Getting A Workout In Paris

When faced with a veritable feast everywhere you turn in Paris, it’s tough to stick to the diet, luckily it’s an active city and you do a lot of walking.  But sometimes you need to kick it up a notch and give yourself a workout.  If you are planning to stay in a hotel, there are many in Paris that feature gyms, and in fact Hotels.com has some great links to all the hotels in Paris where you can get a workout.  But if you are staying in a hostel, in an apartment, or couchsurfing, you are going to want to find some place that is convenient.  Luckily there are about a dozen gyms scattered around Paris, and you can track down the closest to you by going to gymvisit.com . I checked out Club Quartier Latin in the Latin Quartier and managed to squeeze in a pretty good workout. Squeeze in, because the weights room is very small (space is at a premium in Paris) and there were about a dozen others trying to work through their routines in very tight quarters – by the way, you’ll need to know ‘musculation’ is the weights area.  Still it was possible, and there is a separate studio for cardio and even squash courts and a swimming pool.    Not just any swimming pool, but the historic Piscine Pointoise.  Built in the 1930’s, it’s most famous swimming enthusiast was Jacques Cousteau.  It’s a spectacular structure, with a giant skylight roof and surrounded by cabanas on 3 sides, and windows into the gym and other studios as well.  Still it wasn’t cheap, it was 20 euros for one day.  If you really plan to use it a lot they have a special rate of 160 euros for 10 visits (or 140euros for a monthly pass??).The rules are the same in Parisien gyms as everywhere else – be courteous and you’ll find most people are friendly and helpful and more than willing to let you share the equiptment.
There’s something to be said for getting a workout while exploring the city. You can take the stairs at the Eiffel Tower – not to the very top but to 2em etage, which is a pretty tough workout, especially if you RUN the stairs.  I chose a slightly rainy day so there were not a lot of people to dodge on the way up, but watch out because the iron stairs can get slippery.
If cycling is your thing… there are a number of options.  There are a number of bicycle rental shops across Paris, but by far the best option is the Velib system. Run by the city, there are bike racks all over the city.  It costs 1euro for the first half hour, 1euro for the second half hour and 2 euros for each half hour after that.  BUT if you pick up and drop off your bike within 30 minutes you don’t have to pay that second half hour… you can simply grab another bike and ride off.  You can ride all day for 1 euro if you hopscotch between Velib racks every half hour.  Just plug in your location info on the website and they’ll tell you where the closest Velib bike rack is located.
Another option is to take the Big Fat Bike Tour of some of the Parisien historic sites.  There are numerous options, but the most popular are the Day and Night Tours. Other options are Versailles, DDay Beaches Tour, Wine Tasting and a Monet Tour.   
It’s easy to hook up with them. For the day tour, everyone meets up at the Eiffel Tower South Leg (Pilier Sud) at 11am, and they escort you over to the nearby office to pickup your bike and last minute instructions. The ride is awesome. It’s 10.5km and takes you around all the hotspots: Eiffel Tower, Napoleon’s Tomb, The Louvre, Tuilieries Gardens, Ecole Militaire, Les Invalides, Alexander III bridge, and a lot more… learning about the history of the city and the role that these manmade structures played.  
The 3 or 4 guides I met all had great personalities.   Our guide Devin is originally from California but spent some time in Paris as a boy and decided to come back after University. Despite degrees in engineering, he was having a great time as a bike tour guide through Paris. 
The ride will go on – rain or shine- so be prepared.  The day I went, it was raining lightly… until it started to pour!  Luckily it was fairly warm so it was more fun than a challenge. 
Of course you don’t really have a lot of control over the group of people you are with, I got very lucky and had an amazing group.  And you never know who you’ll meet.  Actress Stana Katic from the TV show Castle was along for the ride, trying to look inconspicious. 
Oh and one more thing… as romantic as it may look from a distance, a jog along the Seine is not the best idea. At least not along the cobblestoned banks around the Ile de la Cite.  The pounding on your knees and back are not worth it.  Best to run along the sidewalks that also wind their way along the Seine, but will save your joints for another Parisien adventure.
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