The Sant Pau Social Gym is a pioneering project for social cohesion and transformation that, over its 80-plus years of history, has combined solidarity-based sports activity and a shower service for people without the means to wash themselves at home.
It originated in the 1940s, when it became home to the first chlorinated public swimming pool in Barcelona, while providing the inhabitants of the Raval neighbourhood with a shower service, as apartments in the area did not have running water at the time, so the gym was acting as a public-health agent with the goal of preventing epidemics.
In 2012, the institution was in an unsustainable financial situation, and its employees established a not-for-profit working cooperative.
The economic crash and, later, the pandemic led us to return to our roots and, together with Barcelona City Council, we opened up the Showers and Change-of-Clothing Service. At the same time, the city council, aware of the social value of Sant Pau to the neighbourhood and to the city, purchased the site with the aim of erecting a new building that, as well as housing the new gym facilities, would be the site of 43 social-housing apartments.
In 2023 we moved to provisional premises, at Carrer Floristes de la Rambla, 10, Barcelona, where we will stay until the building works have been completed. We hope to be able to inaugurate the new Sant Pau Social Gym in 2027, on its original site (Ronda Sant Antoni) and with completely renovated facilities.
What Is a Social Gym?
As well as being a place where you can go to do sport, we have a social commitment to providing an environment.
- where people can meet in conditions of equality
- safe place for all genders
- a place that helps to establish relationships between people who come from very different worlds and thus helps some to overcome difficult moments and others to get to know our neighbours better;
- a place that looks after the physical and mental health of people...
At the Sant Pau Social Gym, we listen to our neighbours and to our members, and we adapt to their personal, social, economic, and other needs.