Outdoor Workouts in Newport Beach
FACE THE ELEMENTS
When it comes to getting fit, there’s no greater challenge than the great outdoors. From vertical, craggy canyons to fierce ocean currents, taking your body, bike or paddle to Mother Nature’s forces is sure to get you in top shape. And here in Newport Beach, she serves up something for everyone—of every sport.
A SWELL WORKOUT
Surfing is not only a great workout for your core, but carrying your board, running into the surf and paddling into the waves make it moderately—or intensely—aerobic, depending on the conditions. While you can surf in Newport Beach year-round, wintertime serves up some of the finest swells, save for a hurricane, says former competitive surfer and local board shaper, Mike Estrada. Some of Estrada’s top spots are 22nd Street, “a good wintertime break that’s big fun for high-performance short board riders,” and 28th Street, or Blackies, where “a high-performance wave peaks left and right.” Wahoo’s Fish Taco Founder Wing Lam says he likes to do dawn patrol at 36th Street, when there’s less competition for waves and it’s more relaxing. “There are about five other surfers when I paddle out at 6:30 a.m., and 20 when I’m done a couple of hours later.”
GET UP, STAND UP
Still on the rise as a popular watersport, standup paddleboarding offers a full-body workout—as well as spectacular scenery on a clear day. From beyond the ocean breakers to the Back Bay and Balboa Island, there are plenty of beautiful spots to paddle around Newport Beach. When she’s not teaching Pure Barre, local fitness pro Monica Pommier says she enjoys “shaping up” in nature by paddleboarding in Newport Harbor. The activity is also a favorite of Jenai Nelson, who teaches SUP Yoga at Pirate Coast Paddle Co. “It’s a workout for the body—and the mind,” Nelson says. “It incorporates balance, mindful movements and controlled breath, and when performed properly, strengthens the large core muscle groups.” When the water’s clear, you can also get a breathtaking view into the blue.
Newport Beach isn’t exactly known for its mountain biking trails, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve up a few sweet rides, says Hans “No Way” Rey, a pioneer of extreme mountain biking and member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame for almost 20 years. “It is so cool how one can escape the urban jungle and be submerged in nature after only a few minutes of riding,” he says. What Rey enjoys most are the panoramic views of the hills, and coastline all the way to Saddleback and Catalina. “The best biking in Newport is, in my opinion, by the radio towers on Newport Coast,” he adds. One of his favorite spots is the Lizard Trail, a somewhat technical, narrow singletrack with a few berms and small turns. (The trail is also a favorite of professional mountain biker Richie Schley.)
This coastal city’s diverse terrain on the east side of PCH offers a challenging workout for hikers of all levels, not to mention some epic scenery for those who want to put in the sweat. Upper Newport Bay Preserve provides a view of the water along its easily accessible 10.5-loop trail, a treat whether you walk a mile or the entire path. And between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach to the south, Crystal Cove State Park boasts some three miles of dramatic, cragged coastline below a network of challenging trails (avid hikers will love the intensity of El Moro Canyon/Moro Ridge Loop). The ultimate reward for your effort is the panoramic view of the Pacific below—and far beyond.
SWEAT FOR A CAUSE
Lend a hand—and get lean—by volunteering for one of the area’s numerous outdoor restoration projects or coastal cleanups. From physically pulling non-native plants and digging dirt trails at our local parks, to picking up trash along our beautiful beaches, several of Newport’s environmental organizations offer a way to help care for our community. Visit newportbeach.surfrider.org and parks.ca.gov for information, events and schedules.
ROW A BOAT
From the placid Back Bay to wild ocean waves, Newport Beach features the best of both kayaking worlds. Along the former, calmly explore an estuary teeming with birds and other wildlife. Newport Harbor, though you’ll have to watch for boats, also provides a gentler place to row, and is filled with fish and sea lions to see. For experienced kayakers taking on the swells, says seasoned kayaker Kelly Thompson of Newport Aquatic Center, “Be sure someone knows where you’re going—and beware of currents, winds and tides.”
WALK IT OUT
With every workout regimen, it’s important to take a rest. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit around or be sedentary. A stroll in the sand or around town is a perfect way to get some movement in. Globetrotting sisters Oleema and Kalani Miller, founders of MIKOH Swimwear and part-time residents of Corona del Mar, enjoy taking their pups on the town when they’re home. “I really enjoy going to the farmers market,” says Oleema, while Kalani says she “loves taking my pup, Action, around Fashion Island. Lam, too, enjoys a mellow stroll when he’s not surfing or riding his bike: “Some days we’ll go cruise the boardwalk and visit places around the pier — so many great little places to chill. Or we’ll walk along the beach to the River Jetties and back.” He also likes going to The Wedge to watch the body surfers—but that’s not a workout to be attempted by just anyone.