (4800 Rollingwood Drive; whac.org/programs/whacmasters/) for a U.S. Masters Swimming practice. By now I’ve missed the 7 a.m. session I usually attend, but no worries. I can still catch the one at 8 a.m. A rotating cast of coaches, including Olympians Tommy Hannan and Ricky Berens, former University of Texas swimmer Chris Kemp and triathlon coach Brandon Marsh leads the hourlong practices, guaranteed to leave you gasping at the edge of the pool. In a good way, of course.
3. It’s time to hop back on the bike and head toward downtown, stopping at JuiceLand (1625 Barton Springs Road) to refuel with a post-workout smoothie made with bananas, almond milk, peanut butter and dates. Yum!
4. From there, it’s time for a little two-wheeled urban exploration. I duck over to the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, spinning east onto the boardwalk over Lady Bird Lake, where I can watch blue herons and turtles. I like to hunt for murals, too, and two of my favorites lie east of Interstate 35: The “You Sweeten My Day” motif at Shady Lane and East Fifth Street and the “You’re My Butter Half” painting at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Alamo Street.
5. By now it’s nearly noon and I’m hungry again, so I loop back across I-35 on sections of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, following it west along Cesar Chavez Street. Just before I get to Austin High School, I check to see if the peaches on the trees along the trail are ripe. If they are, I’ll grab a few and take them to Open Room Austin, that 24-foot public art picnic table just east of Sandra Muraida Way. I pause for some people watching and eat the sandwich stuffed in my backpack.
6. Austin’s home to hundreds of group fitness classes, from boot camps and trapeze lessons to workouts on wobbly, dry-docked surfboards and yoga classes aboard stand-up paddleboards. The afternoon awaits, so I’ll pick one — maybe the Nicki Minaj vs. Iggy Azalea throwdown at Love Cycling Studio (507 Pressler St., Suite 900; lovecyclingstudio.com), where participants jam to music and mood lights during a 45-minute, high-energy spin class that feels like you’ve been air-dropped into a New York City disco.
7. It’s time to head home, park the bike — and the boat — and strike out on a hike. I want some hills, so I drive over to the River Place Trail (4207 River Place). It’s one of the few places in town steep enough to get your muscles in shape if you’re training for a backpacking trip or mountain-climbing adventure. I huff and puff up plenty of rocky steps as the 3-mile trail winds through canyons and hilltops along Panther Hollow Creek.
8. By now, my muscles need some tender loving care. Two of my favorite Austin massage therapists work with a lot of athletes, so I make a beeline either to Austin Massage Co. (locations at 611 Congress Ave., Suite 205, and 2222 Western Trails, Suite 108; austinmassagecompany.com) to see Michelle Perez-Hittner, or 5 Fitness Training & Yoga (2745 Bee Caves Road, Suite 105; 5fitnesstraining.com) for a visit with Sue Fegelman.
9. Now I’m officially pooped, so I head home. My day’s not quite finished, though. What I need is a nice healthy, home-cooked meal, maybe some grilled salmon, roasted cauliflower and corn on the cob.
10. Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep is an important part of a sound fitness program, and I know how to wrap up my perfect day of fitness — with a perfect night of sleep. I crawl into bed by 10 p.m.