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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Being a Gym Rat in Paris

Another New Year, another resolution to get in shape... especially as one of my State-Side best friends (of the notorious Fab 5 as we are self-entitled) is getting married in August and I am to be the Maid of Honor. An honor, of course, but also the need to be in tip-top permanent photo shape by this summer.

Thus the dilemma of keeping in shape in France begins, as it has before. I once wrote a post about keeping in shape, but lately I've been getting creative and trying the variety of "keep in shape" options that Paris has to offer.

In Paris, every morning or evening, or even during the broad daylight, Parisiens are running about in their gym clothes and keeping in shape the old fashioned way. From "footing" to collective courses, here are the options in Paris:

Footing or Jogging
COST: Free
The French term for jogging or running, basically suit up, strap into some running shoes and off you go. I tend to keep myself to a nice Sunday walk, around 1 hour Sunday evening. Best locationgs to go footing:

  • The Eiffel Tower (pretty much a large around the Champs de Mars)
  • Bois de Boulogne (also known for the hookers sprawled somewhere in the woods, although which is better- running on dog crap or running across an Eastern hooker? Almost sounds like the beginning to a bad joke...)
  • On the waterfronts (although I avoid, due to strolling couples and again, dog crap)
  • Jardin du Luxembourg (about 25 hectares, lots of space.. and of course Gendarme eye candy)
  • Parc Monceau
  • Parc du Montsouris
Just be aware of pick pockets, dog crap on every surface (eyes down) random cracks in the pavement that send you flying head first towards the ground.

Footing or Jogging
COST: Yearly pass for the Velib' - 30€ a year
Once again, the great system of the bike share program, grab a bike from any of the locations in Paris: Station Map also available in the form of an iPhone application, and zip off to the next spot. The best is zipping around the tourists in Paris near the Eiffel Tower and freaking them out!  Just be weary of traffic rules and the fact that Parisian drivers are absolutely bat-crazy.

Krav Maga
COST: 300-450€ for a 9 month unlimited pass
I was once invited to try this type of very aggressive martial arts at the American Church in Paris. For those who hear the words and assume it is an Israelian meal, it is actually a form of Israelian street fighting used by their military for self defense. It sort of reminded me of an intensive kick boxing class, with actual moves one can use in cases of rape, etc. Not alot of high cardio, but definitely great for strength training. I felt it in my arms at least 2 days later.

Each course lasts about 1h30, intensive kicking and punching in the air. Fabulous if the thought of going out scares the crap out of you, and you feel like you want to get some self defense lessons, albeit expensive. Here are some links for more info, times, etc:
COST: 10€ per class, or a seasonal 3 month pass of 300€
I giggled at my co-worker the first time she mentioned the Swedish Gym, she was trying to pressure me to join her for one hour of 80's style aerobics, complete with tight gym clothes in flourescent colors. Of course, one cannot judge unless they've experienced, so I bopped along to the beat with everyone else.

This actually ended up being the closest to my 24 Hour Fitness days in Portland, the intensive ab-crunches, the supportive instructor... however the music was a bit lacking. Better for once a week lessons, just to get yourself moving in an active way.

Convenient as they have many courses across all the different arrondissements in Paris, downside is many classes in the evening are completely blindé and full of post-work crowd.

The website: Gym Suedoise in Paris

An Actual Gym Membership
COST: Between 40€ a month to 1000€ a year
The most ideal for myself, however one must adjust to their living situation. Gyms in Paris are not and will never be the gyms we have Stateside. First off, due to the high costs of rent and lack of space, they tend to be miniscule with machines uncomfortably crunched together. It sort of is like the high school gym all over again, that odd musky smell, lack of air conditioning, disgusting toilets and showers... often used as a glorification to go and sit in a steam room for an hour.

If there are weights at the gym, they are usually occupied by the most bro-ish looking men you'll ever run across, and they won't hesitate to talk to you if you are a lady lifting.

A simple Google search for: Gym Paris or Gymnase Paris will bring up the hundreds of over-priced options.

COST: 13€ for a 1 hour course, 18€ for a 2 hour or a book of 10 courses for 115€/160€, unlimited option also available for 100€ for a month.
I discovered Zumba thanks to a friend of mine last summer, if you've done Zumba then you know the difficulty in describing what it is.  It is sort of like Tangoing by yourself in a room full of screaming and clapping ladies, with a sweaty instructor shaking their ass like there is no tomorrow. You think you will end up laughing, but you are trying to hard to concentrate on the movements you end up sweating like a pig, one hour flies and you burned 500 calories in a snap.

However, downside, of course, is that often the courses in Paris are held in clubs, like actual dance clubs. Hence, that awkward vomit and alcohol smell sort of mingled with the musky sweat of non-showering French people (steretype alert) tends to leave you feeling a bit ill. Also, once again, no air conditioning in Paris.

However, courses are held all over Paris, and the unlimited pass allows you to go to any of them:

Join a Sport
COST: Varies between 5€ - 20€ per sport per time-slot, note that it is managed by the state so a working level of French is required
I have yet to join a community club to try out what they offer, the city of Paris has so many things to offer, for young people looking for work, people living in the city and wanting to get out, families, etc.

It's worth a gander: Practicing a Sport in Paris

The issue isn't that options aren't there, but it's simply the fact that it is much more difficult to discover these options in Paris as they tend to be hidden and a bit expensive. In America, the fact is our gym system is much better developed... however I have to mention that I eat about the same and don't go to 24 Fitness like I used to and I've managed to keep my weight the same. The car driving is exchanged for a daily 25-40 minute walk, sometimes run (busses or metros) in high heels and avoiding obstacles.

Utilizing a calorie-counting system is also wuite helpful, such as: My Fitness Pal

Bon Activité!
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