For most people, finding a gym and working out in Paris rank pretty far down on their list of priorities, right below urinating in public (maybe?). Since you’re reading this blog though, I can safely assume you care about your state of swole and getting access to a gym that at least has dumbbells and a squat rack. Well, I have braved the swole frontiers and come bearing some good news:
15 reviews of CMG Sports Club 'Equipment is OK but usually inadequate for the number of people working out. Cleaning staff tries very hard to keep facility clean, but with such over-use that is very hard. Locker room maintenance is not good - showers corroded and the men's hammam has been non-functional for months with no notice of when it will be repaired.' See 3 tips from 199 visitors to CMG Sports Club One Vaugirard. 'Sauna after your work out will make you feel relaxed and nice! See 3 tips from 199 visitors to CMG Sports Club One Vaugirard. 'Sauna after your work out will make you feel relaxed and nice!
You can strength train or get into a variety of fitness activities in Paris. Here’s what I learned from my one-month stay in this cigarette smoke-filled city.
Fitness in Paris
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Foofoo health and fitness are relatively new concepts in Paris, based on the smattering of vegan restaurants and gluten-free or generally quasi-healthier options. I heard from friends that this health movement only cropped up in the last couple of years, so fitness is still in its nascent stages.
I had packed my own suspension trainers in my go bag just in case and jokingly asked in a Tweet, “Do Parisians even lift?” Not surprisingly, I got crickets.
But the truth is, they do…sometimes a little bit, but it’s very evidently a luxury. Take, for instance, the famous Ken Club near the Eiffel Tower. For 290 euro a day, you can have access to what is basically a ritzy spa with gym equipment. And if you like it enough, you’ll need to cough up 3,000 euro with a 1,000 euro sign-up fee for the year. That’s on one extreme end; on the other, you can find outdoor fitness parks that are free for you to use (more on that below). Then there are gym chains and little boutique gyms in-between.
Gyms in Paris
If you’re a no-frills kind of gym-goer, you wouldn’t care for Ken Club or Club Med Gyms. Larger gym chains, such as CMG Sports Club, Fitness Park, and Les Cercles de la Forme will be okay and have more than a dozen locations sprinkled all around Paris. The good news is, they have weightlifting equipment. The bad news is–okay, let’s just have these numbers speak for themselves:
- Daily pass: 30 euro
- One-week pass: 65 euro
- Two-week pass: 95 euro
- One-month pass: 105 euro (20 + 85 euro sign-up fee)
These are the prices I got when I visited Les Cercles de la Forme. The daily rate was the same at CMG. If you’re ready to pony up this kind of cash, there’s a bit of a quandary: Most seem to require you to have a French bank account to register and pay for your membership. As a visiting foreigner, that means we would be limited to the daily, one-, or two-week pass.
As chance would have it, though, Les Cercles let me sign up without a French bank account. I explained to the only English-speaking person there that I only wanted to use the weight room and would come in during daytime hours. Apparently, like Japan, they have separate price points depending on criteria like what time you’ll use the gym and whether you will use the group classes. Pro-tip: Daytime memberships are cheaper.
In any case, this was the deal they cut me: Monthly membership for daytime use (between the hours of 7a.m. to 11a.m. and 2p.m. to 5p.m.) and access to the weight room cost about 20 euro. It’s a sweet-ass deal, but the catch was that I had to pay a sign-up fee of 85 euro, bringing my one-month total to 105 euro. If I had stayed longer than a month, this would’ve been a reasonable deal.
Unlike in the United States, where you can negotiate your rates or at least kick down the initiation/sign-up fee, my attempts at negotiation were very quickly shot down. I assumed with the language barrier and difference in culture that it was pretty garish and ballsy of me to even try. I think it’s still worth asking to see if they can knock down the initiation fee, especially if you can get someone else to sign up with you.
So, what are other options here?
Reebok CrossFit Louvre
If you’re a CrossFitter or are desperate for Olympic lifting, there’s Reebok CrossFit Louvre by—you guessed it—the Louvre. They’re one of the few CrossFit boxes around town. I never went, but I was told you can try out classes. You can find more information here.
- Cost: You have to reserve a spot and the exact costs aren’t revealed until then.
- Location: Near the Louvre
- What you get: WODs, typical CrossFit Box equipment, camaraderie
This place offers CrossFit, obstacle race-type training (a.k.a. OCR), running, and yoga. The space itself is a typical CrossFit box but with obstacle courses for the OCR classes. They seem to offer a free trial period, too.
- Cost: Through Gympass.com, you can get a day pass for 17 euro, a 10-day pass that’s 15 euro per visit, or a month for 150 euro.
- Location: In the 11th arrondisement
- What you get: WODs, typical CrossFit Box equipment, camaraderie
If you’re into spinning, Dynamo is a popular option. Check out this full list of gyms broken down by arrondisement (as subsections in Paris are called) and neighborhoods.
