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Running in Palermo Parks, Buenos Aires

Palermo-Parks-buenos-aires

Staying in decent shape in Buenos Aires is a difficult feat to accomplish once you get to the city.  Everything is red meat this, or ice cream that, and chances are whatever it is it’s covered in cheese (even some of the ice cream).  There are no hills anywhere and the only energy I expend is walking to and from the subway system.  However, everyone in Buenos Aires is in extraordinary shape, despite the seemingly unhealthy lifestyle, and I could not keep up.  I have looked at everything – yoga classes, boxing, climbing gyms, aikido classes, push-ups on my floor – but nothing was enticing enough to get the job done. (Check out our indoor workout blog if you like classes and exercising indoors.) After 100 too many super panchos (hot dogs) and a couple of kilos of helado (ice cream), I had to do something before the walk to the subway became my primary workout.

One day I finally laced up my boots, literally because I didn’t bring anything better than my hiking boots, and over-eagerly pranced out my apartment door.  Looking like a lost tourist from Patagonia I began to run like a headless chicken first to the right and then decided to turn around and go the other way.  Call it divine intervention that I should have changed directions for no apparent reason because I ended up in the expansive Bosques de Palermo, or Palermo parks, with hundreds of other people.

The parks are massive and full of commotion, and I was optimistic that I could run forever.  However, ten minutes later I was as red as all of the malbec I have been drinking, lumbering around in my boots, and sweating litters harder than anyone else; I made that park and everyone in it look good by comparison.  Needing a break from running I came up to a playground set for adults; random bars and benches that people were using to defy gravity.  I did a few pull-ups, some crunches, and then sat on the grass pretending to stretch and looked across the lake.  People were peddling around in those bike-boat contraptions that seem to move way too slowly considering how fast their legs churn the peddles.  The sun was setting, dogs were wagging their tails, people were lounging with family and loved ones, and I forgot about my workout.

After I had taken in enough of the sunset and the commotion around me, I got back on my feet and set off again with all the other walkers, runners, and rollerbladers.  I finished my loop around the lake and headed back towards home knowing that I would easily be able to make this a routine.  Since then I have been running in the parks every other day and utilizing the workout equipment with a little bit more virility.  My overall energy has picked up and I don’t feel as bad consuming copious amounts of helado, red meat, and vino tinto.  For anyone looking for a good distracting place to workout check out Bosques de Palermo and run around either of the three lakes.  Or forget about the running aspect and head to the parks for some relaxing respite from the traffic of the city for a few hours.

For other outdoor exercising ideas, also see How to Stay in Shape in Buenos Aires Part 1: Outdoor Edition.

Alex
vamospanish

The ice-Cream of the Crop in Buenos Aires

rich-ice-cream-in-buenos-airesIce cream does not need an introduction.  I won’t regale you about its history (it was invented in China around 200 BC), or what my favorite flavor is (it’s chocolate).  I won’t even go into how the waffle cone was introduced (at the world’s fair in St. Louis in 1904 a vendor needed help and asked the owner of a nearby waffle store for assistance).  You don’t need to know pointless facts about ice cream, just that it is amazing and you love it.  In fact, if you don’t love ice cream then you possibly don’t love life.  However, if you’re normal and have an affinity for frozen milk then you need to come experience the ice cream in Buenos Aires.

Ice cream in Buenos Aires has become incredibly popular here since its arrival.  It made the journey across the Atlantic during the Italian immigration to Buenos Aires in the early part of the twentieth century.  Since then it has flourished and been adapted by the locals.  Certain flavors and preferences have slowly changed the classic Italian gelato into what it is today in Buenos Aires.  The current consistency falls somewhere in between gelato and hard packed ice cream common in the U.S.  It’s easy to scoop, but doesn’t melt in your mouth like gelato.

Ice cream shops/parlors, or heladerías as they are called here, are dispersed profusely throughout the city and seem to be on every other block.  They have a way of appearing right when you start to think that you need some ice cream.  The large silver vats full of some mouth-watering combination of flavors (usually something containing dulce de leche) will pique your interest and get you in the door.  Once inside, the large billboards full of all the options, most of which are difficult to translate, will make you want to try all of the flavors.  At this juncture you are sanctioned to try as many of the flavors as you please in order to determine which flavor to get.

