Healthy Canada: Vancouver
From hiking trails and water activities to local fare and plenty of activewear shopping options, here’s how to stay fit and healthy in Vancouver, British Columbia
The best of Vancouver
Ashleigh McIvor is an Olympian who’s probably best known for her gold medal in ski cross’s Winter Games debut in 2010. Now retired from the sport and (mostly) settled in Vancouver’s hip Gastown neighbourhood, the native of Whistler, B.C., shares her favourite ways to stay fit.
Cycle Stanley Park: “Seawall rides are always awesome,” says McIvor of the 22-kilometre oceanside path that runs around Stanley Park as well as other parks, and along the city’s stunning waterfront. “My fiancé [Vancouver Whitecaps professional soccer team captain Jay DeMerit] and I are always cruising around on our bikes.”
Climb the Grouse Grind: “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” as this steep trail up Grouse Mountain is often and accurately called, is a killer workout and perfect for McIvor, whose bad knee makes downhill hiking a challenge. “I like that I can take the tram down,” she says.
Hike Lynn Canyon: This 250-hectare park, less than half an hour’s drive from downtown and accessible by transit, is McIvor’s new go-to destination to bring out-of-town guests for its multi-level hiking trails amidst century-old forest.
The Loden Hotel (1177 Melville St., Coal Harbour): Come for the stylish rooms, comfy beds and proximity to Stanley Park and downtown; stay for the complimentary bikes, 24-hour yoga channel and yoga mats. The luxuriously large soaker tub comes complete with rosemary-lemon grass Epsom salts from Rocky Mountain Soap Company-good for soaking sore muscles after all that hiking.
The Parker (237 Union St., Chinatown): You don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy the meatless fare at this mainstay of the city’s new wave of plant-centric restaurants, which also boasts being close to zero waste; even the beer-bottle caps are recycled. A favourite dish on a recent visit included the buckwheat crepes with fava beans and asparagus.
The Juice Truck (corner of Abbott and Water streets, Gastown): Probably the healthiest of Vancouver’s popular food truck scene, this mobile juice bar offers fruit and vegetable blends, and nutritious, flavourful smoothies, plus a daily salad and snacks. On our visit, it was making its home in Gastown.
Burdock & Co (2702 Main St., Mount Pleasant): This locavore hot spot serves up fresh, seasonal sharing plates-think potato waffle with artichoke, fava and goat-Camembert cream, oxtail ramen with Swiss chard kimchee-alongside creative cocktails, craft beer and a “naturalist” wine list (meaning no added sugar, flavours or other additives).
Lululemon Lab (511 West Broadway, Fairview): Devotees of the Vancouver-born activewear brand will want to make a visit to this particular shop, where a fitness-inspired clothing line is designed and sold only at this location.
YYoga (multiple locations including downtown): After sampling one of its yoga classes, browse the boutique’s selection of yoga wear by local, ethical and sustainable brands including Tonic.
Sea kayaking with Ecomarine (Granville Island, English Bay and Jericho Beach): Get a fresh perspective on the city by seeing it from the water. Tour outfitter Ecomarine will take you on guided city tours during the day, at sunset or under a full moon. (Granville Island is the only location open year-round; in the off-season, it’s by request only).
The Bar Method (West Van and Yaletown): These two locations are the only Canadian franchises of the popular American ballet-inspired workout regimen. The many celeb fans include Drew Barrymore, Zooey Deschanel and Ginnifer Goodwin.
Vancouver events calendar
Vancouver Triathlon, September 2: Participants swim in English Bay, cycle Stanley Park and run around Lost Lagoon. The Vancouver Triathlon has a variety of distances in each event to suit beginner to experienced triathletes.
Gran Fondo Whistler, September 7: Cycle a 122-kilometre (or, for beginner riders, a 55-kilometre version) stretch of the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler in a traffic-free lane in this all-levels ride that values the beauty of the route over the race to the finish.
Grouse Grind Challenge, September 15: Aim for your best time as you gain 853 metres of altitude on the 2.9-kilometre Grouse Grind trail.