THE BLOG
06/17/2008 04:25 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Urban Hikers

Urban hiking: the simple fitness solution and the most cost effective alternative to the gym. It provides one of the fastest ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness, get a shapely pair of legs, and a tight tush. Ready to get started but don't know a good route? Visit www.goruneasy.com or www.mapmyrun.com plunk in your city, or any other city you might be in, and presto- instant route! If that sounds too time consuming try walking outside from whatever door is readily available- it is the best way I know to start.

My daily duties as a Pilates instructor rarely involve a cardio challenge- for me. Practicing Pilates is an effective and ingenious method for achieving a beautiful and balanced body, but after hours instructing in the studio I start to feel woozy. (Didn't Joseph Pilates create his core work in an internment camp?) Typically this thinking would signal me to get in my car, drive somewhere and eat something. Well, maybe it was the gas crisis, or possibly the butt crisis, but one day I quit driving and just started walking.

An urban hike, defined by me, is the act of charging up any local neighborhood hill, around, and back again. I also love a good, long walk on a flat surface, but it's the full speed ahead straight up a hill that really gets me going. Walking and maintaining a steady pace for at least 30 minutes increases circulation, while strengthening the heart and lungs. Additionally, exercising and breathing (even LA's fresh air) has reduced my stress and given me a tool to cope with the gnawing realities of life.

Now, when I have a break between clients or family responsibilities, I am outside tackling neighborhood hills to strengthen and challenge my hike-abilities. During this process I have learned a few valuable, and possibly obvious, things that I would like to share with you.

Water: you need it. On one particularly hot day (following a slight illness) I went for a beautiful, but long walk without water. As I rounded the mid way point I knew I was in trouble. I panicked at the thought of death in Brentwood from dehydration and seriously considered drinking from someone's lawn sprinklers. Fearful that it might be reclaimed water, or truthfully, the possibility of being too embarrassed to survive such a desperate act, I stumbled on. By some miracle I made it to a public school with a free drinking fountain! Which brings me to the second thing...

Money: You might need it, so bring it, but no fanny packs please!! lululemon has the greatest hidden pockets in their pants that are good for holding money, id, credit cards and a car key. Thirdly...

Cell phone: It can't hydrate you but it can connect you to a taxi or friend in case of a walking emergency! Fourth and finally...

Sun block: Unlike most good people in the world I don't put mine on first thing in the morning, but I do carry it in my purse and car. Slathering it on has become an important part of my urban hiking ritual and you never know when the perfect time for an urban hike will hit.

Here is the hike I spoke of in Brentwood, if you have an urban hike you'd like to share please post it...

Take Wilshire Blvd West from Amherst Ave. (approximately Bundy Drive) Turn right on Franklin and proceed up a massive hill then down the other side. Turn left onto Montana, and then turn right to stay on Montana. Take the next right onto Burlingame and go all the way up this long and gradual hill passing beautiful homes, an expansive golf course and its majestic clubhouse. Take a right on San Vicente and enjoy the shade until you come to Gretna Green. Turn right here passing as you go the public school with free water! Continue down Gretna Green until you hit Goshen. Make a right on Goshen, and then a left on to Amherst Ave. This is about a 45-60 minute walk.