Faux Pas Friday: Furry Feet/Free Swedish Gym

It’s been awhile since a Faux Pas Friday. No, I haven’t suddenly gained more finesse. I simply haven’t been going out enough to get myself into a fix. But never fear. Spring is near, and increased outings will surely offer me new ways to look the fool.

Here’s one:

I’ve been meaning to go to this free exercise class since mid-January (yes, I know it’s now mid-March). You’ve already figured out that I’ll do a lot of things for a good story; have I mentioned the great lengths I’ll go to for just about anything free?

“Gym suedoise.” Swedish gym. Ok, I have no idea what that means, but I decide that Swedes are usually in very good shape, so I will trust them with a fine workout routine. (Remind me to write another post about my former Swedish fetish).

I finally decide, spur of the moment (as I do many things) that tonight is the night.

I am just leaving fictionland, however, so I am not thinking straight. I put on some sweatpants and a tank top under my sweater and prepare to go. This will save me from having to change there, I figure.

Now, this is not yet my faux pas. We’ve already established that I’m ok with leaving the house in sweat pants and that I lounge all day in a bathrobe. I may be one of the only people in Paris with such a style, but I also have a long black coat that looks fancy and in a pinch can hide my weird ensembles.

I get off at Barbès-Rochechouart. Besides being hard to say (though I do know how now!), this metro stop is always loud and seems to have crowds of only men waiting around it. I don’t come here often, but every time I do, I go, oh yeah. It’s like this.

The class is in some gym in the Goutte d’Or, the African district. This is not the picture postcard Paris. I’d like to say colorful, and it is, but I also pass many homeless people, and again, mainly men on the street.

When I walk into the gym, though, a whole bunch of white French women are there. There are about 50 of us – and 3 men (straight guys, take note: if you’re single, could this be heaven?).

Not only are there many French women, but I notice that they are all wearing tennis shoes. Mainly bright, white tennis shoes. French women do not wear tennis shoes. I do, but wouldn’t you know it – I am not now.

No, I am wearing my tall (faux) fur-lined boots. PERFECT for a workout. I do not have another pair of shoes with me.

What? This isn't proper footware for the gym?

Can I say something in my defense? I’ve done yoga, pilates, modern dance. All activities done in bare feet. I think exercise, and I don’t picture shoes.

Ok, but there were definitely shoes involved here and I was in trouble. I am thankful for my long pants which cover the fact that I am wearing tall fur-lined boots to a gym class. I am also thankful that my comfy clothes habit extends to my footwear, so I think I actually will be able to move in these without doing myself too much harm.

We start. I have to remember I’m doing aerobics, not dance steps. I follow pretty easily, until I totally don’t. There’s nothing worse than being in step and then suddenly losing your rhythm for no discernable reason. I try to cover by pretending I’m learning choreography. Then I feel even more stupid because I’m looking like I’m trying to dance and really we are just doing side-steps and squats and kicks. Jazz hands down!

The sweat. Oh, there was much sweat. I feel it collecting in my fur-lined boots. How the heck am I going to wash these, I think? My feet are so hot, but I will not embarrass myself further by revealing to the 50 people in the class that I’m wearing fur-lined boots. So I press on.

It is a good workout, with sometimes very silly moves. My favorite was when we started doing the can-can. Were the French offended that the Swedes had co-opted the can-can?

The Can Can
Let’s just say I did not look like this. Not yet ready for the Moulin Rouge.

Certain exercises saw me unable to keep up. I am no longer very fit, but I didn’t think I was a wimp. I looked around. I am, apparently. I thought French girls didn’t go to the gym? How are they beating me at this?

No, Sion, don’t be competitive. I am not competitive! I am dripping sweat and doing leg lifts in fur-lined boots. Keep a low profile.

I made it to the end of class and I have to say, it actually felt great, as it usually does when I actually get my butt out of the chair and move.

I go to the dressing room to peel off my tank top which is now soaked through and through. Other women join me. They all change out of their tennis shoes and into nice boots.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Free “Gym Suedoise” class every Wednesday from 9-10 PM through March 30
Gymnase de la Goutte d’Or
9 passage Boris Vian
75018 Paris
M° : Barbès-Rochechouart
Tél. : 01 42 62 52 16

If you love free, too, check out that website, Bon Plan Party.

