Interview: Best Places To Work Out Outside In Melbourne

I saw her eating a chocolate bar. Later, she was indulging in jelly beans. I asked her if she had a sweet tooth – her habits were starting to resemble mine (I suffer from this also. In Southeast Asia I had a sticky rice with mango addiction). “I’ve gained weight since I’ve been in Australia,” my new roommate told me between bites of a Snickers bar, “I joined a gym and did the cross trainer every day, but after a month I had gained a kilo.”

That one might be an obvious case. But often being on a budget and moving to a new city or traveling can be a big hindrance for staying fit, sometimes without a clear reason. “I find that while traveling on a budget (and with time constraints), I end up skipping meals or going longer without eating than I would otherwise,” my friend Erin explains, “On the other hand, the cheapest or easiest food is often the unhealthiest (i.e., sandwiches… Allison’s and my downfall).” Don’t I know it about those sandwiches…

Here are tips on healthy eating while traveling featured on Nomadic Matt

On a tight grocery budget but want delicious food? Try recipes from Yates Yummies guest post challenge to make seven meals with ten ingredients.

It’s not only about maintaining appearances – it’s important to stay active for your health. Anyone who’s been out of shape and had to work hard to get it back knows it doesn’t come easy. Erin told me, “To stay in shape, one has to make a concerted effort to fit a workout into a somewhat uncooperative schedule.” After living in Melbourne for four months and working awkward four-hour blocks, I hadn’t joined a gym and found my fitness starting to decline.

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Please don’t follow Erin’s “obedience” of traffic signs.

I enlisted Erin (you’ve heard her mentioned quite a lot on Yasmine), the hiking extraordinaire who brought you these top 5 Ibiza hikes, to give us her favorite places to work out while living in Melbourne on a budget. If you’re just visiting, staying temporarily or have been a Melbournian your whole life but just need some extra inspiration, these are for you!

Let’s hear about where we can work out for free in Melbourne!

Here are Erin’s top 3 running routes in the city and her explanations:

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Map of Melbourne. Taken from Melbournepoint.com.
  1. Albert Park, just south of the city. The Park has a 5km dirt running path around its man-made lake, with great views of the city (especially at sunset) and a very family-oriented atmosphere. I haven’t encountered communities of homeless people or drug users like you tend to in St Kilda.
  1. Port Melbourne -> St Kilda. I love running along the boardwalk between Port Melbourne and St Kilda. It’s about 5km of uninterrupted sea views with zero traffic lights. The only negative is that the path is entirely concrete pavement, which I try to avoid for the sake of my knees.
  1. The Tan Track around the Royal Botanic Gardens. This dirt loop is also about 5km and circles the gated botanical gardens. It has a great hill in the southeastern portion, which I describe below. You’ll find a lot of runners and what appear to be school gym classes using the track, which is fantastic for motivation. Whatever pain you’re feeling, you’re never alone!
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Erin memorized that map of Melbourne from day 1.

I want my b u t t to b u r n. Where are those stairs?

I also often hear Erin crying with desire for a stair workout. She told me “As Melbourne is a relatively flat city, I had to do quite a bit of research in order to find a place to do hill work.” She even tried stadiums, which she was disappointed to discover didn’t allow public access. But, she found two that she enjoyed.

Erin suggests:

  1. The Tan Track has a fantastic hill on its southeastern side along Anderson Street.
  1. The Shrine of Remembrance (a WWII memorial next to the Royal Botanical Gardens) is set atop a long set of stairs, and is relatively uninhabited on the back side. Verdict is still out on whether this is allowed, however. I haven’t found anything to the contrary, and was actually directed here through someone else’s running blog, but was told off by one woman the last time I was there.

Having previously lived in Thailand and Spain before moving to Australia, Erin says that Melbourne has been the most enjoyable out of those mentioned in terms of workouts.

“I love using running/working out as a tool to explore a new city and for that reason,

Melbourne has been the most fun for me thus far.

Ibiza was much too rural for my taste…You could run two miles down a dirt road and notice no change in the horizon, which I personally find horrifying.

While in Thailand, I was living outside of Bangkok in a smaller metropolitan area. I lived conveniently nearby a nationally recognized Buddhist park (Phutthamonthon Park), which has several running trails, but aside from that, my options were “left or right” down the interstate.”

