Moving to Nairobi is very exciting but can also be daunting. If you are used to living in a city where you can go for long strolls around your neighbourhood or walking down your local high street, you may find living here tiring. Travelling across the city requires meticulous planning, taxi rides or the purchasing of a car to get from A to B. So rather than spending your afternoons trekking across town to get to your desired activity, this list shows you where you might find your favourite sport or hobby in your own neck of the woods.
If your sport of interest isn’t on this list I’ve put together then please comment below and I’ll do my research and find out where to find it in Nairobi.
Also this is a work in progress, I’ve lived in Nairobi for almost 3 years but am always coming across new things. Therefore, if you know of another swimming/tennis/pilates establishment and you think it’s great and should be listed below, then drop a comment and I’ll gladly add it.
I’m going to start with yoga, because I love it and I’ve found many of my friends (male and female, expat and Kenyan) love this stretching activity as it creates an escape from Nairobi’s traffic and noise. You can luckily find yoga in most areas of the city, and here are all the ones I’ve come across:
Acacia Yoga Studio – 3rd Floor, Viking House, Westlands Roundabout, Westlands
This 3 room Yoga studio is one of Nairobi’s few dedicated yoga studios (a lot of the other ones listed are in gyms or one off classes in rented conference rooms) and teaches all types of yoga from Pre-natal to Vinyasa to Power 1 and 2. The classes come in priced packages, including an Intro 5 day unlimited class pass at 1500 kes (or 1000 kes per one off session) which is a bargain and a great way to see if the location and style suits you. You can rent mats for 50 bob and there are good hot showers in case you are off out into Westlands afterwards. Location wise its just opposite PWC towers and next to the Park Inn hotel so if you are living on the Rhapta Road side of Westlands, this is a great resource to have on your doorstep. The complex is home to Argentinian Meat Churrasco, Fogo Gaucho (skip if you are veggie, its all you can eat meat for 2000 kes) and also some beautiful African Art and Homeware stores on the ground floor that make woven baskets and custom made stools and furniture (at very friendly prices).
Bikram Yoga – Lavington Mall (outside complex – 2nd floor), Lavington
I honestly didn’t know there was hot yoga until I lived in Nairobi for over a year and a half and it was a great surprise. The rooms are absolutely massive and comfortably fit between 30 – 40 yogis at a time. The level of experience tends to be on the higher side so if you are feeling nervous, keep at the back and move at your own space like we did. They have up to 26 classes a week and do a 10 Day Intro offer at 2000 kes, annual memberships and drop in classes at 1800 kes. Also as its in Lavington Mall, its a great after work or weekend spot as you can do your shopping afterwards at Chandarana and visit the independent greengrocers, fishmongers and butchery next door. You can also grab brunch at ArtCaffe or The Arbor afterwards, and if you don’t already love lounging around on nice terraces or gardens, then living here will slowly make you learn to love these cherished moments.
Africa Yoga Project – 4th Floor, Diamond Plaza, Parklands
Diamond Plaza (affectionally called Little India or DP by the Asian Kenyans who shop here) is a maze and every time I go inside I find something new. Fascinating spice shops with items freshly imported from India. A climbing Gym on the 6th Floor. Several Vegetarian Restaurants hidden in the car park plaza. And somewhere, nestled between the crumbling stairwells and silk sari shops, is the home of Africa Yoga Project (AYP).
This amazing two story Yoga studio built on a Mezzanine type layout offers free (I know!) two hour (I know…) yoga class on Saturday’s from 10am. The class focuses on a Power type flow which becomes pretty intense after the first hour but is totally worth it after the second which finally awards you with a free (I KNOW!!) vegan meal that you share with all the other participants. Obviously donations are very much welcome by AYP and as its hard to find genuinely enjoyable free things to do in Nairobi, these classes get packed with a weird and wonderful eclectic mix of Nairobi’s expat and local population. Classes have up to 60 people in them, so its cramped and expect lots of elbows in eyes and bums in faces but its also very sociable and the instructors and yogis are extremely friendly so it’s a great place to meet people. The other huge highlight of practising here is that you get to shop in DP afterwards and can buy almost anything including the freshest paneer, hot pakora and creamy curries in the car park outside on the ground floor.
If you live in Parklands then you’ll luckily have this on your doorstep but if you are deciding to venture over here then make sure you make the most of the maze that is DP and the wonderful AYP. Note – not all AYP classes are free, they have a regular schedule that runs throughout the week and these are published on their website.
Africa Yoga Pop Up – Various Locations (see below)
Africa Yoga Pop Up works in collaboration with AYP but rents out small rooms in Malls and Event Venues to deliver the same excellent quality yoga you’ll find at AYP. The classes tend to be much smaller and are all roughly around the 1000kes. mark They are in various locations around Nairobi and often hold exciting events that you can find you on their Facebook page.
