Getting fit for the Swedish Classic

Getting fit for the Swedish Classic
The Local's Keith Moore examines the rigours of the supremely challenging Swedish Classic as part of a new series on keeping fit in Sweden, in association with Planet Fitness.

The Swedish Classic fitness events are as highly regarded as the New York and London marathons. As well as an opportunity to get fit, experience the Swedish landscape and make friends, taking part is an experience every bit as traditionally Swedish as eating meatballs, semla and a shopping trip to Ikea.

“The basic idea is to keep ordinary people fit all year round,” says Jan-Eric Österström, until recently the chairman of the Swedish Classics.

“It’s also an excellent way to see Sweden’s environment and nature.”

Planet Fitness is offering a unique opportunity for competitors to train for all four events at its Stockholm health club.

To earn a Swedish Classic diploma, competitors have to finish a race in each one of the four disciplines of running, swimming, cycling and skiing, within 12 months.

Since 1971, more than 23,400 men and 4,900 women have completed a classic circuit. Ten people have completed the circuit more than 25 times.

A classic circuit is: skiing 90 km at Vasaloppet or 60 km at the Engelbreksgatan race, 300 km of cycling at Vätternrundan, 3 km of swimming in a river at Vansbro and the 30 km Lidingöloppet run.

“I did it because it’s a tradition and a good way of getting in to the Swedish psyche” says Phil Edington, who moved to Sweden from England.

“It’s a fun day out and a great achievement to finish a race. It’s not something that every Swede has done.”

Half distance and women’s races are shorter alternatives to the full classic.

Planet Fitness is the first health club to enable competitors to train for each of the four events in one location.

“Each person will be trained individually according to their fitness requirements and Planet Fitness will attend each event to offer support” says Stuart Lascelles, manager at Planet Fitness.

“We will give presentations about the races to help participants prepare and to meet other people taking part. We’ll also be able to help with any questions they might have about traveling, transport or training.”

Three months of training for each event is required to perform well, recommends Planet Fitness’ Deri Thomas.

“We use specific training for each of the four events, as although a good aerobic capacity helps with all the events, they each use different muscle groups.”

A veteran of 16 Lidingöloppet races, Jan-Eric Österström thinks that being able to soclialise with fellow competitors whilst training and at races is a big attraction for many people. He also says that those who have competed for a number of years are “aging with glory.”

The next classic is the Vätternrundan cycle on the 12th and 13th June.

For more information about training for the Swedish Classic contact Planet Fitness on 08-440-9150 or click the link to find out more about special offers for readers of The Local.