Zürich Gyms

I have been faffing about looking for a gym for several years now. After some back trouble following our move and evaluating my horrible posture sitting in a desk at work all day, I thought I should start taking fitness more seriously.

The truth is, I am terribly out of shape. I may be on the low end of the BMI scale, but I have no muscle mass, my flexibility is awful and my endurance is pitiful.

I have many excuses why I should not join a gym. There are none in the town I work in, so going during lunch like Kay isn’t an option. I’m worried that going in the morning is impossible and going after work will ruin my already pitiful social life. I like life right now.

I’m worried that if I gain more muscles I will start eating more and it will increase my grocery bill. Or I’ll lose weight and have to buy new clothes. I’m worried that whenever we move and have kids or whatever happens, I’ll just stop exercising and it will all have been for nothing… except a drain on my bank account.

If I start going to a gym, I’ll have to organize showering, changing clothes, and doing my hair and makeup before work outside the home. I’ll also have to organize how to keep my pack lunches cold because I normally just stick them in my purse for the ride to work. I’d have to organize a gym bag and shoes and workout clothes.

That sounds like a lot of BS. But I realize that I do need to start taking my health more seriously and that I am too much of a wimp to run every day or swim, especially when the weather is awful so much of the year. If am I going to commit to exercising regularly, I’m positive that I need access to a gym or it won’t happen.

TMLSS: I’m lazy and gyms are expensive. Here are my options:

Migros Fitness Park

Annual Membership:  1200CHF ($1341)
Opening Hours:
Weekdays: 8:00 – 22:00
Weekends: 9:00 – 20:00
Locations: Zürich city center, old town

None of the Fitness parks are in very convenient locations to public transportation. They are in good spots if you would live by them, but for people coming through Zürich they would be difficult to walk or take a tram to quickly. The best part about them is that they are open so late on the weekend. 24H gyms do not exist in this country.


Activ Fitness

Annual Membership:
1Y – 740CHF ($827)
2Y – 1280CHF ($1430 or $715 a year)
Opening Hours:
MWF: 09.00 – 22.00
TR:  6.30 – 22.00
Weekends and Holidays: 09.00 – 18.00
Locations: Zürich Central, Tiefenbrunnen and from Jan 31, Oerlikon

Activ fitness would be an all right option, but they are only open early two days a week. 9:00am is a bit too late to go to in the morning, even for locations that are closer to my workplace. I mean… I have to be at work at 9:00!

The central location is not that convenient for me in Zürich because it is not quick to get to from the main train stations. Really, every minute counts in the morning and a 5 minute walk vs a 15 minute walk is a huge difference, especially if it is a raining. Walking through the busiest part of the city with trams, buses, cars and people on the roads among the elements does not make the gym sound more attractive…

But Active is opening a new gym in Oerlikon at the end of this month. Shame is just that it is also going to have the same hours as the other gyms.

Intercity Card: Migros Fitness Park and Activ together

Annual Membership:  1420CHF ($1587)
Opening Hours:
MWF: 8:00 – 22:00
TR:  6.30 – 22.00
Weekends and Holidays: 9:00 – 20:00
Locations: Zürich Central, Tiefenbrunnen and from Jan 31, Oerlikon

The intercity card offers many gyms in the price of one, but the only ones around Zürich are Migros and Activ, so it’s like having a combined offer for those gyms. It’s such an expensive card though and it doesn’t really help you out on the early morning timings, so for me, it’s not worth the crazy price.

Kieser Training

Annual Membership:
1Y – 990CHF ($1106)
2Y – 1690CHF ($1889 or $945 a year)
2Y – 2290CHF ($2560 or $853 a year)
Opening Hours:
Weekdays: 6.30 – 21.00
Weekends and Holidays: 09.00 – 18.00
Locations: Zürich Enge, Hardbrücke, Oerlikon

Kieser is pricey but they have great hours and good locations. The gym is open early enough that I could go at either location before work easily. It maybe closes a little early, but I honestly don’t think you would catch me staying at the gym until 10pm during the week and the weekend hours are decent.

I’m not sure if it is worth signing on for a 3 year membership to get the lower price though. That is a huge commitment!


