HEALTHY TRAVEL GUIDE TO LONDON by Diana G-W
Diana is an Urban Explorer, Wellness Guru and Music Lover. She loves to travel, write poetry, listen to music and exercise. Her travel diary will help you decide where to stay, eat, hang out, and play -- heartily and healthily.
I don’t need to tell you that London is an amazing city. I moved here almost 3 years ago, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of all its art, fitness, food and culture offerings. As a fitness junkie who loves good food, I’ve explored quite a bit of London in search of the perfect, healthy mix. This Travel Guide is full of my favorite spots; I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
There are 8 Royal Parks in Greater London, of which five -- Hyde Park, St James's Park, Regent’s Park, Green Park and Kensington Gardens -- are in central London. The others -- Greenwich Park, Richmond Park and Bushy Park -- are not too far and easily accessible by tube or by bike.
In recent years, London has become much more bike-friendly. You can find Santander Bike stations -- formerly known as Boris Bikes -- in most places, and bike lanes are numerous and well-marked.
While more and more boutique fitness studios and fancy Gymbox branches are appearing all around the city, I have found that most traditional Londoners still prefer to go to the pub after work than the gym. If you want to fit both your local socializing and your daily workout, I’d suggest going to a midday gym sesh so you get the best of both.
London is an expensive city as it is, and unfortunately working out in London is a pricey affair. Having spoken to several fitness studio owners, I’ve been told that rent in central London is extremely high, so membership/class prices inevitably reflect this. If you want to stay fit on a budget, go running or riding in one of the above-mentioned parks. You’ll find many fellow joggers, especially on those long London summer days where the sun sets after 9PM…
Long gone are the days when London was known for having crappy food. You can find incredible food for every cuisine and some of it is quite affordable. If you can, make a booking wherever you go, lunch or dinner, as Londoners like to plan in advance and many places will get filled up if you don’t call ahead.
Where to play
My weekly routine consists of CrossFit, yoga and pilates, but I’m always game for mixing things up, especially on weekends, and I’ve sampled a few different workouts in London. Here are my standouts:
YOGA / PILATES
Ten Health & Fitness - Amazing reformer Pilates classes all around London. My go-to instructors: Adam Hewitt, Frances Bowden and Maritina Antonoglou.
The Life Centre - My favorite yoga studio in London to date. They have two studios -- one in Angel and one in Notting Hill -- and I love the vibe and quality of the classes. If you’re a vinyasa person like me, try Isabell Britsch’s Dynamic Flow Level 2.
Indaba Yoga - Another great yoga studio with loads of different styles at an affordable price. I recommend Raphan-Laye Kebe’s Space & Flow and Stewart Gilchrist’s Experienced Yogasana.
Heartcore - Our co-founder, Jocelyn, goes here for Pilates and loves how beautifully lit the studio is. They have several locations across the city, and also offer yoga and Strength & Conditioning classes.
Psycle - I’ve yet to try this one, but I’ve gotten great feedback from friends! They offer cycling, barre, strength and yoga classes.
Wanderlust Festival on July 27th - Who else is going? 5K run, yoga and meditation make up this Mindfulness Triathlon and I’m super excited to go for my first time.
CARDIO / CONDITIONING
CrossFit Aldgate & Aldgate East - For my fellow CrossFitters: when I first moved here, I was surprised to see how few CrossFit boxes there were. There are only a handful in central locations, with most being on the outskirts of the city. After trying a few, this is the one I picked and I’ve never regretted it. Great community, varied programming, committed coaches. If you go, be sure to hit me up in ICBRKR so we can train together!
At Your Beat - If you like to dance, this is a fun one! Each class takes you through one choreography with loads of sass and style. They have several different genres including UrbanBEAT, KpopBEAT, LatinBEAT, JazzBEAT and their super popular VideoBEAT where you dance to an actual music video.
Victus Soul - A relatively new studio, Victus Soul combines HIIT with either boxing or running. It’s similar to Barry’s Bootcamp, so if you like that kind of workout, chances are you’ll like this too.
Run in Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill - It may be my favorite London park… Jog by Regent’s Canal, the zoo, and uphill to enjoy the gorgeous city views.
Bike around Hampstead Heath - A close second, Hampstead Heath is up in the hilly part of London and it is wild and breathtaking.
