My First Time in an Italian Gym


After a desperate weekend of not feeling too great about myself, today I went and signed up for the gym.  I was so enthusiastic that after a reception where I stuffed my face with mini sandwiches, I made my way to the gym for my first work out in an Italian gym or palestra as they are called here.

I decided to start out slow after over a month of not exercising any more than simply walking.  So I did 25 minutes on a cardio machine that somewhat resembled an elliptical machine.

Now let me tell you a few things about Italian gyms, based on my first observation.

First off, you need to have a medical certificate to join.  Luckily, I could get one of those at work (they call it a medical certificate of fitness for non-competitive sports, makes me feel like weak sauce but alas I’m not competitive in sports.  So be it.).   It was sort of a waste of time.  The doctor asked me if there was anything wrong with me.  I said no and she promptly signed the form… One of the many markers of Italy’s inefficiency (not that the US isn’t either).

So with my medical certificate, I signed up.  The gym has a rule that you should bring shoes only to wear inside the gym.  I’m not sure how strict this rule is but on the first day, I figured I would follow the rules.

Shoes packed in a Zara bag, because I’m classy like that.

Then for storage… you need to bring a lock.  Italy is not like the US.  You can’t just go to Target and pick up a lock, a pair of socks, sunscreen and some peanut butter.  I had no idea where one goes to buy a lock in Rome.  Luckily, Cornell in Rome saved me and just gave me one to borrow.  They also mentioned I could have gone to a locksmith.  Who knew?

Case in point.  I now have a lock in my possession.  Hooray!

So after locking up my Zara bag that held the green flats I wore to walk to the gym, I jumped on the first familiar-ish looking machine in sight.  After fumbling with the buttons, I figured out how to enter all the information.  I was good to go.  From here, I realized three things:

  1. I am horribly out of shape.
  2. I forgot a towel.
  3. Italian men are ridiculous.

Let me elaborate on the third point.  Italians are really animated when they talk, which I appreciate.  The gesticulation carries on to the gym.  They’re also really obvious about certain things, like wearing short shorts and shamelessly checking out ladies.

I’m sure I’ll have some better observations when I made my way to the weight room tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

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9 thoughts on “My First Time in an Italian Gym

    • Karla says:

      Ha! They were a bit different. It was mostly that all the set up instructions (like enter weight, level, time, etc) was in Italian. But there were treadmills and bikes too! They looked the same as the US ones!

  1. sweetandsweat says:

    Oh my goshh about your comment about Italian men! How odd to have a medical certificate to work out. I guess America doesn’t care if you can/can’t work out, the gyms just want out money.

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