Tired of your weekly tennis match, or has the thrill of the treadmill lost its appeal? Do you harbor desires of adventure or to once again feel the wind in your hair (or gliding around your aerodynamically balding head)? If you’re feeling guilty about spending another weekend on the sofa, tucking into another large bag of crisps, or want to work off that beer gut, here are some great outdoors sports that will push you to the limits and get more than your hands dirty. Just don’t wear your best shoes to do it. Paragliding Hong Kong might seem an unlikely place to find people kitting up to go paragliding, what with buildings, pylons and airplanes all vying for valuable air space. Yet despite its relatively small area, Hong Kong has eight approved paragliding sites, the tallest of which is Pat Sin in the New Territories, at 2,500 feet. From there you can soar above the stunning Pat Sin Leng Country Park, with downtown Shenzhen right behind you. Other popular gliding sites include Pak Tam Au, which boasts breathtaking views of the Chinese coast, and Shek O, the most frequently flown site in the region, where gliders float down the Dragon’s Back ridge towards the tiny dots sunbathing on the beach below. Local veteran paraglider Yuen Wai-kit recommends the long beaches of Lantau Island for a truly memorable experience. “First time gliders can try the tandem glide to get a taster,” he says. ”We have all kinds of people doing the sport, rich guys, professionals, and poor guys like me! We all just love to fly.” In order to paraglide in Hong Kong, you’ll need to get your license and permission from the Hong Kong Paragliding Association (2543-2901, www.hkpa.net ), the local regulating body. Lessons are available but pricey, and the association recommends that you learn abroad where it’s cheaper and less crowded. It’s worth the effort, however. Indeed, it’s such an addictive hobby that the association warns that many who get involved put themselves at extreme risk of AIDS (Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome) Hashing Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur in 1938 when a group of British colonial officers and expats began laying paper trails through the countryside each Monday evening (put down by the “hare” and followed by the “hounds”). They would run the course as a team before a ceremonial meal in their “hash house,” the Royal Selangor Club, in order that they might, in the words of their own venerable constitution, “get rid of weekend hangovers.” It wasn’t long before they caught on abroad and since the 1970s hashes have been popping up all over Hong Kong. Many of the hashes have military backgrounds—the Australian, British and American troops posted to Siu Sai Wan Intelligence Centre formed a hash with their family and friends in 1979. Mark Hope, current grand master of the Little Sai Wan Hash House Harriers ( www.datadesignfactory.com/lsw ), explains: “hashing is open to one and all, with groups made up of local Chinese, expats and just about everyone from different backgrounds and ethnicities as well as visiting hashers in town looking to socialize.” A high fitness level helps but is not essential—the stronger runners sprint ahead and mark off the “true trail,” ensuring the hares aren’t leading the hounds down any dead ends. Besides weekly hashes, there are a number of special runs, such as the white-knuckle “T8 Hash” and yearly Hong Kong-wide “Santa Hash” in aid of Operation Santa Claus. Despite its military beginnings, hashing is a family-friendly hobby with no booking or equipment required, simply check out this site: home.netvigator.com/~hasher/ to find your local Chapter—and get your shorts on! Paintballing/Wargaming Paintballing is truly one of the dirtiest sports and beginner paintballers will almost certainly leave the site dripping in different colored paint. For some unique fun, head over to Island X (6/F, Creative Mansion, 6-8 Chatham Court, Tsim Sha Tsui, 6177-5844), which holds sessions on Cheung Chau providing indoor and outdoor venues perfect for parties and weekend excursions. Another adrenaline sport offered by Island X is wargaming (a variation played with airsoft guns and fake bullets instead) which offers the same adrenaline pumpin’ fun without the messy paint experience. For a more exciting time rent the space for an overnight session. Paintball Headquarters (3106-0220, www.paintballhq.com.hk ) offers paintballing for up to 60 people and provides all the equipment you’ll need, such as jerseys, gloves, pants, up to 150 paintballs, and even your own bandana. YSO Wargames (9837-5764, www.ysowargames.com ) offers Sunday sessions of wargaming at the extremely low price of $280 for a full day of gaming (10am-4:30pm), a price that includes transportation to and from the site, lunch, and full equipment rental. For all your paintballing and wargaming equipment needs, visit online store Camotree (9463-3687, www.camotree.com ). Mountain Biking This increasingly popular sport involves navigating a variety of terrains and having nerves of steel. Bob Smith, chairman of the Hong Kong Mountain Biking Association ( www.hkmba.org ), recommends that beginners go on a skills training course to learn basic handling, safety and to get all the pearls of wisdom from the experts. As with all outdoor sports, there are some risks involved, as trails often go through rocky terrain and up steep hills. However, it’s a great form of exercise, allowing you to get into great condition pretty quickly, while taking in the fresh mountain air and breathtaking views. Your best bet is to buy rather than rent. Helmets are required and you