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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sporting & Fitness Life in Cuenca

Last time, I wrote a little about one element of social life in Cuenca.   I imagine many of you who read this dirge are sports enthusiasts.   So, this is all about SOME of the sport-related things you can do in/around the city.

Soccer.  Duh.   Soccer is everywhere, whether it be found in a professional stadium or a space of green, or any flat spot of dirt.  Back home I find many people, especially those younger folks, with their faces buried in some electronic device or butts firmly planted in front of their computer or TV playing video games.  The only thing getting exercised is their eyeballs and thumbs.   Here, kids get outside and PLAY.   All they seem to need is a simple ball and they are in heaven.  There are all sorts of variations on soccer fields throughout Cuenca.

The main soccer stadium is just down the street from me.   It was built in 1945 and remodeled again in 1971 and 2001.  It seats 23,000.

Volleyball.   You wouldn't think it, but V-ball is very popular here.  Again, it can be any spot big enough, a net, and a ball and you're set.   Though, here, the game is typically played 3 on 3 versus 5 on 5.

Fishing.  At 8,000+ feet?  Yep.  Trout, that is.    There are a lot of lakes and stocked ponds to be found up in the Cajas.  Some places, you can rent a stick and line to do the fishing (nothing fancy here) and you pay based on the fish you catch.

In the Jefferson Coliseum sporting complex you will find:
  • Basketball courts
  • Tennis courts
  • Soccer field
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Raquetball
  • Olympic sized swimming pool with 10 lanes, separate from another pool dedicated to only diving with 3 different platform levels
  • Martial arts
  • ...and the main coliseum arena dedicated to professional basketball games
In the sporting complex located in the Totoracocha neighborhood, we have:
  • a 1,000+ ft Velodrome (bicycling) with up to 43 degree embankments!
  • an indoor roller rink much like the Velodrome with banked curves
Archery.  Yep, got that, too

Running.   Sure....after the person who just snatched your watch off your wrist!!!  Just kidding!!!   We have 4 rivers that slice through Cuenca and each of them have greenbelts set aside as parks and running paths for those avid joggers who can run and still breath at 8,200 feet!!!

Gyms.   There are several smattered about town, but they are rather small in comparison to the 'big-box' gyms back home.  They're typically outfitted nicely with aerobic equipment and free-weights, but it's rare to find one that also includes showers, sauna, pool, etc.

Bicycling.   Not so much.  What bicyclists you do see around town are generally those who use them to run an errand or something.  This is probably because our streets are generally narrow and there's no dedicated bike lanes.  That, and the maniac driving doesn't make bicycling too inviting.

Hiking.  Plenty of that in the Cajas.

Walking.   The city version of 'hiking'.   LOTS of that to do around here.  People walk, Walk, WALK here.  No driving from one strip mall to the next strip mall three blocks away...nooooo.   They walk their arses off here.

Stair climbing.  I have a nutcase best friend back home who likes to 'go run the stairs' during his lunch hour.   Ahem....I am talking the stairs of a 40 FLOOR OFFICE BUILDING!!!!   He would casually mention he ran the stairs TWICE on his break as if was as difficult as slicing toast.  GRRRRRR   Anyhoo, we don't have them thar highrises here in Cuenca...the most you'll find is maybe 10 floors and there aren't even many of those.  But, outside, going from the lower level of the 'New Town' area up the embankment from the river to the 'Old Town' area is several sets of staircases.  One in particular I hoofed recently was 89 steps.   Pretty good workout at 8,200 feet...though my best friend would probably guffaw at it.  HRRMMPPHH!!!

So, there you go.   An idea of what kind of sporting facilities and options you have for physical fitness and/or sports entertainment, though I'm sure I've overlooked a few.   Walking your dog, lugging bags of fresh fruits and vegetables from the outdoor markets up 2 or 3 flights to your apartment, lifting those mega-sized beer glasses, walking a block to catch the taxi...I know...I know...I should give them due space here in this blog but it's time for photos!!!


