When I’ve come to Cuba in the past for reconnaissance trips, I usually find that I get really tired and start taking naps at least once a day for the first week or two. This is out of character for me. I assume that this shift is because my body is trying to adjust to the hot and humid weather, but I also realize that my lack of physical activity plays a role. When I came for long term research, I knew that I needed to establish some type of structure and a bit of obligatory human contact be it that I don’t have a set schedule here. The answer—- join a gym.
How did I find it?
Like any millennial, I first attempted to Google Cuban gyms, but that was absolutely futile. Realizing I couldn’t rely on my own means, I ultimately found this gym upon recommendation of the man who owns my casa particular. Apparently, other long-term guests have used this gym, and it’s one of the better gyms in the area. I went on a Friday, to figure out the specifics (payment, hours, etc) and planned to start training the following Monday. I planned to go the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then save the alternative days for my Spanish class. For 20 CUC a month, members get gym access, a trainer and a discount from the Chinese buffet downstairs. Seemed like a pretty good deal to me.
What was it like?
Working with the trainer was great especially since I could never afford one back in NYC! Instead of me trying to research a plan, there was someone who had far more experience than me who could get the results I wanted. Same benefits, just less mental strain for me. Every session started with 5 minutes of cardio on a stationary bike. It seems like Mondays were leg day, Wednesdays were arm day and Fridays were total body. In terms of the interactions with people, it was like any other gym that I’d been to–people taking selfies and others grunting for no apparent reason. None of the equipment was electronic. Everything was pretty much cushion and metal. The machines were the same as they were in my gym back in NYC (leg press, row machine, etc.) but without the frills. No easy way to adjust the weights, no explanatory sign saying which parts of the body to use and how to adjust. I realize now though, that that stuff isn’t all that necessary. You ultimately figure it out.
I will say though, that I’m curious about when and how the equipment gets cleaned—I got a small rash my first week and I’m not sure exactly where it came from. All in all, it was a good experience that I’m glad I had. It was relatively affordable, convenient and helped give me structure. I liked having a reason to get up in the morning even when I didn’t have an interview to do or an event to attend.
This post is written in the past tense for a reason….after about a month and a half, things began to change and for various reasons, I decided that it was better for me to discontinue being a member of this gym. I was extremely excited about weight training and the small changes I was already starting to notice, but it looks like that’s going to have to wait until I can find a new gym or until I get back to the states. Home workouts it is. Not to let the experience go to waste, I wanted to let you all in on my experience for the time that I was using the facility.