Updated  
October, 04 2012 10:29:02

Getting the kinks out

by Richard Henderson

 

Group co-operation: A group of local residents conclude their morning exercises at Hoan Kiem Lake by giving back massages to each other.

 

Yawn: Hoan Kiem Lake is a favourite place for many locals to get their morning exercise. — VNS File Photos

(VNS) With endless construction, roads clogged by seas of motorbikes, and a growing number of cars, Ha Noi is definitely not the most conducive city for exercising outdoors.

The capital is also one of Asia's most polluted cities, due mainly to large-scale building sites producing unhealthy amounts of dust in urban areas, which is inhaled by the expanding number of residents.

There is still hope, however, for those with a penchant for jogging in open spaces, as this marvellous city is speckled with hidden corners which open up vast areas to break a sweat and clear your head.

An area popular with the locals for exercise is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, nestled in the heart of the city, a few blocks west of the Old Quarter, where giant parade grounds and a lawn area host hundreds of keen joggers and the fitness-savvy.

This sacred area is a spiritual home of sorts for Viet Nam, with Uncle Ho interred only metres from where Ha Noi residents and tourists alike wonder, enjoying the bold Soviet-style mausoleum architecture.

Another advantage of exercising here is the surrounding streets, which are mainly large boulevards, with empty footpaths as big as Old Quarter streets. These roads are ideal for running, and although the traffic is constant, the large amount of trees and open space is enough to separate you from exhaust fumes and drift off into your own thoughts.

For those seeking a more foliage-intense exercise location, the Botanical Gardens, although not a large park, offers a guaranteed no-vehicle area with trees, small hills and even a lake, to help you escape the city. The one major drawback is that it costs to enter, but at VND2,000 (10 US cents) it's quite affordable. There is also ample motorbike parking for those who don't live close to the gardens themselves.

Ha Noi is also witnessing a rapid proliferation of gyms across the city, from expensive full-service clubs, to basic facilities to pump iron or workout on a treadmill.

If you're looking for an inexpensive option, the Olympic gym at 4 Tran Hung Dao Street offers monthly memberships and single entry prices. This particular gym, like many in Ha Noi, is largely a male-dominated space, although women are welcome.

There is a relaxed atmosphere here, with the wide selection of weights often lies partly strewn across the old carpet, and a number of machines sitting idle needing repair.

There is a community of body building enthusiasts who assist each other with heavy weights, grunting and strutting around the gym, which gives the place a surprisingly homely feel.

There is a popular women's gym at 37 Tran Quoc Toan in Hoan Kiem District, which also offers single entry option, and is said to be a comfortable space to exercise.

Another classic locale for burning calories is Hoan Kiem Lake, right in the middle of Ha Noi. The calm waters are lined with trees and flowers, and there is a constant buzz around the lake, which is itself both a Ha Noi icon and an epicentre of the city.

Throughout the day, and particularly in the mornings, you can join elderly men and teams of middle-aged women circling the lake, welcoming in the day by increasing their heart rate with a stroll around the lake, often simultaneously flailing their arms to intensify the workout.

The distance around the lake measures around 1.5km, making it a perfect length to run laps and tailor your run or walk to your desired distance.

Hoan Kiem Lake also offers the best people-watching, with the natural drama of Vietnamese life unfolding before you, from the animated discussions of elderly groups to the frequent pageantry of young couples having their wedding photos taken, there is always something interesting to accompany your exercise. — VNS

Send Us Your Comments:
Name:
Your E-mail address:
Title:
 

VietNamNews may edit your comments and not all emails will be published.

Highlight

VN committed to realising TPP VN committed to realising TPP

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh reiterated Viet Nam's commitment to negotiating and realising the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for the benefit of all TPP members while meeting US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig yesterday in Ha Noi.

VN Railway Authority head found dead VN Railway Authority head found dead

Director of Viet Nam Railway Authority Nguyen Huu Thang was found dead in his office yesterday in Ha Noi.

Student looks to improve traffic 3    Student looks to improve traffic

South Korean high school student Chihyun Ryu has spent her time in Ha Noi over the last three and a half years walking around Hoan Kiem Lake, and riding on the back of her father's motorbike taking videos of the chaotic traffic.

Talented ‘stage magician' tells story in memoir Talented ‘stage magician' tells story in memoir

Artist Thanh Loc will begin his five-city tour tomorrow in HCM City to launch his newly published memoirs.

Viet Nam sit at 137th in world football rankings Viet Nam sit at 137th in world football rankings

Viet Nam jumped up four steps in international football rankings, according to FIFA's latest list.

    Outlook

    Outlook Viet Nam News Monthly Publication

    Sunday

    Sunday Việt Nam News The National English Language Daily