In accord to enjoying all of the different flavors, this trial process of all of the ice cream flavors is a great must-try-food-buenos-airesway to learn some Spanish vocabulary.  The names of the different flavors are often words that you will not come across in everyday conversation.  Words like amargo, menta granizadaframbuesa, and frutilla will be remembered due to their association with that ice cream you ordered.  Thus, you can view your ice cream eating experience as a form of Spanish language immersion.

When it becomes time to determine where to go to get ice cream here, all of the locals have their opinions about which heladería is the best.  There are so many options, all of which claiming to be the best, that you may find yourself thinking way too hard about where you should go.  Generally you cannot go wrong but in case you would like to know for sure, here are a few recommendations.  There are a wide range of small family-owned stores and renowned big chains.  Persicco and Freddo (both very Italian sounding), 2 of the most prominent ones can be found in many of the neighborhoods.  Either of these stores offer a wide range of flavors of great quality (sometimes they offer cheese flavored ice cream; I have yet to try it but I have heard it is strangely addictive).  Here is a list of places that I have been and recommend or places trusted by like-minded helado connoisseurs have recommended to me:  Cadore (Corrientes 1695), AM Scannapieco (Nazca 5274), Fratello (Coronel Díaz 1521),  Jauja (Cerviño 3901), Arkakaó (Quintana 188 and Santa Fe 1257, Recoleta), Chungo (various), Furchi (Cabildo 1508), Freeport Heladería (12 de Octubre & Añasco, Chacarita), La Comarca (Juramento 2492, Belgrano), Primalatte (Junín 1414, Recoleta).

Alex

Over the Dining Table in Buenos Aires

argentine-dining-customs-buenos airesDining out in Buenos Aires can be the longest thing you do on any given day.  From beginning to end the meals can last up to 4 and a half hours.  Anywhere between 3 and 4 hours is commonplace.  Coming from North America where speed and constant service are expected and valued, the slower pace of the meals here have taken some getting used to but have been amazing.

Many people who visit Buenos Aires will comment about the slow service and how long it can take to get a check.  It should be noted that the waiter is not neglecting you to fulfill some sadistic pleasure of his.  Instead his apparent apathy is rather a form of respect for your space and conversation.  If he was concerned about making the most money for the restaurant he would be shooing you out the door to make room for the next wave of diners.  Instead you are encouraged to stay as long as you please without feeling like you’re overstaying your welcome.

This aloof mentality is different from other places in the world.  For instance, in the U.S. a waiter will interrupt a great conversation to ensure that you are enjoying your meal, he may even have an extended conversation with the table. This is deemed “good service” and if a waiter does not interject at least 3 to 5 times they were negligent and will get a bad tip.  It’s as if people need a guide to get through the meal and make sure that they are on track to finish in the allotted time.  At the end of the meal in the U.S. the check will be given to the customers, they will pay it, and then they will get out of the restaurant.  Bing, bang, boom to make room for the next wave.

In Buenos Aires you will never be given the check or even asked if you were ready for it. Here you will be seated, place your order, your food may or may not come out quickly, your waiter will make sure your drink isn’t empty, and then he will forget that you’re even there.  If you don’t get someone’s attention chances are they would close up the restaurant and walk out the front door without even noticing that you were still sitting at your table.  If you want your check you have to wave your hand like a madman, sign your name with an imaginary pen through the air, perform a secret handshake with your waiter and then he will think about bringing it.  However, before you even ask for the check you should be deep in conversation for at least an hour and a half.

The post meal conversation here is so common and practically mandatory that it has a formal name.  It is called sobremesa which literally translates to “over the table”.  As long as the conversation is flowing all topics are free game.  During this time you will probably drink a few more glasses of wine and maybe break down your entire political analysis and whether or not you like Cristina (the president).  If you want you can take your wine glass outside and smoke a cigarette almost like an intermission from the sobremesa.  To me this period is the best part of the dinner.  You are relaxed from the food, you have a drink in front of you, and you can have long conversations without worrying about the time or what you have to do next.  During your trip to Buenos Aires be prepared to have some long and loquacious dinners.

