Friday, March 21, 2014

Working Out in Stockholm

I knew that one of the first things I would need to find when we moved to Stockholm was a gym.  For the first five weeks we lived in an extended stay hotel that had a small workout room in the basement.  It was perfect.  They had three cardio machines: a treadmill, a bike and an elliptical.  They also had free weights, an exercise ball and an exercise mat.  There was also a TV in the room that I could watch while I worked out.  I worked out about four days a week and only once during those five weeks was there someone else in the workout room with me.  It was the perfect set up since it was in the building where we lived and it was free.

The closer we were to finding an apartment the more I started looking at gyms.  I've belonged to a gym before but for the past 3 years I had been working out at home using my treadmill and workout DVDs.  I was excited to start working out at a gym again and I was hopeful that I could meet some people through classes or just while working out.

The most popular gym in Stockholm is called SATS.  They have several gyms throughout the city.  They have different plans where you can belong to just one gym, two gyms or there is a plan where you can have access to all of the gyms.  The price ranges from $70 a month for access to just one or two centers during the daytime only (you can't be there past 4:00 pm) to $92 a month for access to all of the SATS centers at any time during the day.  I toured one of their centers and I enjoyed it but I had to sign a one year contract and I just wasn't sure I wanted to spend that much money each month on a gym membership.

There were a few other popular gyms in Stockholm that I looked into including: Friskis & Svettis, Fitness 24 Seven, and Puls and Träning.  I didn't visit a Puls and Träning center because there weren't any locations that were convenient.  I looked at Friskis & Svettis and Fitness 24 Seven.  I liked both of them and they had better prices than SATS.  I ended up picking Fitness 24 Seven because they had better locations for what I needed.

Fitness 24 Seven has two different monthly plans.  You can sign up for a daytime only plan where you can work out from 6 am to 4 pm or you can choose the regular plan where you can work out at any hour.  I started doing the regular plan because I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish my workouts by 4 pm but after a few months I decided to change to the daytime plan.  But once I started subbing I wasn't able to always be done by 4 so I switched back.  It is a good thing they are flexible :).

The regular plan is $30 a month and the daytime plan is only $15 a month.  Other than cell phone plans this is the one other thing that we've found to be cheaper in Stockholm than in the United States.  It would be very hard to find a gym in the US where I can go to any of their centers at anytime during the day for $30 a month.

So far I really like the gym.  There is a women's only gym at the center I go to and it is great.  Women can still use the main gym or they can use the women's only part.  In the women's gym they have 4 treadmills, 3 elliptical and 3 bikes.  They also have free weights, kettle bells, weight machines, mats and exercise balls.  I almost always work out in the women's gym.  The main reason . . . it doesn't smell like sweaty boys.  Wow.  I forgot what gyms smell like and I am so thankful for the women's gym.  There have been a few times that all the treadmills are taken and then I'll use one in the main gym but that area typically doesn't smell as bad as the weights area does.  Thankfully I have never been desperate enough to use the free weight area with the stinky boys :).

It realized right off the bat that the hand weights were in kilograms but it took me a few times before I realized the weight machines were also in kilograms (to  my credit the units were labeled).  I couldn't figure out why I was only able to lift about half of what I used to be able to lift and then I figure it out :).  It is a good thing I enjoy math since I have to convert kilograms to pounds when I lift and kilometers per hour to miles per hour when I run.
When you get to the gym you have to take off your outside shoes before you cross a certain point.  They have shoe racks where you can leave your shoes or you can put on some sweet blue shoe covers to walk to the locker room.  I always put on the shoe covers.  I don't want to walk in socks through the gym and I get paranoid about people taking my shoes if I leave them on the racks.

After I put on the shoe covers I swipe my card at the counter and then again to get into the locker room.  The locker room is pretty small compared to other gyms I've belonged to.  There are about 25-30 lockers, one bathroom, a sink with a mirror, a hair dryer and a shower area with three showers.  I always change once I get there if I've been volunteering or subbing that day.  If I go to the gym on a day off I usually wear my workout top but change into shorts once I get to the gym.

After I change I head to the women's only gym.  An interesting side note about workout apparel.  All of the girls wear tight, black running pants to workout in.  Well almost all of them, except for me.  (Have the workout clothes in US gyms changed to tight, black running pants without me realizing?  I know I wasn't the only one in shorts when I used to work out at the Y.)  For a while I was the only girl I ever saw in shorts.  In the last five months I've seen two other girls in shorts besides me.  I just don't understand.  How can you sweat in tight pants and not be instantly annoyed?  I'm annoyed just thinking about it.  I feel like I get strange looks but I just can't bring myself to wear long pants while I workout.  I got some running pants when I was home at Christmas.  I've worn them under my snow pants when I was cross country skiing and when I went alpine skiing but if I am inside I cannot imagine wearing them.  I have also noticed that girls wear their tight, black workout pants all the time here, not just when they are working out.  I used to think everyone must just be working out all the time but then I realized they were wearing cute tops with their workout pants and running shoes.  Now I think they are trying to start a new fashion statement to wear workout pants with tennis shoes and then a cute top.  I don't get it.
One day I forgot to pack my shorts.  I thought about not working out but then decided I could power through.  I lasted about 30 seconds into my workout before I rolled up my pants.  #IGotMoreStrangeLooksThanWhenIWearShorts
I typically work out four times a week.  I usually run two days and do a combination of weights and cardio the other two days.  I really like the Nike Training Center app and I use that a lot on my non running days.  I've also found a few other apps to help mix up my weight training.
Nike Training Center app.  If you haven't tried it you should download it and give it a try!  It is free and I've really enjoyed it.
I work out for about 30-45 minutes.  After I finish stretching, I head back to the locker room. I put on loose workout pants, because going home in my shorts would be a bit too chilly most of the time, and change back into my outside shoes before heading home.  I've thought about showering at the gym but there is only a single curtain separating the showers from the changing area.  There are three shower heads separated by a wall but there isn't a curtain to close for each shower.  This modest girl can't get over the thought of showering when others might see :) so I go home in my sweaty workout clothes and shower once I get home.

For the most part I've enjoyed belonging to a gym again.  I like having access to machines that I haven't been able to use in a while since I had been working out at home.  I also enjoy learning new exercises from watching other people work out and it helps me push myself to try new things.  I don't enjoy how much extra time it takes up.  I miss being able to change at home, workout and then shower right after without traveling to and from the gym.  I also miss being able to watch whatever show I'd like to while I run to help take my mind off of running.  There is a TV in the gym but most of the time it a Swedish program and I'm not very good at lip reading Swedish yet :).  My whole workout routine now takes about an hour and half including traveling to and from the gym plus the workout.  I was also hoping to meet some new friends in a workout class or just at the gym if I start seeing people consistently but that hasn't happened.  The classes are later than I want to work out and no one makes small talk here but at least a good workout makes me feel less guilty about eating chocolate :).

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