Undiscovered New York: Getting sporty

You probably already know New Yorkers are a competitive bunch. Whether it’s fighting it out for designer duds at the latest sample sale, running down a taxi or climbing the corporate ladder, it’s a city that thrives on getting ahead. What you may not realize, however, is that these very same facets of New York City also make it the ideal place for athletic pursuits.

Despite all the glass and concrete, New York is an increasingly athletic and outdoor-friendly city, with residents (and visitors alike) reaping the many benefits. Recent years have seen new city regulations to make the streets of the Five Boroughs increasingly bike and pedestrian-friendly. Just a few months ago, a project was announced to convert a stretch of Broadway between 42nd and 47th streets to a pedestrian-only mall. What’s more, large-scale projects like Hudson River Park have redeveloped once-gritty industrial waterfront areas, adding new trails, running paths and parkland.

Perhaps the most surprising fact of New York’s athletic culture is the variety of great outdoor-centric activities you can do just by jumping on the subway. Ever wanted to paddle a sea kayak next to a canyon of skyscrapers? How about a rock climb on one of the highest man-made climbing walls on the East Coast? Or maybe you’d like to “clown” around on a trapeze for the day? Lace up those cross-trainers and click below – this week, Undiscovered New York is “Getting Sporty.”
Climbing and Bouldering
You probably already associate New York with towering skyscrapers and climbing the corporate ladder, but it’s also a great place for some climbing of the more natural sort. Not only can visitors learn climbing skills like bouldering within Manhattan’s Central Park, there’s also a wealth of large climbing walls located all over the city.

Organizations like Climb NYC over a wealth of climbing info to help you find a wall that’s right for your skills and interests. Over at Chelsea Piers, visitors can tackle a 46′ high x 100′ wide climbing wall – one of the largest (and most expensive) man-made climbing walls on the East Coast. Others prefer the City Climbers Club, which offers a more modest but also more reasonable climbing area. Whether you’re just a beginner or a climbing expert, you’re sure to get a challenging experience.

Hudson River Kayaks

The image many visitors have of New York City waterways is grim. Visions of the East River are likely to conjure garbage and decomposing mob victims. Thankfully a concerted cleanup effort has left New York’s waterways in 2009 surprisingly clean – clean enough that you can now ride a kayak on them.

Visitors interested in taking a FREE kayak ride should head to Piers 40 and 96 as well as 72nd Street along the Hudson River. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation rents out free boats for 20 minute rides every weekend during the warmer Spring/Summer months. No prior experience is necessary other than knowing how to swim. It’s a great way to spend the day, paddling your way along the surprisingly serene river between the protected nooks of the river piers. You’re certain to get a view of the city you wouldn’t otherwise get back on dry land.

Trapeze School
Ever harbored a secret fantasy to run off and join the circus? You might finally get your chance when you come to New York. Just a short walk from Hudson River kayaking at Pier 40 is the Trapeze School of New York. Complete with all the necessary swings and safety nets and harnesses to get you up and swinging, the school has been attracting urban daredevils and just the plain curious for almost 10 years.

There’s quite possibly no better setting to learn – as participants flip, swing and glide their way through the lesson they are greeted with panoramic views of the city waterfront and skyline. Visitors can purchase a two-hour lesson starting at around $50-60 plus a one-time $22 registration fee. The school has a second indoor location at 30th Street.