Living abroad, although amazing, poses its fair share of challenges. The amazing food, booze and fiestas keep us youthful inside, but don’t half make us pile on the pounds. If you’re anything like me, being active is an essential part of everyday life, and you struggle to stick to just one activity.

During my time in Madrid, I participated in a range of activities. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a personal trainer, I am just an average 22-year-old trying to live my best life (I know… cringe). So, for those of you looking for some inspiration abroad or just wanting to shift a few pounds, here are some quick ideas to keep fit and fabulous whilst making the most of your time abroad.

The Dreaded Gym

I mean, if you can't beat it, why fight it? It's undeniable that the gym is the holy grail of fitness results. It's not for everyone, but no one should be put off it by anything. In Madrid there is a great range of gyms that provide year long contracts, if you're sure and dedicated enough, or short term contracts if you're just there for the short term.


Obviously contracts depend gym to gym and location willing. If you're unsure about what you want from your gym why not check out Gym Pass? Active in the Madrid area, you can pay a monthly subscription which will give you access to a wealth of gyms with a stellar range of facilities. You can tailor your access based on your budget, location and fitness needs.


This might not be everyone’s cup of tea and we can't all be Forrest Gump. Trust me, I need a lot of motivation to get out of my bed for this, but the views are worth it all and more. All it takes is 3 simple steps.

1. Picking the right time:

Running in a city can be really difficult, and unfortunately people traffic makes a fine obstacle. This is why picking the right time is so important. If you live centrally, going early doors is the best option. Personally, I opt for sunrise. There is nothing more beautiful than watching the sun rise to some good music knowing that you are doing something productive.

2. Plan before you set off:

This might sound terribly obvious, but know your limit. It’s really easy to be over enthusiastic and set yourself an epic but torturous route, but if you have work or university after, you can’t leave yourself abandoned in the middle of nowhere. So, if you’re just starting off, start off easy.

Download Map My Run if you haven’t already. It keeps you up to date on your progress as and after you run, helping to create and make the most out of your targets.

3. Running to the beat of your own drum:

If you’re anything like me, music is life. As well as being an additional source of oxygen (joke), it can really help compliment your workout. For me personally, a song that I hate really can affect the way I run. So making a playlist and that you can enjoy and concentrate to is essential.

Can’t be bothered to make your own? Spotify has a great list of premade ones; all you have to do is find the one that’s right for you.


Great routes:

  • El Retiro

The relatively central park is great for anyone who lives centrally.

It also has metro access, so if you have set your sights maybe a little bit too high, don’t worry. You have an alternative way of getting home.

  • Madrid Rio

Although a bit more remote than El Retiro, this is my personal favourite. There's something really refreshing about running alongside a river.

My circuit involved passing the Palacio Real and Madrid Rio at sunrise. It was worth every second, even the tedious hill at the end.


If running isn’t quite for you, and you prefer lower-intensity activities, why not calm it down and go for a hike?

Although Madrid might be an epic, urban centre, it is surrounded by beautiful villages and towns that offer some great walks and amazing landscapes, many of which you can travel for a few euros or at no extra cost with your transport card.

Great places to walk:

  • El Escorial

El Escorial is a lovely little town that makes up part of the Communidad de Madrid. Not only is a it a great get away from the pressures of city life, but it's also got some great walks.

  • Manzanares El Real

Another one that is only a mere bus ride from Madrid is Manzanares el Real. This is my personal favourite, it's one hell of a workout, but also one hell of a day out.

Just outside the village there are some great mountains and walk routes that are sign-posted and easy to follow. The routes are a mixture of both flat and uphill terrain and gives you a good mixture of wildlife.

So pack a picnic, a few beers and be prepared to be amazed.


These boots really were made for walking after all.

Top tip:

If walking is your thing and you keep track of your daily distances then, download Stepz! Stepz lets you track all your steps with an estimate of how many calories you’ve burnt.

Additionally, if you want to keep track of your long walks… Map My Walk can be of assistance. It works the same as Map My Run but with more tools better suited for walking than running.


Other than on foot there are other great to get around and to see the city whilst still burning a few calories. Whether you’re the next Lance Armstrong or just an average Joe, cycling is a great way to soak up those sights.

Madrid is one of the many great European capitals that promotes cyclists. Around the city there is round the clock access to the BiciMadrid service, meaning you can pick a bike up with your card and drop it off in your desired destination. The bikes are not only easy to use, but they're also electronic, so they'll help you get to your destination even faster. For help and advice on how to get up and running with the cards check out:
BICIMAD: One expat's road to public bike rental in Madrid


However, if you're old fashioned and want to put in your own horsepower or even just fancy a good cycle every now and again, Madrid is home to plenty of cycle shops where you rent bikes for a few hours.

Why not try Matadero Madrid by Madrid Rio? Not only is it in a great location, but it's also cheap and easy!

Rollerblading or skating

If you're like me, working out has to be fun. Some people do this with by going to the gym with a buddy or by going to a stimulating exercise class. Me? I like to make a day of it.


If skating is for you and you want to hit the ground skating (literally), then El Retiro is a great place to do it. With smooth pathways and a great skating community, you'll feel right at home. Rent and Roll, idyllically located next to El Retiro, lets you borrow a skateboard or rollerblades for a matter of hours so you can have a fun day out.

Additionally Roller Monkey, right outside Madrid Rio, also rents skates and boards to those looking to cruise their way down the smooth river.

More serious about it? Don't worry Madrid is a great place for skate shops, so you can have your own board in no time.


Speaking of the outdoors, whilst you're in Madrid, you really have to make the most of that weather. Understandably outdoor activities like; cycling, walking and running can be made 100x more difficult than they already are (if it were possible) by hot weather (especially is you're an ill-accustomed Northern European like me).

Don't give up hope yet. Just because Madrid doesn't have a beach nearby, there is still public access to a lot of outdoor pools. So you can burn off the pounds by swimming, splashing and soaking up the sun, and hey... you might even get a tan.

Be warned: In my experience the water in these pools is freezing. So although it may be tempting in the blistering heat, don't find that out for yourself the hard way.


Great public pools:

  • Piscina del Lago de la Casa de Campo

This is easily my favourite pool in Madrid. It's cheap entry, easy to get to and very relaxed. However, for exercise, not as much.

On various occassions I have had to wait a while, and although worth it when you're spending the whole day there and the exercise part is a fun bonus... it's not if that's its sole purpose.

  • Polideportivo Vicente del Bosque

A little bit further out, but a lot better for exercising. The facilities are good and there are 2 pools... yeah 2!

With the great selection of options, beautiful views and no relevant money issues there really is no excuse to get out there and shed the pounds. You can still be fabulous and enjoy the great food, wine and lifestyle that Spain has to offer without paying a heavy price (quite literally). I mean, if I can do it, so can you!

You may also like our previous posts: