Coming out of quarantine, my impatient body and restless mind ached to run. I yearned for the steady rhythm of my feet against the ground, the energy in my lungs.
Fortuitously, my apartment is just down the street from an impressively equipped gym. Quickly after moving in, I met the place that would become a haven of mine. After running off all the tension stored in my body, I felt like I could handle whatever this year had in store.
Since then, exercise has been the single most effective stabilizer in this otherwise unpredictable and uncontrollable condition that is living abroad. Particularly while adjusting to a vastly different lifestyle, I found the gym to be both a great place to work off stress and to meet people in my community.
The gym I frequent is a five-story, superhero themed fitness center with a variety of equipment and pleasantly helpful trainers. The ground floor is stocked with weights and usually crowded with sculpted strength trainers. The second and third floors have treadmills, stationary bicycles, and ellipticals. The fourth floor is mostly for private training sessions.
The roof, my favorite, is open air, quiet, and provides a unique perspective of the town. A battered punching bag patched with duct tape hangs from the metal rod holding up the roof. The whole structure creaks concerningly when hit with the right amount of force. A random assortment of forgotten equipment waits. When it storms, the sound of rain on the tin roof is invigorating.
There is another gym in my town, which I have been to for exercise classes. On Monday nights, it offers a fantastic combat class that never fails to make me sore the next day. It is followed by a very informal hour of yoga and stretching. This gym also offers dance and full body exercise classes.
Though I haven’t utilized this service myself, I have a friend who pays for personal training. It seems to be reasonably priced and a great option for some people.
For access to the facility, the gym I usually go to costs 50 baht each visit (about $1.50 USD). The other gym costs 60 baht (about $1.80) and includes all classes. In my opinion, this is an absolute bargain.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have been several periods of time when the gyms have been closed, and I have had to find exercise in other ways.
Not sure if I would have access to a fitness center once I moved to Thailand, I packed a few of my favorite workout DVD’s and an all-purpose exercise band. Both items were lightweight and took up a negligible amount of space in my suitcase. I use both of these regularly and can work out in my apartment on days when I don’t or can’t make it to the gym.
Thailand is hot, very hot, which makes exercising difficult, but is every bit worth the physical and mental benefits. Particularly given the challenges of moving to a different country and a new culture it is important to take care of your health first and foremost. Exercise has helped me remain steady in the face of an overwhelming amount of change.
Whether it is exercise or something else, I encourage everyone choosing this adventure to take whatever brings balance to your life along on your teach abroad journey.