I went with a friend to a local Cambodian work out gym yesterday in which we had to pay only a few dollars as a foreigner. It was quite an experience, let me tell you why.
I put on my shoes, went in and went for the treadmill. I was stretching getting ready to start the treadmill to run and I see a guy standing next to me staring at me. With my lack of communication and the help of my friends, I realized I had to pay 25 Cent USD to use the treadmill for 10 minutes. Not bad, so I started running and increased the speed to about 10 mph. After about five minutes, the treadmill started glitching and automatically stopping and going, I didn’t think much about it (but I did hold on tight in case I was going to fall). Shortly after, the guy in charge came over and decreased my speed 7.5 mph. It worked just fine after that. On the other hand, I could not help but laugh… I guess I ran a little too fast for the treadmill.
On the treadmills around me, there were girls from 7 years old to women over 40 walking on the treadmill. I guess that’s the exercise! It’s better than nothing I assume. They were all looking at me like it was very unusual to run on treadmills, though.
Later on, I went to lift some weights and that was an odd experience. First of all, around the weights area was all of the male species. I slowly made my way and managed to grab some weights, then I went to sit on a bench to do some arm lifts. I looked in the mirror and at least 5 or 6 guys were staring at me through the mirror with a very confused and shocked look on their face. It was as if they’ve never seen a girl lift weights in their entire life. Which according to my khmer friend, could very well be true.
Though it was an odd experience, it was good to see that people of all ages were exercising in this gym. Well, walking on the treadmill is exercise for them. That’s different from what we are use to, but it’s all about the process of learning the culture!