There are more gyms and fitness centres in Andalucía than ever before. Whereas in the early 1980s you’d have been pushed to find the odd male-dominated weights room, there are now many centres. Following the Jane Fonda exercise revolution two decades ago, a few small gyms opened along the Costa del Sol, some of which have survived, while others have disappeared. The Studio 1 Gym, in Las Rampas (Fuengirola), was one of the first in the early 1980s. It was then and still is English owned. Going even further back, the pioneering Atlantis Gym in Torremolinos has been open since 1969 and is still going strong, it has adapted to keep up with changing demands.
Sports and fitness centres along the Costa del Sol will almost always have English speaking staff and instructors, since they are used to tourists and foreign residents. In smaller clubs and off the beaten track, you may come across Spanish-only staff, but aerobics and other classes have universal moves and formats and the gym machines are similar to those elsewhere.
Because the gym industry has had to grow up so quickly in Andalucía, the strict regulations that apply in the UK and other northern European countries are not in place here. Nor is there much good training and re-training of instructors, so it should be pointed out that the motivation and standards are not always the same as in other countries. Use your common sense whenever you train and just remember that if you feel pain when training, especially in your back, then stop and ask for professional advice. Also, never be shy to ask to see the instructor’s credentials: highly qualified instructors are always delighted to show well-earned certificates or trophies.
The majority of clubs in Andalucía are private businesses, unlike most fitness centres in Britain, which are almost all part of a successful chain such as Courtneys, Canons, Fitness First, etc. The larger, newer clubs are catching on to the high demands and expectations of the 21st century body conscious businessperson, but some of the smaller clubs fall behind.
Most gyms close at weekends and on public holidays. Not such a problem if you are on holiday, but those tied to business hours often complain that that the monthly membership is high if they are limited to using the facilities at the busy weekday peak times. If you are planning to live in Andalucía and are looking to join a local fitness centre, make sure the opening hours suit you.
Monthly membership fees range from as little as €24 to nearly €100, depending on the facilities and the area. Prices tend to be higher in the luxury Marbella bracket and also at some of the new purpose-built leisure centres where the amenities are excellent and worth the extra money.
Most clubs will have a sauna, Jacuzzi and sometimes a steam room too. After a tough work out, one of the nicest things is to relax and enjoy these luxurious facilities. This is also a great opportunity to meet like minded friends, especially if you are new to the area, or are on holiday and want to know the best places to go.