I have been trying to work more and more on my fitness lately. For most of my time here in Lębork I have been able to survive with exercising in the parks, running around town, and swimming at the pool. However, I wanted to intensify my exercise program more, so I decided to join a gym. There are a few gyms in Lębork that I looked into, but the one I ultimately decided on was ActiveGym. This gym is on the third floor of a shopping center and near to a school. The location is good for me, as it is not too far away from where I live. Going to a gym in a foreign country has been a good experience for me. There are many many things that are the same as in America, and a few that are different. It is these similarities and differences that I would like to write about today.
The first similarity that I have noticed is that no one really likes going to the gym. What I mean by this is that no one likes having to share a space with other people while they exercise. Most people at the gym are friendly and have a good attitude. However, no one particularly enjoys having to share a weight bench or treadmill with the other random people at the gym. Everyone is at the gym for their own reason and we all have to put up with the other gym members as a side effect of going to the gym. A second similarity is the divide between men and women. Activegym's main gym area consists of two rooms. One room has many cardio machines and exercise machines. The other room is where most of the free weights, dumbells, and barbells are. Most commonly it seems that the majority of the men are in the room with the free weights and the majority of the women are in the room with the cardio machines. We have a similar situation in the states, and I am not quite sure why this happens in most gyms. Unfortunately, I have the suspicion that this split occurs because the women don't feel comfortable exercising where most of the men are. This could be because men at gyms tend 'check out' the women that exercise there. This is an unfortunate phenomenon and is one that I hope goes away soon, but it is common in gyms across America and is the reason why some gyms are for women only.
One major difference between ActiveGym and the gyms I have visited in America is that there are no permanent lockers. In the states it is common to rent a locker at a gym for a period of time. For example, I was able to rent a locker at a gym in the states for half-year periods. This meant that I could leave whatever I wanted in my locker and I did not have to always carry around a gym bag everyday. Of course, I had to pay for this locker, but it certainly was convenient to not have to constantly worry about if I had my gym clothes or shoes and so on. Unfortunately, the lockers at ActiveGym are available for use only during the times when each member is exercising at the gym. So, you go to the gym, put your things in a locker, exercise, empty the locker you used, and then leave with all of your things. This system works o.k., however I would like it if there were gym lockers available for long-term rent. Another difference I have noticed in Lębork is that there are a few people who kind of hang out or loiter at the gym. This meaning that they go there and exercise and then kind of just sit around near the front desk. I suppose there is some sort of social aspect of going to the gym and that this is why they sit and hang out, but for me it is strange. Most gym goers in the states go to the gym, do what they need to do, and then get out of the gym as quick as they can. I suppose it is good that some people have this place where they can socialize, but in my mind there are so many better places to meet with friends than at a gym filled with sweaty and exercising people
At the request of a certain someone who has some influence over this blog I am finally addressing a topic that I have been putting off. This topic is the Polski Morsy. Unfortunately we don't have such a nice term in English so the best equivalent I can think of is cold weather or cold water swimmers. Who are these people? These are people that go swimming in cold weather and cold water. For example, it may be the dead of winter and very cold, but these people go to the Baltic or to lakes and go swimming. The idea is that it helps with blood circulation and to improve cardiovascular circulation and regulation. I am not a scientist, nor a doctor, so I don't know about the possible health benefits of swimming in very cold water. However, I must admit that my first reaction to hearing of this practice was the thought that these people are fairly stupid.
However, as I thought more and more on this topic of Morsy, or cold water swimmers, I realized that I have seen a practice like this before. The area I am from in America is in the north. It is cold, snowy, and we have harsh winters. We also have a huge population of Finnish people and those with Finnish descent. This means that winter hobbies and activities are very popular. Now, the Finns are known for the sauna, and we have many of these. Some people have them in their homes, some have them on their property, and there are even some small models that look like big wine barrels with small chimneys on top of them. Saunas are everywhere in my home region and staying in a nice warm sauna on a cold winter's day is quite relaxing. However, to make this hobby more extreme some people also take up the practice of 'Polar bearing'. This is a slang term for going from a nice hot sauna into a cold body of water very quickly. The idea is this: You get very hot and sweaty in the sauna, then you run from the sauna to a lake or body of water, if you live on or near this water. Here, you have a hole in the ice on top of the water, or if there is no ice then you go go right in. So, you jump into the water, and it is very cold. You then scramble out of the water like a fool and run back to the warm sauna. This whole experience is cold 'Polar bearing' and it is usually better if you have some alcohol as well.
As much as I make fun of or mock the Morsy or cold water swimmers, I suppose there are some similarities between my region in American and the Polish region near the Baltic. Maybe cold water swimming is healthy, maybe it is unhealthy. I don't quite know. However, it is pretty nice that even though there are many kilometers between these two places mentioned above, they can still have some things in common.
Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan David was raised by his parents with his two sisters and brother.