Where to eat
I’m a big foodie, but I have to say, health comes first so I prioritize finding healthy spots to satisfy both my taste buds and my waistline. These are some of my faves for every occasion:
Andina - Delectable Peruvian food that feels balanced and extra flavorful, Andina is one of several restaurants in the Ceviche chain -- and they're all good. Can’t miss item: the fillet steak sharing plate.
Granger & Co - With a few different locations, Granger & Co is always high on my go-to’s. An Australian restaurant with a proper Avocado Smash and Flat White, this spot always delivers on taste, quality and general vibe.
The Duke of Cambridge - Full disclosure: I lived above it for my first 8 months in London and it was the best thing about that apartment. With locally-sourced organic food, this is not your typical pub, and that means it’s the right kind of pub for me.
1n1 Fashion & Pizza - I discovered 1n1 when I signed my hubby and me up for a sourdough pizza-making class there (see pictured above) and I was blown away! I never usually eat pizza because it makes me feel heavy and gives me stomach aches, but this one was light and delicious and went down really easily. Andrea and Martina, the owners, are delightful, too!
Kaffeine - A great lunch option with quick, healthy eats, Kaffeine lets you pick from daily salads and sides to construct your ideal meal.
Alex Coffee - Trust me when I tell you that this little coffee shop in Fitzrovia is the most magical one there is. Coffee, matcha, chai… all are amazing (see pictured above). But what you really want to be open to are the conversations with strangers, the bump-ins with regulars, and Alex’s warm, Greek smile suggesting his latest brew.
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN
Tibits - This purely vegetarian restaurant is great for lunch and full of delicious veggie dishes that you can sample until your heart’s content. One key thing: you pay by weight, so try a little bit of everything and don’t go overboard too soon.
Deliciously Ella - One-upping my vegetarian rec is this vegan spot which also sells food in local supermarkets. I love pretty much everything they offer in their deli, and always carry a Cacao & Almond Oat Bar on-the-go.
Farmacy - Another amazing vegan restaurant, Farmacy has too many yummy things on the menu to make it an easy order. I love their Artichoke Pizzeta and any of their Earth Bowls.
Kalifornia Kitchen - These guys curated our ICBRKR Tropical Jungle Sanctuary lunch and dinner, and it was so good, our founder still went back for more the next day. Favorite dishes: Galaxy Bowl, Kalfornia Burger, Breakfast Burrito, and of course, Kale Chips.
by CHLOE - This New York-born vegan wonder has just opened its first international location in Covent Garden! I’ve yet to try it personally, but it’s high on my list. Jocelyn recommends their Quinoa Taco Salad and Mac n’Cheese.
Where to relax
Just as important as exercise and nutrition is the relaxation. Find your me-time and treat yourself to some or all of these:
COMO Shambhala Spa - Located in the Metropolitan Hotel in Mayfair, the COMO Shambhala does a great job trying to recreate the peace and beauty of Bali or Tulum in the madness of London. Check out Truly Experiences for some cool spa packages.
Aromatherapy Associates - Maybe my favorite London brand I discovered when I moved here, Aromatherapy Associates has everything you could want or dream to help you take care of yourself and unwind. I love their Inner Strength products for my skin, their Muscle Gel after workouts, and their Bath & Shower Oils for a relaxing bath. You can also enjoy their signature treatments at various spas in London.
Koia - Located in Notting Hill, our co-founder, Jocelyn, goes here. Their massages, facials and manicures are great and reasonably-priced, and I’m personally dying to try their Jetlag Bandages!
Lifespace - Our other co-founder, Leah, loves this place. Take your pick from their incredible selection of treatments, including sound and energy healing, music therapy, massages and more. They also offer yoga and meditation, as well as special events and classes like a Full Moon Ceremony and Sacred Breathwork Journey.
Sonic Enchantment - We love our sound baths at ICBRKR, and this one is a London regular run by ICBRKR Fabio Garces. Relive your urban stress through these deeply relaxing acoustic experiences and allow sounds to guide you into a restorative and meditative state.
Kew Gardens - If you want to just relax in nature, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew are just the spot. Far enough out of the centre that you feel like it’s a getaway but close enough that you can just hop on a tube, Kew Gardens offer plenty of spaces to wander and wonder in a beautifully British manner.
Stay healthy, ICBRKRs!
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