Fitness. We keep fit in Spain, too.


Me with Body Combat guru Dan Cohen in Nov. 2012

Once upon a time, I weighed 265 pounds, or 120 kilos.

Yep, you read that right. Between the years 2005 and 2007, I lost 100 pounds (45,5 kilos) by walking a lot, situps and pushups and giving up pop/soda/refrescos/fizzy drinks/etc. During my six years in Spain, I’ve weighed as little as 65 kilo (145 pounds) and as much as 78 kilo (171 pounds), but I’ve never gained much more than 20 kilos back. I would much rather be drinking Coke than water, but I know it’s not good for me and one Coke is a slippery road, so I just abstain all together.

2010 was about as rocky of a road as 2014 has been, and at the end of the year, I was at that 78 kilo edge. By no means fat, but I sure felt fat. After reading A 3 Metros Sobre Cielo by Federico Moccia and reading about the main character’s obsession with the gym and then seeing Mario Casas’ abs in the film that December, I made a New Year’s resolution of joining the gym. I was in Valencia at the time, and when I finally got paid for January, I went ahead and signed up for the gym.

My first gym was Abastos in Valencia, and it is one of my favourites. It has an incredible price (I think now it is about 35€) with top-notch instructors and top of the line facilities. What’s more impressive is it’s not a private gym but a polideportivo, a city-sponsered gym. The price is high for a polideportivo but you get so much more than many private gyms here.

That first week was tough. I started going every day, hitting the elliptical hard. The hottie monitor told me to try a bunch of classes and come back to him with which ones were working and which ones weren’t. I was nervous, but I did what he said. Body Balance, a mix of yoga and pilates, was kinda boring. The monitor laughed at my ineptitude of never having lifted weights before at the age of 29 when I tried Body Pump. But Body Combat was just right. The best monitor, Sergio, motivated us warriors to be the best we could be and also worked hard to make sure the class was boring (something my current gym would be keen to learn. We’ll get there in a moment.) I was only here for a few months, but I have fond memories. I got back down to 65 kilos extremely quickly, although I was still super scared of lifting weights. Alas, my destiny then was not Valencia and I found myself in Madrid.

I was in Madrid for two years, and when I had to move halfway through that period, my main thing was that it had to be close to Fisico. I think now the gym has changed hands and Oscar Peiro, the BEST COMBAT MONITOR EVER and his wife Sara Rodríguez (congrats to them on their new baby) are owners of the new Smart Club. I’m pretty sure they kept the awesomeness of Fisico. Oscar is friends and has trained with Dan Cohen, the guy in charge of Les Mills Body Combat and who choreographs the class. Cohen is responsible for a new release every three months and has visited the gym on occasion. I still am excited about that class I had with him in November 2012. It might have been the highlight of two hellish years in Madriz.

In addition to awesomely led group classes (shot out to Mario’s Combat and Pump classes, as he’s the only one who doesn’t make me feel ashamed to go to the Pump classes!) , Fisico/Smart Club has state-of-the-art equipment and is at the forefront of any fitness trend in the world. I began to build muscle thanks to Nieves and her awesome tablas she made for me, and I kept around 70 kilos during my time there. I have to admit the stress of my job made it harder for me to stay away from the sweets, but 70 kilo is a good weight for me.

While Bilbao is an amazing city, the “Capital of the World” you might say, it has yet to show me a gym that I truly have loved. I have been spoiled by Fisico I guess. My first month, I went to the polideportivo at the Alhóndiga, a truly fantastic achievement of a building I have to admit. However, their lack of Combat meant it was not to stay. I signed up for a new gym just opening, iFitness, at 29,99 a month. I’m not a fan. Being a cheaper club meant that everyone and their brother and their brother’s ex girlfriend’s ex boyfriend’s boyfriend joins. It’s always crowded, and their classes left much to be desired. The sound system, ever so important for motivation in a Combat class, was worse than my own personal one. I stayed there the three months I had paid for and left. I haven’t been at TwentyFit, another popular low-cost gym in Bilbao, but from what I hear, they are better organized. However, it’s even more crowded. Also, partly due to the medication I was on and partly due to my lack of motivation to go to iFitness, I found myself back at 78 kilos.

At the moment, I am at Metropolitan. It’s about 80€ a month, but the accommodations are incredible. You get what you pay for. However, I feel that I am always being sold some product or something. I sprained my ankle this year at the time I was taking advantage of two free sessions with a personal trainer (it was on my off day between the two sessions), and I feel the personal trainer was more concerned about landing me as a client than the recovery of ankle. He never was able to tell me how much regular sessions would cost, but I’m sure as much as a month at the gym itself. Their schedule also conflicts a lot with mine, and I am only able to make it to one Combat class a week. The Combat class is severely comprised because the Zumba people are impatient and don’t want to give us the needed wind-down time. They also keep the same Les Mills choreography for three months at a time instead of switching it up, and switching it up is what keeps us Combaters motivated to come back. Despite this, I am relatively content with the gym due to the facilities. I hear the new one in Begoña is even nicer and has a better schedule, but this one is just five minutes from my house and the one in Begoña is a good 20 minutes’ walk.

While traveling around the Greatest Peninsula in the World, I tend to wake up with situps and pushups, and I’m now throwing in some squats and lunges too. I’m currently 68 kilo and am learning to make healthier eating designs. I do miss those doner kebabs though…but a Menú del día is healthier and keeps me energetic for the afternoon of seeing the world.

How do you keep fit while on the road?


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