We all know the health benefits of a good diet and regular exercise, but here in Mallorca, there’s an added incentive: the long hot summer months mean skimpier clothes and days spent baring almost all on the beach. So unless you’re blessed with lithe limbs and a naturally flat stomach or you’re fifteen years old the trauma of the fast-approaching swimwear season can bring with it an uncomfortable choice: tone up or cover up. The lazier among us may have idly considered shedding surplus flab at the hands of a plastic surgeon, but the pain and expense make this drastic shortcut a definite last resort.
The ideal solution is to find a sport that you love and then practise it regularly, as, obviously, if you enjoy it, you’re more likely to stick at it. But if team sports bring back painful memories of school P.E. lessons, then joining a gym could be the answer. Convenient and flexible, it’s easy to fit gym visits in to your daily routine.
Over the past few years, numerous new fitness centres have opened on the island, dispelling the dated image of gyms as places populated by sweaty bodybuilders grunting over dumb bells. Topquality facilities with state-of-the art equipment and a wealth of classes from step to pilates means that exercise can be as varied as you like. The pick and mix approach also helps to keep the boredom factor at a minimum, as you can try different classes until you find one that you really enjoy. Hate weights but love dancing? Find a gym with hip-hop, funky or Sevillanas. Two left feet but love to go for the burn? Try spinning or body pump. Feeling stressed? Take up yoga or punch your way to tranquility in a boxing class!
Choosing a gym is a highly individual process and there are many factors to take into consideration. The first is probably your budget, namely how much you’re prepared to spend each month. Secondly, proximity to your home or place of work we all know if it’s easy to get to the gym, we’re more likely to go! Finally, think about your personal requirements: do you want somewhere with a swimming pool or squash courts? Do they offer a variety of classes? Is there an option for one-to-one sessions with a trainer?
When you’ve made your shortlist, it’s time to visit the contenders.
Town councils across the island run a number of gyms, usually housed in local sports centres. Facilities vary from centre to centre, but if you’re looking for a no-frills option, these could be your best bet. Expect basic equipment and some classes, although larger centres tend to have more machines and there’s often an indoor swimming pool.
If you’re a resident with a certificado de empadronamiento from your local town hall, membership can cost as little as 50 € a year, again depending on the centre and the facilities available.
Privately-owned gyms usually offer those added extras that can make the whole experience a little more bearable for the reluctant gym-goer, such as satellite television (normally in English and German as well as Spanish) to keep you entertained on the cardio machines. The changing rooms are also more luxurious, often with sunbeds available for hire as well as steam rooms or saunas to help you unwind after a strenuous workout. Plus the facilities tend to be more sophisticated, with more and newer machines and a greater variety of classes on offer.
You’ll usually be expected to pay a joining fee of between 50 and 150€ and also sign a contract which ties you into membership for a fixed period of time. Monthly fees vary from gym to gym, but it’s always worth asking if there are any special deals as with increasing competition, centres are always keen to entice new customers.
When you’ve found a gym that meets your criteria, ask to “try before you buy” with a couple of trial sessions. Check out the atmosphere: you’ll need to feel comfortable getting sweaty in a room full of strangers. Make sure you visit at the time you’re likely to be able to go: most gyms are very busy between 6 and 8pm and you may have to queue for equipment at these peak times. You’ll need a session with a instructor to show you how to use the machines effectively, so remember to book a one-to-one appointment. Finally, before committing to a one-year-membership, ask if you can join for three months. It may be slightly more expensive, but it’s worth it to ensure that you really have found the perfect gym for you.