If watching the Olympics has inspired you or your children to get active then read on and see just how many sporting opportunities are open to expats.
Joining a sports club can be a fantastic way to acclimatise to a new area and make friends. They also have the added bonus of boosting fitness, skill level and confidence. Obviously certain countries are associated with specific sports but don’t limit yourself, research what’s out there and give everything a go; you might unearth a talent you never knew you had!
The majority of the sporting clubs listed below require you to sign up for membership, but some offer a free or reduced rate taster session. In all of these examples membership is available for resident expats, and in most cases non-resident expats can also join.
Gymnastics in Australia
If watching the British Gymnastic team make history has got you itching to see how high you can jump, join the High Flyers Trampoline and Gymnastics Academy and fling yourself about in a safe environment. Gymnastics improves coordination, agility, balance, speed, strength and general fitness.
High Flyers in Wangara (Western Australia) is a family owned and family focused club. Anyone is welcome to join, regardless of age or ability. They currently have members aged from 18 months to 60+ years, with ability levels ranging from absolute beginner to world class athlete.
High Flyers has a team of coaching staff who aim to create a safe, friendly environment in which confidence, dedication and teamwork can be taught and fun can be had.
A particularly renowned feature of the club is its Trampoline and Tumbling programmes.
If you or your children wish to enrol at the High Flyers Academy than contact them directly and they’ll pick out a programme based on individual need.
Martial Arts in The Netherlands
Martial arts might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about Amsterdam, but the capital of the Netherlands is home to The Shinbukan Dojo – a school which teaches Japanese martial arts to the highest level. The Shinbukan Dojo is located in a hall belonging to the De Bockesprong primary school. Once there you can engage with your community whilst learning a valuable skill and gaining a real sense of personal achievement.
Martial arts are brilliant for improving confidence and awareness, heightening flexibility, strength and general fitness as well as teaching self defence.
The Shinbukan Dojo doesn’t teach Olympic favourite Judo, but you can join classes in several categories of traditional martial arts: shinkendo, aikido and jujutsu. As well as the physical teachings part of the lesson is given to learning about Japanese culture and philosophy. A mixture of ages, backgrounds and abilities attend the mixed gender classes, which are taught by experienced instructors.
These classes, whilst enjoyable, must be taken seriously. The Shinbukan Dojo recommends attending two classes a week as well as home practice.
So that regular students can receive maximum attention introductory classes are not offered, instead those interested in becoming a member of the school are invited to observe a class and pose questions to the students and instructors.
Sailing in Spain
Although football is the sport most likely to hit the Spanish headlines sailing is big business too. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sail then the blue skies and not-too-freezing waters of Spain are the perfect place to start.
Sailing is fun and social and can lead to attaining qualifications as well as new skills.
There are literally dozens of Spanish schools teaching the basics and beyond. However, before signing up remember being able to swim confidently is essential and sailing classes are not really recommended for very young children.
The nautical school of Catalunya (Escuela Naútica de Catalunya) teaches several levels of sailing course from September to July. The main categories are standard beginner, intermediate and advanced. These are reasonably priced and can be taught during the day or evening, on a full or part time basis.
Canoeing in Canada
Although many people think ice hockey is the main Canadian sport, the country’s history and terrain make it the ideal place for canoeing. Canada even has its own type of canoe, the two-man C-boat. Because of Canada’s strong associations with the sport you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a suitable club.
As well as being really good fun canoeing enhances coordination, strength and teamwork and is a fantastic sport for children and adults alike. It gets you out in the open air and can be enjoyed year round (weather permitting!)
The Carleton Place Canoe Club is based on the shores of the Mississippi river, 40 minutes from downtown Ottawa. Since 1893 it has offered opportunities for recreational or competitive training and racing for all age groups and abilities. Although the main draw of the Carleton Place Canoe Club is Flatwater instruction (Sprint Canoe Racing) it features classes for other sporting activities like Tai Kwon Do, yoga and ballroom dancing.
The Buffalo Canoe Club has also been running for over 100 years. It sits in a beautiful spot, on the shore of Lake Erie in Abino Bay. As well as canoeing enthusiasts it attracts beach lovers and sailing buffs.
There are several options for membership with the Buffalo Canoe Club including Non-Resident, Active, Family, Intermediate and Junior. Membership applications can be found online, but prospective members must find two members of the club willing to sponsor them.
Do everything in Germany
Old sporting rivalries aside, Germany provides some fantastic activities for expats. The Frankfurt-in-Motion Sports/Social Group is entirely geared towards building an international Expat community through sport.
The goal of Frankfurt-in-Motion is to have fun, make friends and keep fit through a mixture of sporting and social events. There are a ridiculous amount of sports to try including running, yoga, triathlons, biking, mountain biking, basketball, Pilates, martial arts, tennis, beach volleyball, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, weight training, rollerblading and skiing (phew!)
All age groups and abilities are welcome and there are specific family geared events. Best of all, if that amount of sport seems a little tiring than Frankfurt-in-Motion’s festivals, BBQ’s and wine tasting events give you the chance to unwind.