Israel’s global image has been shaped by its ability to thrive and remain tenacious in less-than-ideal circumstances. While the country is constantly proving this on the largescale, Israelis have recently been upholding this reputation on the more micro level of workout routines.
With gyms and indoor fitness classes closed, Israelis have had to look outwards for new spots to stay fit. Here are 18 outdoor ways that Israelis have evolved their workout routines in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
- Beach sports
One significant advantage of living in Tel Aviv is its location on the beach! Not only are Tel Aviv’s 13 beaches great for tanning and swimming, but they also come in handy for athletes during quarantine. The volleyball nets set up along Gordon Beach allowed groups of people—gathered responsibly and under the lawful limit—to stay active and have fun with friends through games and tournaments. Whether these Israelis are playing each other in casual games or training together in skill-building workshops, they always manage to enjoy the sport and make use of these stretches of sand.
- The gym moved outdoors
The beach-side boardwalk that stretches from Jaffa up to Metsitsim Beach is home to plenty of gym equipment. With workout machines that fitness fanatics use to exercise all muscles, these spots are great places to squeeze in a comprehensive workout with an ocean view. Machines ranging from monkey bars to shoulder press weights to cardio machines. The Israelis that train here don’t hesitate to flaunt their physique!
- A nice bike ride
While cycling is hardly a new phenomenon, it has become increasingly popular since the pandemic began. Whether in groups or solo, riding a bike is not only an excellent way for Israelis to work their legs, but it’s also an effective way to clear their heads as they get from Point A to Point B. With views of the beach, parks or skyscrapers, a bike ride through Tel Aviv is unbelievably beautiful.
- Group fitness classes
There’s no doubt that social distancing is crucial during the pandemic. However, it can be isolating and lonely. Outdoor group exercise classes are a fantastic way to maintain contact with friends and peers while also staying fit. By surrounding themselves with other motivated people in a safe way, these Israelis have managed to build a team of like-minded people to persist through these testing circumstances.
- A game of pickup in the park
A little healthy competition never hurt anybody! Israelis have been taking to local parks and basketball courts for games of pickup against friends and competitors. After spending days working from home or in an isolated space, basketball is a great form of release and invigoration. This basketball court in Neveh Tzedek, only a short walk from the beach, is near an elementary school, so children and adults alike flock to these centers of sport to challenge themselves and friends.
- Surfing in the Mediterranean Sea
Surfing is wildly popular among locals, as it’s challenging, exhilarating and active. Especially during lockdown when outdoor spaces are far safer in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, the open air and ocean breeze create a gorgeous location to stay fit. Even deep into the winter months, you’ll find many committed Israelis riding the waves along the coast.
- The famous matkot
Often referred to as the national beach sport of Israel, matkot is a classic game that Israelis tend to take very seriously! Gordon Beach is a center for this paddle-tennis-like game, where you’ll find duos playing each other in round after round. Matkot is actually quite physically and mentally demanding. But Israelis, known for their astounding strength and quick thinking, are surely prepared for anything this game throws at them (literally).
- Tightrope walking
The tightrope is not just meant for the circus! Setting up a personal tightrope to test core strength and balance is a prime example of Israeli grit. While some people may be satisfied with more traditional sports, many people like this man get creative with their workout routines. On weekends, you may even find groups of people who have all set up their tightropes near each other, creating a communal space to master this niche skill.
- Meditation and yoga
Lockdown has imposed new emotional challenges on many Israelis. The tumultuous state of the world and newfound lifestyle restrictions may cause many individuals stress and worry. Many Israelis have turned to yoga to center and calm their minds through meditation and physical exertion. Luckily enough for people like this solo yogi in Charles Clore Park, Tel Aviv boasts countless gorgeous locations where anyone can find their inner peace.
- Skateboarding at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art may commonly be a spot to admire artwork from world-renowned artists, but in the current situation skaters across Tel Aviv have converted the central square of the museum into an ideal skating spot. These young athletes use the rails and original features of the area to push their limits and learn new tricks, and set up their own ramps to share with all those who dare. Who knew that this artistic hub was so conducive to the skater scene of Tel Aviv!
Jerusalem also has many Covid-friendly workout options. There are lots of other locations near the city where you can get a workout that is both effective and safe.
- Gan Sacher (Sacher Park)
One common place you’ll always see runners and other exercise junkies is at Gan Sacher, where there is an outdoor gym and a massive path around the perimeter of the park. The gym has been a blessing for a lot of people as it has remained open during the pandemic. From yoga headstands to hardcore weightlifting, this outdoor playground has evolved into the go-to place if you want to improve your fitness in a safe outdoor environment with like-minded individuals.
- Ayo Yoga
Ayo Yoga has found a way for students to continue practicing yoga during Covid in a safe way. Thankfully, Israel’s great weather allows for infinite outdoor yoga classes that take place at various parks and rooftop gardens around Jerusalem. Ayo teaches yoga and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes of all levels, all while maintaining six feet of distance. Students use class time to connect their body and mind in a way that is active and calming. One example is a baby yoga class at San Simon Park.
- Lifshitz Park
Located in a secluded area, Lifshitz Park in Baka is surrounded by a family-friendly neighborhood. Breaking a sweat here is easy with its outdoor gym containing multiple machines for the arms, legs, core and more. Entertaining a child while working out will be an easy task thanks to the playground in easy view of the workout area.
- Train Track Park
Walk along what used to be Jerusalem’s original train tracks and you’ll find a small outdoor gym alongside both a walk and bike path. It’s a perfect stopover for runners, walkers or bikers who want to change up their workout by using one of the gym machines.
- Gideon Park
Another outdoor gym area with surrounding sports courts, Gideon Park is full of Covid-friendly exercise options. You can find spots to get some good exercise using either of their two basketball courts, or simply by trying out some of the nearby arm, leg and core machines.
- San Simon Park
From a nice stroll around the park to running paths to hardcore training at the outdoor gym, this park is a perfect space to break a sweat. You can even enjoy a book while working out because of the outdoor library, stocked with magazines and novels.
Running is a form of exercise that many people have adopted as their de facto sport during Covid. Finding safe places to run in a city, however, can be a difficult task.
You can always spot runners on Jaffa Street alongside the light-rail. There are no cars in sight and the long stretch of road makes this street ideal for hitting the pavement.
- An alternative ‘stairmaster’
Running up and down stairs is a perfect Covid workout. Located near the “I ♥️ JLM” sign in Tsahal Square are the perfect stairs for a challenging workout on the short stretch from the Old City to Jaffa Street. This is just one of many popular sets of stairs across the capital city.
- Public workout spots
The Jerusalem Municipality has helped set up public workout spaces in six neighborhood parks — Baka, Givat Masuah, Pisgat Ze’ev, Oranim Junction, Ramot, Kiryat HaYovel — for 20 people at a time under Health Ministry rules, with certified trainers giving instruction available at specified hours.