Let me preface with saying that I have lived abroad twice before and the sight of me when I returned to the States each time was not pretty. The reasons (excuses) for my state were different each time. In London I was 20…and let’s just say that while there I very much ‘enjoyed’ myself…therefore such joyful activities trumped any good night sleep, healthy eating or extensive workouts. While in Italy I did nothing physical unless you can include eating the food that I love most in the world. Why did I not workout? Simple – ITALIAN MEN! It took two running attempts to realize that being followed was more undesirable than the outcome of no workouts at all.
Needless to say I am older and more mature now….I was not going to let Spain get ahold of me as well. So with that the search for gyms became a week one priority along with the apartment search, selecting a mobile phone service and starting a bank account.
O2 Centro Wellness located at Manuel Becerra (there are many locations, including a Women’s only gym) is my gym and I love it. Absolutely not a soul on staff speaks English but they’re all very friendly and were patient with our Spanish. Will and I signed up with a 2-for-1 special. We paid €110 each for the initial membership fee and then pay €45 each month. If you’re already dry-heaving…sorry, gym costs are a bit heftier than the USA. But know that my gym is killer! It has 2 lap pools (one on the roof deck for summer time), massage pool, jacuzzi, loads of updated (with a TV on each) cardio equipment, great weights area, an array of classes and a great spa. Take a tour – you won’t be let down.
I am primarily a runner and swimmer now that my Volleyball days are behind me so here is a little of my insight to these activities in Madrid:
Swimming – Simply [and nicely put], the Spanish like to swim. Young and old. And because of this there are a ton of pools available throughout Madrid to leisurely swim or get in those workout laps. I will say that I happen to enjoy swimming and used to do so quite a bit in the States, but while I am no competitive swimmer, I do swim to get in a substantial workout. So I happen to find it really difficult to swim in Madrid – as it appears there is no socially acceptable limit to the amount of swimmers to enter a lane at a time. One day a few months ago when my lane total topped 5 swimmers I vowed to attempt one more swim or I would hand in the towel…literally. So I timed myself to the only time no Spaniard (especially the older ones) would dream of working out – Lunch/Siesta! Success!!! So my advice to the avid swimmer…go around 3pm on a week day…or learn to swim with your head out of the water.
Running – There are a decent number of running paths in Madrid. Because I live in Barrio Salamanca, Buen Parque Retiro is my best option. I clocked a run of the loop I take once in Retiro and its at about 4.3 kilometers which can be seen here. Despite the afternoon strolling crowds (mostly on the weekends…and be prepared – there are a lot!) they don’t really interfere with the outer running path so its always enjoyable. Green Canal Golf has a running path which surrounds it. The advantages of running here are a softer surface which is easy on the knees as well as the fact that it is lined with lights for those who prefer night time runs. I hear an afternoon in Casa de Campo is a great option too but have not yet given it a try.
For more detailed information on active outdoor activities in and around Madrid visit Anglo Info Madrid for a comprehensive listing.
And for the die-hards…I am running my first half marathon on April 11th. We are a team of IE students and partners who will get up far too early for a Sunday and run our bodies into the ground, it’ll be fantastic. For those who think they’re also up for the challenge here is the website for entry – Medio Marathon de Madrid. Good Luck and see you out there!
I know there are a ton of great gym options in Madrid (some a little more ungodly expensive than others)…tell me about your gym.