5 fitness habits unique to the Nordics

We all know the feeling—it’s the end of January and it feels like winter has gone on forever. But the reality is, it’s only just beginning. It’s bad enough in Germany with dark, cloudy weather and barely any sunlight. But perhaps, to make us feel a bit better, we can look to our friends in the Nordics. Some of our partner cities (Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki), get just 4–5 hours of daylight during winter. So we caught up with our Copenhagen-based team to find out how they stay motivated during those long, dark months.

Teamwork makes the dream work

During those dark days, there’s only one way to get motivated to do sports: team up with friends who won’t take no for an answer. Felix Thiel is Urban Sports Club’s partner manager for the Nordics and based in our brand new Copenhagen office. He’s originally from Germany but has lived in Copenhagen for the last few years, which has given him real insight to the fitness habits of the region.

“In the Nordics, the seasons have a huge effect on sports,” Felix says. “So in the summer people work out in the morning, but in the winter it stays dark for quite long, so people work out later and it can be hard to get motivated.”

Felix says that racket sports like badminton, squash and padel have become increasingly popular in recent years, with three padel courts and numerous squash courts booked out throughout winter. “When it’s dark, we focus on indoor sports,” Felix says. “That’s why racket sports are so popular. I have the feeling that’s how we cope: by motivating each other and doing sports in groups.”

Padel is the second-most played sport in Spain and has increased in popularity across Europe in recent years. It’s somewhere between squash and tennis and it’s played in teams of four. It’s a great way to socialize and sweat at the same time.

Read all about how Padel became an international hit in our previous blog post.

The Hygge Lifestyle

The Hygge lifestyle is a cultural phenomenon that started in the Nordics. It’s all about creating a space that is beautifully designed to make you feel comfortable, cosy and snug. In the Nordics, this concept extends beyond home and into the fitness studios. In order to motivate the Scandi’s to leave the comfort of their beds and go to yoga in the morning, the studio owners design spaces that are so beautiful and cosy, you’ll actually want to be there in the morning.

Saskia Joensen is another partner manager for Urban Sports Club in Copenhagen. She’s from a very ‘Hygge’ town outside Copenhagen—so remote they don’t clear the snow off the roads during winter—so she’d spend a lot of time as a child snowed into her house. “We really embrace the Hygge in Denmark,” Saskia says. “Put on a sweater, light some candles, get cosy.” One of Saskia’s favorite Urban Sports Club partners is Prana Yoga Shala, an independent studio located in the center of the city. 

“In this part of the world they really put in a lot of effort so people can feel the Nordic design, and feel at home and good in the studios,” Felix says. This also extends to their sauna culture. Felix spends a lot of time warming up in the saunas during the winter, many of which have ice pools outside for people to jump into when they need to cool down. Feilx can’t quite decide whether he enjoys this or not…

WorkOUT Life Balance

The Nordic countries have a healthy working culture, with people encouraged to leave work on time and make the most of their afternoons. In the Nordics it isn’t common to stay at work late or to check emails in the evenings or on weekends. People get an average of 25 vacation days per year and 480 days of parental leave. That’s more than most other countries in the world. Undoubtedly, this is a key reason why those who live in the Nordics have a great outlook on life and come out on top of the World Happiness Report

As a result, the Nordic population values their spare time and makes the most of it by getting their sweat on. “People in the Nordics try not to work too much,” Felix says. “They really focus on their life outside of work and that’s when they do a lot of sports.” Urban Sports Club is all about championing a healthy work/life balance, which is why the Nordics are such an exciting addition to our fitness family.

Next-level commitment

The people of Scandinavia are a resilient bunch, and they won’t let -15 degree weather get in the way of doing what they love. “People in Copenhagen are really active,” Saskia says. “In summer people go crazy outside, but I’ve noticed lately that people still go surfing even during winter. People just put on wetsuits and get into the sea.”

Believe it or not, Denmark has a few top surf spots. There’s an area in the North known as Cold Hawaii where locals can ride some waves or, as Saskia loves to do, go kitesurfing. Although Saskia usually does this during summer, she’s open to pulling on a wetsuit during winter to practice her favourite hobby. “There’s also a cable park where you can go wakeboarding during winter,” Saskia says. It’s official: the people of Scandinavia take fitness to the next level! 

A celebration of independence

“The studio owners love their spaces,” Saskia says. “It’s like their baby and they do everything they can to make it personal and special.” Because people find it hard to cope during the long winters, the studio owners do everything they can to make winter more bearable and encourage people to drop by, get healthy and feel good. These owners make their spaces a place to spend time with friends, and many have coffee bars or cafes built in. Felix says that some studios have special lamps that replicate daylight to help set people up for the day, and there’s nowhere more enjoyable to spend time and relax than Arrndal Spa.

“They just make it super cool and nice and enjoyable,” Saskia says. “That’s how you get people to work out even when it’s dark and depressing outside.”

Did you know that you can get fit in all of the Urban Sports Club countries with just one membership? You don’t need to live in Copenhagen to try out one of these studios–just drop by on your holiday! Sign up for Urban Sports Club today. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Would you like to know more about our corporate sports offer?