P.S. It’s probably a good idea to only go to dinner with people you like since you will be with them for a long time.

P.P.S. Even if you go to dinner with people you think you like, four hours at a table with them could prove otherwise…

Alex
vamospanish

Easter Celebrations in Buenos Aires

via-crucis-buenos-aires-easterArgentina as a whole is a very religious country.  According to the CIA Factbook, roughly 92% of all the inhabitants are Catholic.  Although only a fraction of this percentage actively practise their faith, it nevertheless illustrates how popular the idea of religion is here.  That is why the week of Santa, or Holy Week, is celebrated with fervor in the city of Buenos Aires.

One of the biggest processions is the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) that happens on Good Friday, which is a public holiday in Argentina. The procession will start from Plaza Lorea in Congreso.  The 14 Stations of the Cross will be reenacted by actors accompanied with choir and musicians as they move towards along Avenida de Mayo towards Buenos Aires Cathedral. This year’s Via Crucis starts at 8:30 pm and will probably last until around 10 pm.  Particpants are encouraged to bring candles and join from the start or along the way.

The processions during the week are great, and there are many interesting activities to do, but the primary reason that Easter will be such a enjoyment is the routine feast that happens on Easter Sunday.  It is a time for friends and family to gather and have an asado to celebrate the end of lent.  They generally cook more food than everyone could comfortably consume.  People will feast for a while, rosca-de-pascua-easter-buenos-airesstep away from the food for a break, and then return later for round two.  The last time I attended one of these I was beyond full but very happy.  Note: During the week and on Sunday, Tuna is very popular so expect to eat a lot of it!  After the meal(s) have finished, people will give each other chocolate eggs (huevos de Pascua) with small licorice flavored candies on the inside; if this isn’t enough for dessert, there will be a cake called “Rosca de Pascua” that will be served.  It looks like an oversized doughnut and can be topped with a wide variety of sweets and spreads.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Easter if there wasn’t an Easter mass on Sunday.  The largest mass occurs at the main cathedral in the Plaza de Mayo area.  It is given by the Archbishop but only in Spanish.  However, if you wish to go to mass in English, there are options elsewhere; at 10 am close to Retiro there is a church called Parroquia Madre Admirable and there is also the Christian United Community Church in Acassuso which both offer mass in English.

Alex
vamospanish

Getting To Know the City called Buenos Aires

learn-spanish-in-buenos-aires-vamos-spanish-academy

Half the fun of moving to a city abroad is learning about all the quirks and idiosyncrasies that comprise a place. Almost every major city has an international reputation that is validated by people who have never been but have heard about it, or people that have been for a short amount of time and saw everything that they needed to see (i.e. all the tourist attractions).  This mentality is best summed up by the expression “been there, done that”.  I’m not implying that this is an altogether bad mindset since we can’t expect to become familiar and see even a fraction of everything that all the big cities have to offer; however, it can definitely blind us from all the amazing things that a place hides in plain sight.  I’m guilty of judging a city by its superficial characteristics; almost every city in Europe intrigued me but I didn’t have the time or resources to really comprehend what made that city unique aside from its attractions. What shocked me about Buenos Aires was that I was immediately convinced of the uniqueness and personality that it possesses.

It is generally difficult to discern what makes a city unique with a first impression since we learn by relating unfamiliar things to familiar things. This occurs when we go to a new place and we try and interpret it by comparing it to places that we already know. For instance, when I go to a new city I try to make sense of it by associating certain characteristics from other places I have already been to my new environment. Buenos Aires is no different and many people refer to it as the Paris of South America. At first some of the streets, cafes, and restaurants were reminiscent of Paris and I agreed with the comparison. But as I slowly became more familiar with the city and how large and diverse it is, I realized that this was an unfair comparison.

Buenos Aires is its own entity. It is not an offshoot of an European city, but the amalgamation of influences from so many cultures and people that it eventually engendered its own character.  That is not to say that certain influences don’t still exist within the city – there are many – but all of the foreign aspects have become influenced themselves by the ineffable psyche of Buenos Aires.

