Chicago, New York, and San Francisco—three of the biggest cities in the United States are the only cities fit for the sprawling brawl of the Men’s Health Urbanathlon. Like a sightseeing tour where heavy breathing is apropos, the Urbanathlon charters more than 10 miles of each city's terrain, embarking from landmarks such as Chicago's Soldier Field, New York's Citi Field, and San Francisco's AT&T Park.
From there, dry bibs become perspiration sponges as contestants vie for the finish line. Along the way, a series of daunting obstacles—such as police and tire barricades, monkey bars, hurdles, and stair climbs—test racers' mettle, before a finish-line blowout sends them hurdling taxi cabs and scaling city buses.
Deservedly exhausted contestants are then treated to a post-race party full of refreshing drinks and grub from local food trucks, DJs spinning dance music for wobbly legs, and free gifts from Men's Health's stable of sponsors.
Why build a business based purely on surprising people? “Because life moves fast and we don’t play nearly as much as we should,” say Surprise Industries founders and sisters Kat Dudina and Tania Luna on their website. By setting up surprises for big groups and individual clients alike, the duo, along with their imaginative staff, encourages the giddiness of play that often gets lost in the shuffle of adult responsibilities. With only a location and a time to arrive, participants are swept into an unpredictable adventure that may involve anything from attending an ice-sculpting workshop to being elected chairman of the Federal Reserve.
The guides at Vertically Inclined maintain an intimate knowledge of the steep slopes, craggy rocks, burbling steams, and scenic wooded overlooks at each of their chosen hiking locations. They tailor their day hikes, overnight treks, and fall-foliage winery expeditions to fit the ability levels of their fellow hikers. Depending on their chosen route, treks may wind along trails through the Bear Mountain region and the Hudson Highlands, or to rugged landscapes including Fort Montgomery. During their many journeys, they keep their cameras handy to snap photos and document their hikers' victories over the terrain and in arm-wrestling matches with bald eagles. Though adventures technically begin at the trailhead, guides know that getting there is half the battle and provide round-trip transportation from the Bronx.
Climbers of all ages and skill levels scamper across roughly 22,000 square feet of climbable space inside Brooklyn Boulders's rock-climbing gym. A dedicated route-setting staff organizes color-coded problems on craggy, angled top-rope walls as well as bouldering walls that reach up to 15 feet. To help visitors master these walls, seasoned instructors train them in three basic types of climbing: bouldering, top-rope climbing, or lead climbing. They teach these skills through classes such as the peak-performance program, which combines seven classes in lead climbing, bouldering, and cross-training to accelerate students' learning. To ease stressed muscles and promote calm reflection, staffers also lead all-ages yoga lessons and monthly yoga workshops.
Brooklyn Boulders also injects creativity into its special events, which encourage visitors to climb in costume around Halloween and take part in competitions during which they pretend the floor has turned to lava. Staffers also invite local graffiti artists to display their murals inside, work to preserve regional climbing areas by partnering with Access Fund, and coordinate programs through its BKB Foundation?a nonprofit that provides greater access to rock climbing for kids and adults.
Today’s Groupon lets you step outside your shell, just like a naked turtle. For $75, you’ll get a one-year membership (a $198 value) and a $75 credit toward outdoor and urban excursions with Adventure Society. Featuring more than 67 different activities on nearly every weekend of the year, this game-changing organization is the first of its kind in New York. Navigating the perks that come with your membership is an adventure in and of itself.