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The Best Places To Work Up a Sweat in Cuenca

Photo by Fit Approach.

Cuenca is a very active city, full of lots of opportunities to exercise. Whether you’re looking for group cardio or private classes, there’s something for everyone.

Running

If you’re looking to run for leisure or train for races, Cuenca has much to offer. The 3 de Noviembre path runs along the Tomebamba river, and the track in Parque de la Madre is great for running laps. While you’re there you can use some of the outdoor exercise equipment and pass time watching the talented athletes. You’ll notice lots of race walkers, which became a popular hobby after Ecuador won two Olympic medals in the sport.

If you are looking to run in a group, join one of the groups that meet on a regular basis:

  • Sundays at 9:30 a.m., Parque de la Madre
  • Night Runners organizes at least one night run per month
  • Running Motivation Ec runs Monday through Friday and meets from 7:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. The annual membership ($50) supplies you with specialized trainers, discussions on related health topics, a club shirt and pants, and registration to local races. Meet the group Monday and Wednesdays at Parque Paraiso and Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at Parque de la Madre. For more information visit their Facebook page
  • Trail Runners Cuenca meets every day from 6:15 p.m. until 8 p.m. This group is more advanced, is led by a trainer, and follows a training plan designed by a Mexican Olympic triathalon coach

Want to train for a special race? Check out this annual schedule of 5K, 10K, 15K, half marathons, and marathons across the country.

Biking

Enjoy an afternoon biking around the city on the ciclovias (bike paths) or the 3 de Noviembre path along the river. You can rent an affordable bike from many places around the city, including one on the path between Inca Bar and Roca Rio. Sundays are the best day to bike around the city due to low levels of traffic and pollution. Rent a free bike from the city 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Sundays and enjoy a clear route along the river with assistance from traffic police. Helmets are included, but be sure to bring a form of ID to leave with the rental desk.

There are group bike tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. BiciCuenca runs different routes on a weekly basis. On Tuesdays, join the group at 8 p.m. for an advanced ride to Turi or Banos. There are people to assist newcomers in case of emergency. Thursdays at 8 p.m. is a more leisurely ride through the city. On Sundays, the group rotates bi-weekly for a mountain route, followed the next week by a city route. For more information on meeting locations and times check out the Facebook page of BiciCuenca’s coordinator, Jaime Lopez.

Yoga

There are a rising number of yoga studios in Cuenca. While most of them teach Hatha yoga, there are many options. My favorite place in the city is RumiSol, which teaches both Vinyasa and gentle classes ($3.50 per class) and offers private in-home classes. If you’re looking for gentle Hatha classes, I recommend Ximena Montesinos ($40 for 8 classes, Av. Paucarbamba 4-133, above the Farmacia VID2, 0998480241).

The following studios also have a great reputation in the city:

Dance

If you’re looking to diversify your workout and have some fun, there are plenty of dance options in Cuenca. Get your heart pumping and shake your groove thing!

  • Bailoterapia is a government-sponsored dance exercise program that takes place at parks all across the city. The classes are similar to zumba, free, and last one hour. In el centro, you can find classes Monday through Friday at Parque San Sebas and Parque San Blas at 8 p.m. There are also regular morning and evening classes at Parque de la Madre. For questions about locations and schedules, message Bailoterapia Azuay
  • Take an individual or group dance class! Johnny Uday is a wonderful dance instructor that teaches salsa, kizomba, west coast swing, east coast swing, and bachata. Johnny typically does one hour of class, followed by a “dance social” where you can practice and have fun.
  • I was surprised to find that aerial dancing has quite the following in Cuenca! Whether you want to try it once or are looking for a new hobby, check out the telas (fabric) dance classes at one of the gyms in Cuenca, such as C-tres. 

Outdoor Sports

  • The C-tres climbing gym provides a number of activities, ranging from boxing and MMA to yoga and aerial dancing. They are most well known for being Cuenca’s largest indoor rock-climbing gym. The Cuenca area provides many outdoor opportunities for climbers, and this is a great place to get some indoor training.
  • Hiking is a great way to get exercise, and there is no shortage of places to hike in the Azuay region. Hiking clubs, such as Club Sangay, make it convenient to get out there. Club Sangay organizes at least one trip per month, whether local or more far away, and only charges a small amount for transportation. Expert volunteers guide the hikes and are first-aid trained.

Crossfit

Crossfit has quite the following in Cuenca with many gyms scattered across the city. Cross-training is very physically challenging, but a good coach will examine your level of fitness and encourages you to start at an appropriate level. The 60-minute “wods” (workout of the day) start on the hour. Many gyms are open as early as 6 a.m. and stay open until 10 p.m. Individual sessions cost about $2.50-$3 depending on the gym, and monthly memberships cost about $35 per month for unlimited gym time.

Do you have any other recommendations for exercise programs in Cuenca? Share them with the Gringo Tree community in the comments below!

7 Responses

  1. Monday to Friday at 7:30 am and Saturday at 8:00 am, you can practice Tai Chi (Chen style) in Parque de la Madre. We meet (if it’s not raining) at the North East corner of the park under the trees, or on the terraza opposite the Planetario if the ground’s too wet. Two dollar drop-in “colaboracion” for our instructor, Maestro Freddy Zuniga. Great workout for joints and muscles, plus balance and memory. email: [email protected] for more info.

  2. A couple obvious omissions, Colesio (April de Abril y United Nacional) tennis, basketball, soccer, Olympic sized, kids and diving pools, and very inexpensive

    Hike Turi steps (lower is 125 steps, middle is 452, upper is 123), I usually go up the steps and back down the road

    Walking or biking Rio Yanucay is a great path and less bumpy than the one on the Tomebama. I often walk a 4.5 mile loop going down Remegio Crespo from the Totems, to Solano, to the Yanucay, and back to United Nacional and the Totems

  3. For runners/walkers:

    There is a small, informal runners and walkers group that consists of gringos and locals alike. We usually meet Tuesday evenings at 5pm and run or walk 2-4or 5 miles. We all end up at a restaurant (we have a few different places we end up, but it’s usually pizza) where we eat dinner and visit with each other. It’s a fun group. I’m currently rehabilitating a foot or I’d be out there every week. They coordinate via a facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1054272837984643/

    Also, thanks to the author for this post. I found the climbing gym and I’m looking forward to checking out their classes (for my son) and their swimming pool!!

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