It is impossible to define what makes Buenos Aires as a whole so unique and gives it its personality, theatres-corrientes-buenos-airesbut many individual characteristics are noticeable.  When certain trends develop they seem to propagate rapidly through the culture – like popular fashion movements that periodically sweep through the city and don’t seem to exist anywhere else in the world (right now a common trend among the ladies is to wear these high platform shoes that have elevated the average women by about three to four inches). Similarly, the city breeds idioms that are unique to this region and will add some personality to your Spanish if you learn it here. Tango originated here in the 1980s and continues to flourish, and not just as a tourist attraction. There is the highest concentration of theaters in Buenos Aires than in any other city in the world. Fútbol is definitely not just a game but a passion. Meals are followed up with sobremesas, long discussions about anything that can persist well into the morning.  Porteños, the people from Buenos Aires, confident and well dressed, stride around the city. The list goes on, and changes daily. All of these things are amazing within themselves, but the product of their combination is what results in the powerfully enticing appeal of Buenos Aires.

Alex
vamospanish

Getting Cheeky in Argentina: How and When to Kiss People in Buenos Aires

(Aside from the obvious answer of whenever you can and however you want…)

Right cheek kiss demonstrated by Argentina President. (picture from Reuters)

Right cheek kiss demonstrated by Argentina President. (picture from Reuters)

In Argentina it is customary to give certain people a beso, or kiss, on the right cheek when you say hello or goodbye. If you are not expecting this to happen, or don’t know that it is a thing down here, you will definitely be caught off guard the first couple of times that it happens. The first time it occurred to me was with a very attractive Argentinean friend-of-a-friend. Right afterwards I was surprised by her forwardness and wondering when she would give me an actual kiss. When another one of my friends showed up and she did the same thing I was devastated. We had barely started our relationship and she was already kissing other guys. Furthermore, when one of her male friends came over to introduce himself and he kissed me I had no clue what was happening. Was this the most promiscuous culture in the world?

I was enlightened by a friend who explained to me how Argentineans, both male and female, give each other un beso when they meet friends or friends of their friends – they also greet family the same way – with a little kiss on the right cheek.  My next mistake came the next day when I tried to give a kiss back and actually kissed a woman’s cheek with my lips.  It turns out that you give people a little mock kiss, sound and everything, but don’t make physical contact other than cheek to cheek.  She took it well but I felt pretty awkward.

Once I mastered the cheek to cheek approach, I had to figure out what to do during the kiss with my hands. Place it on their left-shoulder, back, handshake, butt, or dangling dead-arm approach?  No matter how I approached the kiss the right arm seemed to forget what to do and would just droop in between us like a scared dog’s tail retreats between it’s hind legs. My hands wanted to get in the mix but they had no proper place. My current approach is to gently rest it upon the other person’s left shoulder and let my left hand hang to the side.  This has become perfunctory with Argentineans, but when I see or meet people from other countries things get awkward all over again.

Where I am from most people give each other hugs when they see one another. Usually there is an awkward moment after we say hello where each person is trying to determine whether to go in for the kiss or not.  This is funny to watch as a spectator as both sides seesaw back and forth until they have a quick and embarrassed kiss or just give up and hug or shake hands. When I meet someone from the United States I will sometimes throw in a reflex hug after the beso. This is a sure-fire way to confuse people since they won’t be expecting it and will be pulling away from the beso.  It also lets both of my hands do something but can be received unsatisfactorily and I don’t recommend doing it.

As a foreigner it is very difficult to have smooth and comfortable besos, even if you know what to do. People here will most likely realize that you are a foreigner and they themselves will be uncertain of whether to give you a kiss or not.  Alternatively, other foreigners have a hard time determining if you have adopted the custom and will most likely just shake your hand, which is probably for the better.  It is a cheeky culture and takes some time getting used to, but after you’ve kissed enough strangers you will start to get the hang of it.

