A huge help in dealing with big city stress and keeping in shape can be finding a gym you like. Luckily, Brussels has a rich offering of places to choose from so that you can work out the way that suits you best, whether that’s finding inner peace in a yoga studio or sweating it out in an aerobics class dressed as Santa.
Work hard but relax just as hard afterward at Brussels’ luxurious Aspria venues where they combine state-of-the-art fitness equipment with an urban wellness oasis. After following the workout program carefully set up by a personal trainer, you can soak your tired muscles in a bubble bath or treat them to a tender massage. The adults-only branch on the chic Avenue Louise is your best bet at making a new international workout buddy; the Arts-Loi location has a crèche and classes specifically for young families, and playing tennis at the Royal La Rasante complex in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert can feel like you’ve taken a trip to the countryside.
Another very child-friendly place is David Lloyd Leisure, a sprawling venue nestled on the grounds of a grand château. David Lloyd includes indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a fitness center, and a spa. After you’ve put in the work, you can watch the swimmers glide through the water as you lounge on the adjacent sunny terrace sipping a cocktail and enjoying lunch. David Lloyd, with its business hub, café, and regular social events, has clearly been designed to be a home away from home.
The quirkiest sports organization in the capital, Friskis & Svettis (meaning ‘healthy and sweaty’ in Swedish) has flown over from Sweden to put the fun back in fitness. Simple logic fuels every one of the over 30 weekly classes that the non-profit organizes: if you enjoy yourself while working out, you’ll want to do it again and again – hence, themed workouts like the upcoming Christmas Mega Session with an added costume competition. For those on the fence, all of Friskis’ exercise sessions are given by professional instructors, preferably to music, often outdoors, and always in a boisterous spirit. Your first try-out lesson is free of charge.
CrossFit Power Factory sounds like a home for hardcore fitness beasts, but while the coaches do encourage you to dig deep, the American-born program is always adapted to your specific needs. High-intensity group classes will have you jumping from exercise to exercise, doing every move under the sun until you and your compatriots are left exhausted but ultimately very proud. You might want to try it out with friends since there’s no bonding experience quite like surviving an hour-long CrossFit session together.
A beloved and established Brussels studio, The Yoga Loft was one of the first to start teaching the intense Ashtanga style in the capital ten years ago. The founder’s, Barbara, intention has always been to keep classes intimate and to go beyond the boundaries of simple exercise, goals the organization still holds dear even now that it has grown to encompass many more teachers. The Loft’s expansion also means that no matter what your age or experience level, you’re sure to find a class tailored to your needs (including prenatal and postnatal sessions for young moms). On a beautiful day, Barbara and other teachers have been known to take their pupils out to the Cinquantenaire Park for yoga in the fresh air.
Penny-pinching Brusselaars who don’t aim to spend their life at the gym but still want access to great equipment (with built-in televisions) and group classes will want to try Jims Fitness. While the showers and locker rooms may be a bit small, the multiple venues, jovial staff, and lowest prices in town more than make up for the slight inconvenience. Just make sure to sign up for the popular Zumba classes in time because they fill up quickly.
In the neighborhood Ixelles, wellness equals Serendip. Nestled on the buzzing Place Stéphanie, the established center manages to be a small oasis of tranquility where many busy Brusselaarsseek a short getaway from hectic city life. Part of the escape happens at Serendip’s intimate yoga studio, where sunlight streams in through a wall-high window. When feeling overwhelmed and in need of a treat for your body and mind, their convenient drop-in policy makes sure you can leave your stress at the door whenever you need it the most. Schedules and bookings can be checked easily on the center’s new app.
Located a bit out of the center of town in Schaerbeek and Molenbeek, Stadium is determined to fulfill every Brusselaar’s sporting need. Besides the typical indoor pool and obligatory roads of treadmills looking out onto the road below, Stadium has badminton courts, squash rooms, a large spinning room, a climbing wall, and a sauna. Prices are a tad high but still reasonable for the abundance of sporty choices lying at your feet.