9 Fun Ways to Get Active in Chestnut Hill
From the trails in Wissahickon Valley Park to the boutique fitness studios in the heart of the village, Chestnut Hill makes for the ultimate wellness retreat. And it’s not just because you can walk through the gardens of a world-class arboretum or buy kombucha on tap after getting your “om” on in yoga class.
“Chestnut Hill is such a great mecca for health and fitness because it’s such a great community,” says Amy Carolla, owner of local fitness studio Balance, which offers classes from meditation to boot camp. “That’s what we believe really makes for good health.”
The instructors and shop owners in this urban enclave are so welcoming and supportive that they make it easy to stick to your wellness goals, whether you’re training for a 5K or just trying to eat clean(er) and get active.
Here’s everything you should add to your activity list when you visit:
1. Turn your workout into a dance party.
At DanceFit, the motto is “disguise your exercise.” Owner Bria Moss-Wilkerson opened the studio as a space for people of all fitness levels to dance – no formal technique classes, just fun. With a light-up ballet barre and energetic workouts set to pop hits, Motown music and every genre in between, this is the spot to let loose and work up a sweat. In addition to Zumba and high-intensity interval training, you can slow things down at the low-impact Flex & Stretch class.
2. Find your Zen among beautiful gardens.
Go to Morris Arboretum during any season, and you’ll cross paths with walkers of all ages on the one-mile loop that winds past gardens, fountains and towering trees. (Bonus: The path is paved and plowed in winter.) From November to March, join Weekend Wellness Walks, or come in summer for yoga in the garden, including children’s classes. The arboretum also hosts seasonal workshops on topics from vegan cooking to essential oils for natural health, so check their website for the latest offerings.
3. Amp up your yoga routine.
Looking for a flow that will challenge you? Head to Rebel, a yoga studio which doubles as a shopping boutique and healthy canteen. In the Hustle & Flow class, move through power poses to the rhythm of hip-hop tracks by the likes of Drake and Rihanna, or find perspective in the more meditative Flow & Reflect. Once you roll up your mat, grab a matcha latte, kombucha or cold-pressed juice – and peruse the trendy athleisure wear for sale on your way out.
4. Explore the trails of the Wissahickon.
This winding wilderness preserve, located in Chestnut Hill not far from Germantown Avenue, is the perfect escape into nature. Go for a run, walk or bike on historic Forbidden Drive, the 2018 Trail of the Year in Pennsylvania, via trailheads on Northwestern Avenue or Bells Mills Road. Or check the Friends of the Wissahickon calendar to join a group hike or guided bird walk.
5. Get your spin on – indoors.
If the weather’s not so nice, or you’re just looking for a killer workout, stop in Chestnut Hill Cycle Fitness. The studio’s spin classes allow you to pedal at your own speed, but the enthusiastic instructors will motivate you to push your limits. If spin isn’t your style, ditch the cycling shoes and try a full-body barre workout here instead.
6. Treat yourself to new gear.
No need to leave Chestnut Hill for the proper workout attire or equipment. For all your biking needs, go to Wissahickon Cyclery. Not only does this shop carry quality brands, but its savvy staff will service your bike and answer all your cycling questions. Farther up the hill on Germantown Avenue, venture into Chestnut Hill Sports for sneakers, socks, athletic tops and gear, including baseball bats and soccer balls.
7. Meet your motivators.
Balance offers a wide variety of fitness classes that test your endurance, strength and flexibility, and they’re all designed to boost camaraderie among participants to create a built-in support system. If you live nearby, consider the six-week Goals Program, where you’ll train alongside class members twice a week, follow a meal plan and cheer each other on. Just in Chestnut Hill for the day? Sign up for the studio’s signature B-Fit class, a circuit-style workout that challenges you from head to toe.
8. Take a self-defense class.
The perfect blend of mental and physical, Water and Rock Studio’s group classes and private sessions include yoga, self-defense and mixed martial arts from kickboxing to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Beginners are welcome, so don’t worry if you can’t throw a punch just yet. Next up, train your mind in one of the studio’s meditation sessions.
9. Eat veggies like a local.
All that exercise calls for healthy fuel. Stop in Green Soul for good-for-you smoothies, sandwiches and salads (you can’t go wrong with the mango jerk salmon). Before you head out, pick up local organic produce at Weavers Way, a cooperative food market that also sells naturally raised meat, prepared meals and fresh artisan bakery. And take a croissant to-go – you earned it.
Photo and video by Dustin LaCava-Wingate, En Route