From jogging around Hyde Park to five-a-side football, there are many great ways to stay fit in London, but they don’t provide much in the way of adrenaline rushes. If you pine for something more exciting and intense, there’s plenty of opportunity for extreme sports to really set your pulse racing.
You’ll have no trouble finding static wall climbing facilities in London, but Vertical Chill (WC2E 7HA) is widely considered to be the ultimate climbing experience in the capital. This ice wall behind Covent Garden’s Ellis Brigham store is open every day except Monday and is a great introduction to ice climbing. Beginners are welcome and experts with their own gear get a discount too.
Do you like the idea of scaling 52 metres up the O2 Arena? Well for a fee, you can at Up At The O2 (SE10 0DX) [pictured]. At the top is a walkway where you can admire the view, however, don’t expect a panoramic vista of London’s skyline; Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers obscure many of the capital’s most interesting sights.
In contrast to climbing up the O2, you could instead opt to descend at speed beside the iconic arena. For one weekend every month, the UK Bungee Club organise a 50-metre jump over a giant airbag. However, because it’s so infrequent, jumps usually get booked up months ahead, so you’d need to book well in advance.
White water rafting
The Lee Valley White Water Centre (EN9 1AB) was the venue for watersports during London 2012 and it continues to lay on canoeing, kayaking and rafting today with its man-made rapids.
Strictly speaking, the centre is just outside of Greater London in Hertfordshire so you’d have to venture north, but it’s close enough to warrant a mention.
Sticking to central London though, you could ride down the River Thames in a speedboat with Thames Rockets’ Break the Barrier. The experience lasts for about 40 minutes and takes you from St Katharine’s Pier to the Thames Barrier and back again at 35mph. That may not sound very fast but it feels much quicker when you’re slicing through the waves.
Now here’s something you wouldn’t want to do in the Thames. Instead, head to the Golden Lane Leisure Centre near the Barbican Centre (EC1Y 0SH) – home to London City Scuba – a sub-brand of the British Sub Aqua Club. You’ll be able to pick up the basics of diving at the inner-city swimming pool before you head out on one of the club’s annual diving holidays.
A city as vast and complex as London offers a wealth of opportunity when it comes to parkour – the practice of using momentum to move from one place to another in the most efficient way possible. But you’d be best advised to have a few lessons first and luckily, Parkour Generations organises a few classes a week in London, catering for beginners indoors before moving outdoors to using walls and structures around the city.
Facing the often hostile traffic on the roads of central London on two wheels could be viewed as an extreme sport, but there are legitimate venues in the capital that lay on official BMW facilities, such as Herne Hill Velodrome (SE24 9HE) and Lee Valley Velopark (E20 3AB).
Unleash your inner Lewis Hamilton at Mile End’s Revolution Karting – a floodlit outdoor course – or one of TeamSport Go Karting’s five indoor multi-level tracks in Edmonton in north London, Acton (west London), Docklands in Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge and Mitcham (south London).
In a novel take on go karting, you can try ice karting at Streatham Ice Rink (SW16 6HX).
Who wouldn’t relish the prospect of barrelling down Greenwich Park in a giant inflatable ball? Sadly for now, that isn’t an option, at least not legally. For those based in London, the closest outdoor zorbing experience is at Go Zorbing in Whyteleafe, Surrey, which seems a little far to us.
Instead, you could settle for bubble football, which mixes zorbing with five-a-side football, and there are loads of places you can do this, namely Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Docklands, Wembley, Wimbledon, Newham and Finchley.
Greenwich’s Bunker 51 is one of London’s stand-out paintball facilities. It is a decommissioned nuclear bunker that has been kitted out with a zombie apocalypse theme.
There’s also Mayhem Paintball near Stepney Green Tube Station (E1 4DS), and Delta Force in Bethnal Green (E2 0QW), which was visited recently by Usain Bolt and was the filming location for Channel 4’s Peep Show.