Going to the Gym in Korea

My husband and I had been feeling guilty about not being very active for a while, so we joined a gym! We joined in January, which is obviously a popular month for people to suddenly start setting goals for themselves to get in shape. But we are committed to going together and alone if our schedules don’t work out, and so far we’ve enjoyed it.

Thankfully, a new gym opened up just across the street from our house. So even in the cold and snowy weather, we are able to convince ourselves to brave the chilly air for a minute or two to get to the gym. They keep it heated but not hot, so we don’t overheat when we are working out.

The gym is small but has filled up quickly. I was actually worried that I would be the only one in there at first, because we signed up on a weekend and there were no gym-goers when we got there. However, every night, almost all of the treadmills are full, and there is always someone with a personal trainer.

The atmosphere is very bright and welcoming, and the staff are very friendly. I thought it would be awkward going alone, but I’ve been so many times without my husband already, and I haven’t felt too shy about working out. They play good, energetic music (including lots of songs by Big Bang, which is my favorite k-pop group) and because it’s not a huge gym, it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

When we arrive, we punch our code into the screen, and it signs us in. We don’t have to sign out or anything – it’s mostly recording if we went that day or not. My husband signed up for the general use of the gym (the treadmills, weights, etc.) but on top of that, I signed up for Pilates and yoga classes. There are five classes a day every weekday. The first starts at 9am, and the last starts at 9:30pm.

Each class is an hour-long and the classes are held in the same room, so yoga and Pilates alternate every hour. I enjoy the Pilates classes the most. It’s something I’d never done before, but the classes are always different. We use different things to help us work certain muscles, like hoops or mini-sized exercise balls, and the classes usually don’t feel that long. They are really hard, sometimes, though. I feel like I’m the least flexible person in all my classes, but I also have extra long limbs and a short torso, so it’s hard to do the things that the Koreans are doing.

I’ve also been to nightly yoga classes, but some of the classes are harder than others. The yoga actually leaves me out of breath sometimes, which I didn’t expect. I am so bad at downward facing dog that I get really discouraged when the instructor has us do the pose 30 times in one session. However, there are times when my body actually works well, and that’s when we are doing crunches. They don’t pain me as much as some of the other stretches do.

When Junkyu is able to work out with me, we go together and walk or jog on the treadmill before working on either our arm or leg muscles. It’s really fun going with him, but also harder because he pushes me to do more reps than I would make myself do. I guess that’s a good thing! We have fun motivating each other to push ourselves and we encourage each other and feel accomplished after a hard day’s workout.

Now when we are sitting on the couch together watching TV, it’s usually to soothe our aching muscles and not because we are being lazy! On the weekends, though, we like to walk around playing Pokemon Go, since that just got released in Korea. Overall, we already feel healthier (or at least not as inactive), so I hope we keep it up!

4 thoughts on “Going to the Gym in Korea

  1. Oh how I wish my wife would come with me to gym again. She went last year for 6 months and then suddenly after she lost weight and got healthier she stopped going…
    anyhow now she has an excuse due to her pregnancy but I do hope she will start afterwards again.
    The good thing in our gym is that it is 24/7 open, even on public holidays 🙂

    1. Everyone’s different! Especially if she’s pregnant and hasn’t exercised in a while, she might feel really uncomfortable going now or even for months after giving birth. Be patient! I am kind of glad our gym isn’t open 24/7 because it forces us to go before they close and the schedule for the yoga and pilates classes never changes, so I have a reason to go. Otherwise, I’d be really lazy and say, “Meh, I can go later.”

  2. It sounds perfect! You made me remember a lot of the feelings I had about working out alone at the gym when I joined one in Japan, but actually going there and people getting used to me being there made me feel incredibly normal (for me it was somewhere I could walk around and not be stared at, it felt so nice). I’ve just joined my second gym in China this past weekend and I’m baffled by the schedules and everything, but I’m hoping soon I’ll be doing yoga too. Let’s see how that goes with my beginner’s Chinese…

    1. Yeah! All the staff members say hi to me, and it feels really nice to walk in and know what I’m doing. One woman and I walked out together after yoga class, and it turns out she lives right next door to me! I hope your new gym is good!

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