Make the St. Pete Pier Part of Your Fitness Routine
From the outset, the St. Pete Pier was designed as a haven for a wide array of outdoor activities. They include strolling, sightseeing, lounging, sunbathing, dining, fishing — we could go on and on — but the fact is, it’s also the perfect place for some serious exercise. The dramatic views, endless water, and vast green spaces make the Pier District an inspirational fitness district like no other. Best of all, unlike most gyms, it’s all there to enjoy as you please — for free — 24/7/365.
Here are a few ideas of how to incorporate the Pier into your fitness regimen.
Running or Power-Walking
These are the best ways to get your workout in at the Pier. You’ll encounter plenty of other runners and walkers who’ve already discovered that the facility provides a terrific space for exercise, with the bonus of remarkable vistas of Tampa Bay and the downtown skylines. We recommend that walkers and runners chart a course that includes green spaces and shaded areas like the Coastal Thicket, the Family Park and Spa Beach Park, which juts north and runs along the western side of Spa Beach. All of the Pier’s trails, paved or otherwise, give runners and walkers plenty of room to stay clear of folks moving at a more relaxed pace, although it’s recommended that you use the north bridge to avoid trams and other pedestrian traffic. Tram traffic runs along the south bridge only.
Rollerbladers will love the open spaces, variety of routes and, maybe best of all, the smooth surfaces of the St. Pete Pier. Since it’s new, you won’t have to deal with pitted and potholed concrete while ‘blading through the facility. The passageways are wide, so it’s easy to share space with pedestrians. Roll along the main drag, and make sure to take the northward offshoot, which starts on the eastern end at the Coastal Thicket. You’ll go by Spa Beach, and take in views of the Vinoy Resort and the boat-filled marina. Dart down and around the park’s many byways to get the full effect.
It’s roughly a mile-and-a-quarter from the Pier’s entrance to the Pier head and back. For a leisurely ride — including stops if you choose — the park is perfect. Along the main avenue, you’ll pass by the Bending Arc billowing sculpture, the Kids Playground, the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, the Great Lawn, and other landmarks. After looping around the Pier-head building, pedal back the same way, perhaps with a detour or two. If you’re riding for a workout, it’s best to incorporate the Pier into a longer trek. When the park is crowded, riding fast can be hazardous, and there are no dedicated bike lanes. One suggestion is to approach from the north of downtown, along the city’s beautiful waterfront park space. You can really open it up along North Shore Drive and Bayshore Drive, then cut east onto the Pier. Get winded, work up a sweat, and stop at the very end of the Pier head for a break and panoramic views of Tampa Bay. Turn 180 degrees and you’ll get an eyeful of the downtown skyline.
If you’re interested in organized group activities, the Pier offers regular fitness classes at various spots. Nearly all of them are free and open to residents and visitors alike. They include sunset yoga at the Family Park; pilates classes by Rare Body Studio at Spa Beach Park; Mindful Bodyweight Workouts; boot camps; hoola fitness; BodyFlow; and a special class for youngsters called Rare Body Kids. Click here to view a schedule of classes.