Korean gym culture shocks:
- You can’t wear your outside shoes in the gym. You have to designate a pair of shoes solely for the gym.
- Gyms have uniforms you can wear to work out in. My gym’s uniform consists of a loose black t-shirt and baggy shorts. I’ve been told the gym uniforms are usually complimentary. You can just grab a clean pair when you arrive. Although this is more convenient, I prefer working out in my own gym clothes.
- Most people walk, rather than run, on the treadmills.
- Most girls and guys dress conservatively. I haven’t seen many guys working out in tank tops, nor have I seen any girls working out in sports bras. The only guys who wear tank tops at my gyms are the super buff personal trainers. This may just be particular to my gym. My friend, who lives in Jeonju, says she has seen girls working out in sports bras at her gym.
- The showers/changing room is like a Korean spa. People will lounge around naked instead of putting clothes on right after showering.
After living in Korea for ten months, I finally got my lazy ass to the gym.
HIP HIP HOORAY!
Okay, to be honest, I wanted to join the gym a lot sooner. But I didn’t because:
- I was intimidated.
- I was always broke from weekend shenanigans.
- I was a lazy bum.
Aside from being broke and lazy, my intimidation definitely deterred me from joining earlier.
‘Cause let’s be real, joining a gym takes a lot of courage.
…well, for me at least.
I knew if I were to join a gym, I wanted to start weightlifting rather than doing cardio on the treadmills.
But the sheer thought of walking into a foreign gym and trying to lift weights made me stop dead in my tracks.
“What if they don’t speak English?”
“What if it’s all guys?”
“What if they stare at me?”
“Should I work out at home instead?”
My internal debates ended when suddenly, a brand-spanking new gym opened up near my place. There was already a gym close by, but this one was even closer. It was only about three minutes away by foot, and I didn’t even have to cross the main road to get there.
I decided it was worth checking out.
My Korean friend looked into it for me and told me if I signed-up before the gym officially opened, it would only be 240,000 won (~$215) for the whole year. (Granted, I had to pay in cash…)
This breaks down to 20,000 won (~$18) a month. But since I have merely nine months left on my current contract, it’s really about 27,000 won (~$24) per month.
That’s still quite cheap for a gym membership in Korea. The other gyms I’ve inquired about have been around 70,000 won (~$63) per month.
What are the chances an affordable gym would open right next to my place?
I figured this was a sign from the fitness gods for me to get my ass to the gym so I could actually get a nice ass. #mission-build-a-booty
*Side note: The normal price for my gym is double what I paid. I got a discount because I signed up for the whole year during their grand opening promotion. My friend who just signed up at my gym recently paid about 150,000 won (~$134) for three months. I would definitely ask around to see if any gyms near you are running a promotion. My friend who lives in Jeonju originally paid 600,000 won (~$537) for six months at her gym. Then after her six months were up, she only paid half of that for the next six months because they were running a promotion.
I’ve got to say, joining the gym has been one of the best decisions I’ve made recently.
Weightlifting in a Korean gym isn’t nearly as intimidating as I thought it’d be. Actually, I think it’s less intimidating than weightlifting back in the states. Here in Korea, there aren’t many super-swole gym bros and chicks. The majority of people who go to my gym are neither fat nor fit. Most are people in average shape who seem like they go to the gym primarily to be healthy rather than to get buff.
My workout schedule:
- Monday: full-body
- Tuesday: rest
- Wednesday: full-body
- Thursday: rest
- Friday: full-body
- Saturday & Sunday: rest
However, I realized I wanted to go to the gym more frequently, so I switched from doing full-body workouts to an upper and lower body split.
- Monday: lower body
- Tuesday: upper body
- Wednesday: booty
- Thursday: lower body
- Friday: upper body
- Sunday: rest
I’ve been currently following Rudy Mawer’s 90-day bikini workout plan, which I bought online. However, I don’t do the workouts exactly as outlined. I use it more as a guideline. I’ve been incorporating different workouts from various fitness Youtubers such as Whitney Simmons, Chloe Ting and Tammy Hembrow.
Since I’m rather inexperienced in weightlifting, I ask the personal trainers to show me how to do a lot of the exercises. They’re usually eager to help.
Even without asking, sometimes they’ll come by and give me some tips on how to improve my form for certain lifts. This might be annoying to some people, but I’m grateful for it. I’d rather be corrected so I don’t end up on a “gym fail” video collage.
While working out 5-6 days a week seems daunting, it’s actually easier for me to do than working out three days a week.
The reason for this is because it helps me be consistent. Whenever I take a break from doing something, I always fall off track. That’s the main reason I suck at blogging regularly. I take too long of a break between writing each blog post.
Nowadays, I always feel the urge to work out. Even after a cheat meal, I’ll still work out. The “old me” would’ve probably thought, “Well, damn. Guess I’ll start again next week.”
As for my diet, I’ve been trying to eat healthier.
I haven’t started tracking calories or macros yet because I’m on my school lunch plan. Since I have no clue what’s in my school lunches, it’s impossible to accurately track my calories and macros. For now, I just try to eat less rice at lunch.
I’ve decided to start bringing my own lunch to work next month, so I’ll be counting calories and tracking macros soon.
Right now, my diet looks a bit like this:
- Breakfast: blueberry banana smoothie with chia seeds or strawberry banana smoothie with peanut butter
- Snack: two boiled eggs, an apple or a peach
- Lunch: school lunch
- Dinner: grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, stir-fried bell peppers
- Post workout: protein shake
I’ve kept to this about 70% of the time. However, this week has been closer to 50%…
Although I’ve dropped a pant size within a month, I actually haven’t lost any weight. I weigh the same in both photos. I don’t stress much about my actual weight, though. I’m more concerned about how I look than how much I weigh.
After doing a body scan at my gym, one of the trainers there told me I should lose 3 kilos of fat and gain 3 kilos of muscle. My goal is to change my fat and muscle percentage for a leaner physique.
The picture I posted above isn’t meant to be a “before” and “after” picture. I just started my weightlifting journey, so it’s more of a “progress” photo. I will do a monthly update so you guys can follow along and keep me accountable!
That’s all for now. As always, if you have any questions or comments, drop them below! 🙂