Our resident health and fitness guru, Alex, shares her tips about fitting in.
Photographs: Alexandra Beck
Text: Alexandra Beck
Personally, moving away from my home country was a ball of mixed emotions and expectations, excitement and fear all bundled into one. And one of the most disconcerting feelings was the inability to know how to integrate into a new culture. Leaving behind all that I knew, the routines and ways that seemed all so natural, to a place where simple things like the language, the food and the biking lanes were a complete and utter mystery! How on earth would I understand how anything worked or make friends if I couldn’t even understand supermarket signs? There is no magic formula to this except one of an open mind and a willingness to adapt and accept. After all, for most of us, it’s a choice to be here.
Once settled in with all the complicated admin stuff like a CPR number, bank account, job, apartment/house and signup to the local language school, the first thing that came to my mind was how do I find my fit crew here?
In Denmark, there is a particular focus on health and fitness. Gym memberships are not nearly as expensive as in many other countries (i.e. Switzerland or Belgium, where in most fitness clubs, a monthly membership can hover close to 1000 DKK), you can get a membership for as low as 149 DKK/month if you hop on to one of the many offers, and one will rarely pay over 500 DKK for other types of memberships unless in more exclusive centres.
This is the place to be if you are looking for pure fitness. Clubs like SATS, FitnessX, FitnessWorld and Fit & Sund offer a wide array of centres across Denmark, with affordable options for both strength training and group fitness classes. My experience has been quite positive with these chains as they provide what you need if you are there to get a sweat on! Most will also have access to a sauna, and some may even have swimming facilities!
However, you should not expect to brunch with anyone after your exercise class, at least not at the start. But show your face there consistently, and you will start recognising people and being recognised, at least with a nod and a smile, and eventually, the conversation will happen.
If you are on the lookout for a faster social vibe, where you can train strength/cardio in a team, high-five your sweaty gym buddy and grab lunch post workout, I would highly recommend doing your research and finding a team of indoor or outdoor boot camp style training in or around where you live. This is where and how you will meet people keen on getting to know their team members and where you will most likely find some people to hang out with. Also, most people in Denmark can and will happily speak English, which makes it a little easier to communicate if you are still new to the local language.
There are also many opportunities to join dance (Zumba) classes, Jumping Fitness (this is crazy fun), running and cycling clubs or even paddle tennis, where socialising and an active lifestyle can be combined. It may be harder to find pure English-speaking sports clubs/activities everywhere in Denmark, but if you can use Google, you will find a few of us out there!
My best advice for finding your crew here is to try different clubs or teams with an open mind and not be afraid to engage in conversation! You eventually will find one that makes you want to return to a class or club time after time and will find your happy, social, healthy fitfam!