Sun’s Out, Guns Out

Tips for Burning Off the Beer and Cheese in Madison, Wisconsin

Now that winter is over (fingers crossed), Wisconsinites are dusting off their running shoes and airing up their bike tires. In addition to being the state capitol, Madison is in Wisconsin’s most active county, home to one of the country’s healthiest universities and dozens of miles of bike trails, parks, and waterfront lake access. Madisonians take their health about as seriously as they take their beer and their cheese… and they take those two things very seriously indeed.

Rentable is based in Madison and was founded by three UW grads. That means that not only can we find you an apartment in Madison, but we can also help you find ways to get out of it for some exercise. Here are our favorite three ways to stay in shape in Madison.

  1. Paddleboarding at the Union
    Anyone can rent paddleboards, kayaks, or canoes at the UW Memorial Terrace. All you have to do is head to the lower-level offices for Outdoor UW, right off the water, and pay a small deposit — no student ID required. (It is cheaper if you are a student, alum, or Terrace member, however). Then, it’s off the open sea… or lake. Lake Mendota is enormous, and paddling along the shore can give you a new vantage from which to gaze upon the downtown skyline — not to mention a killer arm workout. Plus, after you’re exhausted, there’s nothing better than repairing to the colorful chairs of the Union Terrace for a beer… or two. (Rates and information can be found here.)
  2. Biking… Everywhere
    Madison is a very bike-friendly town. Spend a day in the city and you’ll probably notice the profusion of bike shops on seemingly every major thoroughfare. That’s because Madison proper has more bicycles than cars. Residents love cycling, and with over 200 miles of bike trails, who can blame them? Taking a ride on Lakeshore path or Capital City Trail — which have some of the best views of Lake Mendota, downtown, and Lake Monona — is a great way to relax, enjoy nature, or commute. Don’t have a bike? With BCycle, Madison’s bike-sharing program, it’s easy to pick up a few wheels when you need them.
  3. Working Out With the Meatheads at the UW
    We kid, we kid. But UW-Madison is a major research university in the Big 10 with superb athletics programs. That means that the student gym facilities are enormous and well-equipped. The largest and most popular by far is SERF (Southeast Recreational Facility), which is located behind the Kohl Center. Hundreds of treadmills, thousands of pounds of weights, basketball courts — you name it, they have it. You can also swim laps at the Natatorium on the shores of Lake Mendota, enjoy the ambiance at the Shell, a no-frills gym in the shadow of Camp Randall, or play tennis both indoors and outdoors at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium. If you’re really intense, book a session at the Performance Training Center, a facility dedicated to high-impact training, as well as olympic weightlifting. Or just head to one of UW-Madison’s outdoor recreational fields for pickup soccer, jogging, or interval training. If you’re not a student, you’ll have to pay for a pass or a membership — but even if it’s just for a few hours, you’ll feel like a Badger.