In Madrid, for many, a siesta is a well-known part of life. Summer temperatures can reach 35 to 40 °C (95 to 104 °F), so taking a short respite from the day is common. With this in mind, those traveling here often expect a laid back experience. But in reality this is still a busy metropolitan area, where the incredible heat exacerbates the already fast-paced hustle and bustle of city-life. These stressors are great reasons to kick your feet up, imbibe, and overeat – albeit copious amounts of mouth-watering food. Naturally, when you start feeling bloated, exhausted, overextended, it’s time to step up your self-care game. Here are some places to check out in Madrid that will help keep you balanced, while also not breaking the bank.
If you’ve got some pent up energy check out Holiday Gym. Boasting twelve locations in Madrid, one of my favorite parts about this chain is that the first visit is free. The environment is clean, bright, and well equipped with a variety of nautilus machines, free weights, and mats. Additionally, they offer spinning and circuit training classes.
After filling out some information, I made my way down a flight of naturally stained wooden stairs surrounded by mirrors and aluminum fixtures; the vibe is minimalist meets contemporary-chic, which only helped me focus on why I was there: I came to sweat.
I tried a class called “Summer Project” and sweat I did! The class is a combination of high-intensity body weight exercises and Olympic-style weight lifting. The warm-up alone is brutal. When I entered the studio I wasn’t sure how to set up, but fellow fitness-enthusiast Diana happily helped me. Though the class was entirely in Spanish, it was easy to watch and follow along.
When we finished, my legs were wobbly with lactic acid burn and my hands were shaky from adrenaline – I felt alive! To be honest though, my behind was sore for days. I then asked Diana what she liked to do to relax, and she confessed that she loves elite obstacle races. She’s currently training for one called Farinato, which will take place in Madrid in September. Diana’s friend Itziar said she trains in Mixed Martial Arts two hours a day, Monday Through Friday. It was clear that these are two powerful women, intent on conditioning their bodies and minds through intense workouts. I commented on how impressed I was, and Itziar immediately stated, “But balance is so important!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
After that ferocious workout, I needed to balance the intensity. I thought a spa day would be perfect, so I went to Nails and Co. The prices were a bit steep at €26 ($30) for the manicure and €48 ($55) for the pedicure, but nearly every review was positive. I can’t say the same about some other salons.
The atmosphere is elegant and modern, with clean lines, crisp white walls, sleek black countertops, and warm gray furnishings. A combination of recessed lighting and two grand windows bathes the room in light, softened by foliage from trees outside. What’s most noteworthy, though, is the complete lack of any chemical smell – no acrylic, no acetone, no nail enamel – I couldn’t even smell air freshener or perfume. It turns out they use an industrial-strength air filtration system; that alone makes it worth the price.
While sitting in the chair, I spoke to Christina, a nail technician who immigrated to Spain from Romania five years ago. I asked her what she did to relax, and she told me that she loves spending time with Karma, her three-year-old cat. She then told me that seventeen years of marriage has taught her about the importance of compromise in maintaining a healthy balanced relationship – truer words! When I mistakenly dented one of my still-wet nails, another technician named Marr immediately came to the rescue. I thanked her profusely, and when it was time for me to go she kissed me on both cheeks and hugged me. I genuinely felt loved.
My next spa-day destination was City-Yoga, where I took an Ashtanga yoga class for €5 ($5.66). The healing scent of eucalyptus oil greeted me in the warm gray foyer. I walked down bamboo steps through a white corridor, containing a small platform peppered with white pebbles surrounding bundles of curly backlit willow branches that looked as if they had grown out of the floor. Several overstuffed white chairs popped against a carrot-orange accent wall; the matching orange pillows were balanced by other organic elements, all of which were softened by candlelight. It was a feast for the eyes.
The class focused on deep breathing, intentional movements, and presence of mind and body. The instructor only spoke Spanish, but the poses were all in Sanskrit. Following along was pretty easy.
After yoga I treated myself to an hour in an isolation tank a few doors down for €15 ($17.50). Dim candlelight welcomed me into the room, housing a shower and a spaceship-like pod filled with 600 liters of water (158 gallons) and 300 kilograms of Epsom salt (661 pounds); it’s like floating on the Dead Sea! I rinsed off, took a deep breath, and entered the saltwater where the ambient sounds of waves further comforted me. Once the door closed I was able to turn off the light and, surprisingly, I didn’t panic. Just in case, though, there is a button if you need assistance, and you can open the door and turn on the light at any time from within.
A gentleman named Fernando informed me that entering the tank feels like being in your mother’s womb. I think he was right. The water is slightly warmer than body temperature and feels strangely silky. Five minutes in I fell into a deep relaxing sleep, and later that night I slept the sleep of the dead.
Taking time for self-care no matter where you are is important. When traveling, however, it’s easy to forget how to maintain your balance. Finding ways to keep your mind, body, and wallet happy while visiting Madrid are simple and attainable. There’s no reason not to show yourself some love and kindness. You deserve it!
Holiday Gym; Calle de José Ortega y Gasset 56, 28006 Madrid ; +34 673 91 11 27; Metro Diego De León.
Nails and Co; Calle Claudio Coello, 76, bajo izquierda, 28001 Madrid; +34 915 76 86 96; Metro Nuñez de Balboa.
City Yoga; Calle de los Artistas 43, 28020 Madrid; +34 915 53 47 51; Metro Cuatro Caminos