Anara Force Center
I think you would be hard pushed to find a better-equipped gym anywhere in South America. This box has enough equipment to keep even a games athlete happy. Indeed, this is where 2018 Peru National Champion and Games athlete Jovaldo Miranda trains.
It’s the perfect gym for athletes and experienced crossfitters who want to follow their own programming, but it would be a shame to miss out on the classes here. While the level in the classes is very mixed, I found that there were often people to push me. Sometimes I felt like the least fit person in the room.
Anara Force Center is located at the Southern end of Barranco, a little walk from most of the hostels and restaurants situated around Barranco’s picturesque Parque Federico Villarreal. It’s not a gym that allows you to stumble out of bed and into the box round the corner, but if you are willing to make the 20 min walk, or take the 1 sol (25c) bus, you’ll be rewarded with a huge box, full of all the toys you could want.
Sunday morning class
Excellent for training outside of class
Home of Fittest in Peru 2018
Well-rounded class program
Welcoming community of competitors
Showers and changing
Altitude: Sea level
If you spend more than a few days training at Anara Force Center, you will notice that it has a warm family feeling to it. There's a small group of coaches and athletes who literally live in the gym and I found them to be very welcoming. I know a few of them really appreciated the opportunity to practice their English, and I regret not introducing myself a bit sooner during my stay.
The class programming, which I will discuss further below, was a highlight. However, the classes themselves, especially in the winter months when it tends to be a bit quieter, can seem to lack atmosphere in the vast open space. The building is well suited to the competitions that it plays host to throughout the year, and it works best when the classes are full. But, wow. What a space it is!
There is a long rig running down two sides of the gym, with high-rings and ropes hanging all around. Along the edge of the gym floor, they have neatly laid out:
Concept2 bikes ergs,
Concept2 ski ergs
and even some curved treadmills.
The fun doesn't stop there. Anara Force also have:
heavy sandbags (150lbs)
and fat bars
What's more, unlike at most gyms where this kind of equipment would be a bit awkward to get out and start using, here that is not the case. While I would always suggest that visitors train in the classes when they visit a new box. If you are an experienced, a proficient mover, and especially if you are in town for a little while, there won't be any problem with making the most of the equipment on offer.
Workout of the day
The classes at Anara Force Center have a lot to offer crossfitters at any level. Besides simply being a great way of meeting people and integrating with the community at the gym, experienced athletes will find that the program incorporates a healthy amount of gymnastics, and a fair amount of opportunity to go heavy if you wish.
While experienced crossfitters are free to supplement the programming with a little extra volume after class, those at a beginner to an intermediate level will find that the class has everything they need to continue progressing.
Each class has two coaches, ensuring that there is plenty of help and technical guidance on hand.
The class will typically follow a variant on:
Skill or Weightlifting. This could be an Olympic lifting complex, but we also did overhead squats working up to a heavy set of 3 x 3 and back squats. I always rush in these situations, but we actually had plenty of time.
The Metcon. These were all fun and challenging. However, I don’t think a week is long enough for me to provide any real insight over an extended period.
The class will sometimes end with some accessory work.
A day-to-day comparison:
Tuesday and Thursday tend to have a weightlifting focus.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday have a bit more of a conditioning focus
Thursdays are a bit less predictable. It could be a partner workout.
Saturdays, on the other hand, will always be a partner workout. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet people in the gym.
I do find that in order to reap the most benefit from the classes when I travel, it pays to pick the times I train. I tended to go in the evening, which typically is when you see some of the stronger members coming. On more than one occasion, I was utterly humbled by the crowd at Anara Force.
Barranco feels like Lima's hub of contemporary culture. It's home to a trendy arthouse cinema, in Spanish of course. It has a popular craft market that doesn't sell the same tourist tat that you see everywhere, but real 'cosas' which I would probably describe as 'hipster' if I wasn't overly averse to using that word.
Amongst the giant, immaculate murals are some excellent restaurants and, down from the clifftop, is where all the surfers hang out in the water. Cold, at the point of writing, but they are still there every day.
Anara Force Center gets its name by being located in the 'Círculo Militar de Chorrillos' which is a military complex of sorts. Assuming that you are on foot, you can walk straight through the guards on the gate. Keep walking down the road, past the swimming pool on your left, through the second gate, and you will see the Arana Force sign on the left. It’s a little intimidating at first, but you have nothing to worry about. Once you get into the gym it’s a very friendly environment.
The walk from the centre of Barranco is only 15-20 mins, but you can also catch a bus if you want to save time. Every bus going south along the seafront will pass the military circle, and they typically only charge 1sol for the short distance.
Barranco is a lot quieter than Miraflores, so it depends on what you are looking for out of your stay in Lima. But if you like good food, and you are not on a super tight budget, you shouldn't miss these restaurants for quality, clean food:
La Canta Rana - Seafood - This authentic spot is very popular with the locals. Weekends and evenings, families and friends will wait outside until a table becomes available. However, if you are on your own, let them know, and they will be able to sit you at the bar. La Canta Rana, I was told by a friend 'has the best ceviche!' They also have a lot of different variants. It's a great place to come as a group because people tend to order dishes for the table and share.
Isolina Taberna Peruana - Peruvian Criollo - This was a culinary highlight of my trip for sure. Coming 12th in the 2019 '50 best restaurants in Latin America', this small, very popular restaurant serves completely unpretentious portions of Peruvian comfort food. The portions are large, and some people will definitely choose to share. I had my slow-cooked beef joint to myself, and I couldn't have eaten another thing afterwards.
Kinjo Ramen - Ramen - I became a bit of a regular here. It was just an easy way of getting a quick, tasty, clean meal with a healthy amount of protein, carbs and vegetables all in one plate.
Where to stay in Barranco?
There are quite a few hostels and hotels in Barranco. The further south you are, the closer you’ll be to the gym.
Barranco Backpackers Hostel
I stayed at Barranco Backpackers Hostel. It was nice and chilled, but not the most social hostel. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the dorms are on the ground floor and they get a lot of noise from the street outside so you might want to bring earplugs. All that being said, the location was perfect for the town, and it was super easy to get to the gym straight down the main road.