Rio de Janeiro – Let The Games Begin

On Holiday in rio? check out the best sports to keep fit between partying and caipirinhas

Famous for its beautiful beaches and events such as carnival and the New Year celebrations, Rio de Janeiro is also the perfect city for a healthy holiday.

Rio has options for individuals or groups, beginners or know-it-alls, and something to suit all budgets: from free running  along the beach front, to bicycle hire, to beach volleyball or surfing lessons. The best of Rio’s sports can be enjoyed outdoors, and by anyone – including those who just want to relieve some of the guilt after one caipirinha too many.

So, if your holiday plan includes a stop  in Rio, check out this sports guide that Jungle has prepared. In case of a hangover, just don’t forget your sunglasses! The sports will help, but the sun is bound to be shining.

Abseiling | Rio de Janeiro is one of the best places in the world to take a break. There’s no lack of retreats where you can be close to nature or find a view guaranteed to refresh your soul. But adrenaline-junkies also have the possibility of taking in those views over the Marvellous City from some very different angles – whilst abseiling.

Abseiling has become more and more popular in Brasil, attracting not just young people but athletes of all ages. Some of the best spots in Rio are Tijuca Forest, Morro da Urca hill, Pedra da Gávea rock – which has a steep climb – and Pedra da Tartaruga rock, from where you can gaze upon the deserted beaches of the West Zone, such as Praia do Perigoso, Grumari and Prainha.

To put your mind at ease whilst you’re sailing down rock faces hanging off a piece of rope, it’s a good idea to stick with the radical sports companies that are registered at ABETA, The Brasilian Eco- and Adventure-tourism Agency; they’ll assist you with everything from transport to the location to supplying equipment and other services like picnics and souvenirs.

Generally, agencies offer courses or  group outings for up to 10 people at a time, with two or more instructors. Prices vary from between R$ 70 (£25) per trip to R$ 350 (£125) for a course.

As well as being pretty good exercise, it’s a great way to get close to nature and appreciate the city from fantastic heights.

Surfing | At five in the morning, the first rays of sun on the sand announce the beginning of yet another day. Joining them are the surfers who like nothing more than being up first thing, ready for another sea-borne adventure. Shrugging off the morning cold, they grab their boards and head for the water. For some, surfing is a sport; for others, it’s a way of life.

São Conrado, in the South Zone, and Prainha are among the most hotly-contested surfing beaches in Rio. Prainha
is considered a surfer’s paradise: as well as great wave conditions, the views are spectacular, with 700 metres of hillside covered in Atlantic Forest.

Surfing requires serious fitness and balance, but the health benefits are just as great. Because it works all of the muscle groups, the sport is recommended for weight-loss and muscle-toning. Anyone planning to head to Rio to ride the Carioca waves should try the Escola de Surf Rico, a surf school founded by Rico de Souza. Prices vary from between R$ 120 (£40) and R$ 180 (£65) a month, or R$ 60 (£20) per hour for private lessons. There are special classes for foreigners.

Beach Volleyball | As soon as you take a short trip along the beach front in the South Zone of Rio, you’ll notice the dozens of volleyball nets set up on the sand. After football, volleyball is the second most popular sport amongst cariocas and Brasilians in general – and the sandy variation has its spiritual home here in Rio. It’s quite common to see people swapping their clothes for swimwear on the beach after work, to have a game and chill out. The Morro Dois Irmãos hill in the background and the samba playing out from the beach kiosks make the moment all the more special.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a pro; the most important thing is to have fun. And, because it’s a team sport, the nets are a great place to socialise and make friends, let alone the fact that it’s a great way to keep fit. Volleyball keeps the upper-body muscles toned and works the calf muscles, because moving on sand is harder. It’s also great cardiovascular exercise. The sand serves as a cushion for the impact in the joints (knees an ankles), a known villain in every sport.

There are lots of volleyball schools for players of all ages. Betinho, who used to play on one of the Brasilian national teams, offers lessons on Leblon and Ipanema beaches with bilingual teachers, from R$ 90 (£30) per month. Sandra and Elaine’s lessons, also on Leblon beach, cost the same amount.

Rowing | Imagine practicing a sport that increased your fitness levels, toned your muscles and improved your posture,
all whilst you gazed at the Rodrigo de Freitas lake… Well, this is what you get when you take up rowing, as well as being able to burn loads of calories. And the scenery really couldn’t be better, enabling you to take in the rich ecosystem of the lake and the mountains surrounding it.

Born in English waters, the first regattas took place on the River Thames in the 19th Century, and rowing became a popular sport soon after. But since those first races between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in 1829, a lot has changed. Today, there are lots of different forms of rowing, the boats are more efficient, and can accommodate from between one and eight rowers, with or without a coxswain (the person in charge of navigating, steering and motivating the boat and athletes). When visiting Rio de Janeiro it’s worth checking out one of the many schools on
the Lagoa de Freitas and trying your hand at rowing. The Clube de Regattas do Flamengo rowing club has classes for different levels and at different times, costing from R$ 77,50 (£25) a month for non-members. Also, the Escola de Remo do Vasco offers packages at various prices. JD

FINDING SPORTS IN RIO

Running

The Rio Marathon – maratonadorio.com.br
webrun – webrun.com.br

Cycling
Mobilicidade bike hire – mobilicidade.com.br
Fecierj – fecierj.org.br

Abseiling
ABETA sports agency – abeta.com.br
Rio hiking – riohiking.com.br

Surf schools
Escola de surf do Rico – ricosurf.globo.com
Escola de Surf Rio – surfrio.com.br

Beach Volleyball Teachers
Equipe de Vôlei do Betinho – voleibetinho.com.br
Escola Vôlei de Praia Sandra e Elaine – voleipraia.com

Rowing Clubs

Clube de Regatas do Flamengo – flamengo.com.br
Escola de Remo do Vasco – crvascodagama.com

By Mariana Campos, Cynthia Magnani & Ana Brasil

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