The festive season is a minefield of calories. Everywhere you look there’s trifle, Christmas cakes and puddings, chocolates, cocktails, ice cream… all things delicious, and calorific.
You’ll still have your lean proteins though, right? Nope, it’s all about buttery turkey, glazed gammon and rich roast lamb. Think you’ll be fine if you fill up on vegetables? Think again. Duck fat might be a friend to potatoes, but it certainly isn’t to your waistline. Even the humble Brussel sprout is best served fried in butter with bacon. And the leftovers go on for days!
But maybe there’s a way you can combine fun holiday activities with getting some exercise in. Wherever you are this holiday season, whether you’re visiting family, travelling, or taking a staycation, you can certainly enjoy a spot of sightseeing while also keeping fit.
Airbnb Experiences are activities or excursions led by passionate local hosts. And whether it’s spending an hour or two walking an area flat or taking to the waves to learn how to surf, many of them offer the opportunity to have an amazing experience that will help you stay on the fitness wagon.
If you’re in Johannesburg, for example, forgo the easy car ride with the ‘explore mountain bike trails in Soweto’ experience which takes you on a 22-mile mountain bike trail. It’s the “sights, sounds, and the raw vibe of Soweto” that make it a truly special experience.
Be warned, though this seven-hour day trip is not for the faint-hearted and best suited to those with some existing skill in the activity. For your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with a craft beer tasting along the way.
Have an impact
Alternatively, you can train with boxing grannies at a gym in Roodepoort and support a great cause in the process. The three-hour morning session will see you sparring with seniors while learning about the A Team Foundation, which seeks to promote bodybuilding and fitness, including helping senior citizens fight obesity. As a social impact experience, 100% of what you pay goes to the cause.
In Cape Town, forget the cable car and hike Table Mountain with a guide ‒ a great way to experience one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in a safe way, with experienced host Martin sharing his favourite, lesser-known routes as well as stories about the history of Cape Town and the mountain itself.
Lovers of vintage can indulge their passion riding steel vintage bicycles over the iconic Chapman’s Peak Drive with a professional cyclist. Or why not join local athletes and friends Buntu and Ayanda on a jog in the township. This experience even includes a super healthy snack – a spinach burger or sandwich at the iconic Spinach King Cafe.
You can also try kayaking in the heart of Cape Town, experiencing the city from the Atlantic Ocean. The two-hour trip leaves from the V&A Waterfront and requires no previous experience. You’ll enjoy spectacular views of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill and see a local shipwreck. And you might even have the company of dolphins, whales, seals, penguins and sunfish along the way.
If you’re in Durban, enjoy the warmer waters and beginner friendly waves with the Durban Learn to Surf experience or the Stand Up Paddleboarding experience. Or head to nearby Umhlanga on the North Coast to run along a scenic forested dune trail which takes you along a magical beach shoreline, paved and boarded walkways, serene forested sand sections, a lagoon shoreline, and an ancient tribal heritage site, all followed by a refreshing swim.
These are just some of the Airbnb Experiences available across the country. And, of course, there are many that involve eating, drinking, and being merry, from cooking classes and wine tours to crafting workshops, learning to play an instrument, and more. But it’s good to know that the summer holiday doesn’t always have to be the time when you fall off the fitness wagon.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.