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Haz el bien, y no mires a quién. -Spanish Proverb


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A gym rat in Europe

The gym. Perhaps the number one thing those who know me associate me with. I’m sometimes even called a “gym rat,” which isn’t exactly the most charming nickname, but I do prefer it to “bimbo.” It’s true, I love the gym. I’m a fitness instructor, and even the fact that the gym is my workplace hasn’t ruined it for me. When I pictured my semester in Europe, I thought for sure I’d be sweatin’ it at a gym at least a few times a week, and maybe even guest-instructing some Pilates class or something like that (ha.)

Wrong. The gym situation in Europe is astoundingly different than in the US. I personally don’t know of one college student here, local or foreign, who hits up a gym on a regular basis. That’s a big change from the 60-70% of my friends at home that do. There is a mediocre gym at our university that we can get a membership for, but I fear that riding 30 minutes on the bus home soaked in sweat would cause me to get even more stares of disapproval than I’m willing to cope with. There are a handful of gyms near my apartment, but the membership prices are outrageous, and they appear to me to be strictly for serious athletes. I think if I entered one, I would feel completely out of place in a gym for the first time in my life.

So what does a gym rat do without a gym? Well, for the first month or so that I was here, I was so exhausted by the amount of walking, getting lost, and dealing with my life being in a different language that going to a gym was almost out of the question. As I’ve settled into my life here, I’ve incorporated workouts into 3-4 days of my week. I run very regularly–Getxo is a very active-lifestyle-friendly place with plenty of running/cycling paths. I also do some small workouts in my room at home–lots of abs of course, and a little “muscle pump-esque” type stuff, which makes me feel super cool while alone in my room…

The Getxo lighthouse, along the path I take on most of my runs

As I’ve said before, the lifestyle here is simply WAY more active so regular sweat sessions at a gym just become less necessary. Several 20-30 minute walks per day have become a normal part of my lifestyle. In summary, walking everywhere and a few small workouts per week have just allowed me  to “break even” with the amount of dark chocolate, gummy candy and red wine I consume.

I miss hard workouts, and I miss teaching classes even more. I just have to keep reminding myself that my time here is short, and I should embrace the lifestyle here while I can. I will be back to being “Abs Megan” in no time.

As I write to you, I am finishing up the last of my packing for my two-week sabbatical around Europe. I’m kicking it off in Paris, then hitting up Dusseldorf, Cologne, Amsterdam, London, and finishing the break with a ladies’ weekend in Barcelona. Hopefully I don’t forget all the Spanish I’ve learned!

Until next time….Au revoir! Auf Wiederschauen! Tot ziens! Goodbye! Adios!