The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) seats at the western point of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver BC. Just for the sake of visiting its amazing Pacific Northwest First Nation exhibitions, it’s a destination. Then you go around, pass under two Musqueam welcoming arches and enter in a reconstitution of two long houses, totem poles with water and a small hills. The place is mystical, the atmosphere calming and serene.
Finally on the edge of the cliff, 364 wooden stairs dive down to the shore.
Going up and down these stairs is one of my favorite exercise to get back in shape after a rainy winter. Usually I start again beginning of the spring, very slowly with 3 to 4 repetitions and going down even slower. The whole session starts from biking to UBC, a good 20 minutes warm up, followed by some stretching.
A typical beginning of the season is a maximum of 5 ups and downs, but again if for any reason it feels really difficult, I go home after 3. Stairs exercises can be executed walking up one by one, two by two, walking to the half and running slowly. It’s a combination of strengthening and aerobic exercises very adaptable to the current state of each athletes. Beginners might just do 2 ups and that’s totally fine. One thing to keep in mind is the going down. If done to many times or too fast, it can be very taxing on the legs and knees and you’ll feel it the days following your sessions, so be cautious and know your level of fitness and the period of the season.
The great things about the stairs is a minimum impact, a wide range of intensity without risking too much when going up and when done from spring all the way to summer, the joy to see the nature come alive. Arriving the nice weather a bit more people use the stairs, but it’s never a problem. Either we meet other stairs passionates or beachcombers, in any case, people are super friendly and easy to talk with.
The cherry on the cake comes when around 7:00pm, you can watch as much as 5 to 7 blue herons perched on their high legs fishing and hitting the waves with their thin beaks.
Photos by Anne Marie Comte.
Originally from France, I moved to Vancouver, BC in 1997 after falling in love with the city while searching for a training base for a round-the-world athletic expedition. I’m an athlete turned actor, and very much involved in endurance sports. Three times IRONMAN® finisher.