Currently their locations and times/days of the week are:
(Kilimani) Statehouse Rd @ PAWA 254: Mondays 5:30 – 6:30pm
Ngong road @ Prestige Plaza: Mondays and Wednesdays 6-7pm
Karen @ Event Haven Ltd – An Event Venue in Karen Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30-6:30pm
Lavington @ Jaffery Sports Club Tuesdays and Thursdays 6 – 7pm
There are plenty of tennis courts in Nairobi but sadly they often come at the price of joining a terribly expensive Country Club. Although I’ll list a couple of clubs below, I’m going to focus more on ones that the public can access because every expat has a different budget. Also has anyone found flood lit tennis courts in Nairobi? Please let me know where and I’ll add it to the list! If you have thought about getting into tennis I’d highly recommend doing it in Nairobi. I’d never really played before and it was great starting here as the price of 1:1 classes here compared to the UK are amazingly affordable, the coaches are excellent and friendly and its a fun social activity.
Vanga Court – Lavington
Tucked down Vanga Road on your right (if Valley Arcade is on your right) are two well kept tennis courts that are open to the public but need to be booked in advance. To book call Peter the Tennis Coach on 0733 915 314. 1500kes for a lesson and 500kes to book the court.
Impala Club – Ngong Road
Hard clay courts at Impala Court on Ngong Road. Not excellent condition as they are mud courts but easily accessible and a steal at only 200kes. Not flood lit. Book at the reception or call ahead on 0796 088 498.
Nairobi Club – Ngong Road
Hard concrete courts with training walls and 4 large courts. Good solid surface but holes in the wiring, and a lovely large veranda at the front club house. Members can rent the courts at discount but I used to take lessons here at 700 – 1000kes a time without needing a membership. Prices available on website link here. Call Masch on 0728 287 047 to book 1:1 lessons.
Karura Forest Tennis Court – UN/Gigiri
Well kept tennis court by the KFEET Centre as your entire Karura Forest. The court charges are 200kes for adults and 100kes for children under 14 years. You’ll also need to pay to enter the forest in addition to the charge above which I feel is totally worth it to keep this beautiful area preserved and maintained.
Karen Country Club – Karen
If you are lucky enough to be able to afford to join or your company offers membership then jump at the chance. 7 tennis courts, excellently maintained, access with membership only.
Wadi Degla Club – Runda (and soon to open Karen/Migaa Club)
Brand new beautiful club with Tennis Academy for adults and children. Lovely site right on the lake with a spa and gym facility. Again very expensive but sites all over the world including Egypt, Dubai and Belgium so maybe worth joining if any of those destinations could be a future expat posting or you originate from there. Access with membership only.
Running is big in Kenya and the country produces some of the top runners in the world. I’d highly recommend during your time in Kenya to get up to the Eldoret area known as the ‘Home of Champions’ and book a running session with Running Iten. These training sessions are incredible and really help if you want to improve the way your body runs and competes during events and for day to day exercise.
In Nairobi, you’ll find a few running clubs but not as many as I would have thought, so I’ve dropped down a few decent areas to run as well.
House Harries ONH3 – various but starting points mainly apartments or restaurants around Westlands/Kilimani
Described by a friend as a raucous, sociable and fun way to run and meet new people in Nairobi, this group meet on Mondays at 17:35 for a sharp start time of 17:45 (remember it gets dark here just before 19:00 all year round). Distances are 4 – 7km. Dinner and socializing afterwards. Registration is 600kes. Beers are 200 – 250kes depending on the venue. Sodas are 100kes. Bring water! All fitness levels welcome. Location starts vary, check their Facebook to see the new location each week.
Tipwa Tipwa Running Club – Kilimani
This running club is FREE! My friend Leah loves this club and is dedicated to getting up to meet them every Tuesday and Thursday at 05:30am (yes…in the morning!!) to meet this group of friendly runners at the Methodist Centre on Oloitoktok Road. They also meet at the fractionally earlier time of 06:30am on Sunday’s (routes posted on their Facebook so you can check distance beforehand and decide the length you feel comfortable with).
Areas to go for a run:
Arboretum – State House Road/Kileleshwa
Located in between Kileleshewa Ring Road and State House Road lies the well kept Kenya Forestry Service’s Arboretum which is popular with runners (although the bottom route by the river can get a bit stinky due to the trash) so try to stick on the main paths and upper dirt tracks through the trees. Running is free but the gates charge 50kes to enter. Since they brought in the charge, the park has got slightly cleaner. Very safe and security/park rangers walk around – just careful of the monkeys that congregate near the bins. If you are lucky you’ll spot Colobus monkeys up in the trees!
