In this guest article, TrainAway user Harry explains his own experiences of trying to find gyms in Lisbon with and without TrainAway. His story is typical of stories we’ve heard from travelers around the world.
Like most European cities, the Portuguese capital has a great range of fitness centers and health clubs. But if you’re new to the city, it’s not always easy to find gyms in Lisbon. I’ve been traveling to Lisbon for years and before TrainAway came along, it was a nightmare trying to find gyms. Back at home in London I’m a regular gym goer, so it’s really important to me to keep up my routine when traveling.
Why I don’t use hotel gyms
I work in sales for a large professional services company, so usually stay in one of the large chain hotels in Lisbon. To be completely fair, most of them do at least have a room they call a ‘gym’ or ‘fitness suite’. Every time I visit a new hotel I get my hopes up for a clean, well-equipped, up-to-date fitness room, but am almost always disappointed. In my experience, two treadmills and a bike is not a gym. I’m not a bodybuilder, but would at least like a bench and some free weights. Having gone through this experience on ten separate occasions, I began to get a little exasperated and started trying to find gyms in Lisbon myself.
Learning how to find gyms in Lisbon
The first thing I asked myself was: how hard can it be to find gyms in Lisbon? The answer, as I learned, was: harder than you think. The first thing I did was ask at my hotel reception. But this is clearly not a question they’re used to being asked, because they had no response ready. I ended up being pointed to a 2nd floor fitness studio around the corner, which wasn’t even open when I went. So I tried a Google maps search instead. It turned up results all over the city, with a few gyms in walking distance.
I tried visiting three of the closest fitness centers, to see if they’d let me pay to use their gym just for a day. The staff in the first one didn’t speak a word of English, so when I asked to buy I gym day pass, I was not understood. The second gym had a receptionist who spoke enough English to tell me that I had to be a member to train there, and that I absolutely could not buy a day pass for the gym. In the third gym they spoke English and even sold day passes…but didn’t take credit card. For me, as someone who travels regularly, I don’t carry different currencies with me, and expect to be able to use my card everywhere.
It occurred to me at this point that finding gyms in Lisbon was only half the problem. Knowing which gyms sell day passes to travelers was equally as crucial.
How I found gyms open to travelers
Back in my hotel, frustrated, I tried Google again, and this time started reading the articles on this subject. There was some advice on places you could find gyms in Lisbon offering day passes, but a lot of the posts were years old, and none of the gyms were near my hotel. But underneath some out of date TripAdvisor responses I stumbled on this page Gyms in Portugal from TrainAway. Suddenly here was a whole service dedicated to helping me find gyms in Lisbon where I could buy day passes.
The rest, as they say, is history. It took me less than 2 minutes to download the TrainAway app, create an account, and find a gym. I actually ended up buying a day pass to one of the gyms I tried before, but this time I just showed them my phone screen, and the staff waved me in. The only word we exchanged was ‘Obrigado.’
Now I just use TrainAway to find a gym whenever I’m in Lisbon. They seem to have gyms all over the city, where you can just buy a day pass on the app. I’ve never spent more than €10 on a pass, and the gyms have all been of good quality. I’m just annoyed it took me this long to find them! Next week I’m off to Paris, and I’m looking forward to trying TrainAway there too.