Sport machen: exercising in Germany
[False Friend alert: Sport machen in German is closer to ‘doing exercise’ in English, not necessarily playing sport!]
After all the delicious breads and beers and cakes that Germany has in such abundant supply all around you, your body might start sending you certain signals ... certainly if you are here for more than a few weeks. The lederhosen you bought in October might start looking mighty tight in January. You might need to do that only non-fad thing that works: eat less and move more.
The eat less I’ll have to leave up to you; but for the ‘move more’ there are plenty of good exercise options, so I’ll cover a few of those that I have tried, or at least have been informed are good by locals.
Firstly, the humble bicycle—well, not so humble here in Germany. I was amazed at the availability and varied types and configurations for all sorts of purposes. And I was also amazed at some of the prices. There is everything from the proper cyclist style to twin-baby plus shopping-carrying three wheeled carthorses. Plus, the bike paths are very well laid out so that it’s a much safer way to get around than in my home country: Australia. (Just watch out for them when you’re out walking...).
So, you get around Germany and you get some exercise at the same time! The only problem being that, if you are not going to be here for a long time, you might not want to fork over the Euros they are asking for new bikes in most shops. However, buying second-hand can work out well, and most bike shops offer a relatively inexpensive servicing/repair option.
Secondly, there are the gyms. These Fitnesstudios range from the typical brands you see everywhere, with all the typical top-of-the-range contemporary equipment, right down to the more localised and municipality funded Turnvereine, which are cheaper but not quite so well-decked out, and generally catering to older populations. (I saw throw-back equipment dating back to the 70s ... but in excellent working order!) They do have all the basics covered, however, and I certainly got a solid workout at my local. However, memberships tend to be very ‘lock-in’ orientated. If you’re not going to be around for more than a few months, the casual rates are very high.
I got involved in calisthenics while I was here (and, no, not the dancing kind!) which is a fancy word for exercise using predominantly your own bodyweight. Calisthenics is something you can do at home with minimal equipment or even no equipment at all. Germany does have quite a number of calisthenics parks dotted around the countryside, so you can lift and run in the open air (check out https://calisthenics-parks.com/de to see what’s near you).
There is a multitude of perfectly free calisthenics tutorials on the internet to get you started. From calisthenics, you may one day want to try one of the Parkour parks Germany has to offer, the highly gymnastic sport of running and leaping and spinning around and over and through urban objects and landscapes that becomes both spectacular and death-defying at its highest levels. The park-level at least gives you a safer environment to work on basic movements before going out into the urban jungle.
Finally, Germany has many public sport-facilities, like mini soccer fields and basketball hoops usually attached to parks and gardens. They are generally very well-maintained and you might only be up for the cost of a ball and a pump and you are up and moving. It’s also a great way to meet others and start socialising ... maybe trying out your smartergerman on some fittergermans? Have you tried smartergerman yet? Why not give the FREE article-buster course a go?
This post was written by Jeremy Davies