How to stay in shape in Groningen?

When you are a foreign student who comes to live in Groningen, you will face a lot of new things. You have to find a new home, meet a lot of new people, and soon you will find out that the pubs in Groningen do not have a closing time. It sounds great. You go out, time and time again, but after a couple of weeks you realize that it is not the healthiest way of life. Yes, the time has come: you have to do something with sports. Fortunately, Groningen has a lot of options to stay in shape. I have picked some to help you out.


The ACLO (Academische Centrale voor Lichamelijke Opvoeding) is the place to be for students who wants to practice sports in Groningen. The ACLO is an organization of the University of Groningen (RUG) and the Hanze University. It is possible to do regular sports like football, tennis and basketball, but the ACLO also provides students the possibility to discover a lot of new sports like ‘ultimate frisbee’ and ‘lacrosse’. The sporting centre of the ACLO is located at the Zernike Complex, so you are able to do your workout just before, immediately after or in between your classes.

Only for international exchange students with an enrolment less than six months at the RUG or the Hanze University, there is a possibility to buy an Exchange Student Card. The Exchange Student Card costs €49,95 and gives you the possibility to sport unlimited for the entire college year.


Football is one of the most popular sports in The Netherlands. Groningen even has a professional football club with the very creative and peculiar name ‘FC Groningen’. If you want to play football yourself, you can play your matches at The Knickerbockers. The Knickerbockers is the biggest football club of Northern Netherlands especially for students. The club consists of 18 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams on different levels. Therefore, The Knickerbockers is the place to be for both the fanatical footballers and the footballers who wants to play just for fun.

If you do not want to play your matches in the typical Dutch weather, you can join Drs. Vijfje. Drs. Vijfje is the futsal club of Groningen intended for students of the University of Groningen and the Hanze University.


When we talk about some typical student sports, we cannot ignore rowing. We all know the famous boat race between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge on the Theems in London. Rowing is very popular in Groningen too. No, Groningen has no Theems, but Groningen has a canal that is called ‘Het Hoornsediep’. It is a little bit smaller than the Theems, but nevertheless, it is possible to row on it. The biggest rowing club of Groningen is Gyas. It is possible to row just for fun, but if you want to, you can participate in several competitions and tournaments.

On 19 and 20 March, Gyas organises the so-called ‘Openroeimiddagen’. During these afternoons (‘middagen’) you can try to row, you will get a guided tour and it is possible to chat with the members of the club. If you like to, it is immediately possible to register for the trial membership on these days.

Ice skating

If you want to do something typically Dutch, you could opt to join G.S.V.V. Tjas. G.S.V.V. Tjas is the ice skating club especially for students in Groningen. The club is divided in three different levels: the learning groups, the training groups and the speed skaters group. In the learning groups, you will learn the basics of ice skating, so it is allowed for everyone to join the club. Maybe you think: ‘it is only possible to skate in winter’. You are right. Therefore, G.S.V.V. Tjas has created a summer program that includes cycling and running courses, so it is possible to enjoy the activities 365 days a year.

by Lennard Mulder