Annual Membership:  699CHF ($781) plus a one time registration fee of 59CHF ($66)
Opening Hours: (depending on location)
Weekdays: 06:30 – 22:00
Weekends: 9:00 – 18:00
Locations: Zürich Bellevue, Wipkingen, Langstrasse, Badenerstrasse

I believe annual fee for Silhouette is usually around 1000CHF. They are having a special right now for an 899CHF introductory membership, but I can get a discount through Kay to have a membership for 699CHF. I’m strongly considering it because it is a great price compared to the others, but I am hesitating a little.

The Bellevue location has great hours, but the Wipkingen location is only open 9:00am – 9:30pm.  It doesn’t make a huge difference, but it’s nice to have options since Wipkingen is a bit more convenient to get to from home than Bellevue.

Update Fitness

Annual Membership:  690CHF ($771)
Opening Hours:
Weekdays:  08.00 – 9:30pm
Saturday: 09.00 – 17.00
Sundays and holidays: 09.00 – 14.00
Locations: None in Zürich

Yes, I know it’s not in Zürich, but this gym is so cheap! It also has a handy “stop card” for 90CHF that lets you pause your membership while you are away on holidays, which could be handy for people who want to switch to running and swimming outdoors in the summertime.

However it’s not really in the direction of work and it’s not open early enough to go to before work, so it’s out of the running. The weekend hours, especially Sunday, kind of stink though. It closes at 14:00? I would always be stressed to get up and get ready to go before it closed.


Annual Membership:
1Y – 1040CHF ($1162)
2Y – 1750CHF ($1956 or $978 a year)
3Y 2250CHF ($2515 or $838 a year)
Opening Hours:
Weekdays: 07:00–22:00
Weekends: 09:00–18:00
Locations: Zürich downtown, Zürich Oerlikon

The Zürich downtown location is sort of close to the main train station, but would probably be a time hog to walk and from in the morning on the way to work. The Oerlikon location is closer to the train station, but it opens slightly too late for me to go for an hour, shower and then get to work on time. It is also a bit too expensive for my taste.

I think Exersuisse is a gym I might have joined in Luzern if I worked there longer because it would have been convenient to have access to the Exersuisse locations outside of the Zürich region. For people commuting longer distances, it is worth looking up gyms with widespread locations included in the membership package. Not all gyms are cross-cantonal and not all gyms include membership access in the different cities.

My problem in deciding which gym to go to is that I cannot decide where it should be in relation to work and home.

If the gym could be close enough to work that I could go there during lunch, that would be perfect. But a gym like this does not exist, so if the gym is close to work, but not home… I would probably never go on the weekends.

I am guessing that it would probably work best to go to a gym that is closer to home so that I have the weekend option, but if the gym does not open up early enough then I cannot go before work, which also cuts down on how often I can go and for how long.

I thought of joining one vaguely close to work, but it was over $1500 a year, which I thought was a bit excessive since I still wouldn’t be able to go at lunchtime with the distance.

With all the options, I keep procrastinating on choosing!

How much do gyms in your area cost?

Tricky Swiss Realty Ads

As an expat in Switzerland, navigating the realty here can be intimidating in the beginning. It is easy to feel confused when searching through listings in German.

After living here for several years and searching for both rentals and houses for sale, I have noticed a couple points about the listing titles. Here are a few rough translations to explain.

This means that the apartment is really pretty small, but supposedly “nice”. Often you can find nice little luxury apartments or well kept spaces, but in general “Klein aber fein” means overpriced for how small it is.

I would definitely use this term to describe our $3000 a month one bedroom. It was beautiful and well-equipped and the view and luxury are worth it to some, but in our case I was ready to move on.

This generally means the house is in poor or terrible condition, but you can renovate it if you have the stomach for Swiss labor costs.

They are not always awful and sometimes you can find a great deal on a nice forever house, but most of the time they are so outdated or in bad repair that you wonder how people live in them.

Once I saw a house with a bathroom (bathtub and toilet) in the kitchen – a throwback to the olden days when the kitchen was the only room in the house with water pipes. But I don’t need a toilet in my food prep space, thank you.

Kay didn’t want to look at anything with Ausbaupotential because we were not planning on getting involved with any renovation projects at the moment. Or maybe ever. I don’t see Kay ever being that keen on self renovation or an old house.

This basically means that the place is overpriced and probably not affordable for you. Unless you happen to earn over a million a year or have several millions saved up in your account for the deposit, just look away.

Don’t spend too much time ogling luxury villas like I do.

