These days in Prague, getting fit means anything but the traditional workout
“Most people exercise cause they want to look better naked.” (We’ll credit that quote later). Maybe nudity is your motivation, maybe you are looking for a new way to sweat or perhaps you just need a work out change—no matter the reason Prague offers a lot of options beyond the simple gym.
With a somewhat of a cult following amongst its proponents, CrossFit is described by CrossFit Praha owner Zdeněk Weig as “carrying heavy shit for long distances as fast as possible.” The core strength and conditioning program has spawned fans the world over and Olympic–type competitions. CrossFit Praha’s small studio is a basic, hard-core, we are here to exercise space. What Weig likes about the program is (besides the looking good naked part) that it’s a general physical preparedness program.
“It prepares you for life, we help people to meet their goals,” he said. “We aren’t focused on athletes, I like that, and we are able to light the fire with people, even if they haven’t done anything like this before.”
According to Weig, CrossFit combines movements from different sports like power lifting, gymnastics, running and rowing. There’s a workout of the day which may be task-oriented, or perhaps focused on strength or body control and balance. Members can go in and do the workout on their own time which makes it convenient for those who would rather not to commit to a weekly class time.
“I saw photos of people who did CrossFit and I wanted to know why I didn’t look like they did, even though I was exercising,” he said. “For me, it’s fun, it works and we can make people stronger, faster, improve balance by using fairly basic tools.
For busy people who want to be fit but have no time, BodyBody might be for you. A 20 minute private session led by a personal trainer promises to strengthen your body, tone your muscles and reduce fat. How? By using electrical muscle stimulation. Wearing special workout clothes BodyBody provides, you are strapped into a special vest as well as arm, bottom and leg bands, all with electrical nodes attached. You are then plugged in and the trainer goes through each muscle group, turning up the impulses until you feel pain. The workout then begins.
You can do either cardio or strengthening and upon walking out I was deemed too thin for cardio and did the strengthening workout. Electric impulses are sent to your muscles every four seconds meanwhile you are doing squats, lifting weights and doing sit-ups. It was amazing how the pulses intensified as soon as you started to use your muscles. Or a sad statement on how weak my muscles are. The cardio workout includes more aerobic-like movements.
“EMS technology allows you to work efficiently 90% of muscle mass every time you train,” explained Seen Aquin, director of BodyBody. “The professional trainers develop a training program based on physical conditions and biometrics; the regime is adjusted every four weeks.”
I was surprised I felt a bit shaky afterwards; it was a more intense 20 minutes than one would think. I had a little soreness in my arms a few days later, but otherwise was none the worse for wear. BodyBody opened its first Czech studio in Anděl in November 2013 and in Karlín in January 2014. Aquin said he sees BodyBody as a time efficient method that was missing in Prague.
“The lifestyle here, it’s fast, hectic, time is in short supply, but you can’t lose the ability to exercise.”
Avid bikers or runners looking to take it up a notch might want to check out Endurance Lab, a shop and training studio dedicated to preparing people for triathlons. The specialized shop sells clothing and equipment triathletes need; products not found in most sports shops in Prague. They also have an endless pool in the basement, perfect for swim training. They organize swim classes across Prague, because as Vojtěch Lím from Endurance Lab said, the swimming section is the toughest for most people. They are also the starting point for a free weekly training run and training bike ride led by Sherpas Ride.
“Come have a chat and get information on how to start training,” Lím said. “You can rent equipment because a triathlon requires very specific equipment, you are doing three sports in the same day and if you are starting out you don’t want to spend heaps of money.”
You can become an Endurance Club member (price varies on if you want a triathlon license or not), and swimming lessons are only 200 CZK. Membership offers discounts to the shop as well as invitations to trainings and other events. More intense weekend camps are organized and their overall goal is to be a hub for those who do triathlons.
“We want people to have fun, set goals. This is a niche group of people who do triathlons,’’ he said. “People tend to get scared by a triathlon but it’s about having fun with friends versus going against the clock.”
Trigger Point Therapy
Even if you are not an athlete, but work out regularly, injuries are something to fear. Twisting a knee or screwing up an ankle can see your exercise regime and fitness level quickly go the way of your previously fit muscles. Trigger Point Therapy aims to put and keep your body in a condition able to handle any exercise or sport.
There’s a range of equipment used in the therapy and after a few lessons learning the correct way to use it (especially if you have problem areas) you can do the workouts at home. Simple looking rollers of different sizes, balls and other muscles specific tools are rolled over specific muscle points.
“It’s about mobility and elasticity, you focus on how to set the body and exercise correctly,” said Ondrej Lunga, TP Specialist and director of Ladies Fit Club. “You can’t exercise successfully and feel progress if you aren’t connected and mobile – it’s synergy.”
I met Lunga while I had an ankle injury and he did an impromptu session which proved what he had said earlier – an injury prevents flow and the effects can be triggered in other parts of the body. My ankle didn’t bother me a bit when Lunga was working on it, however there was some major pain in the bottom of my foot and mid-calf. After a few rolls though, my foot felt…lighter. It’s the only way to describe it. And sure enough, some of the leftover swelling did go down.
While men and women can register online for TPT sessions, Ladies Fit Club is obviously only for the ladies. They offer TRX, Bosu, Flowin and Vipr, all great strengthening alternatives. As Lunga said, TPT is for daily life, like brushing your teeth, and changes how to prepare your muscles both before and after exercise.
“If you are moving good, you can do anything.”
This is resort style working out in the heart of Budějovická. Balance Club Brumlovka opened seven years ago in a purpose-built gym and offers large lovely spaces for classes, fitness and swimming.
“We place a large focus on wellness and relax spaces,” said Dagmar Nášelová, Balance Club’s marketing coordinator. “The fitness area has lots of windows, for energy and space.” The large pool area too is surrounded with windows, there’s a whirlpool and saunas. For those who really need a mid-week escape, sneak up to the Japanese-style rooftop terrace for a bit of sunbathing. The sheer hugeness of the complex makes it easy to slip away for some private me-time. There’s lots of variety in the classes on offer including ladies kickboxing, Zumba, yoga and body styling (a new schedule is being planned for the autumn).
Brumlovka is also one of the few places in Prague that offer aqua spinning, a cooler way to get a pretty intense workout. Lenka’s class was full of energy and fun with lots of arm work in addition to the spinning. Warning—the bikes are really heavy, and coordination is needed. Yes, I actually fell off a stationary bicycle…