Monday, 8 September 2014

Madrid Monday: Where to do sport in Madrid

Madrid Monday is a series of posts about the Spanish capital. Here I review restaurants and bars, and write about tourist attractions, cultural events and more. If you have any requests for topics to cover, just leave me a comment.

If you're in Madrid for more than a few days, chances are that you might want to get some exercise. Whether you're looking for an easy way to get some exercise while you're on holiday or you're a Madrid resident wanting to take up a sporty new hobby, read on.

Madrid Rio: A great place to run or cycle

If you're wondering where to run in MadridEl Retiro Park and Madrid Rio are two good starting points. Both are central, easily accessible and scenic. The river bank is particularly flat if you're looking for an easy run. The Parque del Canal has a 1.25km running track, while Dehesa de la Villa in the north west has a wilder trail if you fancy a challenge. If you prefer to run in company, check out the free Nike+ Run Club, which departs two evenings a week from the Nike store on Gran Via and twice a week from the Calle Serrano branch.

If you're interested in races in Madrid, try the Carreras Populares site, which lists official events both in the capital and around the country. There are 10k races in the city and the surrounding Comunidad de Madrid most Sundays, with other distances popular too. The Madrid marathon and half marathon are both held each year in spring.

As of 2014, Madrid has finally joined Seville, Barcelona, Valencia and other cities around Spain by offering a city bike scheme, BiciMAD. Users can pick up and drop off electronic bikes at 123 locations around the capital. However, at the moment the service is only on offer to those who sign up for a year's pass, but you can rent bikes by the hour or day from Trixi near Sol. There are bike lanes around the city, but these still aren't too widespread and cycling in Madrid's notoriously crazy traffic can be dangerous. If you'd rather not join the city traffic, you can also rent bikes by the river. EcoMoving Sports rents different types of bikes (including tandems and family bikes) by the hour or day.

A group tennis lesson with Denzil Reid

If you're looking to take up the sport or improve your game, try a tennis lesson or two with English coach Denzil Reid. Based in Pozuelo, he can also travel to a court near you for very reasonable rates. Denzil's been coaching both children and adults for thirty years, and specializes in helping with tournament preparation, so if you've got your sights on Wimbledon (or want to impress your friends with a few new moves), join the ranks. To find out more, you can contact Denzil here or on 669097599. Both individual and group lessons are available.

Yoga and pilates classes are available all over Madrid, but you often have to sign up on a monthly basis and commit to two classes a week. If you'd rather go when you feel like it, both Yoga at the Park (in English) and Yoga con Cris (in Spanish) offer a range of yoga classes for beginners and more advanced yogis. In warmer months, many of their classes are held in Retiro Park, moving inside when it gets colder.

Spanish gyms traditionally aren't cheap: if you want all the facilities like tennis and padel courts or spas, you'll definitely have to pay for them. However, if you want a decent place to work out and a few classes on offer, the new breed of low-cost gyms could be right up your street (possibly literally). A few to check out are Altafit, Dreamfit and Fitup. Most gyms, low-cost or not, will let you try out their facilities for free before you sign up. Swanky Palestra lets you sign up for this service online and print out a day pass, so it's worth doing if you're in Madrid short term or just fancy a nosy round a nice gym.

The outdoor swimming pool at Francos Rodriguez

Madrid's outdoor swimming pools open from the end of May to early September and cost around €5 a swim (prices vary depending on your age and day of the week). There are plenty of council-run indoor pools all over the city, including central ones on Bravo Murillo and Ciudad de Barcelona, near Atocha. You can find the full list here.

Getting active outside the city: Hiking, horse riding and more
In less than an hour, you can leave the city behind and get out into the sierra. You'll find a range of hiking trails, including the well-signposted ones from Cercedilla. You can swim in rivers and natural pools including those at La Charca Verde near Manzanares el real and Las Presillas, and in winter you can even go skiing at a number of places, like Valdesqui and Puerto de Navacerrada. There are plenty of places in the sierra that offer horseback rides or rutas a caballo, including Viento del Este near Robledo de Chavela, which is accessible by public transport.

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