Unlike “Toplage” listings, it’s usually a good thing when a listing is right on top of a public transportation stop. You will pay more money to be next to a train station. Prices go down if you are only next to a tram, even less for buses and if the listing requires a car to get to and from work, it had better be darn well cheap!

Those are just a few of the common listing terms I saw when I was searching to buy our home. If you are looking up rentals you need to watch out for three important things:

  1. möblierte” apartments are furnished. Watch out if you are not looking for a furnished flat. There are plenty of them around.
  2. WG” which stands for “Wohngemeinschaft” and means a shared flat. If you found a great price (1200CHF) on a four bedroom in downtown Zürich, it probably means that is the price for one of the rooms, not the whole flat.
  3. Befristet” apartments. Chances are that flat is a great price because it is either being subleased for a limited period or it is due for a renovation. Either way, the leases on temporary apartments are usually 1-11 months. That can be good if you are looking for a temporary solution, but don’t fall in love and move into a flat that you’ll have to move out of in a couple months.

Do you notice any common listing terms on the realty around you?

Hemming Ikea Curtains

While Kay was in the army last November, I decided to spontaneously visit IKEA after work one day. It was the first time I ever went by myself. I went in search of curtains, but I may have bought a sofa as well…

OK, I did buy a sofa, and I sure hoped that Kay would like it because I forgot to ask permission before pulling the trigger! But this post is not about our Karlstad. It is about office curtains. I was sick of not having any curtains in the office or the master bath and I knew that the sheer material I bought would not be adequate for either room without some proper curtains, so I bought four sets of cheap curtains to hem: Two for each office window and four to double up for privacy in the bathroom window.

I decided to go for this red pattern in the office, to match the orange/red sofa and I was also nervous to be buying fabric without Kay. We had such a hard time deciding fabric for the living room and bedroom and we rarely make home decor decisions without each other, but he thought the fabric was fine, so I went ahead and started hemming.

A friend mentioned that I should try hanging them and basting to see if the curtains would be the proper length and then I found this tutorial for hemming IKEA curtains on Charm Stitch.

I decided to try out pinning and sewing the curtains directly at the window as the tutorial suggested, but I opted to hang the curtains up backwards so that I wouldn’t be flipping the fabric over and possibly screwing up my hem. I also had more room to work in the living room than the office, so it was easier to set up an ironing board and sewing machine out there. Since I was going to move the curtains anyway, putting them up backwards to hem and sew was not a big deal.

First I pinned and it was good to check because IKEA curtains are sewn pretty poorly and unevenly and it was necessary to adjust a lot.

Once I was happy with the hanging I lifted the curtain up on to my ironing board and ironed the hem.

Below you can see how sometimes I needed to adapt the wonky IKEA curtain to form a straighter line.

I’m not saying my line is perfect… I just tucked it in a bit so that it would appear straight from the front side of the curtain.

Once I had ironed, I would let the curtain hang and check how even it was.

Below is an example of a curtain pinned that needed reworked.

And here was the re-pinning and ironed hem.

It didn’t have to be 100% perfect for me, but close enough.

When the hem was OK I sewed in the weights at the bottom. Then I got lazy and started straight up stapling the lead weights in because I was just that lazy… and I figured that nobody is going to tell if I stapled them or sewed them, so why expend all the extra effort?

I plopped my sewing machine up on the ironing board and sewed my hems then.

Finally when the curtains were done I took them down and re-hung them in the office with the hem facing the window.

At some point I’ll take you some nice daytime pictures of the office windows. I was happy I got these done before my little sister spent the night on our sofa bed.

After the office curtains I hemmed the four bathroom curtains and layered some plain white curtains behind a patterned white curtain that wasn’t quite opaque enough on its own.

Have you got some IKEA curtains in your home? Did you have to hem them to fit in or did you leave them long?

A belated happy New Year!

Holy beejeezus. I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last post!

Things got a little crazy in December. I was trying to arrange for my little sister to visit me from her exchange program for Christmas, which meant picking her up and dropping her off in a different country. Meanwhile Kay was finalizing all our holiday plans before we headed to Oman for New Year and Thailand for two weeks.

We’ve just gotten back now and my poor plants need watered, I have a lot of work to catch up on and lots of photos to go through.

Hopefully I’ll get some time to get some normal posts up again soon. In the mean time, I hope you all had wonderful holidays! Did anyone make any resolutions for 2014?