Brussels may not immediately conjure up images of quiet country lanes, but the city’s parks and even forests make cycling and jogging a popular way to get around and keep fit. More than 250,000 people living in Belgium are part of Facebook communities related to their favourite sport. Tennis and yoga are among the most popular sports with Facebook users and communities. And in summer there is also the AG Roller Bike Parade, with Brussels’ roads closed by the police for the passage of people on roller blades, scooters, skateboards, bikes – and other small wheeled forms of transport! Growing concerns about traffic and air pollution are also encouraging an increasing number of people to rediscover the pleasure and benefits of walking around this old city and its green spaces.
With contributions from Running Buddy – Brussels / Partenaire course à pied Bruxelles, BXL Run Crew, Bruxelles Tennis Team, Yoga Brussels, and Brussels Bike SELLING (VENTE de vélo sur Bruxelles et Alentours)
Running and cycling
Canals by bike
Canals in the centre of Brussels were covered up in the 19th and early 20th century after years of floods and water pollution, and a cholera epidemic. But clean and cyclist-friendly canal routes can still be found on the edge of the city. To the west of the city centre, the canal travels south towards Hal – a very flat route for at least 20 kilometres, with no cars, and plenty of benches to rest on! “You are very quickly in the countryside,” says Brussels Bike Selling. “In the middle of nature.”
Bois de la Cambre to Avenue de Fré
A popular jogging route, starting on Avenue de Fré in the Uccle municipality and ending in Bois de la Cambre, a 124-hectare park to the south of Brussels. Bois de la Cambre itself is a popular spot with joggers, cyclists and walkers: it’s up to you how many kilometres you want to get under your belt!
“Grab a map of bike paths from Bruxelles Mobilité with easy routes marked around Brussels” – Gaudéric Bernard, Community Leader of the Brussels Bike Selling group
“We founded the Brussels Run Crew because we share a love of running and exploring the city of Brussels. It is a great city for bringing people together through running”. Camille Pollie and Tim Verheyden – Community Leaders of BXL Run Crew page and group
Running in Bois de la Cambre and the bigger Forest of Soignes, of which the Bois is a part, is always a good idea. Every two weeks the Brussels Run Crew meets in a bar and runs 10 kilometres through one of the Brussels neighbourhoods – and which ends with a beer, and the sharing of stories and food. Examples of 10K jogging routes taken by the crew include one that starts in central Brussels on Place Flagey, and a “street art run” taking in much of the city’s street art.
A circuit of over 60 kilometres, ideal for both cyclists and pedestrians and which takes in much of the Brussels region. The walk is divided into seven sections, ranging between just over six and just over 10 kilometres each. The Green Walk crosses parks, woodland, cemeteries and nature reserves, depending on the section chosen. According to the Brussels Run Crew, one of the “big secrets” of the Green Walk is the route covering 14 kilometres between Herman Debroux and Stalle, which offers many varied landscapes and green areas.
Yoga, yoga everywhere!
If you are downtown, Yyoga (Quai au Bois à Brûler 39B), offers a big city vibe in the centre of Brussels, or for a more relaxed, traditional style, you can try the Sampoorna yoga studio (Rue du Houblon 40), one of the oldest in the city. Professionals working around the Schuman area may enjoy the Radiant Light Yoga studio (Rue Saint-Quentin 36), while for a more relaxed session, La Vallée (Rue de la Vallée 51), YogaRoots (Rue Le Titien 46) and Serendip Spa and Yoga (Place Stéphanie 18) are good options. And if you’re feeling playful, you can try taking an “aerial” yoga class, combining traditional poses with the use of a special hammock, at Santosha (Avenue Ernest Cambier 151). The Yoga Brussels community is always a good place to check out upcoming weekly yoga events.
Tennis whatever your level
The Facebook community Tennis Group loves the Royal Racing Club (Avenue des Chênes 125) for a bit of tennis practice – it’s the oldest club in town. But the XL Tennis Club (Chaussée de Waterloo 890) organised by the local authorities in the Brussels commune of Ixelles, also wins plaudits as one of the best – and possibly cheapest – spots for racket fans. You can also find places to play without needing to be a member of the club, like the Tennis Club Montjoie (Rue Edith Cavell 91).
The AG Roller Bike Parade
The AG Roller Bike Parade is open to anyone who is at least ten years old, whether you’re a professional or a beginner. It provides the perfect opportunity to meet friends, family members and sporting buddies, with a choice of 5km and 20km routes around Brussels.
Photo by AG Roller Bike Parade