Though Australia is a nation of people drawn to the outdoors, it’s easily arguable that Sydney is its most active and healthy city. The scenic backdrop certainly doesn’t hurt, with spectacular runs along the bay and historic outdoor pools nestled beneath the Harbour Bridge and along the seafront.
It’s a city with some of the most forward thinking culinary design; healthy food with varied, farm-table ingredients is easy to find, like the inventive paleo restaurant, Ester. Technology and the latest fitness techniques are embraced at the swathe fitness centres situated in Sydney; check out Agoga in Bondi before heading to the world class beaches.
Bread and Circus
Don’t be fooled by its industrial zone location, there are many good reasons to head to Bread & Circus Wholefoods Canteen. From the communal tables adorned with fruit to the cold pressed juice menu, Bread & Circus exudes wholesomeness. The extensive tea list alone is worth the visit. The menu changes daily (every single day!) but is always seasonal with notable vegetarian and vegan options. We loved the parmesan scrambled eggs with fresh herbs and greens, and the ‘rainy day’ toast – crusty sourdough with a generous drizzle of melted honey, thyme and cinnamon butter.
In past years Sydney was not known for great coffee, but has come a long way in recent times thanks to ventures like Bay Ten Espresso in Lavender Bay. The breakfast and lunch menu itself is simple but spinning in the right direction: mueslis & granola options for breakfast and healthy sandwiches and salads with locally sourced, fresh ingredients for lunch. It’s located on Middlemiss Street, a well frequented bike path thoroughfare that connects to the Sydney Harbour Bridge – an ideal pitstop if you’re setting off or returning from a cycling trek (mechanics on hand if your bike needs a pick-me-up as well).
Located in a former bowling green (hence the name) in Sydney’s North Shore, this cafe features lots of outdoor space and views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, making it a perfect location for a sunny day feed. The breakfast and lunch menus feature an appealing range of healthy share and main dishes. Try the wild mushroom & quinoa omelette with marinated feta, cress, and white truffle oil or the smoked trout salad with wild rice, pickled cucumber, crumbled egg and preserved lemon. If you fancy some activity before or after your nosh, the bowling green is still fully operational.
Views of the Harbour Bridge: Check. Views of the Sydney Opera House: Check. Located in the historic Rocks district, the Park Hyatt has always had that precious Sydney commodity of location, but it’s taken things up a notch with a massive, 11-month, $65 million revamp in 2012. The sheen of the recent refurbishment hasn’t worn off the slick, but earthy, sandstone decor and well equipped rooms. There are spectacular views at both the heated rooftop pool and 5-star restaurant, The Dining Room, which offers plenty of clean-eating options. These are complemented by the excellent spa facilities and fitness centre with a respectable range of up-to-date cardio and strength equipment. Hard to beat.
Say you’re staying at the Shangri La to a Sydney-sider and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. Either because they’ve been fortunate enough to stay themselves or they’ve coveted the idea of doing so one day soon. The big draw, as always in scenic Sydney, are the incredible views: the hotels expansive vistas of Darling Harbour and the cove certainly satisfy. But there are many strings to Shangri La’s bow: in-house restaurant, Altitude, located on the 36th floor, is regarded as one of Sydney's best; a tranquil, designer, indoor pool; the CHI spa, focussing on Asian relaxation treatments; and a modern gym on-site.
Built upon Sydney’s waterfront itself, this unique accommodation offers panoramic views of the Harbour Bridge and Walsh Bay from reclaimed, historic, Federation-era buildings. Forming part of the Marriot’s Autograph series, the boutique rooms honour their early 20th century roots, retaining the rustic, wood charm of the era, with artful, contemporary and chic interior design. Attached is The Gantry restaurant featuring a healthy, fresh menu that showcases native, botanical and homemade ingredients, all eye-catchingly presented by chef Chris Irving. If you’re in town for business, Pier One offers unparalleled meeting rooms, easy for your group to reach and in an inspiring locale. Once your done, the best of outdoor Sydney is at your feet.
Cavemen never had it this classy, but that hasn’t stopped Ester from combining paleo dishes with a fine dining approach. Located in Chippendale and open for dinner Monday through Saturday (and lunch on Fridays and Sundays), this award-winning restaurant offers an enticing range of Italian and Asian influenced dishes. With a wood-fired oven on hand in the open kitchen, the small, wholesome share dishes centre on charred meat, vegetables, and nuts. A stand-out item, with an Australian twist, is the blood morcilla ‘sanga’ (sausage). Bookings recommended; Ester’s solid reputation mean that it's increasingly busy.
