All you need is a montage….

Lately we have gotten fat. We like to eat and we love our food. We enjoy too much ice cream, and due to the weather being so cold the motivation to leave our ondol heated house to brave the below zero conditions has been very small. Our body shapes have been transformed from chiselled and svelte to chubby, or festively plump even though it is now March, (Christmas appears to be celebrated all year round in Korea – honestly, some places still have Christmas trees up and our kids are forever singing Christmas carols).

Korean people are generally a small race and in their culture we have noticed that there are expectations of people to be slim. We have heard stories of job applicants have been over-looked due to appearance. Further, we have noticed that Korean people are very blunt, which makes getting into shape a high priority for many people; it could be a factor in Korea’s alarming suicide rate.

When our kids started patting our bellys and taunting us about our slightly ample figures we had a meeting (over coffee and pastries, of course) and decided enough was enough!  No more would we be emotionally abused by small, annoying Korean brats!

But what could we due to combat our pleasingly plump outers? Well, Korea has thought of everything! Even in our rural village public exercise equipment is everywhere.

On the side of the road about 2 minutes from our place there is a line of machines.

Down by the river, machines are dotted on both sides in a circuit. There is even a rubber running surface for the joggers as well as many athletic tracks and other sporting fields.

Most surprising is the randomness of some of the areas that the public exercise gear pops up. We went for a hike up a pretty steep hill and at the top of the hill, in the middle of a forest, we found a pretty extensive outside gym/ fitness area.

While the outside equipment is great, one sometime needs the stability of a gym. Changing rooms, showers, treadmills, a roof and all the amenities a professional gym has to offer. We looked around Deoksin and we found….


This ‘retro’ health club is about 10 minutes away from our place. We talked to the lady in the office and after some translation issues we joined on a reasonable non binding contract on a monthly basis.

The exterior of POWER looks a little dubious….

But on entry the fresh smell of sweat, the pumping beats of K Pop and the old world gym equipment really gets you wanting to hook up some ‘Rocky styles’ and start pumping some iron!

The walls are classic. Head by the “Austrian Oak” the godfather of iron pumping himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger there is a selection of fitness ‘role models’ for us to   aspire towards…

This fitness centre encourages fitness, health, body building and casual smoking…

But enough about the decor of the gym. It has a wide selection of treadmills for your running pleasure…

a wide selection of weights for your pumping pleasure….

and a wide selection of fitness equipment for your…. um… general physical pleasure…

In case you haven’t gathered it already, this place is ghetto.  Which is actually pretty cool – let’s be honest, we’ve all had Rocky-inspired fantasies of joining a rough-as-guts gym, working out by ourselves with motivational music playing in the background, time passing by in a montage, culminating in an epic point of fitness superiority.

And we are now lucky enough to make this dream come true in our very own, no-frills, no-distraction (other than the aforementioned art work), rusty-barbell adorned House of Fitness.  Just how low-frills, you ask?

Who needs a proper lock on a toilet door anyway?!

So far we have been going for a couple of weeks and while it certainly isn’t like our old gym back home, it is pretty sweet. Being in a rural area with few distractions (or things to do) it has been a good way do something different and its making a difference already. Seeing all the pictures of Arnie, ice cream has hit the back burner. Baskin Robbins are now starting to feel the pinch. One day, maybe one day, we might even be able to squeeze into the one-size-fits-Asian clothing.

We will leave you with this…. If you are reading this and starting to think… well good on them… maybe I should stop reading blogs and find my local “POWER”. Click this picture below.

We’ll be back!!!

Categories: Korea, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I know how you feel. When I was in Singapore, I totally felt way overweight than what I actually was. Your village is saying, “Yes, our food is great but don’t blame us if you get fat. Consider some exercise”. Haha

  2. Love the photo of the lock! Innovation at its best 😛

  3. I love ice cream, too. I ate an entire box of ice cream sandwiches this weekend. Not my proudest achievement. I’ve definitely felt the Korean bluntness from my family regarding weight. I was really chubby (ahem.. festively plump) growing up and I would NOT hear the end of it, which, in retrospect, is not exactly the healthiest way for anyone to grow up, but such is the culture of my people. Their “beauty” ideals are near impossible for the average Korean to achieve so it makes me sad that young girls are asking for plastic surgery as a birthday present. Anyways, that’s pretty depressing, so moving on. Your gym is totally GHETTO-FAB! As long as it works, it doesn’t matter what it looks like (although the super dodgy screwdriver lock has me worried a little… lol).

    • If the ‘beauty’ ideals are near impossible for even young, beautiful Koreans to achieve, then we are severely stuffed, ahahaha. But its worth it – that gym is such a find! I LOVE the screwdriver lock. That made my day 🙂

  4. I love the lock on the toilet. When I was in Hong Kong I saw those outdoor workout places all over the place. Very inventive. Congrats on finding a gym and sticking with it.

  5. Well done to you – but if your school children could see me and Big Man, they´d have a whole lot of belly rubbing to do!

  6. I mean, who doesn’t love a “gym” with a Sharon Stone homage? So funny 🙂

  7. Great read – you had me chuckling all the way through. Ice cream was one of my favourite foods and then I found out I was lactose intolerant! That’s certainly one way of cutting it out. I do the same exercise where you roll out the weight and pull it back in again that you’re doing – tough stuff! Fair play for committing to it 😀

  8. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned since coming to Japan it’s not to judge a building from its exterior! 🙂

    As a foreigner in Japan, I’m really interested in the foreigner in Korea experience. People are really concerned about weight over here too, but I haven’t seen public work-out equipment since back home in Canada. People seem to fast or diet before working out here.

  9. This is hilarious. Those muscle-bound posters are going to haunt my dreams. I just got back from a wonderful trip to Japan, where a very nice man on the subway offered me his seat while exclaiming, “You are pregnant!” Unfortunately, I do not know how to say “Thank you, but it’s just jet lag and muffin top” in Japanese…

    • The timing of your comment is also hilarious as just this morning one of my “adorable” students came running and giggling up to me to mime “baby” while furiously pointing at my stomach…I too, don’t have the language capacity for “No, I’m just a well-nourished Westerner”…sigh.

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