Keeping fit in Groningen

Okay, I’ve been rather lax in updating this blog as of late, so, as a result, you are now in for a bumper edition of three blog posts. There’s this one, on the facilities Groningen has to offer for those of a sporting persuasion (or anyone who enjoys the odd hour of dancing, yoga, tennis, badminton and more). Then I will be giving the lowdown on some of my travels in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. And finally, a bit of a catch-up on what I’ve been up to in Groningen as of late!

Anyway, let us commence the scheduled programming. Sports.

Are you, aspiring exchange student, one of the many of us for whom the thought of exercise is inevitably linked with a vague shudder and semi-concious lies of ‘I’ll go for a run/play frizbee/scale Everest tomorrow‘? Ah, dear reader, I know your plight and, luckily for the both of us, a year in Groningen may well put an end to it.

First things first. ACLO. What the acronym stands for is beyond my (and Google’s) knowledge, but all you need to know is that it is the sports organisation for both the University of Groningen and The Hanze, with millions of sports all under one roof (well, not millions, but if Toys R Us can get away with the overexaggeration then so can I  ).  For €36 euro a semster (and only€10 more for the whole year) you can take part in a host of free, hour long sports classes of football, zumba (it’s the latest craze you know), yoga, various fitness type classes, swimming and more. You can also book courts in advance and play tennis or badminton free of charge.

What’s particularly great, is that if you’re living in a student house then it’s pretty much impossible to avoid doing some sports at ACLO. It’s more than likely, on any given day, that at least one friend will be heading there to do something, and you’d have to be a sincerely dedicated sports-shirker to not eventually cave-in to curiosity and join in. And as the classes are generally fun, and the people that take them motivating, you may well find that once you pop, you can’t stop.

If you’re organised enough to register on time (I’m not) then you can also take part in classes that need enrolment, and learn anything from Kickboxing (this comes highly recommended from friends) to Ballroom Dancing. And, if the open hours of excercise aren’t enough for you, then you can use the ACLO gym, although you have to pay an extra enrolment fee on top of basic ACLO membership (but, according to gym-going friends, it’s very cheap compared to gyms in the UK, Canada, Australia, etc…). So, if you’re the kind of person that watched Eddie Izzard : Marathon Man and wondered why he couldn’t have fit a couple of dozen extra miles in, then gym membership may well be worth your while.

As for me, mere sporting grasshopper that I am, the basic ACLO membership offers everything I could want (sports-wise), and has managed the seemingly impossible task of converting me to the merits of excercise. So, I applaud you ACLO. Well done indeed.

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