So if you’re in Melbourne looking for a place to exercise, just remember: at least you’re not on a dirt road with no change in the horizon and at least you’re not alongside an interstate. Now get out there and get active!

Do you work out in Melbourne? Where else do you like to go?

Naptime.Runningin Melbourne4
Here’s one way NOT to stay fit while traveling!

Beyond Melbourne

Not in Melbourne but still want ideas on how to stay fit while traveling? Women’s Health, World of Wanderlust and Katherine Lynn Fitness’s Hotel Room HIIT all have great ideas. Another idea? Pick a few short YouTube videos to do on your break at work or in the morning at your hostel. Kimberly sent me some of her favorites that have quickly become mine: 10-minute abs, Jillian Michaels arms and Kiera LaShae’s reggae/dance hall.

If you’re being honest with yourself, are you feeling kind of lazy about this whole workout thing? Try Greatist’s 30 day Just-Do-Something Challenge.

Are you Ibiza? Don’t know where to run? Here are three running routes.

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An Interview With An Avid Runner: Top 3 Ibiza Town Running Routes

My friend and fellow language assistant Grace, aside from being an inspiration to us all with her curiosity, her excitement for seeing and learning new things about Ibiza, and her thought-provoking conversation, is also an avid runner (similar to how Erin is an avid hiker).

vinoandco Ibiza
I force her to stand by dessert. She is not running here, but she is Grace.

If I go into Ibiza Town during the weekdays, I almost always see Grace in a powerful sprint. She might be in her 7th mile of her 15 mile-long run, but you would never guess. She makes distance running look like sitting on the couch watching reruns of Scandal.

Because she lives in Ibiza Town, her runs typically evolve into routes in and around that city. Grace told me that before she came to Ibiza, she researched previous auxiliary blogs about Ibiza and even running routes. However, she was disappointed to not find any helpful information.

st agnes ibiza
She’s still not running, but here is Grace & co being active. Frolicking through the trails of the almond blossoms in St. Agnes.

Therefore, for all of those who wish to come to Ibiza and indulge in a run, here are Grace’s Top Runs in and Around Ibiza.

  1. Marina Botafoch
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Marina Botafoch at Sunset. Photo credit: Erin Morris

Route: From the port up toward Marina Botafoch, ending at a lookout over Playa Talamanca to the North and the marina lighthouse to the South.

How you discovered it: I was initially introduced to the running path by a friend of mine who grew up here in Ibiza. One day, I was running along the marina, and I wanted to run a bit of an incline, so I went off the path to the left up a residential street. The street offers the best views of the pretty lighthouse at the end of the Marina. The steep hill ended at a gorgeous lookout with a view of Talamanca to the north.

Distance: From the port to the lookout, it’s probably about 3.5 miles. The hill is definitely steep and difficult, but stopping to take in the view is unavoidable

When: I like to run on weekends in the late morning, around 10 or 11. It’s not too hot yet and the path isn’t crowded with dog-walkers and little kids on bikes.

Why: I love this run for the views, but also for the challenge of tackling the big hill. I love the feeling I get when it’s finally over and I can stop to appreciate the beauty surrounding me on all sides. That’s the best motivation for me.

Meaningful moments: My favorite running memory was the day I discovered this little lookout. I stopped at the top of the hill and just stood there for a while, catching my breath and walking in circles to take in the view on all sides.

  1. Figueretas Boardwalk
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Mirror selfie of friends and I on the boardwalk. Check yourself out in the reflection next time you’re there. Photo credit: Grace McGann.

Route: Running the Playa Figueretas boardwalk, which is lined with restaurants and bars, is really fun because it’s so lively. Also, the views of the ocean are of course beautiful.

How you discovered it: It’s the closest beach to my apartment, so when I’m in the mood to run along the beach it’s my go-to run

Distance: It’s a very short boardwalk, so I usually run it as a warm-up. It’s probably only about half a mile long.

When: Try to avoid it during the hottest part of the day, because it’s in complete sun. Also, it gets pretty crowded during tourist season, so I recommend running it in the mornings.