Alex
vamospanish

Yerba Mate vs. Coffee: The Internal Debate of a Confused Gringo in Argentina

yerba-mate-coffee-argentine-cultureIn order to adequately assimilate into Argentinean culture you better know a bit about yerba mate.  From the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia – to the northernmost point of Argentina, yerba mate, or we simply call it mate, is consumed religiously.  It is the lifeforce of the country and a foreigner cannot say that they have been to Argentina without trying it.  Many people that I have met down here have been converted to mate and have relinquished their coffee dependencies.  As a foreigner that is partial towards coffee, here is a glimpse into my initial perceptions and slow adoption of mate as my primary source of caffeine.

Mate seems to affect people very differently, for example, when I drink it I experience a mellow buzz and have relaxed thoughts.  Some of my friends, on the other hand, equate it to crack (I hope they can’t accurately make that comparison) and are surprised that it is even legal.  As an addicted coffee drinker from the States, I was initially disappointed in the effects of mate in comparison.  I had heard that it was this almost mythical substance that would grant the user superhuman abilities and allow one to think like Einstein (probably not the source of his genius); I thought it was something like ZBT from that movie Limitless.  These perceptions were inaccurate but I found that I enjoyed mate for a myriad of other reasons.

Mate contains less caffeine than coffee.  Don’t expect to lose control of yourself after a cup, it is not that strong.  einstein-drinking-yerba-mateThe buzz people experience from it seems to be more moderate and sustained compared to the fast energy burst from coffee.  Also, people claim that they don’t experience the customary coffee crash when they drink mate.  For me, the effects are mild yet noticeable; it gives me a good boost when I am tired but never puts me over the top like strong coffee can.

Another reason I enjoy drinking yerba mate is that it just looks cool to drink.  The combination of the handcarved-gourd and the metal straw make me feel like I am participating in some ancient spiritual ritual whenever I have a cup, and in a way I am.  While modern mate cups are starting to be made from various metals, plastics, and woods, the classic calabash gourd (cuia) is still the most popular.  The gourd, combined with the curious spoon-straw-filter, called the bombilla (bom-bi-sha), makes for a unique drinking experience.

In addition to the decorative appeal, the process of pouring a mate is not as straightforward as one would think.  Prior to consumption the leaves (yerba) must undergo an obligatory series of shaking and the removal of small particles before the bombilla and hot water are added.  The first cup of mate is strong and bitter and called the “mate of the fool”.  If you are new to the mate game, avoid drinking the first one and let who ever poured it, called the cebador, drink the first few cups.  After the first two cups the mate becomes more mild and bearable.  Another option to avoid the bitterness is to include sugar, lemon, mint, or some other enhancer to the mate.  Also, many people will include various herbs and health-conscious supplements to their mate.

how-to-prepare-yerba-mateAll the positive effects and aesthetics aside, most importantly mate is a social drink.  It is usually shared among friends and family in a circle. The mate moves around the circle in a counter-clockwise rotation starting from the cebador.  There is not that much liquid in the cuia since most of the space is taken up by the yerba; finishing an entire cup is a must at one’s turn. While the mate rotates, everyone in the circle is busy chatting.  Something about the fact that everyone in the circle is sharing the same thing, a little hollowed-out squash full of leaves, makes for good conversation.  In this regard I much prefer mate to coffee.  In the morning my coffee is my lifeline, something I need and hord back home – sharing it is not an option.  Later in the day it is something that I may get with people to catch-up, but I would never imagine sitting in a circle with a bunch of new friends and strangers pouring each other coffee in the same ceramic mug and passing it around.

When it comes to the health of mate it is both lauded and castigated by many people and organizations.  It is either causing cancer or preventing it, no one seems to know for sure.  It could possibly be reducing cardiovascular disease and help prevent dandruff.  It may lower stress, enhance physical endurance, burn fat, and of course clean your colon.  Whether or not you experience these effects, and I hope you do, it is nevertheless a fun drink to be enjoyed in the presence of friends, family, and some occasional strangers.

As I continue to hone my mate drinking abilities, and grow accustomed to the bitterness, I will see if I can replace coffee indefinitely.  Returning home will be the deciding factor, I will look crazy sitting in a park trying to usher strangers into my mate circle so I will have to get used to enjoying it alone or in small infrequent groups.

