Central Park is a fantastic place for the fitness enthusiast living in or visiting New York City. With plenty of activities that are excellent for staying in shape (other than taking a leisurely carriage ride!), here are a few ways to stay active and on the move in the Central Park area.
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Running and Jogging
With a soft surface trail that encircles the park’s reservoir, running and jogging are popular exercise options in NYC. The entire trail is 1.58-miles long and provides a low impact surface for those who are worried about their knees and shins. If you aren’t concerned about the high impact levels on your joints, there’s also a paved upper loop that’s 5.2-miles long as well. The best time to run on this top loop is while the park is closed to vehicle traffic.
Cycling in Central Park is favorited by locals and is also typically best done when the park is closed to vehicles. There are plenty of serious early-morning weekend cyclists on the same loops as runners, and it’s easy to meet other bikers and make new friends in the city. With a hilly terrain that’s perfect for both racing cyclists and recreational bike riders, it’s a good workout for staying in shape. Just remember to bike in a counter-clockwise direction and yield for pedestrians. For those who don’t own a bike, there are rentals offered at 208 West 80th Street.
While many people aren’t aware that Central Park has tennis opportunities, the area boasts 26 clay courts and four hard courts for those who love the game. The Tennis Center is located near West Drive between 93rd and 96th Street and opens from April 4th to as long as weather permits. Seasonal passes are $200 each ($20 for seniors) or $15 for single-play.
Winter Skating and Skiing
Ice skating and cross country skiing are terrific winter activities that are sure to make you sweat. Skaters will find two options in Central Park to show off their skills, which include the Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink. Wollman is picturesque arena located on the East Side near the 59th Street entrance and has an entry fee that ranges from $6 to $19, depending on a skater’s age and day of the week. Lasker is located between 106th and 108th Street and is actually a large public swimming pool that gets converted into an ice rink when temperatures drop. Both rinks have large spaces to skate on, provide skate rentals, and are open late fall through the winter season.
For those who prefer to ski, wait for a minimum of 6-inches of snow and strap on your boots! Skiers typically head to Sheep Meadow on the West Side of the Park at 66th Street for the trek across the park’s large open spaces and fun hilly areas.
With gorgeous surroundings and natural scenery, Central Park is an excellent spot to practice yoga. It contains several large areas such as the Great Lawn and Sheep Meadow that are perfect for meditation practices and also provides peaceful lakeside hills for focusing thoughts. Fitness gurus will also love vast array yoga classes that are offered in Central Park and can find a list of sessions here. Just don’t forget to bring your mat!