I have to admit, I am not one of those people who loves to exercise, but there comes a time when you have snarfed down a few too many croissants and Laduree macaroons to make any excuses.
Like many things in Paris (and France in general), however, exercising is not always as straightforward and easy as you might think it. Why? Well, the French don’t really exercise all that much. They keep their trim and slim figure by eating those pastries in moderation and walking up the stairs to their 6th floor walk-up apartment.
The idea of joining a gym started in France as a luxury product which is why one of the most popular gym chains in Paris are the Club Med Gyms that offer hammams, fresh fluffy towels and even spa treatments (for an extra fee). And you pay for what you get. Other clubs like Fitness First opened up with a similar aesthetic at an even higher price – and people paid it! If you are a big gym-goer, these places are the spot for you. They have the best facilities and usually offer a full range of classes as well.
Recently, a few low-cost gyms opened up like, NEONESS, in the 15th arrondissement that offer classes as well as a full range of athletic equipment for only a fraction of the price at the other clubs…so naturally, they are always packed and you will find yourself waiting 30 minutes to run on the treadmill. If you have the time to go during the day, however, these gyms are a great option.
If you are a Yoga fan, you will find that most of the yoga studios in Paris offer either Vinyasa or Ashtanga-style yoga and that there is less of the “power-yoga” style that you find a lot in the USA. Many yoga studios are tucked away in sweet, calm courtyards like BeYoga or have a more sleek and modern feel like Qee.
Most studios charge 20-25 euro per class but also have a batch-price for a number of classes or have a membership plan that makes them much more affordable. Some studios, like Ashtanga Yoga have classes in English as well, but if you have practiced any yoga before, you should not have any trouble following along in French.
If you are a swimmer, Anne Ditmeyer of Pret-a-Voyager, has explored a few of Paris’ public swimming pools. She warns that many of the pools are co-ed, even the changing rooms, and that there are strict dress codes involved. Men must wear Speedo-esque bathing suits and both men and women are required to wear a swim cap. The average entrance fee for these public gyms is about 3 euros (beats the price of those Club Med Gyms by a long shot!) but it might take some preparation and adjustment to make the most out of the public pools.
As more and more of the French population have started to get into the concept of exercise, a fabulous (not to mention completely free) way to burn off that foie gras and experience the magical City of Lights is to put on a pair of running shoes and get out on the streets!
My friend, Heather Stimmler-Hall of Secrets of Paris, Paris Pastry App and the Naughty Paris Guide, has recently become my Paris running expert. Running has become very popular in Paris these days so many of the parks are filled with joggers, especially on the weekends. There are also “races” almost every week throughout the city which, Heather says “can be a great way to get motivated, see the city, and get commemorative running shirts.”
Registration for the Paris Marathon on April 7th, 2013 opens tomorrow (October 17th) and it is first-come, first-serve so get your running shoes on and start training!Click here and here for more information from Anne about swimming in Paris Click here to read about Heather’s running adventures in Paris. Club Med Gym Standard Club Med Gyms as well as their more elite Waou Club Med Gyms. Locations throughout Paris. NEONESS Low-cost gym with two locations within Paris. La Motte Piquet: 18, rue Juge, 15th 01 80 48 02 88 – Nation: 81 Rue Lagny, 20th 01 83 79 99 90 Rituel Studio 16, rue de la Grande Chaumiere, 6th 01 53 10 86 00 YogāYogā
6, passage de la Vierge, 7th 01 47 20 71 56 Qee Paris 46, rue de la Victoire, 9th
01 40 16 08 00 Ashtanga Yoga 40, ave de la Republique, 11th 01 45 80 19 96 BeYoga 17 rue Campagne Première, 14th 01 40 47 67 63 Yogateau A great English resource for all things yoga in Paris. Check them out for events, tips, studio listings and more. Paris Marathon Information, registration, practice race schedules and more!