Nelson's best spots for fitness and fun

23:22, Jan 14 2013
FITNESS SESSION: Gaye Evans leads a group at Tahunanui Beach.

The season to be jolly is over and the season to take a jolly good hard look in the mirror is here. If you are like me, the mirror will advise that you have eaten too many Christmas mince tarts and drunk too many glasses of gorgeous Nelson Sauvignon Blanc wine (and the odd Chardonnay and Riesling).

American research shows that goals around weight loss and a healthier lifestyle account for nearly 45 per cent of New Year's resolutions, so I'm not unusual. Research also shows that by the time you are reading this column more than 25 per cent of such resolutions will be broken. And by the end of the year less than half of them will be holding.

So how do I keep my resolution for more than two weeks?

First, I remind myself that regular exercise is associated with lots of health benefits. It will make me look and feel better and be a nicer person to live with.

Second, I choose interesting exercise options and undertake these regularly. Living in Nelson means that there are lots of activities on our door-step and I have happily participated in many of these. I am going to share with you my top five exercise ideas to tame the bulge. Each activity takes less than an hour so you can't use the excuse of "not enough time".

Walking is a great way to get fit. It is a relatively gentle, low-impact exercise accessible to just about anybody.


I like a grand vista, such as the Centre of New Zealand walk, near the CBD. As you gain altitude on this walk, you are rewarded with emerging views of the marina, central city and Boulder Bank. At the summit the native plantings, interpretation panels and seats make an ideal spot to sit and lap up the scenery.

Tennis is one of my favourite sports. I love a game of doubles at the Nelson Lawn Tennis Club Courts on Para Para Road where there are eight courts. At a cost of around $200,000, these have recently been resurfaced and night lighting installed.

So join the club, or pay $4 for casual play and benefit from this investment. Tennis requires mates, and at this time of year what can be better than an hour of tennis, followed by a swim at Tahunanui, or a drink at a local Sprig and Fern (if you've worked up a real sweat)?

Once a week I attend a yoga class with Rod Watson. Four years ago we could barely touch our toes. Now Rod has us doing head-stands and contorting our bodies into seemingly impossible positions.

He reckons that if we keep it up for another 30 years, and do our homework, we will be able to do a perfect lotus. I love these classes and they do for me all that Rod promises they should: creating physical and mental well-being, building strength, flexibility and stamina, increasing muscle tone, providing a strong cardiovascular workout, enhancing breathing and reducing stress. And they are fun.

Talking of fun, Gaye Evans is a personal fitness trainer who provides challenging and enjoyable workout sessions at different outdoor locations around Nelson. Many of my friends attend her 6.30am classes on Tahunanui Beach.

This is too early for me, but there is a 9.30am option, and the 12.30pm session at the Botanical Reserves might be better still. Gaye's classes, called "Boot Camp," are suitable for newbies, weekend warriors, or more serious athletes who want that extra edge. I have to admit I have only been once, despite her very encouraging texts, but this year might see me as a regular.

Biking is wonderful. My favourite city loop is to go out of town along the Railway Reserve from Victory Square to Beatson Road, then cross to Annesbrook Road, Tahunanui Drive and meet up with Rocks Road. Over half of this ride is on dedicated walking and cycling routes so traffic isn't too much of a bother.

This potentially exquisite ride along the waterfront is marred by large logging trucks whistling past at great speed very close to the cycle lane. If I am after a mountain bike ride then my favourites are the Old Codgers Track and the Tantragee Saddle. Both are accessed from upper Brook Street and are an easy to moderate grade.

When you see me this year, hopefully out enjoying Nelson, ask how I am going with my New Year resolution. By year's end I want to be in the half of the population that achieve their goals and I want my post-Christmas bulge to have gone.