Yea, yea, I know. I've tackled it before, but I'm doing it again because I find it hilarious. I don't know if it's only the gym I go to, or most gyms in Korea... but they're different. I told stories before (see early entries) about an older lady stopping my machine and about wearing uniforms (I even took pictures of the unflattering oversize t-shirt).
Since I got to Seoul I kept up with my frequent gym habit- it helps me unwind, stay in shape, and stay happy in general. I even made some friends there. I since ditched the gym uniform- the long sleeves and the nylon shorts were too warm, and made me feel tres moche. I just wear my regular Lululemon gear, I'm sure I stand out a bit among the orange uniforms, but I stand out already (by being a foreigner)so why not.
So the gym. It's actually really small and really expensive. It's a small room with machine and (dirty) mats. They have enough weight machines, but their cardio fleet consists of treadmills (with no incline) and a few stationary bikes (with no resistance). I have no idea how I lasted for 7 months, using only a treadmill, which I'm already not a fan of. Oh yea, they also have the ever-popular "fat-slapping" machine... which is a belt that moves the fat around. It seems to be the most popular machine at the gym, the THREE of them are usually occupied.
And as opposed to gyms back home, Korean gyms seem to cater in majority to older people, ie. the 40 + crowd. The young people are all guys trying to add some muscles. But no young girls to be found. I'm always the youngest girl there. We also have this annoying old Korean man at our gym, he is there every single night. He spends most of the night walking from one machine to another, and "correcting" everyone. Even if you're doing the movement correctly he'll add his own little creative twist (such as sitting on top of it to add more weight). He is so annoying.
Then there is the Korean guy who can speak a few words of French, he always tries to talk to us all night long, and he is obsessed with the "Ann of Green Gables" book series. And this new guy who befriended us so he could practice his English (I suspect). He always creeps out behind me while I'm running on the treadmill, it scares me every time.
It's actually a lot of fun, but so different from what I'm used back home. I guess people try to be helpful but sometimes it's overwhelming. And then there's the locker room, with the smallest sauna I've ever seen. It fits exactly 2 people, but it's being used all evening by the same two ladies who just sit there for hours and chat. As for the showers I stay away from it, I prefer to run home and shower in the comfort of my home, but a few times I've had older ladies tell me to shower before leaving. Ha! I think they were just trying to be nice, maybe they thought I didn't know there was a shower.
All in all I love the uniform/towel system, it's so useful, I can drop by the gym on my way home from anywhere without worrying about getting my stuff (we leave our shoes at the gym). I also like the "small-town" feel of it for some reason, makes you feel more at home in a huge metropolis like Seoul. It's nice to see the same people over and over every night, you get used to it. I just wish they'd change the water system, they have a water cooler with disposable paper cups, I think it's a horrible crime for the environment. And I wish it was cheaper, but I'm willing to pay the price to stay sane.