Thought of the Week: Football and Free-Exercise

2010-10-24. Published in Life in Gothenburg
by Nina

Everyone in the States jokes that all Europeans think about (among other things) is soccer—or, what I will now start correctly refer to as, football. They teased me that I’d drop my beloved Red Sox for some obscure football team and trot around the town with a vuvuzela (though, I’d probably do that last one regardless). I didn’t think much of my friends’ jokes at the time, but man, it definitely only took me four weeks in Gothenburg before I joined a weekly football game.

And you know, maybe it’s something in the European air or that pathetic-foreign-kid desire to make friends, I am so happy I’m playing again. As a child, I started playing football at six years old and continued until pretty much high school, where I was told that only if you were good could you keep playing in tournaments. After that, things petered out. I did cross-country. I tried crew. I even tried fencing. I tried to delude myself I could get over it; there were other sports.

But now that I’ve been playing with a team and getting territorial and competitive with a bunch of other guys (and girls) on a imitation-turf field (rain, shine, cold, whatever), I can’t go back. I want to get better and better. And from the whole “university” perspective, it’s fantastic! I never realized how helpful it is to make yourself play every week—those post-game endorphins have definitely carried me through a couple late-night assignments…

In all seriousness, though, it’s definitely apparent to this born-again-football-fan that Sweden is a pretty active place. Hallelujah for the biking culture. Praise to the fathers and mothers pushing prams at all hours of the day. Huzzah to the runners, the dog-walkers, the rollerbladers, those people with the walking poles in Slottsskogen. It’s so easy to be active in this country, and so easy to do so without paying a penny.

I thought about paying for a Fysiken membership, but things you can do for free exercise quickly started to outweigh even the discounted membership cost. Here’s some suggestions if you’re looking to save up for that trip to Copenhagen:

  1. Run. So simple. Go get shoes, make a playlist, and go run. Gives you an excuse to buy an iPod and wear tight pants…though, I guess everyone does that here anyway…

  2. Bike. Bike long distances. Bike short distances.

  3. Parcour. I’ve tried it. I’ve seen people do it off the fountain in Jarntorget, inside Chalmers. It turns the whole world into a videogame—just remember that when you land, it’s cement.

  4. Online videos. You can find them. Just like you can find anything that could exist ever on YouTube.

  5. Organize a team. Like team sports? I’m sure others do too. The cost to rent a field is going to be far less than paying a membership fee.

  6. Build a treefort. Not kidding. I did that this weekend; serious exercise.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m late for my football game. :-)

/Nina, team 2010