P.S. Try and find unsmoked mate as the smoked mate may increase your chances of developing certain types of cancer.

P.P.S Smoked mate may reduce other types of cancer though.

Alex
Vamospanish

La Bomba de Tiempo - Live Music in Buenos Aires

La-Bomba-Tiempo-KonexBuenos Aires is a city full of venues to experience some amazing live music.  Whatever you may be in the mood for, there is most likely a spot that caters to that specific genre.  If you want to have a very unique Monday night music experience, then you should definitely check out La Bomba de Tiempo.  Comprised purely of percussion, this group of 17 drummers knows how to put on a great show.

The “Time Bomb”, as it is translated, started in 2006 and is a collaboration of the best percussionists from Buenos Aires and surrounding areas.  As a group they attempt to portray the city through improvisation and powerful rhythmic music.  Although they are a unified group, the differences between their styles and sounds is palatable.  Rather than diminish the music, the different sounds and drumming styles add character and embody the multicultural and eclectic nature that comprises Buenos Aires.  During the show the founder of the group orchestrates the entire ensemble through a series of intricate hand gestures.  With these hand gestures he formats the music and band to correspond to the energy in the crowd.  Similarly, the crowd is a large vibrating mixture of extranjeros (foreigners), locals, and everyone in-between.  The form of communication is body movement, and everybody is free to express themselves in any manner they desire.

La Bomba de Tiempo is performed in a warehouse-like building that opens up to a large outside courtyard area equipped with a large metallic bug and colorful graffiti.  The show is very popular and is guaranteed to be packed inside — standing-room only.  Even though the dance floor is full and it looks like mayhem, the atmosphere is very jovial and amicable.  There is plenty of available space around the outsides of the mob if you need to cool down or your moves require a little more space to be appreciated.

Once the show comes to an end, which it does promptly at 10:00 pm, there is a large succession of showgoers and some of the performers in the street outside where the party continues for a little while longer.  If you’re still inclined to keep the beat going, there is usually an after-party at a bar or club where some of the musicians continue to boom away into the early morning.

The Details
The Place: Ciudad Cultural Konex, Sarmiento 3131, Abasto, Buenos Aires
The Time:  Opening band comes on at 7:00 pm, La Bomba del Tiempo comes on at 8:00 pm*
*It can get busy fast, and the line can get very long.  It is recommended to get there at 7 even though it should not sell out.
Price: Affordable
Phone: (+54 11) 4864 3200
Websitewww.ciudadculturalkonex.org

Alex
Vamospanish

Don't Forget About Tennis in Buenos Aires

juan-martin-del-potro-argentine-tennis-playerCatching a football game, whether is Boca Junior, River or even a minor league team, is no doubt a must-do while visiting Buenos Aires. Football to the Argentines is almost like a religion, taking up pretty much all the spotlights in the local sports news. However, there is another sport also garners a lot of audience and participants in Argentina and that is tennis.

As Argentine pro-tennis players made their ways into the top spots in the international tennis world, like Guillermo Vila in the 1970’s and Gabriela Sabatini in the late 80’s/early 90’s, everyone at home was paying attention. In recent years, the passion for tennis has seen a special boost especially when Guillermo Cañas made headlines worldwide by defeating Federer twice in 2007 which was during a time when Federer was almost unbeatable (except by Rafael Nadal), and then in 2009 when Juan Martín del Potro, nicknamed La Torre de Tandil (The Tower from Tandil, the city where he is from) for his height, won the US Open champion title by having defeated Nadal in the semi and Federer in the final. Since then, we have been cheering on La Torre on newspapers and TV news whenever he played. Unfortunately due to a recurring and troubling wrist problem, he is currently out of the circuit and is recovering from his second surgery.

Many different tennis tournaments, ATP games and special events take place in Buenos Aires yearly. Like this week, we are having the ATP Argentina Open. Rafael Nadal and many top players like Tommy Robredo, Fabio Fognini, Argentine Leonardo Mayer and Pablo Cuevas are participating. At published time, it looks like Nadal is well on his way heading to the final round. If you are in town, get your tickets here now while they are still available. The Argentina Open takes place at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club from Feb 23 – Mar 1, 2015.