Gym Etiquette in Paris
The Les Cercles branch I’d regularly visited was particularly cramped and dimly lit, but the facilities were clean, the equipment worked well enough, and my fellow lifters were all older dudes who avoided the squat rack–a huge perk for me! From what I gathered though, there were a few things to note:
- If you need to lock up your belongings in the lockers, bring your own lock. A simple one is all you need.
- Bring your own bathroom towel for personal use in the locker room, but also to use as a shield for the equipment from your gross, sweaty body. For example, if you’re going to use the bench, you’d better have lain down a towel first. The French are very particular about that.
- Put everything back as you found it. Otherwise, some dude named Michele will interrupt you in the middle of your set to tell you to put away the barbell. (This seriously happened, except his name might not have been Michele.)
Gym etiquette varies slightly from gym to gym, country to country, but the universal rules of being courteous, wiping down your equipment, and using deodorant all still apply here.
Free or Cheap Fitness in Paris
If you can’t justify paying that much for a gym, I don’t blame you. There are certainly cheaper or free alternatives.
In my time here, I came across two outdoor fitness “zones,” as I’ll call them. They’re actually really neat. One is located here by the mini Statue of Liberty replica. You have to head down the stairs to the area under the bridge, where you can find a bunch of rock climbing walls and outdoor fitness equipment, including pull-up bars and a nice set of monkey bars.
The other fitness zone is along one side of river Seine.
There are nine stations, each designed to make you do specific exercises and is separated by a hundred of meters or so. If you actually took the time to run through each station, you could definitely get a great circuit training-type workout. If you have suspension trainers with you, this is the perfect place to set up.
As a workout idea, start at the first station, follow the station’s fitness directions (which includes pull-ups and things like that), and sprint to the next, giving yourself as little rest as possible. Repeat for a few rounds.
Also, bring a water bottle. You’ll find water stations located throughout if you need.
Obviously, you can just run, which I highly recommend doing in Paris to appreciate the sights if nothing else. Running along the river Seine in the evening is one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life, ruined only by the need to sidestep dog shit on the sidewalk every couple of steps. If you’re keen on running with headphones, be extra mindful about crossing the street, as many drivers make it seem like a red light is actually French for “screw this pedestrian.”
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I also happened to be in Paris when the Nike We Run 10k race took place one weekend. I tried to sign up for it at the very last minute, but no luck. It was followed by the 20K Paris marathon the following weekend, which was also sold out.
If want to run a race in or around Paris, there are always races going on. Just note that you will need to have a doctor’s note proving that you are healthy enough to participate. If you don’t already have a doctor back home who can hook you up, it likely isn’t worth the hassle to find a doctor here who will take your insurance and tack on medical fees to your race registration. Just something to keep in mind.
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Public Tennis Courts and Swimming Pools
Myriad public tennis courts are available only through a prior reservation, up to a week in advance. You have to pay to use the court, the price of which varies depending on if it’s an indoor or outdoor court and how long you plan to play.
For the swimming pools, you can check out how and where to access them here. One interesting to note is that the swimming pools require you to wear a swimming cap and Speedos (for the dudes). If you don’t have them, you can buy them there from vending machines.
You don’t have to be a Paris resident to use these amenities. You just need the cash money.
Cover photo by Karen Hong Photography.
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Looking for a nice, clean gym in Paris or interested in a crossfit or boxing class? Here is our shortlist of the best gyms in Paris right now. Many gyms offer a free session (seance) so were include these as and when offered. Note that as a result of the pandemic, while all gyms have reopened they are limiting the number of people.
1) CMG (CLUB MED GYMS)
CMG (Club Med Gym) has the biggest network across greater Paris with a total of 21 clubs! Most of their clubs are big and offer all the standard offerings plus a bunch of extras like swimming pools and racket or squash courts. They are one of the oldest gyms in Paris and so have renovated many of their clubs including the one by the Champs Elysees, which we recommend. And the best part about CMG? They offer a free session, so sign up below!
L’Usine is an upscale gym so not very economical for someone seeking a cheap option however this is well worth it if you are a gym addict and plan to spend a lot of time working out. There are three clubs in Paris: one in Opera, one by the Saint Lazare train station, and another in the Marais-Beaubourg. Besides incredible facilities they offer all kinds of classes and other amentities such as massages. Yes, it’s posh but you get what you pay for – and 119 euros per month is a great deal for Paris!
