Everything is a task over here. I'm not complaining at all. I'm just saying that the traditionally routine becomes the exceedingly extraordinary pain-in-the-ass. Take signing up for the gym for instance. A traditional in-and-out-quicker-than-a-bank-robber procedure, well at least when you side step the dodgy membership fees, left me shaking my head yesterday. I'm admitting full blame on this one. It's definitely time to brush up on some survival Korean.
I had already went to the gym to take care of this, but because it was Sunday, they were closed. According to Yuna, all gyms are closed on Sunday though she couldn't tell me why. So at 5pm on Monday, presumably when most people are itching to get back in to get their sweat on, I headed up to the gym (remember it's 75 feet away).
The doors of the elevator swing open and I'm greeted with "ahnyueng heyseyo" and a big smile. I point to the advertisement that says 3 month for W110,000. It's a decent price for being so close, but from the 3 gyms I have toured in town, they all suck with high degrees of success. So when a gym determines it is going to suck, it needs to be cheap and within close proximity. "Vitamin Fitness" definitely fits the bill.
The poor girl that was trying to sign me up was over come with a case of the Korean giggles and, through use of an internet translator, signed me up in about 10 minutes. Afterward, she paced back and forth trying to think of how she was going to tell me something while holding a combination lock. Right about then the manager walked in, and she was instantly relieved (she was trying to figure how to tell me how to use the locker in the men's area). The manager dude shows me where to stash the shoes I wore on the street (not suitable to wear inside in Asia). I got a key for a small shoe locker during this exchange. For those keeping track at home, that makes for 1 key. Then he showed me another locker where I will keep my shoes dedicated specifically FOR the gym. I am issued a combination lock. This combination will be the second item I will need to remember. Third, we pass by a clothes rack, blue for men and orange for women. I wear size 2 (out of 3). Then he takes me into the changing room where I am issued, you guessed it, another key to stash the clothes that I wore TO the gym (i wore workout clothes ironically).
The box score is as follows;
Garrett - 3 lockers, size 2, 2 keys, 1 combination, 1 confused journey on the way out.
For the record, those gym issued shorts have the built in"panties (his usage not mine)" in them. Korean's use of the word "panties" is gender non-specific. While I appreciate someone else providing me gym wear on their dime (I, more times than not, have wore ripe clothes to the gym), I'm not sure how comfortable I am with the thought of my coin purse setting up shop where other coin purses have been only hours previous. Turns out this should have been the least of my concerns.
The manager waits for me to disrobe outside of the the lockeroom. When I emerge, he takes me over to the treadmill and shows me how to use it. The oddity here is that a) every button was in English b) why did he think I wanted to hop on the treadmill? I appease the Vitamin Fitness gods and lazily tread down the treadmill. About a minute and a half in, he signals to me that I am running to loud. I'm having a hard time figuring this one out so I scale back the speed to a slow saunter and disengage from the treadmill. I was only on there to make him happy in the first place.
When I visited the gym on Friday to tour it, I noticed both benched had plates on both side that were 2 thick. In the states, 2 thick on each side is 4 x 45lbs + the bar which is another 45. This equates to 225 lbs. I thought to myself, "damn, while a diminutive breed, these dudes are strong." It turns out that it's a charade to end all charades. Korean's version of "operation fortitude". Each of these plates was the diameter of a 45 lber but were different colors signifying lesser weight; 10kg (22 lbs), 15kg (33 lbs) and 20kg (44lbs). So what I thought was 225 lbs, has the potential to be only 133lbs. The jig is up, Korea.
Their selection of free weights constitutes a bunch of lowly weight dumbbells strewn about haphazardly in a pile. There is no free form squat rack. A dead lifting platform is MIA. All of those short comings go by the wayside when you heed the fact that they have, not one, but two of those crazy fat giggling machines! After my workout, and think I had seen it all when it comes to bass ackwards gym-ing, I went into the locker room.
Wait for it ... wait for it ... Yep, it happened. I stripped down and grabbed my dish-rag sized towel and headed for the shower. I was in the shower next to this old man and I thought the only way for this guy to get a better look is for him to take a knee and bust out the bi-focals. It was pretty shameless. I can't say I'm surprised with the amount of text I've read on this very situation. I hope I made his day.
After the locker room I went on one hell of a scavenger hunt trying to procure all of my belongings. I thought someone pilfered my shoes as I was looking in unlocked stalls for them but it turns out I forgot that I had the key in my pocket. And they were indeed in their designated holding cell. Too many keys, so little brain!