Written by: Nikiya Bechtle

On my way to the second biggest city in Spain I wondered, how will I fit in after growing up in a beach town in central California? Is it even possible to immerse myself in such a diverse culture?

It makes me laugh thinking back on the unnecessary worries I had coming to Barcelona. What makes this place so special is every person can experience their passions from back home in a new culture and in a different way than where they live. One of these passions for me is exercise and fitness.

Back in the United States I have been a part of many teams, workout family’s and enjoy long distance running and swimming. I have never been a big fan of typical workouts in a gym and was worried about how I would find a way to exercise outside the gym in a big city.

On my first short walk down to the beach, I saw runners passing in all directions, swimmers in the clear blue ocean, volleyball groups and others doing workouts in the sand, and even gym workout structures on the beach. I couldn’t believe my eyes that there was such a big fitness culture in Barcelona.

I decided the next day to take a run down the coast of Barcelona since it seemed to be the place to be. I came across a surf shop that caught my eye called Box Barcelona. I walked inside and was recommended to check out upstairs. I walked up the stairs to find lockers and a changing room on my left, with Nike shoes displayed in a glass case and tables, chairs and couches on my right where people were working and chatting with friends. One of the friendly staff members instantly approached me and explained me the sitch of the place and the environment it provides. By the end of the conversation, I already had downloaded the app and decided which beach workouts I wanted to sign up for. I was now a member of a new family. A fitness family in which I could use lockers and study space on the side. Just like that, I had gained the opportunity to join surfing, yoga, boxing, HITT, pilates, rollerblading and weight classes on the beach, along with a running group.  After a long day of classes, there is no better feeling than studying on the couches with views of the ocean before my workout. I have met people from all around the globe and hardly ever have a workout with a few people from the same country. The culture of working out is family oriented, like everything else in Barcelona. People motivate each other and make everyone feel welcome.

Many other students in Alba have found opportunities to join workout groups with their own passions as well. My roommate joined a volleyball group, a few friends joined yoga, and a few others joined pick up basketball teams. Barcelona provides a welcoming atmosphere for any of your passions as long as you are willing to immerse yourself and find the family you want to be a part of.