Indoor climbing, kick boxing, indoor cycling, yoga: The list of athletic activities on offer at the vast facilities of the Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA) in the northern suburb of Maroussi goes on and on.
Maria, aged 14, started going to the gym instead of surfing the web on her tablet while she waited around for her brother during basketball training.
“We wanted a gym that fulfilled all the health and safety standards where Maria would be OK when she’s alone. We also wanted to know that she had an experienced trainer to make sure that she was doing the exercises without risk of injury,” says the teenager’s mother. “We chose the gym of Leonidas Christakidis, under whose watchful eye my daughter has learned to love exercise.”
Xenia Dovas spent years in India and has opened the Prana Yoga Studio at OAKA. “Other than aerial yoga, aerial pilates and aerial dance, in which the participants are suspended with fabric ribbons, we also teach different types of yoga not just as a simple form of exercise but also a philosophy,” she says. “My personal favorite is the prenatal yoga program because it encourages women to opt for natural births, given the high rate of c-sections in Greece.”
Maria Gati and her daughter cool off after a session of aerial dance at Katerina Soldatou’s Aerial Ever After studio. “It’s the best form of psychotherapy. For one full hour, you feel as though you’re in Neverland, away from your problems,” says Maria. “And when you do it with your child, it really helps strengthen the bond between you.”
At Replayce, exercise takes the form of play, such as ab crunches with a pillow fight. The school takes children aged 2-and-a-half and up and teaches them 12 Olympic sports in theory and practice, helping them to build confidence. The program is also open to adults and the emphasis is on creating a positive experience.
Replayce founder Errika Prezerakou, a former pole-vaulter who studied business management and alternative forms of psychotherapy, says she applies a pioneering approach that positively trains the spirit, emotion, intellect and body.
“By making these four pillars work together, the body can perform miracles,” she says.
“It’s an alternative form of training that empowers participants through positive thoughts and feelings.”
At OAKA, beach volleyball doesn’t need to end with the summer, as Christina Nikolopoulou has been running programs for fans of the sport for the past seven years. “Our participants are amateurs, mostly aged 16 to 45,” says her business partner Stella Lamberi. “There’s no other facility like it in Greece. It’s a great psychological boost to come to a place in February where you can take your shoes off and play volleyball in the sand.”
OAKA may not be the most inspiring place for first-time visitors as many of its features have, unfortunately, been neglected. But it is worth taking the time to explore all the different options that are on offer.
Vassilis Velentzas, the coordinator and general manager at the Athens Olympic Stadium, along with OAKA’s management and staff strive daily to improve the facilities and also to increase the services on offer both for competition or professional athletes as well as for people with an amateur interest in sports or just looking for a place to get some exercise.
“A lot of entrepreneurs are offering multiple, high-quality sports services at OAKA,” Velentzas says. “These activities cater to the needs of the entire family, for example, allowing parents to train at a venue right beside their children and thus saving a lot of time. Swimming, aerial dance, beach volleyball, basketball, tennis, yoga and much more is on offer every day.”
To learn more about the sports and activities at OAKA, visit www.oaka.com.gr.