People are getting out more, but what's all the racket about?
To make things easier for you we have broken them down into a few areas:
Right away, you may imagine the famous Gold’s Gym or Venice L.A.’s muscle beach… These are the sort of places where you can find some serious body-builders, boxers and athletes. Often the key to their charm is the old fashioned “no frills” approach; it is you and the weights. You… and your body!
Train with sit-ups and pull-ups from hanging bars, medicine balls, jump rope and much more if you are so determined. These places are usually a bit more “low key” than sports clubs, where less advanced equipment and old-school trainers make training feel almost “do or die”. It motivates you in an almost primal way. For people who wish to train for a specific discipline the classic gym is one of the best ways to get quick results. There’s no messin’ around in most classic gyms!
They are pretty hard to miss; on nearly every major street in the city, you will find a sports club. Usually marked by very large glass windows showing off all the latest gadgets that would make a Mac store seem outdated, some sports clubs are like Disneyland for fitness freaks!
Almost a cross between a social club and classic gym, these can be best defined as all-in-one places where you can do cross-training on a myriad choice of machines, terrains, classes and instructors. These places are great options for people who are interested in a variety of disciplines. You can pay one fee per month and be introduced to many sorts of exercise and training.
Rinks (Ice & Roller) & Skateparks
The earth is round. Holland is flat. We love our skating here. So whether you are into the traditional roller skates, inline skating or skateboarding there are plenty of spots to hit. Many “play areas” (see map) have been designed with young skaters in mind. You will find anything from small ramps and flyways made from concrete to 4 meter stainless steel halfpipes; right in the middle of the Museumplein no less. Besides monster pipes, walls, bowls and pools, you will also find lots of great smooth tracks in/and around the city.
Don’t forget the Friday Night Skates which are organised every summer and consist of up to a couple thousand (on warm nights) skaters who (with the aid of traffic guards) stop traffic as they cruise a large portion of the city, starting in the Vondel Park. There are a couple disco clubs that double as roller skate clubs on some nights, when they become proper roller-discos… It can be a great way to get exercise, while dancing and socialising the night away! All you need is a purple sequined bodysuit and a giant gold medallion and you could be the next Dutch Roller King. If you like ice, then you’re in the right place! We got plenty of it here, both inside and outside.
The Netherlands has some of the best outdoor rinks in the world: especially when the canals freeze! From classic (nearly historical) epic races like the Elfstedentocht, where long distance skaters battle themselves and the elements in an 11 city tour over the northern waterways, to the huge Jaap Edenbaan ice rink just outside of Amsterdam, there are places to get your blades out.
Pools & Waterparks
In the Netherlands, we have a lot of public pools. In most countries they are outdoors but in Holland the idea of outdoor pools seems a little silly when you realize that the there are so few warm days… even in the summer! If the thought of hundreds of screaming kids flailing around in a giant public pool puts you off, look for the adult swimming hours that many pools offer or you may opt for a more exclusive pool that doesn’t allow kids at all.
Spas, saunas, whirlpools and Jacuzzi’s can be a tempting bonus for those who wish to soak or sweat some stress away. Places like Duinrell near Den Haag have some seriously cool waterslides and a Tiki bath but there are also some smaller waterslides in the camping and family spots.
Tracks, Fields, Greens, Diamonds, Ovals & Outdoor Courts
With all the flat space around us, you can be certain that Holland has more than its fair share of these outdoor sporting spaces! Besides the famous Olympic stadium in the south of the city, there are hundreds of track and field spots to train in. There are all sorts of full size football pitches (of artificial and natural grass) and hockey fields. We also have the occasional baseball diamond and cricket oval or lawn bowling/bocce ball lanes; as a matter of fact, we have a few rugby pitches and even polo fields here in the cultural capital! Of course there are nearly a thousand small outdoor football, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts that are available to use for free… if you can find them!
Sports Halls [Sport Zalen]
When it rains a lot, you need to have some indoor places as a “sports haven”. Sport Zalen are just the place to play a pick-up game of volleyball, korfbal (a form of netball played by the Dutch), basketball and of course football. Some sports halls offer racket sports like squash, racquetball and tennis too. Very few are open to the public, as the majority require a membership fee. Most are willing however, to let you have a trial hour or two to test out the facilities before committing to a contract. (Make sure you see the article about finding a good gym.)
Dance Studios & Dancehalls
If you want to learn ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, salsa, etc. you can train in a dance studio. You will find proper floors, mirrored walls, proper hand grips, music libraries, changing rooms (possibly even showers) and competent staff. By taking an intensive course in dance, you can be assured of a good workout and a sense of accomplishment that comes with mastering moves and sequences. Lately, there has been a trend in combining different dance styles with more of an exercise regime; aerial dance & fitness is a good example.
There are cultural fusion disciplines like Zumba, hip-hop/breakdance and even belly dancing or pole dancing classes for fitness and fun with a social twist! Country square dancing and line dancing may be your cup of tea, if you prefer more rigid dance steps done in a uniform group setting. There are also a few places where you can gather to dance in a more social setting like dancehalls. The emphasis is placed on having fun, meeting people and getting exercise. The sound-systems are important as is the atmosphere. Often there is a bar and some rooms to lounge around and chat.
Golf & Country Clubs
In recent years, golf and country clubs have seen in increase in membership. There are also a few new entries into the market in locations between major communities. Unlike the typical country clubs from the U.S. or England, many of the Dutch versions focus on golf and tennis. Swimming pools and horse riding is an occasional bonus.
Bike Tracks & Velodromes
What the heck is a “velodrome” you may ask? Well, if we weren’t in bike-crazy Holland, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about them! Velodromes are circular bicycle tracks that allow riders to pick up some serious speeds on a nearly vertical wall. There are a few awe-inspiring tracks located around the country. Besides the indoor sort, there are also many dirt tracks around. Some are for BMX and some are for motorbikes. We prefer the BMX sort as you are forced to power the vehicle; keeping it green!
Entertainment / Fun Centers
You don’t always have to be hitting the gym to have some a bit of the Good Life. There are plenty of places to spend some time relaxing, team-building, socializing, competing with friends and having fun! Bowling, Go-Karting, Paintball and Lasertag are all available within the city limits. Believe it or not, these activities can do wonders for your spirit, allowing you to experience an adrenaline rush and sense of euphoria through the excitement!
For some activities, you need special equipment or settings. If you are interested in gymnastics, you will find the right apparatus at a [turnen] gymnastics school. Otherwise you will be forced to practise the balance beam on your nearest curb. Interested in horses? You’d be shocked to find out one of the oldest stables [maneges] in Europe is located in Amsterdam. Amidst the busy city you can actually go for a ride in the adjacent Vondel Park. There are also the occasional “thrill rides” like bungee jumping, abseiling, zip-lining [tokkelen], and ropes courses. These adrenaline sports tend to get your synapses shooting, accompanied by large doses of dopamine; they can be quite addicting, once you get both legs over the edge! In the Netherlands, it is a bit difficult to go downhill skiing or rock climbing in nature… however Mother Nature doesn’t hold back Dutch progress: we’ve got indoor snow hills and climbing walls.