Happy weekend – dress appropriately!

Have a faux pas to share? The best always receive a shout-out!

22 Responses to “Faux Pas Friday: Furry Feet/Free Swedish Gym”

  1. 1 Lindsey March 11, 2011 at 11:49 am

    So are the boots ruined?? Always remember, it’s either bare feet or sneakers, never anything with fur 🙂 Your legs can’t breathe! Glad you got out of the house. There are other places to do free gym suédoise in better neighborhoods – I know I did one in the Parc Montsouris across from Cité U (RER B) but I imagine there others more centrally located!


    • 2 paris (im)perfect March 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      I know, I know. I mentioned I wasn’t thinking clearly, right? I wanted to take the boots off, but it was intimidating being bare-footed in the midst of 50-sneaker clad people. The boots aren’t ruined, thankfully.

      There *are* other free gym suedoise classes. This one was just at a good time for me and a direct metro line (always key!) Parc Montsouris is nice – but I’m sure as heck not going all the way down there for a class!

      Next time I will do better, promise 🙂


  2. 3 Oneika March 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    This gave me a good belly laugh!


  3. 7 Franck March 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I would say: Such a faux-pas, Sion!
    But I have an intimate tragedy like this in my Hungarian past!
    I swam in every pool, bath, lake, pond, puddle and sputum of the old Aquincum (watercity in Latin) and sometimes (what a blundder!) after having sipped a beer.
    Results of the races (résultats des courses), well, once or twice, I mixed up the various rules of those too many places. That is the reason why I was the only one wearing a charlotte in a pool where everyboby was bareheaded.
    Nothing compared to the next anecdote.
    Alone in Budapest, I wore a charlotte until I saw my reflection in the full length mirror of the wardrobe in my hotel room… at one am!
    Knowing that I was out of the pool five hours earlier… I walked (a lot) in the city I cherish, I sat in a park, I ate at my favourite restaurant, I walked and danced among clubbers, I thought everybody was very smiling to me, I asked my key to the receptionist, I was polite with the old Lady etc. etc. etc.
    Oh! I think I toasted myself in Budapest for five generations! (je crois que je me suis grillé à Budapest sur cinq générations !)
    Maybe this is the reason when I meet a girl called Charlotte I think she is laughing at me.


  4. 8 Sariah Choucair March 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Oh Sion, this was such a great read. Between the jazz hands and the boots. . . bravo.


  5. 10 Milla March 13, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Fabulous read! I want to try it sans fur boots. You really are a trooper!



  6. 12 Ann March 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Hilarious story, Sion! And thanks for revealing the mystery of the Gym Suedoise — I was at a dinner party last night and it was the talk of the table. I had no idea why everyone was so enthused!


    • 13 paris (im)perfect March 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      I know! I’ve been hearing about “Gym Suedoise” for awhile and had no idea what it really meant. Yes, mystery revealed: random aerobics/dance/stretching/cardio class to a mix of music with Swedish instructor 🙂


  7. 14 Res March 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I bet you burned even more calories with those fur-lined boots – like that yoga you have to get all hot and sweaty for. You may even be starting a new exercise trend!


  8. 16 Sweet Freak March 14, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Schweaty gym classes + faux fur = svelte feet. I wish I had been there to crack up with you!


  9. 17 jenna{frombostonwithlove} April 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    This is too much! Group aerobics is special enough as it is. I can not even imagine trying to keep up in boots. Major props to you!


  10. 19 Mayita March 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Hi there,
    Good you enjoy Swedish Gym !
    Could you please mention in your main post (maybe a PS) that participants are supposed to bring a pair of sneakers / running shoes with clean soles (used only for the gym) and not wear their “outside” footwear (sneakers, shoes, fur boots or whatever) for hygiene reasons, as classes also includes abs, stretching and other activities performed on the floor.
    Normally instructors are supposed to check for “alien footwear” and refuse attendance to people without “indoors” shoes.


  1. 1 HiP Paris Blog » Fighting the Pounds: The Perils of Jogging in Paris Trackback on July 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm
  2. 2 Swedish Gym Flashmob; Eiffel Tower as Backdrop « paris (im)perfect Trackback on March 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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