Exercise junkies planning a vacation in Rio de Janeiro will be in their element in this city of buff beach bodies. Those tanned and toned torsos don’t just hone themselves, and at times it can seem like the entire population of the city is either playing football or beach volleyball, working out in the gym, ‘power walking’, throwing some impressive capoeira shapes or making use of the free to use exercise stations strategically located along the beaches and at public parks such as Aterro da Flamengo and Lagoa.
Happily for budget travelers, this obsession with the body beautiful means that there’s no need to splash out on a gym membership in order to keep in shape during your break in Rio. The beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema may not lend themselves well to swimming (the water is frequently dirty and the undertow frequently dangerous), but those vast stretches of sand are perfect for running as well as for practising your beach sport of choice. Try not to be intimidated by the super-skillful soccer/football and volleyball skills of the locals and have a shot yourself, or try your hand at ‘frescoball’ – a fun beach bat and ball game that is hugely popular in Rio. Frescoball kits cost just a few reais so it’s well worth having shot. Less easy for beginners to get to grips with is Capoeira – the elegant dance/martial art hybrid that is native to Brazil. It take years of practice to be as skilled as the locals, but there is plenty of opportunity to sign up for classes if you want to try it out.
Alternatively, head to Lagoa for running or cycling in scenic surrounds, or take advantage of the free exercise stations to work through a few pullups and pressups.
On the other hand, if the mere thought of hard physical exercise in Rio’s sticky heat leaves you cold, panic not – the beaches and parks lend themselves equally well to just chilling out. You are on vacation, after all.