HOW TOURISTS STAY FIT IN TEL AVIV
What is a “typical Israeli” workout and how do you stay fit in Tel Aviv? With Krav Maga, Matkot or Feldenkrais, for example. These and many other sports are an integral part of Tel Aviv’s cityscape and they are perfect for tourists who want to discover Tel Aviv without giving up their daily workout.
In addition, if you’ve always wanted to know how to surf and play beach volleyball by the sea – but never dared until now – Tel Aviv is the place for you. Most of the “local” workouts are easy to join, even if you’re a tourist. Our author visited a few places where you can work out as a vacationer.
Beach everywhere you look. Quite a few newcomers get the idea of becoming surfers. Many of the small rental shops along the beach promenade between Hilton Beach and Charles Clores Beach even explicitly encourage beginners to take one of their courses. On the other hand, those who are already experienced and just want to rent a surfboard should expect prices of up to 50 NIS per hour, SUPs are a bit more expensive. Unfortunately, many surf schools in Tel Aviv do not have an English-language website, Chilli Surf School on Geula Beach and Galim Surf School on Gordon Beach being an exception. If you are interested in surfing lessons, be sure to sign up in advance via email, as some of the surf schools are closed on Sabbath. Also, be prepared to pay around 200-300 NIS per lesson (as of May 2023). Other beaches in the rest of the country are also partly suitable for surfing.
In small groups, people toss balls to each other on Bograshov Beach and Frishman Beach. Some play beach volleyball, others kick the ball to each other exclusively with their feet. Those who don’t have a ball with them simply ask if they can join in. This is quite normal in Tel Aviv, because many of the players are seeing each other for the first time, partly because they often coordinate in large WhatsApp groups with up to a hundred participants. If you still prefer to take your own ball to the beach, you can buy one in one of the sports stores in the city center or sign up for a beach volleyball course. With a little luck, such a course can be found in one of the themed Facebook groups or on requested at the Gordon swimming pool. Prices for such a course usually start at 100 NIS (as of May 2023). By the way, the crowd of athletes is a sports spectacle worth seeing even for all non-volleyball players.
A few steps away from the volleyball players on Frishman Beach you will see the famous matkot players. You can hear them from far away by their clacking little table tennis balls flying back and forth, because matkot is a kind of table tennis without a table tennis table. At this point a little tip: Many Israelis have no problem at all with borrowing their matkot set for a few rounds.
Krav Maga Self Defense
Translated from Hebrew, Krav Maga means fighting technique. Krav Maga is not a sport in the classical sense, but a Jewish self-defense technique originating in Slovakia. The son of a policeman, Imrich Lichtenfeld, was so fed up with the anti-Semitic hostility in Bratislava at the beginning of the 20th century that he invented the mixture of boxing and Jiu Jitsu. Today, the fighting technique is an integral part of the Israeli military and police. Regular Krav Maga training is said to improve stress resistance and reaction time. Some courses focus increasingly on strength training, while other course formats even prepare students specifically for defending themselves against attacks. Some clubs, such as the Israeli Krav Maga Association, have even specialized in boot camps lasting several days. But fitness clubs, like the Humble Club on Rothschild Boulevard, also train their students in the Israeli art of self-defense. However, the prices for Krav Maga lessons vary greatly from 100 to 1000 NIS per course unit.
Gaga und Feldenkrais
Ohad Naharin is considered by many to be the choreographer of the century. The inventor of Gaga, expressive dance and self-discovery technique at the same time, is a real icon for some Israelis. Many of Tel Aviv’s yoga studios have therefore incorporated the “dance,” which doesn’t actually want to be called dance, into their programs. The same applies to Feldenkrais, a movement teaching that enables course participants to correct incorrect postures in their everyday movements. Tip: Many of Tel Aviv’s yoga and fitness clubs offer special tourist day passes for around 100 NIS (as of May 2023). In particular, Studio Naim and the Gordon swimming pool are also popular with sporty vacationers.
The successful urban regeneration project HaMesila is a paradise for athletes. The disused railroad line, which formerly connected Jerusalem to Jaffa, runs once across the city and is an absolute urban highlight between trees and skyscrapers. Yarkon Park also enjoys a promising reputation. It is said to be Tel Aviv’s “Central Park”. Numerous lakes, exotic gardens and the Yarkon River sweeten the Tel Aviv workout in this park. If you don’t like jogging alone and are looking for new contacts, join the Adidas Running Club instead. Meeting point is every Wednesday at 19h30 in front of the Adidas store on Dizengoff Street. Whereas in February, the annual Tel Aviv Marathon takes place along many UNESCO sites.
All of these activities, by the way, are perfect for the relaxing morning or afternoon in Tel Aviv that is an integral part of many of our trips. Many of the sports activities mentioned can also be easily reached on foot or by public transportation and a Rav Kav- card.
If that’s still not enough for you, you can cross Tel Aviv along the Jaffa beach promenade to the old harbor – almost ninety minutes to think about a suitable location for the well-deserved dinner.
Important information: Most courses pause during the Sabbath, from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon!