Ohh Yeah, I’m in Korea-The GYM

I have been reflecting on what makes Korea so different from my life in America for some time. I work, eat, sleep, workout. Besides the obvious difference of being 6000 miles away, sometimes I forget I am in another country. It’s the first sign of adjustment, actually feeling like I have a schedule. Being at an English speaking school all day has begun to feel normal and I forget that all my students are ESL learners. (English as a Second Language). Our Korean co-workers and foreign co-workers have a fun, joking attitude in the office which brings me back to the days at WDSRA. I love to play as hard as I work. Nevertheless, I think I can start to highlight what reminds me in my everyday life that yes, I am in Korea. So, for my first installment of “Ohh yeah, I’m in Korea” the gym is a perfect place to almost forget.

1) The GYM-After two months of working out at home and running on the trail, I broke down and got a gym membership. Some gyms here are very expensive (over $80 month) because they have a spa attached. Sounds great, but I don’t have time to have spa days very often so it was not an option I needed. Randomly walking home after dinner one night, I spotted on the third floor of a building a gym with people running on treadmills. This gym was only a 15 min. walk from our place so I decided to check it out. First, the name of the gym cracked me up. Tomato Fitness. Usually I don’t think of tomatoes as being fit, but at least they named it after a fruit. I went upstairs with my phrasebook in hand, ready to try to ask prices. The first thing you have to do before you walk into the actually gym in pause at the shoe rack and remove your shoes. People in Korea have outdoor shoes and indoor shoes. Some gyms will ask you to leave if your shoes are dirty. Hence, this leads to some people working out in their bare feet (ewww). Anyway, So the lady at the counter spoke a little English and I was able to see a price. $160,000 won for 3 months. That’s about $115 American dollars. Not bad. After a quick look around, I noticed they had all the latest equipment and weights. The treadmills even had TV’s! I signed up and was very excited to come back the next day to work out.

Returning the next day I actually remembered to wear sandals to the gym and then change into them. After getting my new locker set up, I went to warm up on the treadmill. After about 10 min. I felt like everyone in the gym was watching me. Tomato Fitness is not a huge place, so everyone can see everywhere. I had a twilight zone moment when I realized that I was the ONLY one not wearing grey shorts and a grey shirt. After another few moments I wondered, “where did everyone get this getup?” I decided to investigate. Well, as it turns out right when you walk in, there are stacks of clean shirts and shorts sorted out by size. You just take them and change into them. Afterwards, you place them in the laundry bag in the locker room and they send it away to be cleaned. WOW! I got really excited about not having to wash tons of gym clothes all the time. So, the next day I went to the gym I decided to join the Tomato Fitness Cult (as Jason called it). Well, the outfits are not meant to sweat in and I quickly decided that washing my own shorts would be worth it. I do still use the t-shirts but the unisex shorts will never be worn again.

While on the topic of the gym, I have seen more than a few funny things occur that again, bring my mind back into the reality of where I am. My favorite so far is seeing a guy laying on his back on a bench, barefooted with a dumbell between his feet, doing leg lifts while watching a movie on his phone. Yeah, that moment brought me back to Korea. Also, I watched a fitness class the other day. The ladies in the class let out dramatic gasps when things got hard and fell onto the floor. They just stayed there panting while the class went on around them. Then, the finale of every class is strobe-light dance time! I’m glad no one has had a seizure.

In conclusion, most often I feel the things that bring me back to the realization that “Ohh yeah, I’m in Korea” happens when I see or experience something that I probably would see in a funny movie about Korea. Even if someone tells you that you are going to see girls hiking up mountains in high heels, nothing can prepare you for the actual sight. It’s not that I am laughing at the Koreans or making fun of them. These moments just bring a smile to my face and give me a great story to tell. I’m so glad we chose to move somewhere so different than America. My favorite part of living here is realizing that for every strange or funny thing Koreans do, Americans have one to match it. Often in class when I am trying to explain something about America it hits me how ridiculous it must sound to the Koreans. It usually is really ridiculous but when you grow up with something, it just seems to make sense even though it may be the farthest thing from it. And yes, they often laugh and poke fun of my “American ways.”

One Response to “Ohh Yeah, I’m in Korea-The GYM”

  1. Yusuke Mizuno says:


    I haven’t been around in a while, but this post was definitely worth reading. It’s 5:24AM right now and it made me laugh out loud a few times. I’m glad to see that you’re having fun. Now… About the high heels… You were actually sick the day we went to Jaujas, but a girl was hiking up those mountains in high heels as well. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked, considering the way down was a slip and slide death trap a few times.

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