Readers who are used to exclusive gyms with all the trimmings will find the Croatian offering a little more basic and harder to find. Resources are scarcer and customers are less affluent and densely populated so the range of machines may be smaller and less up to date than you may be used to. However the prices are obviously tailored to match. We’ve visited a couple of gyms in the Trogir area which were quoting around £5 a session with a quantity discount for a series of bookings. As an alternative to gyms, yoga and pilates sessions are fairly ubiquitous but of course you have to suffer the ignominy of not understanding the instructions if your Croatian is not up to scratch.
So you may well decide to tackle your fitness regime unaided in which case you have a number of options:
1. Walking, running and jogging
You don’t see nearly as many locals out on the streets as you would in western Europe, yet the Croatians seem to be a fit race on the whole. My guess is that all the hard work they put in on their small holdings, an outdoor life and a good Mediterranean diet are largely responsible. Given the topography, Croatia wouldn’t be near the top of my list for the ideal country in this respect – the pebble beaches are difficult to walk, let alone run, along, there’s a distinct lack of pavements, several steep hills and not of lot of pedestrian friendly circuits. Of course there are exceptions but not too many.
The Croatian road system wasn’t designed with cyclists in mind and the hilly paths demand a degree of fitness. Roads are mostly single lane, quite narrow, often have ditches right next to them, car drivers are normally always in a hurry, and cycle paths in towns and villages are unheard of. On the plus side, there are a number of islands with special bike paths and if you don’t mind driving somewhere with your bike you’ll find plenty of quiet scenic routes. Even better, you can pick up a decent bike for around £70 at most of the main stores in Croatia. Check out the Croatian Tourist Board site www.croatia.hr
to find specialised biking activities and areas.
The natural choice of exercise for the summer but only really an option for a few months. Swimming pools have yet to catch on in a big way, and mostly belong to the newer hotels or the old package type hotels. Indoor swimming pools are rare and usually confined to the bigger cities, though there are a few heated outdoor pools. If you’re a serious swimmer and want more than just a dip in the sea to cool down, try Swimtrek
who organise holidays swimming between the islands.
4. Bringing the Gym to your House
The superstores have a good array of gym equipment at reasonable prices – mostly made in China. We finally found a rowing machine at Ipercoop, near Split, for £140 but there are plenty of treadmills, bench presses, cycling machines, etc for considerably less. Sometimes it’s hard to convince the shop assistant that you really need to try it out first and you do need to be aware that it’s more of a struggle to get things exchanged in Croatia than it is in England. If your new fitness aid comes in a flatpack and has a lot of parts, and/or you have a long way to travel it's worthwhile checking that you have a complete working set while you’re still on, or near, the premises.