Ski season may be over, but that is not going to stop us from living our healthy lifestyle in the great outdoors while taking full advantage of some of Switzerland’s most iconic mountains, lakes and pastures.To narrow down our top 5 ways to enjoy summer fitness outdoors, we chatted with a few of our “in the know” friends including: Judit Jozsa from FamilySafety, the online shop for practical, essential and fashionable safety products; Ashley Rinnger McKell, the social media guru at Set Sails Social Media; Paul Hilliard from the quirky and fun Online Magazine, Newly Swissed and Hightide, the family-run kayak school.
Enjoy the summer ladies!
On two Wheels: Downhill Mountain Biking
Why we Love It: The sport of Downhill Mountain Biking is growing in popularity (aka exploded in the last two years!) and Girlfriend Guide caught up with Paul Hilliard from Newly Swissed, a true expert in the sport, to get the inside scoop.
Health Benefits: With your body alignment in a static position above your bike, you are sure to gain a great core workout while also working shoulders, back and chest thanks to your handlebars, and quads and hamstrings as a result of pedaling.
Experiences in Switzerland: Some of Paul’s recommended regions include Engadine, Klosters, Laax, and Lenzerheide for a lot of beginner to moderate downhill trails. For something advanced, go to Verbier.
Equipment Needed: Most mountain resorts have a shop near the gondola lift station where you can rent the equipment and even book a guide for the day.
Francs Needed: Lift tickets vary from region to region, but are often sold at a discount during the summer season. Don’t forget your ½ fare card.
Girlfriend Guide Insider Tip: Trust your downhill mountain bike. According to Paul, it’s like “riding a couch downhill where the tires and suspension can handle rough terrain with ease”. Be careful with the train schedule.
On the Water: Kayaking
Why we Love It: It’s not hard to find a breathtaking view of a lake in Switzerland, but the experience of actually being on the lake looking up at the mountains is inspiring, invigorating and downright magical.
Experiences in Switzerland: Hightide is a family-run school offering Beginner, Family, Half Day and Evening courses and experiences throughout Switzerland.
Equipment Needed: Most tour operators will provide the kayak equipment, but you don’t want to forget sunscreen, sunglasses, bottled water, swimsuit, water-proof clothes & shoes and a change of clothes. Hats are great to block the sun, but bring one that can be fixed onto your head so the wind doesn’t accidentally leave it in the water.
Francs Needed: ½ day tours begin at CHF 90.
Girlfriend Guide Insider Tip: A memorable experience for a child’s birthday or team-building event. Organize a small group and plan a day exploring the Swiss lakes.
labas results Health Tip: This low impact activity improves your aerobic fitness, strength – especially torso – and flexibility. It can be very peaceful and meditative
On the Trails: Hiking
Why we Love It: Great views, can chat with friends along the way and easily tailored to your fitness level and lifestyle.
Experiences in Switzerland: It sometimes feels like every street in Switzerland features a “Wanderweg” – how do you choose? MySwitzerland.com offers an in-depth hiking application and search feature allowing you to select a hike by difficulty, region, time available and even a theme, like Family Friendly.
Equipment Needed: Comfortable walking shoes are an absolute must. Waterproofs are a good component incase the weather changes or you have to cross a stream or wet area. The owners of FamilySafety also recommend packing a 10-meter rope, first-aid kit, matches, a Swiss Army Knife and a water bottle with filter (so you can always have enough and safe water even if you find only natural sources). If you have bug spray, sunscreen and a local hiking map, you are very prepared! Don’t depend on a mobile phone for navigation because service might be poor.
Francs Needed: Hiking is ideal for those on a budget as it’s super franc savvy, with most trails or parks being free. Of course, you need to factor in transportation and the essentials like food and drink.
labas results Health Tip: Whether you are looking to lose weight, reduce stress or simply clear your head and get out into nature, hiking delivers almost immediate rewards.
Girlfriend Guide Insider Tip: Save the mountain hikes for the weekends, but as we are lucky with a late sunset all summer, make it a post-dinner ritual to try a local trail twice a week – most towns have forests and paths just a short distance from the city center.
On the Surf: Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Why we Love It: Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is a newer water sport and once your board is in the water, you literally stand-up and paddle your way along the water. You might be wobbly at first, but no one ever complains about falling into refreshing water on a hot summer’s day, right?
Experiences in Switzerland: Switzerland has just as many beautiful lakes as it does mountains. Lake Geneva is the largest of Switzerland’s 13 major lakes and all boost a variety of water activities. Along any Swiss shoreline you can find public and private beaches or Badis complete with play area, water platforms and slides and most often with a snack bar. If there’s a Badi, a water sport rental center is likely not too far away.
Equipment Needed: As the name suggests, it looks like a larger surfboard (approximately 3 – 4 meters long) and a kind of paddle that becomes your tool for navigating the waterways. Of course, swimwear and sunscreen are musts. A life jacket is a smart idea and also required in deeper waters.
Francs Needed: Rentals are available starting at CHF 40 for two hours, but if it’s your 1st time, opt for a tour or guided course, which will be upwards of CHF 100 for the experience.
labas results Health Tip: It delivers a great full-body workout, especially for the core. All of your stabilizing muscles in hip, lower leg and knee joint are activated in a therapeutic way to balance on the unstable surface. Being on the water provides a refreshing perspective on the world.
Girlfriend Guide Insider Tip: In Zurich, try the SUP Center & School.
On the Rocks: Rock Climbing
Why we Love It: It’s exhilarating, a bit frightening and challenging.
Experiences in Switzerland: According to Wikipedia, the Alps cover 65% of Switzerland’s surface area so it’s not difficult to find climbing experiences regardless of where you live. The Bernese Oberland are the most famous with mountains like Eiger and Jungfrau, Wendenstock is one of the most difficult to climb while Klus and Chaemiloch are good options relatively close to Zurich for less experienced climbers.
If you’re a bit nervous to start with an actual mountain, try one of Switzerland’s indoor Rock Climbing Parks, like Serlas in the Engadin or Grindel Boulder just outside Zurich.
Equipment Needed: Look for a course where you can rent equipment, as you likely won’t have the essentials around your house, such as a harness, helmet, carabiners, rope and headlamp. Climbing Shoes are essential as are clothes that adapt to changing weather and won’t interfere with the rope or equipment.
Francs Needed: Transportation is likely the biggest expense to reach the Rock Climbing area, but a good guide and beginner course is a well-spent investment and highly recommended for newbies.
labas results Health Tip: It will make you stronger and look good! Rock climbing helps you in every area of coordination (balance, speed and eye-hand coordination) and it improves confidence and mental focus. A pure nature experience!
Girlfriend Guide Insider Tip: Determine what type of climbing interests you: alpine climbing or sports climbing. Alpine climbing requires significant skill as well as weather and terrain knowledge and specific equipment. Sports Climbing is also intense, but held in designated sports climbing areas so the risks are lower. There’s a friendly Meet Up group that organizes outings throughout Switzerland.
A version of this article also appeared in Swiss News.