Meaningful moments: I love people-watching, and the boardwalk is the perfect place to do it.

  1. Dalt Vila
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Dalt Vila lit up (don’t worry, not in flames!). Photo credit: Erin Morris.

Route: When I want to challenge myself with some serious incline, I run to the old town and try to maintain a jog all the way up to the top, where the views are phenomenal of both the city and the water.

How you discovered it: Everyone in Ibiza knows Dalt Vila, and when I first saw the quaint little town, I was just walking around. When I started interspersing flat runs with more hilly ones, I thought of Dalt Vila as the ultimate challenge for incline. It’s extremely difficult to keep up a jogging pace all the way to the top, but you’re rewarded for your hard work when you reach the lookout spaces.

Distance: It’s not a long run, but it’s very intense.

Why: I like to do this run on days when I don’t have a lot of time but still want a good workout. It provides the intensity without having to dedicate much time.

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How can you not take advice from this beauty?

If you don’t fancy any of these runs, Grace gives you some advice to find your own inspiring workout:

Turn onto streets that interest you. Because it’s Ibiza, you’ll probably end up somewhere beautiful. Also because it’s Ibiza, you’ll find it difficult to get lost. Most roads, even if you feel like you’re out in the middle of nowhere, lead to something you’ll recognize (or at least a town where the people will be happy to point you in the right direction).

What are you favorite running routes around Ibiza? How did you discover them? What’s your most memorable moment on a run?

Interview With An Avid Hiker: Top 5 Ibiza Hikes

Just in time for Earth Day, I’d like to bring you a post to appreciate the natural beauty of Ibiza.

One of my fellow language assistants and friend Erin is a courageous and adventurous hiker. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been introduced to some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen – not to mention some of the best experiences I’ve had on the island. I admire her excitement for discovering new places and her determination to find exactly what she’s looking for. A master hiker in my eyes, she is a person who is so intrigued about her surrounding and inspires us all to be the same.

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Taken from http://www.world-guides.com/europe/spain/balearic-islands/ibiza/maps.html

Her passion for hiking becomes evident when she says that she even loves “these hikes when you don’t even know if there’s going to be a trail and you just have to keep walking ahead blindly, because more often than not, you find something amazing. Ibiza is way more mapped out for hikers than I ever thought possible.” After many months of exploring the island, I figured she’d have a thing or two to say about her favorite places.

Her top 5 hikes, in no particular order are:

  1. Cala Xarraca to Cap Blanc
  2. Sant Vicent
  3. Ses Salinas
  4. Atlantis
  5. Jesus

Read below for more information on each one.


Cala Xarraca to Cap Blanc

Xarraca_Portinatx_Serra
Taken from http://www.surcando.com/fondeos/cala-portinatx/

Having never explored this side of the island, Erin came here randomly to find a path. She says, “I drove to Cala Xarraca, and parked there, and then just aimlessly started walking west.” That’s the thing about Ibiza. You can just show up somewhere, even for a hike, and it always seems to work out.

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View during her Cala Xarraca to Cap Blanc hike. Photo by Erin Morris.

In total, this hike took about four hours going there and back. Erin says that there are some very steep parts and you need to bring lots of water and snacks (for all of the hikes as well). Erin told me, “I think I enjoyed it so much because it was such different geography than anything I’d seen yet or was expecting. That’s the thing about this island, is that it has SUCH variety to it. There are tropical beaches-white sand and palm trees- there’s the inland farmland, there are intense mountain ranges… this hike was rolling hills for MILES, no trees, just this short little shrubs, you could see that turquoise blue water from all angles…”

CalaXarraca itself
Cala Xarraca. Photo by Erin Morris.

Her advice to you for this hike? If you’re used to walking or exercising with music, leave it at home. She reflected, “Only recently have I started to try without music. I normally always have my iPod even if I’m just walking to the grocery store, but I forced myself to take it out while hiking once and it was so cool. Being the ONLY person around for miles, you don’t get that kind of quiet anywhere else. It’s only you, the birds, and the chipmunks.”


