Suffering morning-after guilt about that extra helping of knedlíky, the whipped cream on your pala?inky, or that second (third?, fourth?) mug of pivo? There are options for recovery. From swimming pools to step aerobic classes to saunas, the workout industry in Prague is growing and should soon be able to satisfy Sunday athletes and true gym junkies alike.

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While there are smaller, cheaper clubs scattered around the city, they tend to be less stable operations with few English speakers and slim offerings. Here is a list of the best of the best.

Apollo Day Spa

Corinthia Towers Hotel, Kongresová 1655/1, Praha 4, Nusle, (+420) 261 191 326, Open Monday – Friday: 06.30 to 2200 hrs, Saturday – Sunday: 07.00 to 2200 hrs.

Hardware: Fully equipped modern gym with spectacular 24th-story views. Complete cycle of weight machines, plenty of free weights. Can get crowded.

Heart throb: Aerobics classes Monday and Wednesday, 10:00 AM and 11 :00 AM, Tuesday & Thursday 6 PM and 7 PM.

Cool down: Windows surround the 15m x 6m pool and the city’s red roofs are a comforting view when you lift your head to take a breath. Spotless and cool, but sometimes crowded.

Moral support: Employees speak excellent English and are friendly and helpful.

Après: Towels, robes and lounge chairs provided. Dressing rooms, showers, and saunas are clean and well maintained, and the usual roster of refreshments is available.

Perks: One of the few squash courts in town, regulation size. The gym rents rackets, balls, and shoes. Lessons are not currently available.

Pain per gain: 1 to 3 day passes cost 175Kč to 350Kč

Axa Hotel

Na poříčí 1051/40, 110 00 Prague 5, Nové Město, Czech Republic, (+420) 227 072 162,, Monday – Friday: 07:00 – 22:00, Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 – 21:00

Hardware: Huge warehouse full of every kind of weight machine known to man, and rows of free weights. Full of guys, huffing and puffing and hefting and swinging.

Heart throb: Hardly any cardiovascular equipment – six stationary bikes and a Versa climber.

Cool down: One of Prague’s larger pools: 25 meters long, well maintained, and less crowded than the workout room. One drawback: basement location makes it a little dark and dank. Moral support: Staff is generally helpful and attentive.

Après: Small but comfortable locker rooms equipped with plenty of hot showers.

Perks: Best hotel pool for a serious workout.

Pain per gain: Single entry: 160Kč, Students: 110Kč, Happy Hours Mon-Fri 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 100Kč. 1 month: 1,288Kč, 6 months: 6,580Kč (1,096 a month), 12 months: 10,800Kč (900Kč a month). Swimming pool is 1Kč a minute.

Fitness Club Intercontinental

Intercontinental Hotel, náměstí Curieových 43/5, 110 00, Prague 5, Czech Republic, (+420) 296 631 111, Monday – Friday 06.00 – 23.00; Saturday – Sunday 08.00 – 22.00

Hardware: Technogym machines, 27 bodybuilding stations, excellent cycle of weight machines, an equally extensive set of free weights, and one of the few treadmills in town.

Heart throb: Quick and varied aerobics classes every weekday, including a fierce leg workout you’ll feel for days, see website for hours. Not recommended for beginners!

Cool down: Small (15 m x 10 m) round pool glassed in on all sides, commanding a street-level view of Na Františku, is a fine place to cool off after your workout. The pool area is also graced with a full-service bar and lots of lounge chairs.

Moral support: Staff is friendly and gracious. Most managers speak English well, and English-speaking personal trainers are available.

Après: Showers and sauna are always clean and in working order, and come with soft towels. Comfy robes complemen­tary if you’re swimming or having a massage, and hair dryers are available to all. Variety of refreshments and a full bar, too.

Perks: Pool has decorative artificial island with artificial palm trees and is connected to the "shore" by a little bridge. An outdoor one-hole putting green, too.

Pain per gain: Swimming is included in the aerobics fee. Different prices for different services, free for children under five. Discounts available for longer memberships.

Podolska Pool

Podoli Swimming Pool Complex, Podolska 74, Podoli, Prague 4, Czech Republic, Tel: (+420) 241 433 952, Open Daily 06:00-21:45

Hardware: Serious weight room with a few stationary bikes available in the tiny Tyran Fitness Club, located in the arcade of buildings that rings the big outdoor pool.

Heart throb: Tyran offers step aerobics every day at 6:30 PM.

Cool down: Sprawling complex has four pools: a deep, square diving pool complete with tri-Ievel diving board, and two Olympic-sized pools, one outdoor and one indoor, and a kiddie pool. Tough to swim laps with all the pool-splashers around, however.

Moral support: Nonexistent. Fend for yourself.

Après: Inexpensive snack bar serves beer in plastic cups. Facilities are a bit shabby. Showers and saunas look rather old, and the locker room is primitive at best.

Perks: A kiddie pool that’s disturbingly warm, grassy area for lounging, and a dangerously high waterslide.

Pain per gain: Swim all day for only 90Kč (little kids 45Kč), Season passes available for a considerable discount. Discount after 4:00 PM. Single entry ticket to Tyran Fitness Club: 100Kč

Fitness Centre, Hilton Hotel Prague Old Town

V Celnici 7, Prague, Czech Republic 111 21Tel: 420-2-2182-2100   Fax: (+420) 221-822-200, Mon-Fri 7 AM-9 PM, Sat & Sun 8 AM-8 PM.

Hardware: A tiny exercise room equipped with one Airstepper. two stationary bikes, a few weight machines. No free weights.

Heart throb: None.

Cool down: Small pool only eight meters long, and irregularly shaped; difficult to swim laps in.

Moral support: Friendly and helpful staff.

Après: Sauna, solarium, and massage.

Perks: Centrally located right off Náměstí Republiky.

Pain per gain: One visit, with access to all exercise areas: 500Kč for adults, 300Kč for children. Monthly and yearly memberships available.

Hilton Prague Hotel

Pobrezni 1, Prague, Czech Republic, 186 00, Tel: (+420) 224-841-111, Fax(+420) 224-842-378, Open seven days a week, 7:00 AM-10:00 PM (tennis until 11:00 PM).

Hardware: Small weight room, including two Compact Gyms (similar to Soloflex machines) designed to provide at least one exercise for every muscle. Small selection of free weights as well.

Heart throb: Two rowing machines, two stationary bikes, and one Airstepper. Two-hour combined aerobics/stretch class in small studio Wednesday at 4:30 PM is well-taught and challenging.

Cool down: Spacious pool 15 meters long is glassed in with a view of an expansive landscaped terrace. Cool, clean, frequently empty, and great for swimming laps.

Moral support: Club can be cavernous and impersonal, and the staff sometimes reflects this. Managers speak English well, but are slightly disorganized.

Après: Lounge chairs you’ll never want to leave.

Perks: One-hole putting green and particularly fluffy robes.

Pain per gain: One hour pool time: 100Kč, including access to the sauna. One hour of weight training: 100Kč. Use of the tennis court for fifty minutes: 350Kč, Fifty-minute tennis lesson: 750Kč. Facing off with a "sparring partner": 600Kč Deals on monthly and yearly memberships available.

Updated from an article originally printed in Velvet Magazine, Photographs by Zuzana Oplatkova

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