Staying Active on a Budget in San Francisco: A Founder's Guide by Miikka Kirsilä

Staying Active on a Budget in San Francisco: A Founder's Guide by Miikka Kirsilä

Staying active in San Francisco can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be expensive. As a founder, you don't have to sacrifice your health for your business - in fact, staying active can help you be more productive and focused! Here, I have gathered some affordable ways that have supported my wellbeing and helped me to stay active in San Francisco.

Biking to Work

I mean, seriously. As a Finn, I have been accustomed to bad biking infrastructure. In Helsinki, biking lanes start and end completely randomly and make your morning commute a nightmare. In SF however, the biking routes are well-marked, in super good condition and usually bring you to your destination faster than any other method. You can also get your BayWheels city-bike subscription for as low as $29 per month.

I generally bike to events and co-workings, probably averaging around 5-10 trips per week. This is often way cheaper and faster than public transportation. In addition, I feel it gives a pretty stimulating start for my day. My commute by bike generally is only 15 minutes or so, but the refreshing morning breeze does kick off your day like nothing else.

Hiking with Breathtaking Views

I’ve only had very limited opportunities to hike in SF, but the few times I’ve done it in the last few weeks, it has been great. I have found it simply amazing how easy it is for California to provide breathtaking views at every turn. The few places you should definitely go to walk in are:

  • Lands End
  • The Twin Peaks
  • Sausalito
  • Muir Woods

A fun 6-hour hike is also to go to Western Presidio and walk eastbound along the coast. You’ll get to enjoy some astonishing views of the historical area, the Golden Gate and the Bay itself. This route also gives you a bunch of Cafés and Breweries to stop for a quick refreshment.

Usually, hiking for me is a weekend thing. Taking a walk every Saturday gives you the well-earned chance to relax for a while, see the sun and keep your activity up.

Some hiking action taking place here

Climbing is Cool, but not Free

Climbing is another great way to stay active and build strength while in San Francisco. While indoor climbing gyms can be expensive, there are plenty of outdoor bouldering options available that are completely free. One of my favourite places to climb in San Francisco is Dogpatch Boulders, which features a range of challenging routes for climbers of all skill levels. The one-day pass is $30 - and with $4 extra if you want to rent shoes as well.

Bouldering however is somewhat different here than in Finland. The walls tend to be generally a bit higher, making the top-outs a bit harder and due to high usage, some of the holds can be in a scary shape. Back home, bouldering was my go-to sport, but with it being so expensive here, I have cut down on the expenditure and only go once or twice a month.

Dogpatch Boulders is nevertheless one of the best places in town to do bouldering, but I noticed that after a good climb and some sauna, it is difficult to find a decent spot to eat nearby. Definitely bring your snacks with you!

If gyms are more in the direction of what you like, I’d still highly recommend Dogpatch. In addition to the bouldering walls, they have a very decent gym that is included in the price. Beyond this, I’d highly recommend every gym rat to book a free test-visit to the Equinox.

Tennis in the Park

Tennis is a classic sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. Fortunately, San Francisco has a number of public tennis courts that are free to use. Dolores Park is one of the best places to play tennis in the city, with several well-maintained courts that are available to book online. At the time of writing, the courts could be booked here: Book tennis 

I have never really been good at tennis and back in Finland I didn’t really invest a lot of time in the sport, but I must say that there is something in the feeling of passing the ball back and forth in the sunny San Francisco weather.

Tennis for me is a relatively new discovery, but I am looking forward to booking a court as often as once or twice a week!

Running the City

Running is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay in shape, and San Francisco has plenty of great places to run. From the scenic Embarcadero waterfront to the challenging hills of Pacific Heights, there are plenty of options for runners of all levels.

The city itself is a surprisingly good place for running. Gridlock tends to mean that you always have a direction to run towards and you rarely have to stop because of a red light. If you want a challenge, you can always head towards Pacific Heights and indulge in the steep inclines at every turn. Otherwise, aiming for the Panhandle and running around Golden Gate park, is bound to bring you a brief peace of mind.

The view of SF is really rewarding after a sports session


Staying active and healthy is essential for everyone, including founders who want to thrive and succeed in their businesses. Fortunately, San Francisco offers plenty of affordable options for sports and fitness enthusiasts. From hiking and climbing to tennis and running, there are plenty of ways to stay active without breaking the bank. With the tips and suggestions provided in this blog post, founders can start enjoying all that San Francisco has to offer without spending a fortune.

If you’re in the Bay Area or in Helsinki during the summer, hit me up on LinkedIn. I’d love to meet new people while doing the sport I love!


Miikka Kirsilä