The Icebergs, located next to Bondi Beach, is home to Australia’s most famous swimming club. The exclusive members club draws their name for their penchant for winter swimming, when, even in sunny Sydney, temperatures plummet. However, the facilities are open to non-members all year round. Split onto two levels, the lower level is home to the ocean-filled saltwater pool, while higher up you’ll find a standard pool and sauna. If you feel like getting some training in, there’s a fully equipped gym with indoor and outdoor training areas and masseuses available to loosen you up after your workout.
Chiswick at the Gallery
With celebrated Australian chef Matt Moran at the helm, you know this farm-to-table venture is going to stand out. Open 7 days a week and located in the Art Gallery of NSW, the state's premier art institution nestled in the lush domain gardens, Chiswick offers a seasonal menu in a casual but classy atmosphere. Much of the meat and vegetables are sourced directly from Moran’s farm and garden and dishes are designed for sharing: from small plates (try the healthy kohlrabi, mandarin and smoked almond) to much larger ones that could feed your whole squad. If you’d prefer to go solo, there are also healthy mains such as the steamed snapper broth
Agoga in Bondi offers a unique and scientific HIIT (high intensity interval training) style program. The emphasises here is on functional movement patterns to tone, strengthen and loosen your body and develop them in a balanced way. The aim is to give you an athlete's physique and avoid the distortions you’ll see from regimes that overemphasise one area. The personal training takes place in small groups, usually around 5 to 10 per class and capped at 16. Classes differ depending on your focus: Leaner, Faster, Stronger, Signature (resistance, cardio and plyometrics), Turbo 4x4 (4 minute high intensity training), specialist or outdoor boxing.
Hyde Park to Circular Quay
Sydney is a restless, fitness-focussed city. This is particularly noticeable during the middle of the day when the CBD bursts to life with active people squeezing in a run on their lunch break. A popular circuit for a relatively uninterrupted trek takes you from the expansive Hyde Park, down to the Circular Quay ferry port, past the iconic Sydney Opera House, through the verdant Botanic Gardens, and then looping back to Hyde Park. To keep it interesting and the distance challenging, there are plenty of variations you can work in, such as picturesque Darling Harbour, the sharply elevated Rocks and even bustling Chinatown.
Bondi to Coogee
If you want to marvel at the unmatched beauty of harbour-side Sydney, this 12km there-and-back run is unrivalled. The well maintained course has an extremely varied gradient that sweeps close to the rocky edge, past the historic Waverly cemetery and offers tremendous views of the surrounding architecture and seaside along the way (keep an eye out for whales and dolphin pods). The thin trail is popular with walkers and joggers, so patience is necessary at times; use the slow-down to recover from the frequent and challenging stair sections. Driving or cycling to Bondi or Coogee provides the easiest access, but if you feel like braving Sydney’s public transport, there are plenty of connecting buses.
This stylish, hot power yoga venture emerged out of Singapore and recently set down roots in Sydney. They run half a dozen classes every day in their pristine facilities which feature 12-foot high windows and mirrors, with mats spaced beneath on the wood floor. Instead of the intense Bikram-style common to most hot yoga centres, Hom offers more meditative varieties like Hot Flow, Hot Hatha, Vinyasa Flow and Yin. If you like to use blocks as part of routine to assist with your alignment, Hom Yoga have plenty on hand. Currently you’ll find them in Darlinghurst, but a second centre in Surry Hills is opening in late 2015.
Marin Lazic is Head Coach of the first Authentic TRX Training studio in Australia. For those unfamiliar with TRX, it evolved out of Navy Seal training and involves suspension bands and your bodyweight to develop strength, balance and flexibility through functional and bodyweight exercises. Based in Rozelle, TRX Training Sydney runs regular classes and personal training workshops to assist you take advantage of the literally hundreds of different workouts you can do with this simple, versatile and highly portable equipment. They also offer Rip Trainer workouts, for those that prefer working with bar resistance and movements.
North Sydney Olympic Pool
It’s hard to imagine a more rousingly spectacular spot for a swim than this art-deco olympic pool in Milson’s Point, North Sydney. The monumental sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge towers almost directly above, while the smiling face of Luna Park and the iconic Opera House add to the scenery. The public facilities, where a staggering 86 world records have been broken, includes a salt-water treated 50-metre outdoor pool and 25-metre indoor pool
Bondi Body Weight Gym
Overlooking the waves rolling into Australia’s most famous beach, this outdoor gym is perfect for those who prefer their exercise À la carte. What's more, there’s never been a better time to visit as the station received a major upgrade and refresh in 2014. The free community workout arena features plenty of bar-based equipment and a mat area to challenge your body through functional and bodyweight movements. If you're looking for some inspiration there is a good chance you will bump into Guiness World Record Holder Marcus Bondi (Inset) doing one arm chin ups. The training area is also a great way to break up a run along the bay or warm up before a dip.