When Spain is mentioned, the first things that come to mind are usually the culinary treasures of the country.
The word “Espana” conjures images of elaborate tapas, wine from Rioja and rich paella. If you responded “yoga, pilates and running” to the word “Spain” in a word association test at a psychologists office, you would probably be kept for further psychoanalysis. However, believe it or not, the fitness scene in Madrid is alive and popping. Walking down the street in any of the younger, hip neighborhoods like Chueca or Malasana, you pass lululemon clad millenials carrying yoga mats or heading to and from the gym. The city is full of unique yoga and pilates experiences, expansive gyms, spin studios and cross-fit classes. If you’re visiting or moving to Madrid, I highly recommend taking part in the city’s fitness scene. It’s a great way to meet people, see a different side of Spanish culture and achieve a glorious endorphin high to elevate your experience of Spain’s capital. These activities and classes are many favorite fitness experiences in Madrid and are musts for anyone visiting or living in this amazing city.
1. Yoga at Centro el Patio
The hatha yoga classes offered at Centro el Patio are spectacular. During the class a range of props such as chairs, blankets and suspension cords are used to enhance traditional yoga poses and bring your practice to the next level. At one point in the class, yogis even utilize the wall as a tool, pushing feet against the matt covered walls to perform a handstand! This is a great class for yogis of any level and empowers you to conquer new poses you didn’t think you were capable of. To add to the experience, the studio is gorgeous, and features exposed brick walls and a beautiful view of a lush courtyard out back. The class is taught in Spanish, however instructors are bilingual so if you need instructions in Spanish just tell the instructor before class. Mats, blankets, blocks and all other needed equipment are provided. The experience is truly high end and leaves you feeling toned, relaxed and centered.
Price: 10 Euros (reserve class online prior to arriving)
American ex-pat Sara Kathleen Reinbold runs Fresh to Death Fitness, a thriving fitness business in Madrid. In addition to offering a range of classes from barre to zumba at her traditional indoor studio, she also teaches Pilates classes in Retiro every Saturday morning. The classes are set to fun upbeat pop music and leave your arms, legs, abs and glutes with a satisfying burn. During the class, traditional Pilates motions are combined with innovative moves making the class fun while targeting all areas of the body to leave you looking and feeling great! These classes are a perfect way to meet other young people, enjoy beautiful Retiro and the fantastic Madrid sunshine and achieve that Pilates glisten on a Saturday morning!
Price: 8.5 Euros.
Note: Don’t forget to bring your own mat or a towel!
This is a must for anyone who loves hiking or wants to experience Spain’s beautiful and varied countryside. Hiking in the Community of Madrid is a group led by avid hiker Jonathan. Jonathan organizes hikes in the stunning mountainous regions surrounding Madrid every Saturday and Sunday for hikers of all level. The hikes allow you to explore the beautiful natural landscape surrounding Madrid and typically include visits to charming and remote, historical towns and breathtaking views of the Spanish plains, vineyards and olive orchards. Jonathan is an enthusiast for Spain’s natural landscape, flora and fauna and is able to share information on the sighs you are seeing in addition to leading a fantastic hike! The price also includes lunch prepared by Jonathan so you don’t have to worry about packing and carrying your own food.
Price 12 Euros + Bus Fare.
Note: Bring water!
4. Run in Retiro
This is by far my favorite fitness activity in Madrid. Retiro is an expansive and stuning park in the center of Madrid. It has a rich history and is filled with tree-lined paths, immaculately maintained box hedges, trickling fountains, multitudes of statues memorializing Spanish monarchs and several lakes. Retiro is always bursting with life. At any time of day you can find people strolling along its picturesque pathways, rollerblading down its wide, paved streets, picnicking in the grass or rowing on its central lake. The entire park is encircled by a dirt path, a perfect running track and a great way to give your joints a break form running on the cobblestone or concrete streets of the city. You can run on your own or join up with one of the many running groups that meet nightly! The park also features numerous tranquil grassy areas so after your run you can relax beneath the trees and stretch. A run in Retiro is the perfect way to escape the commotion of Madrid’s bustling streets, clear your head and reset. I recommend the route shown on the map below. The loop ends at Retiro’s central lake, making for an extremely inspiring and motivating finish!
Note: In the summer Madrid is HOT so make sure you plan your run for early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is less intense.
Photos: Alex Baker-Brown