should get kitted out with elbow/knee/shin pads and protective gloves. A good mountain bike will cost at least $5,000, but renting to start with is fine. You’ll also need an MB Permit in order to start, which are free and easy to process. Simply download one from the association’s website and send it off. The website also has an excellent overview of all the trails, as well as detailed maps and guides. Best bike stores Flying Ball , G/F, 478 Castle Peak Rd., Cheung Sha Wan, \t2381-3661, firstname.lastname@example.org . Friendly Bicycle , Shop B, 13 Mui Wo Ferry Pier Rd., Lantau Island, 2984-2278, email@example.com . Skills Courses Crosscountry HK , www.crosscountryhk.com , firstname.lastname@example.org . Asia Pacific Adventure , www.asiapacificadventure.com , email@example.com . Hiking If you’re looking to get in shape and escape the city, hiking is the one activity that anyone can walk straight into. Unlike hashing, hiking allows you to amble along at your own pace, free to enjoy the sights of Hong Kong’s vast range of trails, hiking paths and climbing routes. Many of the country park trails offer exceptional views and are easy on the legs but Mount Butler, The Twins, and the Dragon’s Back are for the more adventurous. The most challenging is The Twins, consisting of 1,000 steps and requiring you to mission over Violet Hill just to get to it. For those who aren’t masochistic, there’s a path that circumvents the steps. The truly great thing about this hike is that it ends near Stanley, so you’re just a short bus ride away from a refreshing and much-deserved pint. Heralded as “the best urban hike in Asia” by Time Magazine, the scenic Dragon’s Back climb takes you through two country parks and gives you views of Clearwater Bay Peninsula, Stanley, and even the South China Sea, making for a pleasant afternoon trek, and although challenging in parts, the trail ends in Big Wave Bay so you can enjoy a cooling dip. The Lion Rock Trail in northern Kowloon can prove a challenging ascent and is recommended for advanced hikers, along with the 957 meter Tai Mo Shan, which stands as Hong Kong’s highest peak. The most challenging way to tackle this behemoth is to hike up the North Slope near Ng Tung Chai, which has scenic views of a wooded ravine and waterfalls. For those who aren’t comfortable enough to venture out on their own, groups such as the Hong Kong Trampers ( www.hktrampers.com ) and Walk Hong Kong ( www.walkhongkong.com ) lead guided hikes all over the territory. The one-stop shop for all your outdoors needs is Protrek (46 Hennessy Rd., Wanchai, 2529-6988, www.protrek.com.hk ), which sells everything from backpacks and helmets to camping sets and hiking sticks. MotoX If you’ve ever harbored the desire to go dirt biking, the MX Club is the only track in Hong Kong that caters to the fast and furious motorcross crowd. If you’re already a biker then the skills you learn in training will tune up your existing road handling technique and awareness. The club offers two different levels of courses for the beginner and the advanced rider. Even if you’re just looking to let off steam for a day, the club will provide basic tuition for you and your mates and you can go off riding in the dirt. Owner Angus Lai has more than 20 years motorcross experience and the ‘’Hong Kong MX Club Racing Team’’ were the champions in China in 2007 and 2008. Each course consists of four lessons each lasting two hours. The beginner course costs $1,800 and the club provides all equipment. Visit www.mxclub.com.hk for more details and available courses or call Lai on 9711-8003. Rock Climbing “Climbing is like a game of chess for your body,” says Andy Knight, a seasoned rock climber with eight years experience under his belt. “The combination of mental and physical challenges, and the fact that you’re always looking to improve is what motivates me to climb.” A lot of people assume you need plenty of equipment to take part in the game. But that’s not so, according to Knight. “The basic kit includes a harness and climbing shoes,” he says. “For absolute beginners, climbing clubs and centers will have spare equipment.” It’s also worth bringing along a bag of chalk, which helps you grip. So how exactly do you get up the wall? “Climbing is not about brute strength, but technique,” says Knight. “Beginners often make two main mistakes. The first is the overuse of their arms. The legs should do the pushing while the arms maintain balance. The second is where to look. Beginners tend to panic while looking upwards all the time, rather than paying attention to their footing.” First-time climbers are recommended to start on an indoor wall, where they can learn the ropes and find their footing. “Outdoor climbs put you at the complete mercy of Mother Nature and the elements” says Jonn Lu, team leader of Project X’s climbing club. Once you’ve got the hang of the indoor wall, the outdoor one at the KPCC ( www.kpcchk.org ) in Jordan is recommended as the next challenge, before you eventually go and hit up the countryside. “Climbing is more an art form than a sport,” says Lu. “It’s just about the most demanding activity I know, requiring planning, strategy, composure, technique, precision, and complete control from fingertip to toe.” Where to learn: Project X , ProjectXTeamster@gmail.com , www.aqua-pro.org/Project_X . Hong Kong Sport Climbing Union , 5/F Radio City, 505 Hennessy Rd., Causeway Bay, 6019-8344, www.hkscu.org . Stores: RC Outfitters , 5/F, Oriental House, 24-26 Argyle St., Mong Kok, 2390-0980, www.alink.com.hk . Chamonix Alpine Equipment , G/F, 6A Nelson St., Mong Kok, 2388-3626, www.chamonix.com.hk .