Then in 2 weeks from March 6-8, we will be hosting the All-South America world group first round of Davis Cup. We will be playing against Brazil – not only our rivalry on the football field! The Argentina team fares pretty well generally at the world cup of tennis. We are currently at No. 5 in the Davis Cup Nations Ranking out of 133 participating countries. Get your ticket and event information here, and let’s cheer for Argentina on the tennis courts!

Vamospanish

 

 

How To Stay In Shape In Buenos Aires Part 2: Indoor Edition

exercise indoor while learning spanish in buenos airesBuenos Aires generally has very nice weather, but once in a while we do have extreme heat or a cold front from Patagonia or electric rainstorms. In order not to let these get in the way of your fitness routine, you can easily bring them indoors. First and foremost, we have many FITNESS CENTERS, or gimnasios (gyms) all over town. As more and more Argentines get on the fitness train, gym popularity is at an all time high. New ones pop up almost every week, and they all get really packed during the week after 6pm. All the gyms offer monthly and yearly packages, but some also have weekly or even day passes for those who are just in Buenos Aires for a short stay. Depending on what kind of fitness studio you are looking for, you will be able to find many choices.

Two of the biggest and most popular fitness chains in Buenos Aires are MEGATLON and SPORT CLUB. Both of them have multiple branches and they are the ones that you will most likely come across while walking around town. Since being a member of these clubs means you have access to all of their facilities at any of their branches, their membership fees are also a bit more expensive. For the higher price though, they are very well equipped with a huge variety and newer machines, an impressive schedule of classes like spinning, yoga, pilates, cross fit, shadow boxing, dance aerobic and so on. Some of them even have pools for swimming laps and also classes.

If you do not live close to one of these big fitness centers or simply watching your wallet, you can always look for smaller gyms in your neighborhood. This kind of studio is a lot more economical, while they may not have as many fancy machines, that doesn’t mean they are less equipped. The cardio and muscle departments still have all the usual suspects and are sufficient for all the basic workouts. Nevertheless, don’t expect a pool or lots of extra room/floor space for doing additional exercises. I would actually say that these small gyms are better for working out because generally there are not as many people around and you can do your program a lot more efficiently. A good thing that both big chains and small studios have in common is that they all have at least 2 or 3 personal trainers on site and they are there to help you out with any exercise questions that you may have.

If you feel typical fitness studios aren’t tough enough and want to bring that workout to another level, then you probably want to try out CROSSFIT. Since this trend has arrived Buenos Aires a few years ago, there are more and more crossfit studios opened up in the city. The big fitness chains offer this type of special program too, which is already included in its more expensive fee, but if you care for just the crossfit training, then sign up at a studio that is specialized in crossfit.

A more relaxed way to do something good for your body as well as for your soul is YOGA. Like all around the world the yoga boom did not miss Buenos Aires. As you can already imagine the big fitness studios offer yoga classes too, but I would recommend to go to a yoga studio which usually provides higher quality classes and more personalized instructions. Some of them also offer classes in English.

A great way to exercise your whole body while having fun and learning how to defend yourself is MARTIAL ARTS. From kickboxing to krav maga to muay thai, you can find all types of self-defense arts here in town. For these special types of training, rather than the big fitness chains, you will have to look up individual studio that specializes in its own discipline. If you are interested but don’t know where to start, check out Dojoclub in Palermo, they are a martial arts training club offering a variety of classes, like karate, kickboxing, muay thai, jiujitsu and taekwondo.

Lastly, another sport that will put your whole body to the test is ROCK CLIMBING. This activity will take you from indoor training to eventually outdoor climbing excursions facing the natural formation. Classes are offered at all levels. You can also rent shoes and gears at the studio in case you don’t have yours or not ready to commit 100% to this sport yet. If you are already a climber, you can simply pay a per use fee or become a member to use the facility. Many of the rock climbing schools are outside of the city but there are a few that are easily accessible in the city: Punto Cumbre, Bien Alto and Rustik.

For more workout ideas, also check out our How to Stay in Shape in Buenos Aires Part 1: Outdoor Edition .

Happy exercising!!

Vamospanish