Karura Forest – UN/Gigiri
This over the years has become a haven for me and is absolutely massive with lots of mixed trails for running, both flat and hilly, dirt paths and grass. You can often go running on the weekends and not see a sole apart from the odd cycling group or park ranger if you go deep enough. Running is free but the gates charge 200kes for residents and 100kes for Kenyan nationals. Consider becoming a Friend of Karura to get yearly membership and access included. Do not enter with plastic water bottles or bags (bring reusable) as these will be confiscated. Open 6am – 6pm so best to get your long runs in on the weekend as they’ll lock the gates and you’ll get told off if they find out outside of opening hours (a friend told me that…).
Jaffrey’s Sports Club – Lavington
This running track is FREE to the public! It’s a sponge running track and allows both walkers and runners to enjoy the circular 440m track. If you are a member or very nice to reception they’ll let you use the lockers, otherwise best to leave valuables in your car as leaving them out on the benches may cause them to wander. Recent parking charges introduced of 50kes. Open 7 days a week and appears to be open from 7am – 7pm. Walking distance to Lavington Mall so good location if you want to get shopping or dinner afterwards.
Almost every upmarket hotel in Nairobi has a gym you can join but one thing that shocked me when I moved here was the cost! Arena Sarit Centre Gym in Westlands charges $100 for standard monthly entry into their gym…my advice would be try to get off peak membership near your office/place of work and access it 10am – 4pm.
Level 3 Fitness, Golden Tulip Hotel – Westlands
Located on Muthithi Road, this gym is a steal at 3500kes per month for off peak membership and Gerald and Leo are two of the best Personal Trainers in Nairobi. There is also a rooftop pool you can add to your membership. Changing rooms come with small sauna and steam room (single sex only).
The Gym at Best Western Hotel – Hurlingham/Kilimani
On the 8th Floor of The Best Western is a small but very well equipt gym with lovely views over Kilimani. Off peak membership is 6000kes and includes access to the rooftop pool and restaurant area which is a good spot to swim or do emails from afterwards.
Crossfit Kwetu – UN/Gigiri
Wherever you go in the world, you’ll find Crossfit and Nairobi is no different. The gym is located up in UN/Gigiri with a good dedicated following. The one-off tasters beginner’s class is FREE and monthly membership starts at 12500kes.
For a full list of gyms in Nairobi, Kenya Buzz did a great article on the top ones they rated for 2017 here. The ones above and on this list also offer pilates, spin, yoga/pilates classes and personal trainers.
If there is a specific type up class you are after and you are wondering where to find it then message me here and I’ll find out for you!
Blue Sky – Parklands
Indoor rock climbing is hugely popular in Nairobi and the climbing gym at Diamond Plaza – Blue Sky does not disappoint. The strong fanbase has introduced a social element with plenty of organised evening events including movie screenings and weekend trips outside of Nairobi in the great outdoors. Tuesday is ladies night for 500kes only for a climb, and regular entry is 1000kes or membership rates available. Rental of climbing shoes also available.
In addition, there is a outdoor climbing wall located at Purdy Arm’s in Karen open on the weekends which is very popular with children practising their technique in the expansive pub’s garden for only 500kes.
When I moved to Nairobi I thought every apartment block would have big pools that you could laze by on the weekend and swim, read books and grill like I’d experienced in South Africa. So I was surprised to find it’s actually quite hard to find places to swim in compounds, at least in the ones myself and my friends live in. I’ve also found it tricky to find good public sized pools, so again if you know of any please do let me know and I’ll add to the list below. As standard, most country clubs and up market hotels have large heated swimming pools but I’m focusing on public ones only.
Swimming Pool at Diamond Plaza – Parklands
Top choice by a fellow expat friend, this pool on the top floor of Diamond Plaza Mall is heated and is open to non-members for 700kes.
YMCA Pool – State House Road/CBD
Inside the YMCA Youth Hostel, very close to University of Nairobi Campus, this 33metre length pool is great and relatively quiet at weekends with long swimming lanes and a baby/toddler paddling pool. 100kes for non members though the reception were a bit sketchy with the details…bring more cash to avoid disappointment.
Methodist Guest House Pool – Kilimani/Lavington Green
This unassuming concrete building is a home to a massive 25m swimming pool that is open to the public! I personally have not been but neighbours say it is great, although unheated, and a welcome treat in the summer months of January and February. No prices on website, so I’d recommend going with 500kes and seeing what change you get.
Impala Club – Ngong Road
Not top choice as non-members can’t swim on weekends or evenings but it’s relatively cheap and in a good location in case you are there to play squash or tennis beforehand. 300kes for non-members.
As mentioned, this list is a work in progress. I’ve lived in Nairobi for almost 3 years but am always coming across new things. Therefore, if you know of another swimming/tennis/pilates establishment and you think it’s great and should be listed above, then drop a comment and I’ll gladly add it.
If your hobby isn’t on this list I’ve put together then please comment below and I’ll do my research and find out where to find it in Nairobi and add it to the above.