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October 2002

Muscling In

Figuring out where to exercise in Munich

Whether we like it or not, the long, cold months are upon us—the season of comfort foods, long periods of inertia and expanding waistlines. Unfortunately, the expression aerobic activity—the cure of much winter malaise—has an unpleasant 1980s ring to it, redolent of sweating bodies in Jane Fonda-style leotards. Yet, indoor exercise has come a long way in the last 20 years. Fitness instructors now routinely include dance steps, yoga and choreography in their classes. Straight jazz dance, modern or hip hop courses are good alternatives for anyone who dislikes the tedium of a training routine.

The most comprehensive dance and fitness program in town has to be ABC Studios (City Center, Tel. 543 97 11; Schwabing, Tel. 350 75 65), now a well-established enterprise on the exercise scene. They have two locations, which are covered by one membership, allowing you to do jazz dance on one day, for example, and Thai Bo on another. Beginners will find a variety of classes to choose from. There’s a good daily intermediate class for jazz and there are hip hop/jazz classes for children every day except Saturday. The owners are eager to create the best possible environment in which to learn. “Classes should never get too full” is their maxim. The studio is comfortably arranged for relaxing in between classes. Quite another style is Iwanson (Tel. 760 60 85), a large, professional dance school, where energetic, budding dancers meet and practice. Open classes in the evening, many of which are taught by the school’s own students, are fast paced. If you have already mastered the technique and you’re not easily intimidated it’s the best way to join the up-to-date dance scene. Alternatively, basic classes, which are slower, are also offered. Very attractive is Tanzproject (Tel. 66 10 20), which employs two black pearls of jazz dance to teach the original jazz: feeling as well as posture. The easy-going studio is frequented by many foreigners. Classrooms are spacious and classes usually run overtime so it’s good value for money. Another place to start with jazz dance is DanceGig (Tel. [0811] 99 67 92 22). At present classes are offered in two studios, one in Freising, one in Hallbergmoos. The classes, which are conducted in both English and German, draw on the owner’s dance and fitness experience in studios and shows in Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam and Tokyo. The basic level allows anyone to join and the emphasis is on strengthening, stretching, self-expression and enjoying yourself.

If jazz dance is too daunting, others types of dance and fitness training are good alternatives, like salsa aerobics at Unsölds (Tel. 29 16 07 95). Trainers here are qualified but not necessarily chosen for their qualifications. “We hire people who are friendly and approachable,” said one employee there. This personable, women-only center is geared up for ladies who want to limber up on machines without too much fuss or male scrutiny. The only drawback is that the machines are a little close together. Fit for Life, a sprawling complex located in Freiman (Tel. 321 99 33), draws the after-work crowd with an exhaustive program of fitness classes and racquet sports. The place really gets swinging at 6 pm, yet “it never feels over-crowded,” says one of the trainers. The ambience is jovial in the spacious machine room, which contains a wide variety of free weights. By comparison, morning classes are meager and childcare is not provided. Fit for Life’s second location in Munich is a little dingy but cozy (Steinhauser Str. 2, Tel. 41 92 95 50). For ladies only, the club provides a fitness program that focuses on various female problem zones. The center offers limited childcare and has a basement swimming pool for Aquafit classes. For a wider range of water fitness courses, however, Elixia Berg am Laim (Tel. 436 48 80) is a more obvious choice. The Elixia chain has several locations in Munich. The one in Laim has a well-targeted selection of water-exercise classes. Elixia West’s (Tel. 502 00 50) facilities include a room used for yoga and relaxation exercises, which are as much a part of getting fit as aerobic activity.

Leo’s Sports Club (Tel. 38 38 99-0) deserves a mention because of its high-profile clientele and flashy interior. Trainers strut their stuff, machines are hi-tech and the large mirrored areas give you a perfect view of your abs. At Leo’s you’ll be part of the “in” crowd, though you might not feel so high profile in the butt-to-butt fullness of the fitness classes. Childcare is available.

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