We know it’s good for us, right? Here’s where you’ll find some enjoyable ways towards a more active lifestyle on Mallorca. With the island’s great climate, there’s no excuse for being a couch potato!
You don’t need to study Rafael Nadal’s physique too closely to know that playing tennis is excellent exercise. Tennis is a popular sport on Mallorca, with the wide availability of courts and clubs around the island, a climate that makes it possible to play outdoors any time of year, and the availability of professional coaches. No wonder the island has spawned tennis stars such as Rafa, Carlos Moya, and former women’s player Nuria Llagostera.
Most courts here are either hard or sand, rather than lawn. Many are floodlit, so you can enjoy your sport after dark, when it’s cooler, during the warmer months. For youngsters with serious tennis ambitions, Rafael Nadal’s Tennis Academy in Manacor is due to open in the summer of 2016. Taking lessons – either individually or as part of a class – will give you confidence on the court and ensure that your style of playing isn’t likely to lead to injury. Professional instructor Matt Dean is a member of the Professional Tennis Registry and offers lessons at your home or any private court on Mallorca.
The physical and mental health benefits of a good walk are well documented, and many creative people claim they get their inspiration whilst striding out. Mallorca is the perfect island for walking and hiking, offering a variety of terrains to suit different levels of fitness, and a favourable climate. The north and northwest – taking in the Serra de Tramuntana and its Dry Stone Route (GR 221) or ‘Ruta de Pedra en Sec’ – offer great hiking possibilities, and several books, maps, and Internet sites can guide you on the right path.
Guided hikes offer the benefit of meeting like-minded people and making new friends, as well as enabling you to discover unfamiliar routes. If you’re not experienced, it’s a good idea to start mountain hiking with others who know the mountains well. Away from the mountains, there are plenty of places to hike, including the new ‘Via Verde’ eco-path between Manacor and Artà, which offers an easier terrain for less adventurous (or fit) hikers. Good hiking boots or shoes are a must and Bestard, which has an outlet at Mallorca Fashion Outlets, makes some of the best.
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Excellent roads, a variety of signposted official routes (for all levels of ability), and a good climate have made Mallorca a perfect cycling holiday destination – and the top Mediterranean training destination for most of Europe’s top professional cycling teams. But you don’t have to be Lycra-clad and a serious athlete to enjoy the many physical and mental health benefits of this two-wheeled sport and leisure activity.
Suitable for all ages, cycling is a low-impact aerobic sport and excellent workout for the major muscle groups, and can be done alone or with others. It gets you out in the fresh air, and is a cheap and environmentally friendly way to see the varied landscape of Mallorca. For a shared experience, check out one of the companies organising guided cycling excursions, or join a local cycling club (around 170 are registered in the Balearics).
During the main cycling seasons for visitors to Mallorca (January-May and September-October) you’re sure to meet and maybe make new friends with others who have discovered the pleasure and health and wellness aspects of life on two wheels.
With more than 20 superb courses, Mallorca is a golfer’s paradise – and a top-of-the-range European golf destination. Golf isn’t just a great sport for all ages it also offers the health benefits of fresh air, exercise, and improved co-ordination. And Mallorca’s climate makes it possible to play on scenic courses almost all year (although early tee-off times are recommended if playing during the hottest months, July and August).
Many golf courses here offer driving range, professional instruction, and a pro shop. If you don’t want to transport your clubs, you can hire on the island. You can also have golf clubs tailor-made to your requirement: Miki Rapado is a top club-fitter and professional club-maker, based at Golf Son Gual. European Tour Coach Peter Ledwidge at Mallorca Golf Academy can help fix any playing problems, using hi-tech Quintic Biomechanics software and high-speed video analysis.
Swiss instructor Michel Monnard is a member of the PGA Spain and, with Tobias Widmer, offers lessons and hi-tech analysis, at six courses on Mallorca. For golfing visitors to Mallorca, several hotels and specialist golf travel companies offer accommodation packages which include green fees at one or more local courses.
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Whether you regard sailing as a hobby or a sport, the physical and mental health benefits are the same. The physical effort involved in sailing – hoisting sails and manoeuvring a yacht – strengthens muscles, shoulders and your back, and can improve cardiovascular health, general agility, and co-ordination skills.
Sailing requires concentration and, depending on the size of the yacht, can involve working as part of a team. While you’re out under sail, your mind will be free of work or personal problems, helping you to relax. And fresh sea air and the sun on your face add to the pleasures of this pursuit.
