Gym and eyeballs.

My apartment is right next to a gym.  This is obviously a great thing, minus the crazy monthly fee.  I figure it's really the only thing I'm paying for in Korea besides traveling, so I'm sucking it up for the sake of fitness.

Things I have learned about the gym:

1) There is a personal trainer who wears the tightest biker shorts I've ever seen.
1A)  This personal trainer has a reputation for loving foreign women.
1AA)  This personal trainer stares at me.

2)  This gym provides neon pink gym shirts and shorts for female customers to wear.
2A)  I opt to wear my own non-neon pink gym garb.
2AA)  Everyone stares because of this.

So, already I'm in an awkward position here.  No matter what, someone's eyeballs on me, usually in the least discreet manner possible.

First thing every day, I head straight for the treadmill.  I have yet to actually see any Ulsan'ian running on the treadmill on their own accord; they are always walking.  Until I arrive.  I hop on, warm up, and start my run.  Within 3 minutes, the whole row next to me begins to run as well.  Just a daily dose of 'Follow the Blondie,' I guess.  I always wonder, Should I applaud?  But then they quickly slow down and return to their walking.  And stare at me.  I hear that running isn't this culture's 'thing' so it is apparently sort of mind blowing and necessary to watch.  When this happens, I just turn up my music and look at the river outside the window and ignore everyone.

Doing exactly this made for an awkward moment yesterday.

I was jamming so hard at the end of mile 1 and I stupidly closed my eyes to feel the music when I was suddenly jolted off the treadmill.  There was total chaos and confusion in my head as I came out of my music coma.  I yelled.  Loudly...a big fat HO SHIA (LeBeouf?  I don't know)Complete with the 'I don't want to die' arm flail and teeter-totter wobble.  I'd skipped my foot on the side of the belt, throwing myself off balance.  BUT I DID NOT FALL OFF.

Victoriously and a little panicked, I went back to my running, fairly aware of how absurd I just looked.  That kind of 'almost fall' dance usually gets a laugh, so I looked around for that knowing smile, or the wink and nod.  Some kind of acknowledgement.  Everyone just stared at me, as usual, with no additional reaction.  I almost just died and nothing.  Total zombies.  So I got all twerpy, doing the nervous did you all just see that? so hilarious, right? laugh that happens to me when I don't know what else to do.

Take 2:  Today when I walked in, there was a big yellow sign in Korean.  I can't read Korean yet.  So, like a typical foreigner, I ignored it, hopped over it, and be-bopped upstairs to jump on a treadmill.  Not a soul in sight, I could work out eyeball free.  What a day this would be!

Five minutes into my run it occurred to me that the lights were off.  I pulled off my headphones and realized there was also no rockin' K-Pop music blaring.  Whatup, gym.

I turned around and nearly fell off the treadmill again.  Standing RIGHT behind me, seriously 1 foot away, staring, was a cleaning lady.  I don't know how long she was standing there or why was she just watching me run.  Something tells me I probably could have gotten my whole run in had I not turned around, while she watched the entire time.  She just wagged her finger at me and said "closed."

That's what the yellow sign was.

Apparently they close on the third Wednesday of every month to clean everything out.  Totally weird to close for a whole day just to clean, right?  I thought so too, until I learned that the whole appeal and point of this particular gym is their Spa and Sauna.  It is supposedly super fancy and luxurious and everyone is naked and leaves their nakedness all over everything.  Which is why they say the third Thursday of each month is the best day to go, after ol' Squeaky Clean Wednesday.

I have to admit, I am intrigued.  It sounds nice and when in Rome and all....maybe I'll try it out in a few weeks after I brace myself for more staring:  not only would I be a naked foreigner, which is clearly enough of a reason to stare, but I also have a tattoo, and I hear those garner even more attention.  I also currently look like I'm wearing a perma-bikini thanks to the remnants from my recent Mexican sunburn.  I would probably stare at me for that, too.

Gym stares and eyeballs, check.  Naked Sauna and Spa stares and eyeballs...maybe. Stay tuned.


Maegan said...

I am loving your blog! So glad things are going well!

Anne and Andy said...

Oh Kate. Only this would happen to YOU, my love ;)

Kate said...

Meg! Are you filling up your penny jar yet?

Anne - I know. Kate = awkward.