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between the sights than walk, so
you’ll see m...
strapped into my harness
ready to fly, it’s a short but
powerful run downhil...
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Keeping fit in Europe, New Zealand Fitness, December 2011/January 2012


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Keeping fit in Europe, New Zealand Fitness, December 2011/January 2012

  1. 1. BY SARAH WEEKS travel NewZealandFitness,December2011/January2012 56 inEUROPE between the sights than walk, so you’ll see more in less time! The commentary from the tour guide is entertaining and insightful and you’ll meet other travellers. Although Paris is extremely large, the area you bike in is very flat and the tours follow carefully selected bike-friendly routes, so you’ll return energised rather than worn out. Biking is the best way to see all the sights including The Eiffel Tower, Napoléon's Tomb, Musée D'Orsay, Louvre Museum, Tuileries Gardens and Champs-Elysées. And if you’re up for a challenge afterwards, you can even climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower – all 1,652 of them! It’ll save you money, by not paying for the lift, but will cost you time and energy. If you want to go straight to the top, though, you will have to use the lift for the last level. The next stop on tour is Mt Rigi in Switzerland, 1,800m above sea level and a great place for fun and recreation. With breathtaking panoramic views of The Alps, the mountain offers 120km of hiking and nordic walking paths. And what better way to keep fit and enjoy the views from the top of this spectacular mountain than walking to its summit. Alternatively, you can catch the cable car to the top and make your own way back down the mountain. In Italy we stop at the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, which you can climb by taking the 294 steps to the top. It’s a great workout and although you’ll be slightly out of breath by the time you reach the end, the view is very much worth it. Florence too has it’s own “stair master” at The Duomo with over 400 steps. After navigating your way up the narrow spiral staircase, you can enjoy the breathtaking views over this magnificent city and the interior of the stunning church, before making your way back down the steep staircase on the other side. Next up is a visit to the Tyrol region of Austria. We’re given a choice between mountain biking, tandem paragliding, skydiving or canyon jumping. Mountain biking is probably the easiest option but still requires a moderate level of fitness as you have to navigate trees, rocks and other obstacles when making your way downhill through the Austrian Alps. As you weave your way through the thick bush, it’s easy to build up a sweat, but a great opportunity to see this country’s flora and fauna up close. I decide to give paragliding a go, which is more a test of my mental fitness, rather than physical. Taking a gondola ride up to the top of one of the highest mountains in Austria, my small fear of heights gets a whole lot bigger the further I rise. Once at the top and all Europe has spectacular scenery, cultural experiences and glorious food! But the challenge is to keep fit and healthy while on tour. SARAH WEEKS, touring with Topdeck, strives to stay fit and to keep French pastries and German beer to a minimum. Keepingfit B efore setting off on this 18-day Topdeck tour (appropriately called the European Odyssey), travelling through nine different countries, I make sure I have a good quality pair of trainers to pack in my suitcase. Then it’s a case of breaking them in before flying out to avoid blisters. I figure I’ll be walking between six to eight hours each day in Europe so maintaining good fitness levels is important. With that in mind, I hit the pavement, parks and mountains of Auckland to get myself used to the pace. Walking is actually one of the best ways to keep fit and toned. Topdeck provides many options for travellers looking to keep active and what better way to start off than with Fat Tyre Bike Tours in Paris. Biking around allows you to see more with less effort and best of all, it’s lots of fun! The tours leisurely cover 10.5km in four hours. It takes less time to bike ✈ NZF_dec-jan.indd 56 14/11/11 5:12:42 PM
  2. 2. 57 NewZealandFitness,December2011/January2012 strapped into my harness ready to fly, it’s a short but powerful run downhill until my parachute fills with wind and I’m lifted up into the air. After half an hour of drifting down towards the valley, including a few mid-air acrobatics, I’m ready to go again! Berlin is a city full of fascinating history from Nazi Germany to the Berlin Wall and what better way to hear about this than with a Third Reich walking tour from a knowledgeable tour guide. Street names have changed, many buildings have gone – but the nerve center of the Third Reich is all located in one part of Berlin. The tour finishes above the exact position of Hitler’s bunker, where he committed suicide. Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world with nearly everyone owning a bike – that’s over 400,000 bikes! And there’s no better way to explore this cosmopolitan city than how the locals do, so we hop on our bikes and wind our way through the many canals along the well- marked bike paths. Mike’s Bike Tours take you around the centre of this beautiful city covering all the highlights including houseboats, bicycle filled streets (and canals), Museumsplein with the Rijks and Van Gogh museum and the Red-Light district where you'll see the Old church. They of course give you a run down on the coffee shop scene and point out some nightclubs and venues to enjoy later on. After all that riding around, it’s time for a break at Vondel Park where you can toss around a frisbee or lounge in the grass. One thing to keep in mind when doing a Topdeck tour is how many hours you’ll be spending sitting on a coach tour bus when travelling between each city. Travelling days, however, are often broken up by stops and day trips along the way. You can also do some easy exercises to stretch your muscles and help keep your body flexible. Stretching gives you extra energy by improving blood flow. While sitting straight up with your feet firmly on the ground, stretch your right hand up, fingers spread open, and bend to your left side letting your right hand stretch over your head. Hold this position while counting to ten and slowing breathing in and out. Now do the same with your left hand and bend right. Your legs can also become stiff and sore when sitting still for too long, especially with the amount of walking you will be doing in each place, so it’s important to exercise these muscles too. While sitting on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, keep your knee bent and pick up your right foot off the floor and hold while counting to ten before releasing. Do the same thing with your left foot and repeat several times, switching feet. Now you could happily eat your way through Europe with all the glorious food on offer but it is important to remember to eat food that’s healthy and good for you as you’ll need all the energy you can get. With this Topdeck tour, all of your breakfasts are included and about half of your dinners. Most hotels provide a continental breakfast buffet and in countries such as France and Italy, pastries, breads and cheeses are very popular on the menu, but a healthier option is to fill up on fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereal. These options are low GI so release energy slower throughout the day, allowing you to go further and see more of the wonderful sights Europe has to offer. For snacks during the day, try buying fresh fruit and muesli bars at local supermarkets to carry in your daypack and most importantly, carry a bottle of water with you at all times. Just remember to enjoy yourself – you’re in Europe! • Sarah Weeks and Craig Wrightson travelled to Europe courtesy of Singapore Airlines and Topdeck tours. Fit way to see Amsterdam, with Mike’s Bike Tours. NZF_dec-jan.indd 57 14/11/11 5:12:50 PM