Ah tis the holiday season at last. Though not exactly a particularly religious country, South Korea still embraces Christmas time with great enthusiasm. I have already heard Mariah Carey and Wham’s annoying earwig Christmas tunes more times than I can count. Generally, when I think of the holidays, food is the first think that comes to mind, and generally accompanying the gorging is the nasty little issue of weight gain. On that note, I figured I would share a few tidbits on staying fit in Korea, and how to keep that flawless figure intact through those long Korean winter months.
OK, so the basics of a healthy lifestyle are not exactly rocket science, but you still should have some idea of what you need to do and where to go to make your healthy goals a reality. I will mention that I am by no means a fitness guru in any sense of the word, so of course my advice does not apply to everyone. I am just relaying some observations from my own personal experiences, and sharing what I have found to be the most helpful.
Normally, I would say the most simple and obvious way is just by running, biking, or doing some type of fat burning cardio. In the winter, this prospect becomes infinitely less desirable, especially this year since winter has already proven to be quite chilly. I have always hated winters in cities, in large part due to the fact that the tall buildings often channel the wind and the streets become icy wind tunnels. Personally, I can barely drag myself out for a riverside run on a gorgeous spring day let alone a dreary winter one, so as you can probably imagine my running mileage has plunged dramatically. But, since all those holiday food binge calories aren’t going to just magically burn themselves, then you have to find another workout alternative. This is where, at least in my experience, the gym becomes a more crucial part of my fitness life.
As I am an admitted tightwad and hater of spending money, Korean gym prices are a painful reality. In stark contrast to the general price trend in this country, Korean gyms can be surprisingly expensive, sometimes running in excess of 70 or 80 thousand won a month. Luckily, the 24 hour gym right next to my apartment (but also evilly placed adjacent to the only Burger King in Daejeon) offers one of the most competitive rates in town, often offering a 3 month special for only 100,000 won. In terms of equipment, most Korean gyms are halfway decent, though they may not boast the same quality of machinery that some of the more diehard meatheads might expect back in the States. Gyms here generally all provide workout shirts, which may not seem like a big deal but in terms of helping with minimizing laundry at home, it is certainly a welcomed little perk. One annoying aspect of Korean gym etiquette is that most people feel no need to place the dumbbells back in their proper spot on the rack, so you may find yourself frustrated at the complete lack of order when you are looking for your desired weight.
Ultimately, it is completely up to you in terms of how seriously you want to take your workout regimen. At the moment, I am scraping the bottom of my soul to find the motivation to drag myself into the gym, but I am fully aware this drive could vanish any day now. But until that moment arrives, I can still without any guilt urge my readers to stay strong and emerge from their winter hibernation without a drastically expanded waistline.
Patrick Sheridan grew up in the quiet suburbs outside of Boston but always knew he wanted to explore the world. Studying abroad in Denmark while attending Elon University did not satisfy this desire, so after graduating in 2012 he decided to join Chungdahm Learning and teach English in South Korea. He loves wandering through the various neighborhoods of his city Daejeon, sampling random back-alley restaurants and attempting to communicate with the locals in his horribly broken Korean. He embraces everything Korean and looks forward to seeing everything South Korea has to offer.