Sports are for everyone, no matter where you're form. The French couple lifting weights in the corner, the Dutch woman on the treadmill and the elderly Iranian man in the Zumba class — a melting pot of different cultures and languages makes it crystal-clear that everyone is welcome in Hamburg's many gyms. And staying in shape even has great side-effects beyond improving health — sweating together can be a great way to meet new people, Germans and fellow foreigners alike.
In order to get an overview of the most popular gyms in Hamburg, there are a few things you should know. Most important among them is that you’ll be hard-pressed to work out at a German Gymnasium — the word means 'grammar school' or 'high school'. Rather, you should be on the lookout for a 'Fitness Studio'!
Choosing a gym
Choosing from such a wide range of very different fitness studios can be hard. But there are some criteria to go by. True gym rats will assure you that the closer you live to your gym of choice, the more often you’ll actually go. Avoid reasons for staying on your couch and look in your immediate area. Also, temporary residents of Hamburg should keep in mind that they must usually sign half-year or one-year contract, and that these are extended automatically. Read contracts carefully before signing, especially when it comes to the cheaper gyms. However, most gyms can also be entered at a daily rate. If in doubt, ask people at the gym for details.
Popular gym chains in Germany are McFit, Fitness First and Kieser Training. Registering with one of them means full access to every one of their locations in Germany or even worldwide. All of these chains operate several gyms across the city, just like the Hamburg-based chains Sportspass and Onstage.
The atmosphere is often a little more friendly at one of the smaller gyms. LeFit in Ottensen has affordable rates, whereas the exclusive facilities of Kaifu Lodge in Eimsbüttel or Meridian Spa (see photo) come at a significantly higher price. Elbgym offers high-end fitness centres at three locations in Hamburg. Lady Fitness Center in Altona is women only, while students are well-advised to look for Hochschulsport offers at their university. People who are interested in many different sports can look at Urban Sports Club and sign one contract for dozens of different sports providers.