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Sep. 18 2009 - 7:06 am | 95 views | 0 recommendations | 11 comments

Working out in Paris: Now a more extreme experience

If your dream gym is all about dim lighting and candles, disco balls and live DJ’s, and overcompensation for small penises, America’s got you covered. But if you’d prefer something even more out-there and psychedelic, Paris’ new Sports Center is the place to be. And while there are lots of small penises around, it’s not what you think: this gym is designed for those under the age of sixteen.

The architectural marvel, dubbed an “athletic fun house,” is a 16,000 square-foot fitness experience for kids, with trippy colors, weird shapes, massive windows and even a rooftop playing area for racket sports. And among the amenities: a full-scale climbing wall and an entire padded climbing room, lounging areas with ping-pong and Foosball games, a cooking class studio, fencing area¬† and a stellar set of skateboarding ramps and jumps. Check it out, courtesy of KOZ Architects, who spent four years on the project:



That’s extreme – and so unfair that this uber-gym is kid’s only. To recap: adult Americans can choose between a) concrete-floored gyms that reek of sweat and grunting meat-heads, or b) nightclub-wanna-be-gyms owned by everyone’s favorite small penis over-compensator. Oh, and our kids? They’re working out at McDonald’s indoor playgrounds, gliding down slides littered with the very burger wrappers and greasy fries that conspire to ensure their early, obese demise.

Parisians, on the other hand, can send their tots to the coolest, classiest, raddest gym ever. And then go nibble on a croissant, sip an espresso, and slink into their skinny jeans. Or, at least, that’s what resentful, American diet-book authors want me to think.


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  1. collapse expand

    Katie, as someone who’s lived in Paris, don’t be fooled, cherie. Parisians see exercise as something weird and eccentric. No surprise to me it’s kids-only as no adult Parisian would be caught dead doing something so visibly and publicly energetic. The most aerobic I ever saw Parisian women was at the twice-yearly sales when wrestling for goodies they’ve waited six months to buy at discount.

    This gym looks amazing…and your larger point about how hideous and ugly 99% of gyms are is well-taken. I avoid my Y as much for its aesthetic assaults as not wanting to work out. Why do we have to be surrounded by teal, pink, black and gray? Why banks of glaring fluorescent lights in our eyes when we lie down on worn, sweaty mats to stretch? Ugh indeed.

  2. collapse expand

    Have you read Adam Gopnik’s book of essays on Paris? He has a hilarious one on trying to join a gym there, and then finding out that everyone just sits by the pool eating finger sandwiches.

    Yup, I hate the gym aesthetic too – is it really that difficult to just make a workout space functional, user-friendly and not smell like ten-week-old sweat? Gah.

  3. collapse expand

    I have read it. What Paris is really good at are hammams, steam-bath/spas that are the best respite imaginable on a frosty, rainy winter’s day. One of my happiest memories was lying relaxed and swaddled in a white sheet beside their lap pool. Lying still. What a concept.

    The guy who runs our local Y must hate me because I keep suggesting he, or someone who pays attention, actually lie down on one of the mats and look at how filthy the baseboards are windows and radiators are…which you don’t necessarily notice while standing up or moving, but having it in your face while lying down is just gross. I can’t be the only person who find all that dirt and dust, let alone sweat, off-putting.

  4. collapse expand

    I guess they don’t have 24 Hour Fitness in France.

  5. collapse expand

    Hardly! 24-hour gyms are another article entirely…I once stopped by a gym at 3 a.m. and found nothing but infomercials on TV and three cab drivers on elliptical trainers. It was very very very weird.

  6. collapse expand

    every French teacher I’ve ever had told me that Paris was a bad example of French social culture.

  7. collapse expand

    What about doing yoga in Paris? Any thoughts?

  8. collapse expand

    As in: can one do it? Or, are there facilities to support a yoga practice? According to this article from Yoga Journal, there are even yoga travel tours in Paris: http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/540

    Although, I doubt they’d offer much in the way of Americanized, power-hot-500-calorie-burn “yoga”.

  9. collapse expand

    Hmm, I’m going to Paris in a week. Maybe I ought to seek out a gym so that for once, I’m the hardest working person in the entire place. Good ego boost, that.

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    About Me

    I'm a full-time heath & science writer at Sphere and a contributing editor at True/Slant. I also contribute military health news to Danger Room at Wired.com, and have recently written for Marie Claire, World Politics Review and Next American City.

    My first foray into journalism came in middle school - at a French-speaking plaid-kilt-wearing educational institute somewhere in the Canadian tundra. It was there that I decided to start my own newspaper, to disseminate my sarcasm and attitude problem among my peers. We lasted three issues.

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