Sant Vicent

San Vicente_1
Taken from http://www.surcando.com/fondeos/cala-de-san-vicente/

Having had problems at work, this five hour hike was the perfect remedy for Erin. After unsuccessfully trying to find a hike in the inland mountains near Sant Vicent, she kept driving and eventually “found some road up a mountain.” She tells me that she “started in an abandonded farm house field to the west of Sant Vicent and made my way up the coast, then followed it as it wrapped around to the beach.” This is a great hike if you need to be alone and de-stress. She says it’s also great for privacy: “There are a few cute inlet beaches on the way…privacy is nice.”

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Cala Sant Vicent. Photo by Erin Morris.

Ses Salines National Park

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Taken from http://www.ibiza-hotels.com/hoteles/playas/salinasi.php

The first time Erin did this hike, which she later took me on in the winter, it was still warm in October. She enjoyed the first time much more than subsequent outings to the national park. She had no idea what do expect. She explains, “We didn’t even know there was going to be a path…we just drove past Ses Salines beach to the end, by that cute neighborhood. We walked along the entry path to the park…and then got up to the top of the hill before you go down to that first beach. We had NO idea if we were just walking into a straight forest but because I’m annoying I made us continue anyway… then we found a path on the other end and climbed to the top right along the cliff. The views were AMAZING. This was one of my first hiking experiences in Ibiza as well, and I’d never been surrounded by so much ocean before. It was an incredible feeling, I felt really lucky that day.”

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Ses Salines National Park. Photo by Erin Morris.

This hike is a bit rugged at times and at certain parts of the year it’s prohibited to pass through some segments for possible danger to the wildlife. It’s best not to go after it rains as the steep hills through dirt are easily to slip on. Walking briskly you can finish in around an hour and a half, but if you take your time and soak in the views, calculate around two to two and a half hours. Because of the great inclines, the three mountains you pass through give you a great heart-pumping workout, in addition to giving you amazing views of Es Vedra and Formentera. You can park your car at the neighborhood that Erin describes and finish the hike at Cap des Falco near the salt flats and walk back to your car.


Atlantis

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Taken from http://www.unav.es/digilab/proyectosenl/0001/viaje/ibiza/etapas/elmapa.htm
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Atlantis. Photo by Erin Morris.

‘Atlantis,’ if you’re not familiar, is a famous spot in the San Josep district near Cala D’hort. It’s rock was cut out and used to build the cathedral of Ibiza. Erin told me, “We had only heard people talk about the name and didn’t really know what it would be like. We didn’t even know if we could get there not by boat. You went by boat so you didn’t see it… but it’s literally a straight ass drop from the top. We had to hold on to various bushes and branches on the way down so we wouldn’t tumble to our death. And again, this was so cool because we didn’t know what was going to be on the other side (or the bottom, in this case).”

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Atlantis. Photo by Erin Morris.

To begin the hike, take the road to Cala D’hort and find tower des Savinar. There you will see a path that leads down. It takes around 20 minutes to reach the bottom.


Jesus

jesus map
http://www.kandani.es/blog/rutas-cicloturistas-santa-eularia-des-riu/

This hike, Erin claims has “absolutely amazing” scenery. It must be cool, because this girl has seen it all. In fact, I can vouch for her, as I did this hike with her. We parked the car at Platja s’estanyol and simply began walking north. She happened to sit on bird poop at one point during this hike, but it ended up being all worth it: “that was quite the climb to get to the top but that lookout was breath-taking.”

You can spend as much or as little time exploring the coastline in this area. We walked along the cliffs for around and hour and then turned back. This is an excellent hike for those who love elevation and dramatic drop-offs (not for the hikers themselves).

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A friend and I relaxing on one of the Jesus cliffs. Photo by Erin Morris.

Erin explains that finding the perfect hike is possible for everyone. While she didn’t plan ahead on many of her hikes, she often found some of the most impactful scenes from spontaneous walking. Trusting the beauty of this island, she usually found “a very well-worn trail” which made her ‘realize you’re not the only one who has enjoyed this!” However, she doesn’t mean to say that this negates the hike’s impact. She finds comfort in the fact that by being well-worn, it’s proof that “there are other people out there like you, who aren’t only about the clubs and find happiness through this same type of experience.”

Do you have a favorite hike on Ibiza that made an impact on you?

All photos besides the maps are credit of Erin Morris.