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Panama - Sport and Fitness
Water sports such as scuba diving and surfing are very popular and as Panama has hundreds of miles of coastline there are numerous suitable beaches to choose from. The waters around the country are filled with ship wrecks and diving to look at the wrecks has become a fascinating hobby for many people. Fishing is another sport that is on the increase and deep sea fishing is possible, with many trips available into one of the oceans from a number of locations. Inland, white water rafting is proving to be a popular adventure sport for many.
Beach sports such as volleyball are popular during the summer months and it is possible to join teams and take part in tournaments. The beaches are also popular with those who enjoy walking and horse riding, particularly on the Pacific Coast.
Spectator sports are varied, but football, or soccer, is one of the favourites. There are a number of football clubs which have a solid fan base including Athletico Colon and Tauro FC. Some areas have amateur leagues with teams that are looking for enthusiastic players. The national side takes part in the World Cup and the country is continually improving the facilities and training for young players with potential.
There are several golf courses in the country which are considered to be of a very high standard. The course of Coronado and the Summit Golf Resort are thought to be the best in the country and these are frequented by both professional and amateur players. The Summit Golf Resort has two different courses and the golfers can make use of advanced GPS technology. No permits are required to take part.
Tennis is considered to be one of Panama’s major sports and professional players take part in some of the world’s major tournaments. There are a number of leisure centres in the country which have tennis courts and offer lessons. Due to the heat, most people will only play early in the morning or in the evenings if they cannot play at an indoor facility which is air-conditioned.
Modern gymnasiums are increasing in popularity and most neighbourhoods will have at least one. Small gyms are very common in some areas and most modern apartment buildings will have a fully equipped gym facility for the residents to share. Gym memberships are required for independent facilities, but smaller gyms will offer this service for a reasonable price. There are several gyms which specialise in aerobics, yoga and dance classes. Most of the hotels offer memberships to their gyms to residents who live nearby and these often include access to the spa facilities at the hotels also.
Due to the large areas of national parks and countryside, sports such as hiking, cycling and horse riding are very popular, particularly with native Panamanians. These tend to be low cost sporting activities and ideal for those who are watching their expenditure. Running is also popular and several parks in the cities will have running tracks and walking trails.
Swimming is a low cost activity. For those who are living in Panama City, there is a swimming pool at Albrook which is Olympic-sized and offers swimming lessons and sessions for a very reasonable price. Most gyms will also have a swimming pool available.
For children there are sports clubs which they can join. Most offer indoor sports in air-conditioned facilities due to the heat outdoors. Dance classes and martial arts classes are among the most popular options, and most schools have extra-curricular sporting activities, although it is frequently the international schools which have fewer options.
Many young people will take part in the Cayuco races on the Panama Canal. These take place each year from March to April and most participants will have trained for months to take part. Most schools have a team entered for the event, although it is only available to children over the age of 14, but these are popular for the team building skills they encourage.
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