With winter in full swing, it’s easy to get into a routine that lacks any activity other than going to work. Temperatures in South Korea drop to single digits and even below zero. So, unless you’re one of those individuals that loves winter, it’s best to have a plan for staying active. Personally, maintaining a healthy weight is what will keep me pushing to stay active this winter. As a vegetarian it’s incredibly easy to load up on carbs, so, as winter progresses, I hope to make progress in getting and staying active. Here are some available options for keeping fit while teaching English in Korea for a year.
Out for a walk/jog/run with Choco:
Choco is my three year old, toy poodle that I got back in October of 2012. Having a dog means daily walks, even when it’s cold. It’s recommended that I take her out twice daily for about 30 minutes at a time. When I abide by this, I notice that she’s much calmer in the house. On days when I’m too lazy or it’s too cold for even me, she seems to be overly energetic. So, to avoid these behaviors, I’ll be getting in some daily exercise and making Choco gets hers too.
There are two local gyms in my neighborhood here in Pohang. While they both offer monthly membership, the cost per month and per session is remarkably drastic. In all fairness, I believe that what comes with your membership is what makes up for the differences in price. The gym that I favor is reasonably priced and offers all of the typical things that comes with a going to the gym. There’s locker room, equipped with a shower. There’s also lots of exercise machines as well as weight machines. They also offer free weights and padded floors. I’ve noticed that they have a foot massager, which doubles as a leg massager. Imagine several large rings of beads on circular, drum-like apparatus. Now, imagine an on/off switch that allows this apparatus to rotate at your touch. It’s amazing! There are several other machines that I haven’t seen before. One I was especially curious about is the vibrating belt. It sorta looks like a broad belt that you lap around your midsection or butt. It’s also attached to the machine and rotates. This gym’s monthly fee is 70,000 KRW. They also allow daily passes for 5,000 KRW.
The other gym, offers a bath house and sauna privileges and is priced significantly higher. In Korea, these are referred to as a jimjilbang. While the bathhouse is separated by sex, all persons are nude to take part in this bath. I have yet to try this Korean favorite, but I promised myself to try it out before I leave Korea. As for the sauna, I’ve tried that. They have different rooms with different temperatures. Also, for a set price, you can stay all night.
I’ve only tried hot yoga on one occasion while teaching English in Korea. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The room is heated to an uncomfortable temperature and then the head instructor leads you into different poses usually to music. Sometimes the routines are sped up, other times, it’s slowed down. It can be brutal but, you feel great afterwards. On cold days, this is a great way to get started. There is a yoga place in my neighborhood but they only offer monthly membership. However, I know of another in a nearby neighborhood that offers pay as you go membership. I’ll be checking it out very soon.
When I first came to Korea, I joined a local studio called Yoga Soul which is located in another neighborhood, Jang-Sang-Dong (JSD). I signed up for five days a week and for the most part, I stuck to it. It was a 30 minute walk to and from; coupled with the hour yoga session, I was feeling great and resting easy at night. Since moving to Edong, I have yet to find such a place in this neighborhood that offers the flexibility of Yoga Soul.
Each morning, as part of my daily routine, I do 45 push ups (3 sets of 15), sit ups, and squats. I also do 20 mountain climbers and 20 eight counts. I made myself a daily checklist to keep myself active on days when I want to stay at home either because it's raining or too cold out.
While beach volleyball is incredibly popular here at Bukbu Beach, with winter in full effect, the option of indoor volleyball became hot topic. I went for the first time last Wednesday and I had a lot of fun. Fortunately for us English teachers there are friendly American military personnell here in Korea. I recently joined a group, Winter Volleyball and with the support of a few good men, we're able to play on base. What fun!
Nailah Rivers was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She moved to the United States with her family at the age of seven. She graduated Rutgers University in 2011 with a degree in psychology. Her sophomore year in college, she knew for sure that she would pursue a teaching career with a focus on elementary school. After a risky move to Miami, Florida in 2011, Nailah decided to take a chance and apply to teach English in South Korea with Chungdahm Learning. She is currently teaching in Pohang, South Korea and is having a good time teaching and learning. Follow her blog to get the inside scoop on teaching abroad.