If you happen to be an athlete and are concerned about the sports facilities you might find in Seoul, you can breathe easy. From Olympic size swimming pools to soccer fields to – yes – even a curling rink; Seoul will have the facilities on hand for you to enjoy your favourite sports. If you just want a local gym to work out in, don’t worry about that either. In every neighbourhood you’ll find locally owned gyms with cardio and weight equipment. Monthly gym fees for the local facilities can cost anywhere from 50,000 won to 150,000 won per month depending on the facilities. Most gyms include a sauna, change rooms and personal lockers.
The two main sports celebrated in Seoul are soccer and baseball. You may already know that Koreans rank among the best baseball players in the world (which earned them a gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing) and they’re very proud of that fact! Seoul will be an exciting city of residence for any sports enthusiast.
Aside from indoor facilities, there are also numerous outdoor sports facilities around Seoul (and plenty of expat “just for fun” sports leagues). Touch rugby and soccer are just a few of the sports you can partake in during your time in Seoul – in season, of course. Probably the most popular area for outdoor sports is Yeouido Park, near the Han River. During the spring, summer and autumn months the park is a plethora of sporting events and tournaments. Aside from different sporting pitches and fields, the park is also home to a scenic bicycle track, several swimming pools and badminton/tennis courts.
The two main arenas in Seoul where one can watch a professional baseball or soccer game are Olympic Stadium in Songpa-gu (Jamsil-dong) and World Cup Stadium in Mapo-gu. The Olympic Stadium houses baseball games while World Cup Stadium (naturally) hosts soccer games. Both are lots of fun to watch – Seoul’s sporting events are definitely not to be missed, even if you don’t like sports they are quite entertaining!
While it may be difficult to find a gym with an English speaking staff, you will never have a hard time finding a gym. They are very common in Seoul and Koreans take excerise very seriously. All that you need is to get a membership and then you are good to go. Usually the staff will be welcoming and try their best to get you set up, regardless of your level of Korean (sometimes you even get a ” foreigner discount”). However, if you would feel more comfortable having your Korean friend sign you up, then you can do this as well.
Two gyms in the Youngsan-gu area that speak English and have a good reputation with expats are:
Studio X- Fitness : They are foreign-owned and operated, offering specialized classes such as Muay Thai and boot camps. http://www.studio-x-fitness.com
Dragon Hill Spa : Dragon hill is also a jimjilbang, but it has an amazing gym with English speaking staff.
Directions: From Yongsan Subway/KTX Station Exit 1, turn right and walk about 50 m. You will see it right infront of you. it has a giant neon clock.
telephone: +82 18 223-0002 (English)
For all the golfers out there: Koreans love golf, too, and driving ranges are sprouting up all around the city. Most are indoor driving ranges, with the main courses found outside the city. It is a very costly activity in Korea; green fees average up to $300 per person and most clubs require you to become a member, which is extremely expensive. That being said, if you can afford golfing in Korea, here are some of the more popular courses around Seoul’s vicinity:
Nam Golf Club: Bundang-gu (subway line), 18 hole. Telephone: 031-709-6000.
Dukpyung Golf Club: Icheon-si (a city on the Southern border of Gyeonggi Province), 18 hole. Telephone: 031-638-9623/7.
Yangpyung Golf Club: Yangpyung-gun (a county located Southeast of Seoul), 27 hole. Telephone: 031-772-2134.
Cheil Golf Club: Ansan-si (a city just South of Seoul), 27 hole. Telephone: 031-416-6500.
It can be difficult to find a gym with an English-speaking staff, but rest assured that there are gyms are nearly every other corner in the city. Tennis courts, swimming pools and gyms, as well as aerobic classes are found in sport centres.
Gangnam-gu Sports and Cultural Centre: http://www.kncity.or.kr/sportct/sportct.asp?Org_Num=21
You will find a swimming pool, fitness centre and aerobics rooms as well as centres for golf, badminton, yoga, tai chi and other activities. The website is in Korean and the staff, most likely, will speak very little English. Monthly fees will vary according to your area of interest. The Centre is located in Suseo-dong on the orange subway line. Go to Suseo Station and use exit three.
Sungbuk-gu Sports Centre: http://www.gongdan.go.kr/
At Sungbuk, you’ll find tennis courts, a fitness centre, a soccer field as well as different clubs and classes open to the community. As with the Gangnam-gu Centre, monthly fees depend on which activities you partake in. To get there, take subway line number seven to Wolgok Station; use exit three.
Yongsan-gu Sports Centre: http://www.yongsangu-sc.or.kr
At Yongsan-gu Sports Centre, you can swim, work out at the gym or take an aerobics class. There are also different classes offered to members of the community. To get there, take subway line seven to Samgakji Station (down the road from Itaewon’s main drag). Again, monthly fees will depend on which activities you partake in.
It should be noted that most of these facilities will also have a jjimjilbang on their premises. For more information on jjimjilbang, please read the beauty section.
While most Yoga in Seoul is taught in community centres, they may not be right for you if you’re in an advanced level. It should be noted that, while classes taught in community centres will cost around 30,000 won per month, the Yoga taught in studios is more advanced and the instructors are highly trained. This is reflected in the cost for lessons at these studios. If you wish to take classes at a studio, there are several around Seoul.
Yoga Korea: http://www.yogakorea.net
Jai Centre: http://www.jaicenter.co.kr
If you’re interested in joining an expat for-fun league, here are some contacts:
Seoul Sunday Football (Soccer) League: http://www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?cmenuid=1&url=ssflkorea&sid=890554123
Touch Rugby League: http://touchtagrugby.blogspot.com/
Canada Ball Hockey Korea: http://www.cbhk.org/
Korea Cricket Association: http://www.cricket.or.kr/
Handball in Korea: http://www.handballinkorea.org/
Korea Ultimate Players Association: http://www.koreaultimate.net
If you’re a runner, this website gives up to date information on upcoming races in the Seoul area. However, it is in Korean, so you may need some help from a Korean speaking friend or coworker!