Big cities / Blog / Madrid / Spain / Sports / Thoughts

Life in Madrid: Gym Fever


Finding any excuse to play.

Some people like the gym, while others don’t. I’ve always been a gym-goer, save for some inexcusable times in my life when I thought I had to forgo it because of being busy. Last year was one of those times – I rarely worked out in Spain, let alone went to the gym. I decided that this time, I wouldn’t let that happen again. A lot of the city’s residents do a social activity outside when they have time. As much as that option sounds fun – to me, working out at the gym is a million times more rewarding. That doesn’t mean I don’t have plans to join sports groups in the area, just that I had an absolute need to find a gym in central Madrid!

Today, I did just that. As much as I wanted to avoid paying up-front, or giving my account number (seriously, Madrid!? That’s just weird), there was no stopping my need to get a good workout in here once and for all. As a lifelong sports lover and player, being athletic has always been something I’ve prided myself on. However, I didn’t really expect to find myself so out of place at the gym on this side of the pond. Here are some thoughts after my first day at my neighbourhood workout spot:

1. Men outnumber women… by a lot.

One thing should be made clear here: I was not the only female at the gym. However, there couldn’t have been more than 10 women in the entire place. There was at least 2 or 3 times more men, although this could possibly be different the next time I visit! I also noticed that the other women at the gym didn’t look like me. This brings me to my next point:

2. Under-25 year old women weren’t to be seen.

At my local gym in Canada, plenty of young 20-somethings or teenage girls visit the gym. Maybe we, as a nation, are less thin than Spanish girls are. Or, maybe we tend to enjoy being more athletic. What ever the reason, most of the other females seemed to be at least a few years older than me.

3. Not a lot of women weight-lift.

I’ll admit that I was expecting this one. Even at the gyms back home, there isn’t a large amount of women in the weight room. However, there are still a fair amount of girls in there, while over here I was definitely a fish out of water. The only other female lifter was naturally very skinny, had breast implants, and seemed as though her main goal was to put on some definition and major muscle! Kudos to her, though our needs are very different.

4. The gyms are much smaller.

This gym was two-storied and had enough of what was needed, but it was extremely small compared to what a Canadian or American would be used to. This could, of course, simply be because it’s a city gym (and Spain as a whole is much smaller), but I’ve seen city gyms in major North American cities that are much bigger than this!

5. The workout music is perfect.

To end this off on a positive note, it was a pleasant surprise to not need my own music to tune out some poor musical choices. At my gym in Canada, hearing a good play-list as delivered by the staff is a rarity. Over here, the choices were all great.

As much as the experience was a different one, it was what I needed in the end. Working out isn’t just a physical thing for me – it clears my head, makes me feel more like myself, and is my best stress reliever. Bueno!

14 thoughts on “Life in Madrid: Gym Fever

  1. You’re experience at the gym in Madrid is a lot like my experience in Antwerp. I have also found that men outnumber women by 2 or 3, and I am usually the only female lifting in my gym in Antwerp. It’s definitely a little strange considering how many other women I saw lifting weights back at my gym in the states. Guess it’s not something that has caught on over here yet.

    • Interesting that it’s the case in Belgium, too! Didn’t think it would necessarily apply to that part of Europe, as well. I think women are afraid of doing it because they think it’ll make them bulky? I don’t really know. Girls my age in Madrid seem to think the gym is off limits to them. I’ve heard, many times, that the majority of girls here aren’t very sporty (which is a shame, in my opinion), so that could also be it. Is that how it is over there too?

      • I haven’t heard anything to that effect, but most Belgian girls my age that I have talked to seem to have no interest in the gym. The few that are I think probably believe lifting will make them bulky. The few that I do see at the gym are either on the stationary bikes, elliptical, or treadmill.

  2. I have been to a few gyms in Portugal – Lisbon area – and I’ve found different things. I remember one where girls were a definitive minority, which isn’t to comfortable, from my point of view, at least.
    In my current gym, when you go to classes I’d say it’s a 50/50 population, while on the weight room we see fewer girls lifting weights, but they are still there. I usually go there for some exercices that help define the muscular groups I work less on the classes, and I guess that’s the main goal for most girls there, while guys tend to be in front of the mirror lifting heavy weights.
    Still, more balanced than your gym, I’d say.
    It does come as a bit of a surprise, I thought madrilenos were gym-goers, since they always seem to be concerned about their looks

    • Much more balanced!

      I’ve noticed that people here are indeed very concerned with their looks, but more so in regards to wearing the right clothes rather than working their bodies out in the gym. It seems the trend maybe hasn’t even caught on for guys yet, or maybe it’s just this city at this time. It’s very strange for me, as I’m from Canada. Men in Spain generally don’t compare to Canadian men in muscle, but that’s also probably because we have a rough-and-tough culture.

      Are Portuguese people more like the Spanish in that sense, or Canadians?

      • I’ve been to Canada – actually I was in Montreal for 3 months in 2011, and maybe that’s not the most representative town, with all the mix going on, but you can tell that guys are bulkier in average than the average southern europe guys.
        Nonetheless, I do think we have an ongoing trend in Portugal where sports or working out are concerned. People are going to the gym more often, and you can see a lot of people jogging on the street.
        I do go to the gym and run more often than most of my friends, but you can tell people care more and more about being fit, not just slim (where girls are concerned, especially).

      • Maybe we just followed our brasilian “brothers” trend, more than the spanish one ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m glad that’s the case!
        I do hope you have a good experience at the gym there

  3. In the states, I went to the gym daily! Before coming to Spain, I was determined that after finding an apartment, I would find a gym (which hasnยดt happened yet – but I did go ONCE haha). I agree with all of your points. I felt very awkward being the only girl lifting, while all the others were on their stationary bikes, but I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do ๐Ÿ™‚ The music at the gym I went to was great too! A nice change from the music at my gym in Seattle!

  4. Hi guys ๐Ÿ™‚ I am in Portugal at the moment and heading to Madrid next week. I can’t seem to find a gym anywhere here? At least one with a weights room anyway.. E AOS whereabouts in Portugal were you working out? Any help would be great! I love reading these posts by other women who love to work out!! And Ghezal are the any gyms in Madrid that you would recommend? I love the weights room but also love to mix it up ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sorry for the delayed response!

      Holiday Gym allows you to buy a 3 month pass, whereas a lot of other girls around here don’t let you sign on unless it’s for a full year. The one near Moncloa is supposed to be the best/cheapest for young folk, but the one I’m at is more expensive (due to the neighbourhood) and cramped. I’d say look into HG and if that doesn’t float your boat, look around (walk around). I’ve heard of people finding really great ones just by doing that, but they usually aren’t huge chains.

  5. The reason young people do not go to gym (especially women) is clear if one is confronted with spanish culture. to break it down: families live together (usually 3 generations). It is normal to live at home until the age of 25+. Spanish are relatively religious.
    The best gym to go to is Metropolitan, they offer various classes (including outdoor running). Entry is 25euros (alot for ppl working / earning in spain), memberships can be 3 months, 6 months and 1 year usually around 70-80euros per month

    • I actually have a municipal gym pass as well! I don’t think Spanish people are very religious, though… maybe in schools and officially, but day to day lives don’t seem extremely influenced by it in Madrid. I don’t really see how religion ties into it though. Could you explain that a little further?

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