Psst! Wanna Know What the Best Free Workout Is?
Blaine Stairway, Seattle
There are some workouts that really and truly work, no matter what your fitness goal is. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just looking for a quickie (and no-cost) butt-kicking session, try taking your routine to the stairs. Stair-climbing burns an impressive 10 calories a minute, gets your heart rate soaring and builds strong, shapely legs. Best of all, unlike those man-made machines at the gym, when you hit the stairs outside, it’s almost impossible to cheat. “There’s no easy way to get up a long flight of stairs; they’ll keep you honest,” notes Doug Beyerlein, a civil engineer from Seattle.
Beyerlein should know. An accomplished marathoner (he just clocked his 101st marathon, and has a PR of 3:03), he started training on stairs more than 10 years ago to help prepare for the famous Dipsea Race in Mill Valley, California, which features a 700-stair climb (as tall as a 50-story building). After doing research on stairs in and around the Seattle area and in Washington state, he created the website Publicstairs.com, which offers info on more than 500 outdoor staircases around the country, plus a few in Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the U.K.
To qualify, all the stairways have to have at least 100 stairs, which Beyerlein tries to verify through Google Earth (there’s a map link to each entry on the site). Personal favorites include the 388-step Howe Stairway in Seattle; the 2,830-step Grouse Grind hike near North Vancouver, B.C.; and the 167-step Greenwich-Coit Tower staircase in San Francisco, which offers stunning views of the city. The site is also loaded with fun facts (U.S. city with the most public stairs: Pittsburgh; longest concrete stairway in the U.S.: Murphy Ranch East Stairway, in Los Angeles, at 512 stairs), reader videos, and fastest stair times (current record: 332 stairs/minute).
Planning on stepping to the top soon? Take it easy on the stairs at first until you’re used to them, and keep an eye on where you’re going, advises Beyerlein. Don’t try to set any speed records on your descent: “It’s always a little more dangerous going down then up,” he cautions. And if you find a new place to climb, send the info to the site, so you can help others in your area step up their routine, too.
Doug Beyerlein at the bottom of Howe Stairway, Seattle
Tell Us: What’s your favorite staircase to climb and why?
—Alyssa Shaffer, Women’s Health Reporter
Photos courtesy of Doug Beyerlein