Jefferson Coliseum - Basketball

Jefferson Coliseum structure

Olympic diving platforms

Olympic pool

Basketball courts

Archery fields

Rock climbing wall

Soccer practice fields

Translated:  Olympic Pool, Judo, Massage rooms, Physical Therapy, Coliseum, Raquetball, Cafeteria

Tennis courts

Soccer stadium


  1. WOW! What great facilities - who knew. Hope to meet you at a gringo night this summer. We will be visiting Cuenca July and August. Perhaps we could do a tour with you in your limo LOL. Enjoy your blog.

    Joyce & Jim

  2. Hey Dan, thanks for the great post. We've been in the main basketball court but haven't seen the rest of the facility - pool looks great. And the rock climbing too.



  3. One thing you missed is hockey at Palacio de Hielo in Quito. A few local teams playing as well as ball hockey. Ex-pats play shinny I believe on Wed. Was very surprised when I found out this out....Dissapointed no baseball though, which is a surprise because it is gaining popularity in Colombia.

    1. That's because I was focusing just on Cuenca.

  4. The coliseum is named in honor of Jefferson PEREZ, the Olympic gold medal winner in race walking.

  5. wow, very off the mark in regards to biking, sure it's not like biking in amsterdam, but the biking community in cuenca is huge.

    From the coliseo every sunday at 9:00am there are ciclopaseos that bike around the city and the outskirts.

    Every thursday there are critical mass bike rides from parque de la madre at 7:00pm.
    Both of these groups are really big and are geared towards the relaxed rider who wants to have a nice bike ride with the family.

    Cuenca is home of the top mountain bike riders in the country! on a weekend there are a lot of groups who meet and go for 4-5 hr bike rides to visit all those mountains that you see when you wake up.

    Biking as a sport is huge in cuenca.

  6. lezcap@gmail.comJuly 31, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    I am a lifelong daily lap swimmer who is considering retiring to Ecuador and MUST be within walking/bus distance of a pool. After finding your blog, I tried to find a website, email, phone, or mailing address for the Jefferson Coliseo, without success. (1) Can you provide any of the above contact information? (2) What part of town is it in? (3) What is the cost--monthly? Annually? Thank you!

  7. We are coming to Ecuador in July on a fact finding trip and all of us use our local health spa’s pool (my husband and daughter for laps and my daughter and I for water aerobics). I can see from your blog that they should be able to use the olympic pool for laps. Do you know if there are any locations in Cuenca where they have water aerobics classes? I would imagine, that it wouldn’t be permitted for me to perform my own routine in one of the lap lanes even if they were shallow enough for me to do so.

    1. Hi Charline. There are very few pools in Cuenca. What their are (that I'm aware of) is the big facility I wrote about, plus pools associated with the thermal spas in Banos, a local community within Cuenca. I've never seen any water aerobic classes. However, I did happen to go to one of the thermal spas the other day....around 9am and it was pretty much all adults (no kids) and they seemed to be of an exercise nature...though not really organized. Cost is $4 to enter and also have use of the steam rooms (turcos).

  8. More information about Archery in Cuenca, please!

  9. Would you happen to know how far away the Jefferson Coliseum is from the La Verbena neighborhood?

    1. The sporting complex is located at Unidad Nacional and 12 de Abril (Doce de Abril). I'd say it's probably 1 mile (maybe slightly less).

    2. That would be perfect for me. La Verbena is actually the condo complex I think, the neighborhood is Las Pencas Altos. Would the distance still be the same? Are there a lot of pickup games or active participants on a daily basis? Thank you for your help

    3. Yes, Las Pencas I believe is pretty much the same area. If you go to Google and type in 'map Cuenca ecuador' then zoom into where you know your building is, you can see where it's located and the direction you go (to the right) to the coliseum area. They show the coliseum on the map. I haven't participated in anything there. but, it always seems very active at least in the soccer and tennis areas.

  10. Thanks for the write up! I was wondering if the Banos have pools for lap swimming as well (25 meter)? Or is it more of a spa type of pool?

    Thanks so much!

    1. I don't think they're that long. They're more the typical size you find in condo complexes and hotels...maybe 50 feet long.


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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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