Fitness the Spanish Way
Feb 01, 2014 04:26PM
Written by: Kristin Close
Traveling is fun. Wandering around the hot spots, meeting interesting new people and consuming yourself silly on tapas all make your adventure one hell of an experience. But there’s often a trade off. Your exercise routine is crazy and it is hard to maintain a balanced diet. Your gym clothes and running shoes should always travel with you.
Traveling around Spain means you’ll find plenty of new eating joints and new specialties to try. There is jamon (ham), cheese, chocolate cake and other mouth watering cuisine that WILL tempt you, but if your goal is fitness, calorie-filled food is a strict no-no.
I am studying abroad in Alicante, Spain for a semester. Alicante is a popular destination of the south-east coast of Spain. Being the new girl at school can be hard… Being the new blonde-haired American girl at school is even harder. I felt like an alien! In my attempt to balance food and fitness I found a gym on campus… Every girl has to go to a gym in Spain at least once. I’ve never seen so many beautiful boys. The girl to guy ratio was 1 Kristin to 30 guys.
The gym is... Interesting... To say the least. It’s no 24-Hour Fitness. There are three ellipticals that look like time-traveling machines, two treadmills and 10 stationary bikes that bite back (literally). Finding a matching pair of weights is like trying to find a matching pair of socks.
Your Spanish abilities may be fine, but if you don't have at least a basic understanding of the metric system, you won't be able to discuss measurements well. Length is measured in kilometers and weight is measured in kilograms. 10 kilograms is 22 pounds. I will never make that mistake again.
Spanish girls are naturally thin. You can find the gossip girls in the corner of the gym doing glutes and sets of crunches. But I don’t blame them. There is no air conditioning. Running on the treadmill for five minutes is the equivalent to being in a wet sauna for an hour.
Besides the gym on campus, I have only seen one other gym in Alicante. So if you want to stay fit in Spain, use stairs instead of elevators and get involved in some kind of adventure sport like trekking, rocking climbing, playing fútbol with the locals or doing walking tours. Doing 45 minutes of daily physical activity is enough to keep you energetic and healthy throughout the day.
I am amazed at how thin everyone is over here in comparison to all the heavy people we have in the United States. What is their secret? Is it their diet (seems like a high calorie count to me), all the wine they drink, or is it because they walk more than Americans. In Europe, a smaller, densely populated continent, you can’t just get in a car and go everywhere you go. You have to get up and walk. And walking leads to weight loss, which leads to thinness. Plus, it’s a lot easier to meet people on the sidewalk when you’re walking instead of craning your neck out the window.