You’ll find sailing schools in most of the marinas around Mallorca, offering a variety of programmes for children and adults, using different types of craft. Solaris Mediterranean Sailing School in southwest Mallorca is RYA-accredited and offers officially recognised RYA sailing courses and qualifications. Chartering a skippered yacht for the day lets you test the water before you commit to lessons. Captain Cook offers day charters on their Beneteau Océanis 46 and captain Adriaan Simmers will show you the ropes – and even let you handle them if you wish.
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Agreat sport and pleasurable activity for all ages, swimming is a low-impact exercise, making it suitable even for those who are overweight or have joint problems. Mallorca offers the perfect conditions for swimming: 262 beaches to access the Mediterranean; good municipal facilities across the island – with some 25 indoor swimming pools, and hotels and private gyms/spas with pools.
The Best Swim Centre in Colonia Sant Jordi is renowned for its training facilities. It holds swim training camps for everyone to local clubs to national Olympic teams, but also offers Family Swim Holidays, based at four hotels in Colonia Sant Jordi. While kids aged 6-18 – of all swimming abilities – train with Olympic swimmers, their parents can enjoy what Mallorca has to offer.
The British Olympic Swimming Team and the German National Polo Team are among those who have used the training facilities here. German company Sunbonoo offers swimming holidays for children and adults, based at various locations around Mallorca; German, English, and Spanish spoken. If you want to improve your sea swimming, SwimTrek offers an open water swimming coach.
Mallorca is regularly chosen as the location for big volleyball tournaments, its golden sands coming alive with play – and the fittest bods! – in a party atmosphere.
You don’t have to be part of an organised tournament to enjoy the fun and fast energy of beach volleyball. A great mood-booster, volleyball not only tones, builds muscular strength and improves co-ordination, it has amazing fat-burning benefits; an hour-long game on the sand can use up to 500 calories.
There are a number of courts dotted around the island inviting everyone from the seasoned pro to the enthusiastic amateur to get started in a single pair, or as part of a team. Palmanova, Alcúdia, Santa Ponsa and Cala d’Or all have nets; all you need do is bring yourself, your friends, a ball – and plenty of water and towels!
The Beachvolley Balear Tour 2017 takes place between May and August at Font de Sa Cala, Palmanova, Alcúdia, Calvià and Cala Romantica, with Beachvolley Balear also running several special camps throughout the season.
One of the world’s fastest growing water sports, SUP is booming in popularity on Mallorca, with plenty of places around the island offering lessons and board-and-paddle hire. Unlike surfing, it’s not so dependent on sea conditions (which aren’t very often perfect for surfing here), or difficult to master, and is fun for all ages. As well as connecting with nature and being able to discover hidden inlets and caves, stand-up paddlers get a complete body workout. You can even do it in winter, though you may need a wetsuit.
Compared to some other water sports, SUP lessons are relatively inexpensive and after the first one you’ll either realise it isn’t for you or become hooked. Most water sports schools on the island now include SUP. Mallorca Kiteboarding & SUP operates in the Bay of Pollença, and offers lessons from IOSUP-trained (International Organisation of Stand-up Paddle) instructors. El Niño Surf Center is in Can Pastilla offers lessons and equipment rental on Playa de Palma year-round. Wind & Friends (open April to October) offers equipment hire in Alcúdia for 10 euros an hour.
Sports for people with disabilities
Sport should be something for all to enjoy! And, on Mallorca, even people with varying degrees of disability can take part and enjoy the benefits of sporting activities, thanks to the not-for-profit organisation Fundación Handisport – an associate member of the European Network for Accessible Tourism.
The Mallorcan climate and availability of a wide range of sporting facilities in the southwest of the island make it possible for people with disabilities to enjoy sport year-round. Founded in 2007 by a family, Handisport organises sporting activities that many people with disabilities might have thought impossible to enjoy on Mallorca, using safe, specially adapted equipment.
These include riding therapy, golf, hiking by 4×4, canoeing, waterskiing, sailing, and diving. A less familiar activity is blokart: sailing on land. This takes place on a safe tricycle, equipped with a sail, and is suitable for users regardless of their degree of disability. Handisport offers trained instructors and their diving courses have been designed in collaboration with the Balearic Federation of Underwater Activities.
It’s not easy to devise and maintain an effective fitness programme without being an expert in health and fitness, which is where a qualified (and insured) personal trainer can make a difference. A personal trainer doesn’t only tailor a training programme to suit the individual concerned, he or she will also oversee the exercise regime – offering discipline and motivation when the going gets tough.
