Brockwell Park – a playground for runners. Photo by the author
Brixton is home to some top exercise opportunities. SW2 resident and keen triathlete Joe Coulson brings us his pick of the bunch.
Forget the Côte d’Azur. Whether you are a dedicated multi-sporter or a gentle Sunday stroller, Brixton has everything the athletic heart could desire.
Where else could you take a dip in one of the city’s best lidos, launch a mammoth ride into the Surrey Hills, or knock out a few laps around South London’s prettiest park, all in the course of a weekend?
The options are indeed endless. My list can only scratch the surface so do add your favorites below.
Brockwell parkrun. Parkrun believes that everyone should be able to run a free, timed 5K every week, anywhere in the world. Like all parkruns, the Brockwell Park edition is entirely volunteer-led and open to all. Saturdays, 9am.
Swimming at the Brixton Rec. There’s something special about a pool on the second floor of a building. Combine that with the gigantic windows and you’ve got an experience that feels as if it owes as much to flying as it does to swimming. And when you’ve finished, why not nip into one of Brixton Station Road’s cafes for the de rigueur flat white? The exoergic properties of caffeine are – after all – well-documented.
Laps of Dulwich Park. The perimeter path of Dulwich Park measures exactly one mile so if you want to tune your pace or easily keep track of distance, this is the place to do it. Coots and moorhens add an ornithological dimension to any run here, and it is one of the only places where you can still see tributaries of the River Effra above ground (editor: the Brockwell Park ponds are also tributaries of the Effra). The 2-mile jog from Brixton makes a great warm-up.
Brockwell Lido. A classic haunt for triathletes, the pool is open from April to October, climate-permitting. The Windrush Triathlon Club provide coached sessions throughout the season.
Cycling in Surrey and Kent. If you want to get your teeth into some big bike miles, Brixton is the perfect place from which to roll out. Plot a course via Crystal Palace and you’ll soon be out of the city. Box Hill and the surrounding area offer unlimited permutations route-wise; a loop via Westerham is another great alternative. Crystal Palace Triathletes organise Sunday club runs for a variety of paces and distances.
Tuesday: Fun, silly, even cringeworthy – it’s the Open Mic night at Upstairs at The Ritzy. Sign-up is at 7pm and performances kick off at 7.30pm. If that’s too much for you, there are a bunch of good films on at the moment – ‘The King’s Speech’, ‘127 Hours’, ‘Of Gods and Men’.
Wednesday: Cute alt-pop band Silvers are from Brixton and they’ve been busy recording their first album in an underground studio in Atlantic Rd. You can see the fruits of their labour at the EP launch at The Windmill, 8pm. Listen here to hear them first.
Thursday: Sports time. For the stressed among you, there’s Hatha Yoga at 12pm at Brixton Rec. Or for something a little more hardcore, try Power Pump at 6pm. Both for all levels, so no excuses. See here for the programme.
Friday: Brixton Jamm has a massive line-up tonight – Jehst is headlining the event which includes 12 Tone Bass Band and DJ Chef.
Lost for how to fill the first day of the year? Here are some Brixton-based ideas:
– The Ritzy is screening ‘The Hangover’ at 2pm especially for New Year’s Day . This is actually a good film.
– FOOD. If the Market’s open, get to Nour Cash and Carry and buy the goods to cook up a feast. Or just grab some plantain, jerk chicken and curry from Take Two.
– A walk in Brockwell Park. Or a swim at the Brixton Rec, in preparation for Brockwell Lido’s outdoor swim (brrr) on 8 January.
– For those who saved themselves for partying on New Years’ Day (gah), Plan B is hosting the afterparty for the Together 10th anniversary, with two rooms of electro-bass, breaks and house including the Stanton Warriors and Jurassik. And Brixton Jamm is hosting an all-day event – the Kerfuffle New Years Day/Wiggle After Party.
You’ll have to wait until next weekend for the Jerk Cook-Off in Brockwell Park, but there’s still plenty to keep those tastebuds ticking over…
Friday: Brilliant laid-back reggae band The Hempolics are playing at Hootananny in a night that includes brass band Brassroots and ‘ska-rap-rock’ from Imperial Leisure.
Saturday: How about some sport? At the Brixton Rec today, there’s the alarming-sounding ‘Cardio Blast’ at 11am and Yoga at 11.30am…or you could just go for a swim. From 12-5pm, OxJam are holding a vintage jumble sale in The Dog Star in the lead-up to the OxJam music festival in October. And then, all pumped up and kitted out, dance the night away at Plan B‘s ‘House Rules’ night.
Sunday: Brunch at Brixton stalwart the Phoenix Cafe. No exercise today. Then at 6pm, if you can take it, there’s a Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz double bill at The Ritzy.