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10 Ways To Get Fit In Woolwich (Without Joining A Gym)

January 18, 2015
Some of the equipment at the Adidas-sponsored outdoor gym at Charlton Park. Free to all!

Some of the equipment at the Adidas-sponsored outdoor gym at Charlton Park. Free to all!

I am expecting a lot from January, as usual. I started the month as a blotchy, bloated and burned-out slug. A borderline overweight slug at that, according to the NHS chart. At this juncture (January 18), I plan to emerge from the cocoon of this most depressing month as a svelte, toned, and dazzling butterfly. I shall spread my lovely wings, and flutter off into the welcoming arms of summer.

Yeah, whatever. Anyway, the boiled down version of the above is that I want to lose a kilo a week over the next eight weeks. Why? Vanity and fear. How? By exercising and eating healthier, smaller portions. Seems to be the only way, sadly. I’ve been busily changing my habits so that I can achieve my goal. I am not joining a gym. There are plenty of ways to get fit in Woolwich without forking out money you don’t have for a gym you won’t visit, except to assuage your guilt. So, here are my top 10 tips:

1. Slog up Shooters Hill. Start at Woolwich Common or Herbert Road and power-walk up to The Bull (the top pub, uphill of the Red Lion). Find the likes of very long and steep Donaldson Road on your phone map. Start at the bottom of the road and walk to the top. I’ve done it (with a pause half way) and I can report that it’s better than any treadmill session. You can reward yourself with a visit to Severndroog Castle. Climb the castle’s stairs and burn some extra calories. The views are fabulous.

2. Ditch the bus. I’m one of the hapless users of the 122, which trundles up Woolwich New Road and then Academy Road whenever it feels in the mood. Its moods do not coincide with any known timetable or logic. I’ve replaced it by walking home, often with shopping bags and a backpack, starting at Woolwich DLR and ending near Woolwich Common. It’s a great walk: a good gradient that increases the heart rate without the punishment of Donaldson Road.

3. Be menu savvy. Okay, this is tricky in Woolwich. The no-go, here-be-dragons zones are pretty obvious (Sam’s Chicken, Kebab Kingdom, Maccas, Nandos, KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts). However, places like Koffees and Kream,  Cornerstone, Dial Arch, and Woolwich Equitable all have healthy options. My current dish of choice at Koffees and Kream is grilled salmon served with salad and peas. At Cornerstone I can vouch for the potato, fresh spinach and poached egg stack.

4. Take the Thames Path. Perfect for a long stroll or bike ride on the flat. For someone my weight (78 kilos but not for too much longer if I can help it), a two-hour walk at 3 miles an hour on the flat will burn about 500 calories or two large Pinot Grigios. Woot! Start at Woolwich Pier and go in either direction. I prefer out toward the Crossness Pumping Station (in the direction of Thamesmead) but heading in to North Greenwich is also pretty cool.

5. Explore the Green Chain. This network of hiking trails is superb. Unlike the Thames Path, it can get a bit muddy and hilly and rustic, so sturdy hiking shoes are preferable. I bought a pair of Quechuas (£40 on sale) and they are fantastic. I’ve walked 18 miles in a day in these babies and not copped a single blister. (See for details.)

6. Swim. The Charlton Lido, an outdoor 50-metre pool, is open to those who are braver than me. I have been (and remain) too soft and faint-of-heart to try this, especially at this time of year. I know some regular users, however, and they swear it’s well-heated and the showers are lovely and hot. You can also swim in the indoor pool at Waterfront Fitness and Leisure.

The Charlton Lido is one of London's few outdoor heated 50-metre pools (pic courtesy of a slightly shivering Steve Toole).

The Charlton Lido is one of London’s few outdoor heated 50-metre pools (pic courtesy of shivering but enthusiastic pool regular, Steve Toole).

7. Visit the free Outdoor Gym. Apart from boasting the glorious Jacobean pile known as Charlton House, Charlton Park also has a free outdoor gym, called an adiZone. Adidas gave it to the park as a parting gesture after the Olympics. I walk past it most days, and quite a few people use it. It has been well maintained by the look of it.

8. Get a new coffee habit. There are about 130 calories in a latte with one sugar, but just 5 calories in an espresso. Woolwich has some good espresso options these days. Forget Starbucks and support local indies like Koffees and Kream, Cornerstone, and Coffee Lounge.

9. Jog on. I don’t jog but if I did I’d head straight for either the Thames Path or Woolwich Common for some traffic- and road-free paths to pound along.

10. Load up on fruit and veg. Avoid the snack machine and share a bag of easy-peel clementines with your work mates instead. Woolwich has loads of market stalls and shops selling cheap fruit and veg. Tray o’ bananas a pound? Or, contact Mike the Very Green Grocer and get a weekly box of healthy goodies delivered. He’s just up in Shooters Hill and delivers locally. You can also find him and his van on the Royal Arsenal every Saturday morning near the concierge (





From → In Woolwich

  1. If only we had an AdiZone in Fulham!! Nice post – really like your writing style (it resonates with my fat slug ears!)

  2. astyanax__ permalink

    Reblogged this on My Eyes Over London.

  3. Morgan permalink

    There’s a free outdoor gym in Oxleas Wood, next to the cafe too.

  4. Thanks a lot. You have given such a good fitness tips on this blog.

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