Health and Beouty

Before coming to Korea I was worried about the there being a gym readily available to me.  I know this is probably the last thing on some people’s minds but after spending 4 months living in Europe and having my only outlet for exercise being parks to run in, it was my top priority.  If I was to live and survive in foreign country there needs to at least be a gym to workout at.  In fact, it was one of the first questions I asked while in the interview for the position in Ulsan.  So after we got paid we signed up for the reasonably priced gym membership and got our “Health and Beouty” on.

It is conveniently located directly next to my school, so no bus ride was needed to get there.   The gym itself is unlike anything I have ever seen, some of the equipment is something you would see in an 80’s workout video.  They have the shaking band massagers; you know the ones where you put the band around your waist or ass and watch it jiggle away all your fat. By looking at all these stick thin Korean girls you would think such a contraption actually works.  I’m sure it gives a great massage but I am terrified to try it, let’s just say I have a little more junk in my trunk then the average Korean girl.  They also have wooden rollers, inverters, and some interesting old school equipment.  All jokes aside though it is a pretty amazing gym, with almost everything you need. And the great thing is that not a lot of Koreans like getting sweaty, in fact I have yet to see a girl sweat half as much as I do, so it stays pretty clean.

There are only a few negatives about the gyms here.  For starters, the change rooms have the most impractical set up I have ever seen.  When you first walk into the change room you need to take off your shoes in true Asian fashion, which if you like your shoes to be tied just right, it gets really annoying having to take them off whenever you go into the locker area.  Then everything is at knee level because everyone sits on the floor here.  So once you have taken an extra 10 min untying your perfectly tied shoes, dodging the corners on the tables that are out of your line of sight they are so low and tried not to make eye contact with the older Korean women pointing at your belly button piercing while muttering, you are ready to go! Oh but wait, you now have to re-tie your shoes.  So you sit down on the edge of the platform floor and carefully put on your shoes making sure not to bend the backs down like your mother has always told you.  When you notice that every other pair of shoes there have the backs all stepped on and broken.  Some of the shoes there even have built in platforms to be taller while working out! I couldn’t think of a better place to strive to be taller, I bet if they were allowed to wear actual heels on the treadmill they would.  So alas, you have made it out of the change room, 15 min behind schedule, but with perfectly intact shoes.

But wait, that coffee you had for breakfast has really made you need to go to the bathroom!! Not an issue, we’re in Korea, there are sure to be bathrooms here! Right? Well yes right, but hardly what I would consider and appropriate bathroom for a gym.  These bathrooms are fully equipped with the finest in squat toilets and sinks with no running water.  Don’t get me wrong, having backpacked India, I am no stranger to squat toilets, but having done strenuous leg exercises the day before, if I happen to made it down there without falling in there is no way I will be making it back up.  Needless to say, I do the potty dance every now and then until I can run home.

Although the gym may not be up to my western standards in way of the change room and bathrooms, I am just grateful there is a gym.  If anything it just makes for an interesting story and a better understanding of the Korean culture!

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