Fitness around Europe, part 3: How to train?

Fitness around Europe goes on! What is fitness in Germany, Sweden, Finland and the United Kingdom? Read also the previous posts, ‘What is Fitness?‘  and ‘What to bring to the gym?‘.

Now we get to the topic – How do people train around Europe? How are the gyms like?

There are as many ways as there are people – or at least countries. Fitness is not only lifting weights – it is endless opinions about group classes,   morning cardio, HIIT, training, barbells vs. kettlebells, using free weights vs. using machines.

Sweden is big on two trends – functional training and butt. Yes. Know Anna Nyström? Like Jen Selter, but blond and more muscle. Sweden loves everything Instagrammable. Not just the girls, who, by the way, according to my theory, launched hand stands to be the thing to have something new to their Instagram feeds, but guys alike. Wellness and fitness is true mainstream. Whereas Germans or English might go to the pub or for drinks, Swedish consider going for a walk, run or to the gym with a friend as a totally normal activity. have Example: During my time in Sweden, a random guy casually asked me to picture his back. Rrrright, I thought. His mobile to me, his shirt off, a couple of snaps from his back,

Training at the gym is taken seriously. Also, posting about it to the social media is taken seriously. Example: During my time in Sweden, a random guy casually asked me to picture his back. Rrrright, I thought. His mobile to me, his shirt off, a couple of snaps from his back, tack tack. Later in the evening, I see the same pictures been hashtagged with the gym’s name. Even though Instagramming your gym trip is a real thing in Sweden, they do train properly, as well. While keeping the cool looks. Going to the gym with a friend is recommended, having a personal trainer quite normal. If you are not willing to afford one, follow the country’s numerous fitness superheroes on Instagram or read their blogs.

As relatively equal and same opportunities for all -type of country, also the gym audiences are mixed. There is a plenty to choose from, but wherever you land, you can expect the audience to be relatively mixed. My home gym, Deltagym, was a private owned, very competitor focused one. Still, beginners welcome.

Follow: @annanystrom, @alexandrabring, @hannamodig, @anniedickenson


Finland is absolutely crazy about cross fit.  Also, classic fitness, here meaning going to the gym, is extremely popular. The majority of the people has a plan. You have to know what you do. It does not matter if you are sick, feeling down, or overtrained – training more and sauna is the accepted wellness solution. Lifting weights indoors is anyway easier than cross-country skiing in -20 C degrees. New training tips are found via super popular fitness blogs, written by men and female alike. There are also several high-quality fitness magazines. It is though worth noting, that actually, everything goes. If you are not ready to sacrifice your life for the gym or cross fit, you can also pick marathons or triathlons. In case your parents had enough money and time to bring you to the train ice-hockey, you might be a professional ice-hockey player by now. If not, you might have settled with floorball.

As everyone goes to the gym, there is a suitable option for everyone – public gyms, cheap chains, more premium, almost professional level only… Only the very high end is not existing, as Finns like it mixed.


Compared to Finland, in Germany cross fit is relatively expensive and (even more) religion-like, widely spread only among a part of the population. At the gym, Germans take it serious. They like to train in pairs, pushing each other hard. A plan is compulsory. If you can’t come up with your own, or if you are not willing to hire a personal training (most Germans are not, frugal as they are), you can probably grab one from the gym. Even though it wouldn’t be personalized for your, and even though you wouldn’t quite know if it is just the right one for you, well, it is still a plan. After having a plan it is just important to stick to the plan. And if possible, document the process – that’s why little notebooks and a pen are still a classic to be seen in between the sets.

Gym visitors are mixed. Very affordable, about 20 € per month gyms are very well presented. Additionally, the savvy Germans see a good price as a good price, not as a place for the poor, and that keeps even the bargain chain’s visitors mixed.

@fitoona, @backcamilla, anything at


The UK, or at least London, is the promised land for anything new. Barre, trampoline classes, boutique gyms, all the possible variations of yoga and pilates, high-end gyms like Equinox, boxing hardcore or just to be fit… You find absolutely everything. This means, that lifting weights is far from the only fitness option.

At the gym itself, sometimes it looks like you everyone is either a professional bodybuilder, who definitely knows what he/she is doing, or giving a very crash start into your wellness journey and hired someone to accompany you through all the training. If you are not quite sure what to do, you rather keep to the classes.  Maybe that is why cross fit style mini-group classes have become so popular – they give some of the weight training advantages without actually designing a program for yourself. Also HIIT training is extremely popular.

Due to the wide income gaps in London, also the gyms and their visitors are widely different. There are numerous high-end and premium players. The middle-range is harder to find in central London, as well as the up-and-coming bargain chains. The type of people visiting each depends on not only the gym’s price range but also on its location, parking possibilities and housing around.


In each and every country there seems to be an interesting movement towards wellness. I can not see this affecting ‘classic’ fitness too much – it seems to be something, that is rather attracting more people to the gym. Wellness is a more holistic approach to well-being. Strong muscles are enough, even though they would be built on a relatively healthy rice and chicken diet. The body needs its nutrients, and most people benefit also from conscious relaxation, meditation, and stretching.

My home gym in the UK, Gymbox, is something from everyone. The price being relatively premium, many of the gym goers take it quite seriously (and are at the gym every time I go there…) or keen beginners (have hired a personal trainer). There is also a steady audience using only the cardio machines and visiting classes. Getting a spot on the class is a trick on its own. Due to the high popularity, it is possible to book a class just one day before, 7 am in the morning. It is not uncommon that the spots are gone before I have even woken up. One more good reason to stick to the weights.

Tomorrow to the most surprising part – what happens in the locker room around Europe?