Barcelona, the capital of outdoor training

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There's something magical about Barcelona. The cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia offers an incredible breadth of fitness-focused social experiences. Barcelona’s sporting experts, health culture, and workout classes are engaging and egalitarian. It’s a home away from home for me.

On Friday — my arrival day — I got stuck straight in. I dumped my bags at the hostel, pulled my running gear on, and headed off for a 5K run down to the beach.

The run wasn’t structured. Unplanned runs in unfamiliar places are the best way to discover hidden gems, and I soon stumbled across the Cathedral of the Holy Cross Saint Eualia. Go inside and you’ll be blown away by the vast architectural structure and striking colours.

After soaking up the peace and quiet, and revelling in the historic atmosphere, I light a candle for my granddad (RIP) and continue my run through the cobbled streets of Barcelona.

When I reach La Barceloneta, the streets open up, and there are swathes of runners, cyclists, and skateboarders. A smattering of passionate fitness lovers. I feel at home.

My next stop is the outdoor callisthenics park. I’m surrounded by seriously buff men and women. I take no time in getting involved, starting my functional pull-up movement session with the following exercises:

  • Dynamic stretches to wake up ligaments
  • 4 x 6 pull-ups
  • 3 x 10 push-up — tricep push (complex superset)
  • 3 rounds of monkey bars
  • 3 x 10 incline rows
  • 3 x 10 decline press-ups
  • 3 x 10 deadman burpees

I have a strong appreciation for people just getting involved regardless of their strength and size. I felt there was less intimidation here than your standard gym. I spoke to many people, asking how long they’d been using the gym, how they train, and what they prefer training. It was clearly evident that training was relaxed and very much functional, with a clear aim for being able to perform certain movements on the bar.

This was refreshing to hear! Training here wasn’t so much about size — it was about strength. Nobody had music plugged in, and it seemed to be an open policy to talk and integrate, which was exciting to see.

Saturday’s alarm goes off at 7:00am. I travel down to the beach to witness the sunrise. A crisp and powerful dawn appears, and my weekend begins!

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This morning, I’m taking part in Urban Gorillas, a beach bootcamp I’d heard loads of people raving about. The class is led by two instructors who are relaxed but knowledgeable, regularly correcting the technique of participants. Us personal trainers are here to educate, not just to discipline!

The session design was a simple bodyweight-centric teamwork-based circuit. No innovative exercises or training structure. There was relentless participation from clients and a constant flow of positive energy. The instructors knew everyone’s name, which is important, and they remained professional — clear role models.

This got me thinking: do you really need to have fancy equipment and design to be successful as a trainer? It’s way more important to buy into you, the client.

Sunday comes, and I’m off to do Pilates Fit&Core at the Barcelona Nike Box. Situated right on the beach, we congregate and have the layout of the class explained to us. I enjoy doing pilates — it should be in everyone’s fitness programme. It keeps your body in check, centred around control of the core, which is hugely essential in any compound movement.

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The class is very structured, with ongoing improvement points throughout. Again, a very personal approach, which is the winning formula if you want participants to have a great experience.

I’ve been to Barcelona many times before, but this trip has, to me, solidified the city as an experimental, diverse, and passionate fitness-focused place. I highly recommend Box Barcelona, a hub for diverse and inspirational fitness professionals.

I’ll be back!

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