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24 February 2004
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Korea Life Blog - No More Health Club

After 7 full months I finally quit the health club a couple of weeks ago. While I was growing tired of being the foreign novelty amongst the regulars, I stuck it out mostly because I didn't have to pay. The owner charged me at first for 3 months - but then never again. While everyone had to swipe a card when they arrived, for the next seven months he would just smile at me and hand me a towel.

Well, who can beat that! I kept going thinking eventually I'd have to pay. I brought my credit card each time, just in case, ready to fork it over the moment of question. That never happened. I kept working out until yet another trainer started - a guy who does not leave anybody alone. He's the typical high school jock who never grew up. A stupid thug. Every time I would go there, he'd follow me all around, constanly touching me, trying to measure my muscles, tackling me in fun, coming up and tickling me while I'm lifting a heavy weight, and always putting his arm around me as if I were his best friend. At first I told him politely that I don't need help. And later I told him point blank to go away (bbali ga!) but he never listened. He was like a magnet. If I could have paid by the month for nobody to bother me, I would have gladly.

When I exercise, I just want to be left alone, to do my work out. I don't need somebody correcting my every move, counting my every rep. I've been exercising for a few years now and I know what works for me, even if it isn't the best method. If I do a routine that's not comfortable, I won't be able to stick to it. I'll quit like most people do after a month because I won't enjoy what I'm doing. I've also learned that every trainer does things differently. Whenever I have conformed to one trainer's methods, a new one would come in and say, "No! no! what are you doing? Like this!" causing me to sigh and think, "here we go again."

In a shopping center, you don't want to be bothered. You want a salesperson only if you have a question. However, in Korea they are unavoidable. They suffocate you and stand by your side while thinking they are being helpful. The same holds true at the health clubs I've joined here. There's always a trainer and/or the owner who thinks they are doing you a favor by showing you how stupid you are. Why can't they all realize people like to be left alone! If they would just keep quiet, help you only when asked, you'd be much more comfortable and likely to return.

My new weight set. 10kgs each. Not much, but was all I could carry home. They cost me 40,000 won at E-mart, but they're well worth it. I've been working out at home for over a week with them. It's amazing how much of a decent workout you can do at home and how much more relaxing it is. I crank on my favorite tunes (no more of that Korean techno music at the gym!). I do hundreds of pushups and situps on certain days. The rest of the week I use the weights to do arms and shoulders. For legs I hold these to the side and do squats. I'm not going to get much bigger, but I don't need to. Doing a lot of reps, I'll tone myself up. When the weather breaks I plan to start jogging or speed walking up the hills nearby. It's a lot better than that scene at the health club. I just hope I stick to it.


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