Many gyms on the island offer the services of a personal trainer, who will devise a fitness regime that will fit into the individual’s lifestyle and budget. There will probably be an additional charge for their services, but it often means you’ll make more use of your gym membership subscription.
Some hotels with gyms can arrange for a personal trainer to devise a daily programme during a holiday on the island, so you can return home with a leaner, healthier look to go with that suntan. If you want the flexibility of someone who will come to your home or hotel, Mallorca is the base of several experienced and international personal trainers.
Regular gym visits are a great foundation for a serious fitness regime and, whether you’re visiting Mallorca on holiday or you live here, you’ll find a gym to suit your workout needs. Many municipalities run their own sports and fitness facilities, offering use at a reasonable price for those registered with a ‘certificado de empadronamiento’.
If you prefer a private gym, check out the facilities and enquire whether there’s a trial membership period before committing yourself. As well as a range of well-maintained modern equipment, the best also offer the services of a personal trainer, if required, and a varied programme of exercise classes.
In southwest Mallorca, Country Club Santa Ponça has a well-equipped gym, and you don’t have to be a member to use it: a day pass costs just 15 euros. Illes Centros de Wellness operates seven gyms (four in Palma, others in Marratxi, Calvia, and Inca). The largest is on the Polígono Son Bugadelles, and offers superb facilities and parking for 150 vehicles. Son Brull Hotel & Spa, Pollenca, has opened a gym this year. Built amid citrus groves, it offers Technogym equipment.
Fitness with kids
Tearing children away from an Xbox or iPad can be a challenge, but an island like Mallorca offers plenty of activities to encourage kids to leave their joysticks and screens for a while. Fit kids are likelier to be happier, healthier, and better at learning, which is why it pays to get them involved in some physical activities while they’re still young and developing. If kids see them as fun, rather than exercise, they’re more likely to enjoy them and keep them up.
Mallorca’s water parks are a great place for kids to get some fresh air and exercise (definitely disguised as fun) but for more serious swimming, the island has around 20 public swimming baths, including the large Son Hugo complex in Palma de Mallorca. Santa Ponsa Country Club is geared up for children with their Country Kids programme, including swimming lessons for babies and infants, and Zumba for kids. Zumba in Palma de Mallorca offers Zumba Kids on Saturday mornings at Centro Flassaders. Young budding Rafa Nadal’s can have lessons at the Tennis Academy Mallorca or other centres around the island.
To kick-start a weight-loss programme or improve your general fitness fast, there’s nothing quite like a boot camp. Discipline and encouragement are part of these programmes, which have become very popular in recent years. They don’t suit everyone but, for those who are determined to change their health for the better and prepared to sweat (and probably ache a bit) for their cause, a boot camp holiday should show benefits in a short space of time.
These boot camps are generally very supportive, as participants share a common goal. Although boot camps conjure up images of military hardship and strict discipline, many of those offered on Mallorca offer a good level of luxury to compensate for the aching muscles! It’s important to choose one run by qualified fitness professionals. The best boot camps combine a carefully designed programme of exercise with healthy nutrition and perhaps some health-related workshops and talks.
Organisers of Mallorca-based boot camps include Real Fitness, White Rock Multisport, UK company Sisters Retreat (offering 4- and 7-day boot camp holidays), The Ashram, and Inselbootcamp Mallorca.
Pilates & yoga
The exercise known as Pilates has taken the fitness world by storm over the past decade, although it was first devised by the German-born Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It’s a safe and effective form of mind-body exercise, using a floor mat or equipment. Pilates builds strength without adding bulk, creates a well-toned body, and improves posture and grace. Yoga is more than just an ancient system of exercise: it unites body, mind, and spirit, through a system of postures – known as ‘asanas’ – and can transform lives.
Numerous mental, physical, and spiritual health benefits are associated with yoga – including greater awareness of everything we do, and are. At the heart of yoga is the breath: focusing on breathing correctly as postures are assumed makes yoga a form of meditation in motion.
Several forms of yoga are taught and practised on Mallorca. Yoga and/or Pilates classes are widely available in purpose-built studios, gyms, and hotel spas (usually by prior arrangement). Some teachers will travel for private classes in your home. Pilates and yoga retreats are also available on Mallorca.
More Activities on Mallorca
You’ll never run out of things to do on Mallorca! Here we give you ideas for everything from cultural and outdoor activities to sports and water fun.