So as I mentioned yesterday, my gym membership is officially up! When I first got here I signed up for the three month deal they had going, knowing that I would want to be working out while I was here. Thankfully, that was a good move because not only do I have way too much time on my hands at all times, but I am not quite sure how I would avoid gaining 100+ pounds without it. Overall, it turned out to be a nice place, I loved the Pilates classes (although they are a lot easier than the ones at home- here the focus is more on stretching and not so much the work-out), I tried spinning for the first time (quickly realizing that my knees were not built for it), and I worked with a personal trainer and finally got over my machine-phobia.
Spending time in the gym also gave me lots of time to experience and reflect on Spain’s attitude towards exercise, leading me to assert that it really is a lot different than back home! For starters, to see girls working out is very odd. I cannot tell you the number of times it was about 15 men and me in the weight room. But, oddly, I did not mind. (Which is funny considering at school, I refuse to enter the fratboy-infested area with all the weight machines due to intimidation!) Instead, I took a bit of pride in it (and I’m pretty sure they found it less strange because they could tell that I was American). Good news is that I took my folder with my workout regimen in it to maybe keep up it up in the states if I can find the courage! I really did like lifting and working my muscles though and not only doing cardio all the time because I do feel like the two go hand and hand and it made me stronger!
However, what women can do without reproach is Pilates and the stretching classes. This is where you will find old ladies who chat like you’ve known them for years and twenty-somethings trying to fit some sort of exercise in their routine. Like I mentioned before, a lot are easygoing stretching classes with some emphasis on resistance training so I do not think you can rely solely on these classes for “exercise.” I always liked going to Pilates though and found it was a great way to stretch and relax.
To be honest, my gym was rather stuffy and not the most comfortable place to spend the day and so at times, I would run outside in the park right by my house! I established a wonderful loop that I can run once or twice depending on how I’m feeling. Here I experience similar things though and sometimes get strange looks from old people sitting on benches and very rarely see other women running (but lots of men!) A few of my friends have even been called out while running themselves. The other day, one was forced to stop by men impeding her path, only to be told “You run too much,” and then allowed to carry on her way. Another one of my friends was mocked while walking home after a run by boys our age, I guess since it really just is not that common?!
Now don’t get me wrong- there are lots of women who do work out, but it is definitely more of an exception than a rule. I think everyone else just considers their exercise in all the walking we do everywhere. That, and I have found Spanish people are very proud of their diet- they think that it is the healthiest and best food in the world even it only revolves around olive oil, potatoes, bread, and ham. So maybe they don’t think they need a reason to work out when they eat so “healthy?”
Even so, for me, working out is not only a tool to lose weight and maintain physical fitness, but more importantly, it’s really makes you feel better and alert for the whole day! I can always tell a difference after I work out and it’s something that you cannot get just from walking.
So there you have it, my little take on Spanish culture and exercise.
In other news, I got my advent calendar filled with yummy Spanish chocolate and Taylor and me put up a tree in her apartment today whilst listening to Christmas carols!
Now my dilemma for the day… if I go to Vienna tomorrow do I:
a) Eat all the chocolate for the 4 days I will miss beforehand
b) Bring the chocolate in a baggie and eat one piece a day
c) Wait until I get back and eat all the pieces at once