Joining a Gym in France: Sports Clubs, Associations, and Classes


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Joining a Gym in France: Sports Clubs, Associations, and Classes

There are many ways to get moving and keep healthy in France. Joining a gym is but one way to keep those endorphins circulating! France enjoys a varied climate and landscape and this brings you endless possibilities to engage in the sporting activities of your choice. Here’s what you need to know about sports clubs and joining a gym in France.

Sports Clubs and Classes in France

Where to find sports classes and clubs in France.

Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture

It’s worth making your local Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture (MJC) or youth centre your first stop if you are looking for a particular class once or twice a week. They have a multitude of sports and classes to choose from for both adults and children and are very reasonably priced. Options range from Tango lessons for adults, to capoeira or ballet, and much more. The list is extensive and lessons run from la rentrée (beginning of the school term) in September until the end of June, the following year.

Associations des sports 

Should your sport of choice not be included in activities organised by the MJC, a quick search on the Internet or visit to your local mairie (town hall) will unveil the independent association des sports (non-profit sports organisation). Here you have the further choice of joining a tennis club, roller skating, horse riding, learning a martial art and much more. The cost of inscription is reasonable and most sports will run from la rentrée in September until the end of June, the following year.

Swimming Pools and Gyms in France

How to find your local gym or swimming pool.

Club fitness or salles de sport

If a private gym (a ‘salle de sport‘ or ‘club fitness‘) is more your thing, a quick search on your preferred search engine will bring up all the local possibilities. The gym concept is relatively new in France and depending on your location, your options will vary from small gyms in zone industrielles (industrial areas) with basic facilities and a limited range of equipment or classes to larger leisure clubs, incorporating sports, restaurants, kid’s clubs all under the same roof.

Popular gym chains in France include L’Orange Bleue, Basic Fit, and Keep Cool, while CMG (Club Med Gym) have branches around Paris. All of these run group classes (cours collectifs), as well as having cardio machines and weight-lifting (musculation) area.

Swimming pools

Whether it be indoor pools, outdoor heated pools, pools with wave machines and water slides, France has them all! With most parts of France enjoying a high number of sunny days, there are many options for you to choose from, depending on your location.

Many piscine municipal (public swimming pools) will share their facilities with salles des sport (sports halls with gym equipment), are well maintained and provide many options for swimming lessons, just don’t forget your speedos, a requirement for men. Although even if you do forget your swimwear, there are usually vending machines selling swimming trunks and costumes onsite.

Prices at the piscine municipal or leisure pools are reasonable, if you plan to go regularly it may be worth checking out the various options such as a carnet de dix entrées (booklet of 10 entries) that are available.

Winter Sports in France

With the proximity to the French, Italian, Austrian and Swiss alps, there are plenty of opportunities to learn or practice winter sports. In France, the ESF (Écoles du Ski Français)  has approximately 220 ski schools and lessons start from the age of 3! There are many other ski schools to choose from depending on your particular winter sport and your location. Options vary from private or group lessons for children and adults, beginners or advanced levels.

Competitions and Stages in France

Almost all the sporting clubs and gyms will give you the possibility of enrolling in stages, which are sports camps and additional lessons during school holidays or outside of their regular activities. With so many options open to you, this may well be an opportunity to try out a different sport or new seasonal activity or make further progress on your regular sport with the help of intensive lessons.

Sporting competitions in France

Many sports clubs also offer the opportunity to take part in competitions (concours). Depending on your level of sporting prowess and spirit of competition, an internet search with that particular French sporting associations will reveal a range of organized races or competitions for you to hone your skills. Most competitions offer a range of different levels and there are also regional and national tournaments and championships.

How to Join a Gym or Sports Club in France

Many gyms and sport clubs will require you to take out an abonnement with a minimum duration of one year, paid by monthly direct debits. Be sure to ask exactly what these entail, for example, whether your gym subscription includes entrance to the group classes or a training plan with your coach sportif. For gyms, it’s also worth checking opening times—many are closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, for example, while others may offer out-of-hours access to members for an extra fee.

Some sporting clubs only take enrollments in September and popular clubs and activities can fill up quickly, so try to sign up as soon as enrollments open.

Medical certificates

Depending upon the sport you plan to practice, you might need a medical certificate (certificat médical) from your médecin généraliste (family doctor), especially if you want to take part in competitions. However, most gyms do not require this to join.

This might be as simple as being given a clean bill of health to practice a certain sport, by your doctor on their letter-headed paper. Alternatively, you might be provided with a detailed questionnaire to be completed, signed and stamped by your doctor. Both of these options are likely charged the equivalent of a regular doctor’s consultation by your médecin généraliste.

Sporting licences

Many sports will require a sporting licence. This is normally valid for a year with an associated fee. You will be advised of the necessary requirements upon inscription of your chosen sport.

Now, you have nothing to do but to enrol yourself in your chosen sport(s). Profitez de vos sports !

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