Healthcity has 6 modern and spacious gyms in greater Paris. They aren’t uber hip like L’Usine but they get the gym done. There is one in St Germain in the 17th by Ternes, another in the 8th by the Champs Elysees, another in the 7th by the Eiffel tower, 16th, and then another in Boulogne. Each gym is clean, comfortable and have modern equipment – including a fully stacked weight room so if you’re looking for a solid, standard gym then look no further than Healthcity. It costs 86 euros per month but you can also take advantage of a free trial offered via Ma Salle de Sport. Click on link below for your free day pass! The site is in French so just click on ‘essai gratuit’ and enter first name (prenom), sur/last name (nom), your email address and mobile number (portable).
4) L’APART FITNESS
L’Apart is a new kid on the block but growing fast thanks to its franchise model and low prices. A day pass is only 9 euros and monthly passes start at 20 euros! There are currently 4 in Paris and each are pretty basic with machines, weights and all the standard things you’d expect from a gym. Not massive but clean and friendly. They also offer all kinds of classes throughout the day like Yoga, Pilates, HIIT, Zumba, body sculpt which we found to be simple but satisfying. We recommend their Bastille and Charlety (13th arrondissement) locations.
1) CROSSFIT ORIGINAL ADDICTS
Located in the Bastille area Crossfit Original Addicts (COA) is a cool gym focused on cross fit. COA is designed to be very sociable and fun so newbies will fit right in. If you’re not familiar with how a cross fit class works, the class is basically led by a few instructors and combines weight training with cardio to ensure you get an intense, complete workout in a short space of time. They offer free sessions so just sign up via link below:
R2 is the main rival of Cross Fit Original Addicts and offer a very similar cross fit experience. Their main site is in the Bastille but they also have one in Perreire in the west of Paris and another in Vendome. Some say R2 is more intense than COA but it really varies on instructor and class. One thing for sure is that they use all kinds of strange contraptions, pulls, balls, etc so they take cross fit to a whole new level with their creativity. So if you enjoy cross fit using all kinds of pullies and objects to get fit then head over to R2.
R2 also offers a free session so just sign up via link below.
COMBAT FOCUSED GYMS
1) LA SALLE BOXING CLUB
La Salle is a friendly boxing club in Batignolles (17th), which is open to all levels and offers many different types of boxing: French, English, Thai boxing + Cross fit + Weight training + MMA. The founder, Karim Aliouane, is the life and soul of this place, and he works hard to train members in self defense and basic boxing. It’s a great space to learn or improve your skills, and you can either do a 1 on 1 session or join a group class. The first session is only 15 euros (normally 30 euros), or you can pay 200 a month which is not cheap, however you are guaranteed to get ripped as these guys are INTENSE!
Note that in France you will need a recent doctor’s note to prove you are healthy enough for rigorous training!
2) TEMPLE NOBLE ART
Temple Noble Art is both an upscale gym and boxing club. They have three locations in Paris: one in Porte Maillot in the west of Paris, the other central near the Louvres in Moliere and a another near Oberkampf metro. If you’re not into boxing, you can simply work out and enjoy their nice facilities. But if you’re into either serious boxing or boxing fitness, then try one of their awesome training sessions. Their instructors are excellent and several top boxers and MMA athletes like French MMA champion Tom ‘Firekid’ Duquesnoy teach classes. One on one sessions cost 75 euros otherwise you can pay 145 per month so not ideal for a one off but a great option if you plan to be in Paris longer.
3) BATTLING CLUB
There are two in Paris, one in Canal St Martin and the other in the 17th (west) of Paris. This is a serious boxing/fighting club where aspiring MMA fighters and boxers train. That said, like Temple and La Salle, it’s open to all levels and they have affordable rates. You can take English or French (Savate) boxing or a Crossfit class for only 15 euros! Otherwise it will cost you 120 euros per month.
4) MMA FACTORY
Like Battling Club, MMA Factory is for serious fighters. They are located in the 12th of Paris and as in the name, many of the gym goers train for MMA fights hence this is more MMA focused than boxing but this shouldn’t discourage amateurs who just want to train hard and get ripped. MMA training will push you to your limits so this isn’t for the faint hearted. Click below for a free session.
Kiwill is a cool, spacious and modern fitness club focused on spinning (indoor cycling). There are two in Paris: one in La Defense and the original in Republique. They focus exclusively on spinning classes and if you haven’t tried spinning it’s truly a great way to get fit, especially if you love working out to great music. They also have impeccable facilities with nice showers so you don’t have to worry leaving all sweaty.
Kiwill no longer offers a free session but you can take a class for only 10 euros!
Best gyms and fitness classes, you can also keep fit by taking rock climbing or parkour class. There are in fact many outdoor activities you can do in Paris- you just need to know where to go!
If you’re up to something more relaxed like billiards (pool/snooker) or bowling we also have some great suggestions for you.
Finally, if you’re looking for anall city pass, get the Paris Passlib!You can pick either 2, 3 or 5 days and get access to hop on/off bus + 50 museums + public transport + 1 hour cruise on the river! It costs 119 euros (140 USD) for a 2 day pass.
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