By Lisa Hannam Lead photo by Ioan Panaite/shutterstock.com
Visiting Paris? There’s no reason you can’t enjoy clinking champagne and clinking weights. As a card-carrying Francophile who loves a sweat sesh, I challenge the idea that a trip to Paris only means indulging in wine, croissants, and shopping. The City of Lights is actually the perfect destination for a workout, or two or three, as well as some other body-focused activities. It’s how I live my best vie en rose—post-workout red face, and all. Venturing to Paris (pronounced Paree) yourself? Your body will love you if you check these out.
Dance Class at Éléphant Paname
Need to Know: Elephant Paname is a dance school that also offers dance-themed workouts. These classes are taught in French, so if you’ve taken dance before (including ballet, or even barre for that matter), you will pick up on some cues, like plié, relevé, demi, and so on. But these classes move fast, so pay attention to those around you. Also, the instructors aren’t shy about correcting you or calling you out on bad form.
The Experience: I took an early morning fusion class that was part yoga and barre. It was all about active stretching. Instructor Isabelle had the eye of a dance coach, walking between our mats, inspecting our form. This isn’t your typical barre class either. The movements are much more precise and ballet inspired. No endless pulses. Instead, it was like learning a routine/flow. So, you end up working your mind and your body. elephantpaname.com
Après Dance: Grab a smoothie at nearby Jour.
Cycling Class at Dynamo
Need to Know: Brush up on directions: gauche and droite (left and right). The instructor says which leg to lead with, which side to lean into for dips, and which way to turn the resistance knob. You’ll also count from un à quatre for the hand positions, too. The rest of the stuff is visual, like off the seat, accelerating, arm work, and it’s easy to follow along.
The Experience: Paris has a few cycling chains, but I checked out one of Dynamo’s five locations at Oberkampf. It’s clean, and the staff are really friendly—not bothered I didn’t buy a class package. Not unlike SoulCycle or Spinco, it’s fast-paced, candle-lit, and there’s a high-rep arm workout about 40 minutes in. The surprising thing, though, is the music. No radio-bleeped versions of songs. But the beat is killer. Check out the best toiletries ever in the locker room, including French skincare brand, Oh My Cream. My only regret: Not buying souvenir leggings, with gauche and droite silkscreened on the calves. dynamo-cycling.com
Après Spin: Granola bowl at nearby Paperboy (@paperboyparis on Insta).
Cardio Boxing at Temple Noble Art
Need to Know: If you know your directions and numbers, you’ll be okay with a boxing class. The punch combos are numbered, just like most boxing gyms at home.
The Experience: Temple Noble Art has three locations, and I went to Molière. This is the chicest gym I’ve ever entered. Leave it to the French to make working out feel like you’re at a fancy bar. The locker rooms are slate and dark wood, and each locker is plaqued with the names of a famous female boxers, including Lucie Bartaud and Laila Ali. This is a members’ gym, but you can book a drop-in class. The classes are filled with serious boxers, so the class is high-paced. I did punching routines, quick-feet cardio, planks, push-ups, and more. You’ll earn that luxe shower after. temple-nobleart.com
Après Box: Order a latte or pressed juice at Wild & Moon.
Bootcamp with CYD
Need to Know: It’s not really a flash mob, but a tourist or bystander might think so. A group of boot campers seem to appear out of nowhere and work out near a Paris monument. Instructions and moves are pretty basic, and it’s super easy to follow along. The crowd’s big enough that no one is singled out. Best part: It’s free, but to find out where you meet, you have to sign-up online.
The Experience: I met about 20 or so people at a brasserie, and then headed out for the run. This free outdoor bootcamp started out with a 5k run around Montmartre for 30 minutes and then ended behind Sacre Coeur for bodyweight exercises, like push-ups, squats, planks, sit-ups, etc. I did get lost briefly during the run, but because the group was running in circles around the mountain, it was easy to find them again. It was the best way to be a tourist and work out at the same time. conqueryourday.com
Après Bootcamp: A bière with your crew at the same bar where you first met.
Yoga Class at Rasa Yoga
Need to Know: Find time in your itinerary for a 90-minute yoga class. The practice is long, meditative, and challenging. Although the poses have the same names in English, if you’re not bilingual, or close to it, register for an English class.
The Experience: Rasa Yoga is a beautiful, well-lit space. Where there aren’t white walls, there are windows or exposed white stone walls. My instructor spoke in depth about the purpose of yoga, answered questions at length, and demonstrated every move beyond my body’s comprehension. The flow, however, was simple and easy to follow. The Savasana portion was deservedly lengthy, and I enjoyed every minute. Mark your visit with a yoga pose in the courtyard entrance for Insta. rasa-yogarivegauche.com
Après Yoga: Avocado baguette at Loulou’s Friendly Diner.
Whether you decide to fit in one or a few Paris workouts on your trip, it’s always best to stick with the familiar. Make sure you’ve taken a similar class before your vacay. You don’t want to get lost in translation and risk injuring yourself. Also, check out if your Class Pass or Mind Body app works at your chosen spots, as you could save yourself Euros. And if you need more Parisian reccos, check out Midtown Studio near the Champs Élysées.