Exercising in Asia isn’t like home. First of all, it is so hot that many people (myself included) have a hard time exercising even in the early morning or late evening because of the heat and humidity. Playing tennis or ultimate frisbee makes my core body temperature heat way up and my face turns so red it gets almost purple. People that aren’t causasion constantly ask me if I am alright when I work out here becuase my face turns a truly unnatural shade of crimson. When Dan left for the US, he ponied up for a gym membership for me at the Fitness First right here in Mont Kiara, (thanks honey!) which is a brand spanking new club that just opened.
Here are my observations working out in Asia for 5 months:
1) Pale Giant
When I take classes at the gym here I am almost always the only westerner in the class. (I am a big fan of taking classes as it humiliates me into doing better than the person beside me.) That means I am a good head taller and about four shades paler than everyone else. Can you picture it? The instructors of these classes pretty much always comment on at least one of three things:
1) How tall I am (I’m only about 5’7″, but I really do feel massive here)
2) How long my arms and legs are
3) How red my face gets (sometimes they stop the entire class to check on me!)
So, as you can see, I blend right in.
2) Come one, come all
Another thing that is different about the classes is that there doesn’t seem to be a “type” that works out. For instance, in a hip-hopish dance class that I take, it is not unusual to find me shaking me groove thing next to a 60 year old man or a Muslim woman with her wrists, ankles, and head covered. When Lady Gaga comes blasting out of the speakers it is ON, no matter what your age, religion or culture in this class. How’s that for diversity?!
Now, if you know me, you know I have issues with personal space. As in: I need it. A lot of it. And, if you have been to Asia, you know that in general personal space isn’t something that is valued all that much. I have several “rules” that help me with my personal space issue that have been developed through months of trial and error. First of all, when running, I always try and pick the treadmill that is on the end so that only one person can be next to me at all times, instead of being sandwiched in between two sweaty people. Usually, even though the other 30ish treadmills are open, someone picks the one beside me. I’m not joking. Second of all, during a class, I always try and position myself with the perfect amount of space in between me, the wall and the person next to me, so there is no possible way that someone can even think that they can squeeze in that open space. It’s a tricky dance to have to do before every class and even with meanish stares, it usually doesn’t work and I end up being smushed with my personal space invaded.
4) English as a Second Language
For most of the instructors, english is not their first language. So, in addition to the most enthusiastic instructors in the universe shouting out Jane Fonda like phrases that always make me giggle, you also have cute grammatical errors like, “Lift you feets in the air!”
5) No Easy Way Out
In addition to being enthusiatic, these gym rats are SERIOUS. You know when the instructor says, “For those of you who want an easier option do this…” Well, you better not even think about doing the easier option becuase it’s just not done. I don’t care if you are a 90 year old granny with arthritis, you don’t take the easier option in Asia. Yikes.
It’s a long way from a getting a workout in a rowing shell or walking by the Chattahoochee River with Henry, which is how I would workout at home, but it will do for now. But if you happen to see a tall white girl with the crimson face wedged between the wall and another sweaty person, just know she isn’t going to pass out, just keep on going and make sure she isn’t taking the easier option. For those of you overseas, how have you had to change your workout routine? Any habits you are going to take back with you to your home country when you go? Any personal space issues where you are? I know I’m not the only one out there!