Pumping Iron in El Poblado

As I’ve been on the road for most of the last 11 months, I’ve found getting exercise to be a bit of a challenge.  I’m always on the move.  This makes routine somewhat impossible.  Consistent exercise requires habit.

If I were to prioritize working out,  it would happen more.

In Panama I managed a few hikes.  In India, I started doing pushups and yoga stretches in my hotel room.  In Chiang Mai, I was able to blend into a huge resort hotel and take advantage of their pool, weights and cardio machines almost daily for about two weeks.

While in FL for the last six weeks, I managed to visit my Mom’s state-of-the-art spa on an average of every other day.  Thanks to her membership, I get a guest pass when I visit.

On my last trip to Asia and now on this trip to South America, I’ve carried my sneakers.  This is because my workout of choice is jogging.   Unfortunately,  my legs don’t like asphalt.  When traveling in the developing world, I’ve found it very hard to find clay, dirt or grassy areas to run on.

In Bangkok,  many areas look developed, including Lumpini part where I managed to jog.  Because you have to run on asphalt, a thirty minute jog caused soreness in my thighs for a week.  I managed to jog barefoot on beaches in Thailand and Cambodia, which caused serious calf soreness.

As I continue to travel now I sometimes think:  I was spoiled back in MA with a track and huge field nearby where there was no intense soreness the following day, even after 60-minute jogging sessions.

I love to exercise.  My body and mind practically require it.  Exercise enhances mood. I’m mindful of this everyday.  But it’s still so easy to let the potential for a workout slip by.

I walk a lot, maybe too much even.  Walking is good.  It’s healthy.  It’s a lot better than lethargy.  But it still doesn’t give me that cardiovascular workout that my brain and body have been accustomed to in the past.

Last night, exhausted after my arrival in Medellín, I walked some streets of the upscale El Poblado neighborhood and followed suit with a lot more walking this morning.

Near where I’m staying I came across an outdoor workout station loaded mostly with free weights.

This morning I was able to pump iron, do pull ups and use an inclined sit up board.  I shared the space with about eight others.

Most of the talking I did was a polite buenas or hola along with a nod.  I felt like an outsider as it seemed like they all knew each other.  I asked one person if it was free and he assured me that it was.  I was also told that it’s open 24 hours and that most of the barrios in Medellín have these public workout stations.  It was even mentioned that a couple of the neighborhoods have better facilities than this one.

I thought: Giving the citizens a free option to exercise is a great investment in the well-being of a society.

I was able to pump iron on and off for about half an hour before I’d felt that my body had had enough.  It felt great both mentally and physically.

Going forward I hope to do more than just walk, stretch and do pushups.  I hope to seek out ways to swim and jog.  I’ll need to find out about places that have hiking trails too.  Considering I’m in the Andes this should be easy.

Feeling fantastic and walking away from El Poblado’s convenient neighborhood public gym I thought: I haven’t been in Medellín for 24 hours and I’ve managed to get a nice little workout in.  I hope to keep this up.

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Can you think of ways to engage in therapeutic tourism while on a tight budget?  Have you managed to exercise while traveling?  Feel free to leave a comment below.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by noel on January 5, 2012 at 06:50

    Nice, glad you made it safely there. You have inspired me to be more disicplined about working out in 2012. PRU: love your comment about the coffee.
    I like that the goverment provides free weights and a workout area for their citizens, that’s great, like you said. It’s absoutely freezing here in Boston, at least Spring is on the way. Safe travels!


    • NOEL: The fact that you were inspired inspires me to focus more on exercise too.
      As for coffee, a lot of accomodations in Colombia seem to offer complimentary Colombian coffee to their guests. YUM!
      As for the weather in Boston, I guess I must be taking the temps here in Medellín for granted as they’re virtually perfect. It’s nicknamed the the City of Eternal Spring. The good thing up there is that when spring comes everyone feels elation. Another consolation for you now in the heart of winter: I find the super cold preferable to sultry heat. Although, of course this perfect location in the mountains near the equator has to be the closest thing to a utopic climate.


  2. Good on you for being so disciplined! I hope I can stay physical whilst traveling, I guess like you’ve written about here, it’s about making use of opportunities like these. Oh, one more thing, that resort you ‘blended’ into, is that another word for sneak? 🙂 Happy travels, looking forward to hearing more.


    • SARAH: I agree. It’s about making it a priority.
      It hadn’t occured to me that I was sneaking in, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I guess blended in could be seen as a euphemism. I figured it was harmless as the facilities were never packed. 🙂 I never considered writing about that but it just came out.
      Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll enjoy reading about your future travels too.


  3. Posted by Pru on January 4, 2012 at 22:14

    A six day trek to Ciudad Perdida would make for some nice exercise. Supposedly it’s safe for tourists, though it hasn’t always been. As for therapy, I’m thinking a nice cup of Colombian coffee.


    • PRU: Great idea! A six-day trek would definitely be intense body training. The most I’ve ever done is four days.
      So far I’ve only been in the plush barrio of El Poblado. It feels as safe as any place I’ve ever been.
      If a cup of tasty joe clears your head or is super-tasty then it’s therapeutic. The problem is when people dump sugar into their coffee. The elixir-like, therapeutic qualities cancel out.


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