Settling Into “Normal” Life – Modems, Bathroom Explosions and the Joys of Gym Shopping (Part 2 of 2)

Plumbing (Part 2):

Okay, and now back to the “tun kuy loh,” which I now realize roughly means “passage” or “flow” “pipe” man.  So the tun kuy kid whips out that crazy machine and proceeds to blast his way down my toilet.  Essentially, the machine shoots air at massive pressure.  I was not sure what was going on, as I was trying to scarf down some dinner in the dining room, as I was supposed to meet with friends for some networking event later on, but the great roar was rather alarming.

The kid explained that the machine is actually quite dangerous and can kill someone if pointed at him! I told him how I had no idea what to expect and thought he was just going to come snake the pipe, and that I somehow doubted any such device was available for consumer usage in America.  Hmm, am I sensing a theme about plumbing and HK here??

Anyhow, it’s been nearly a week and so far no further plumbing issues, although, I have to admit, I’ve barely used my shower since joining my gym.

Gym Shopping

One of my 2010 resolutions was to dedicate 10 hours a week to exercise.  While I’ve had great fun learning to swim, running, and of course, rock climbing, with Project X, an amazing group of mainly late 20s – 30s ex-pats and local HKers who are dedicated largely to climbingand diving, I knew that 1) the HK diet will surely kill me and that the occasional climb was hardly making a dent in the pounds I was so easily gaining in HK, and 2) I needed a gym to feel “normal.”  Since I was saving a substantial amount of money living in Vicky’s apartment versus the ol’ serviced apartment in Wan Chai, I promised that I’d spend the surplus on a gym membership.

There are a number of gyms in HK – California Fitness, Pure, Fitness First, Seasons… Within short walks from my house are California Fitness in LKF, Pure by the escalators by Hollywood Road, and I discovered today (too late to investigate) a Fitness First down in Sheung Wan.  I went to check out just California and Pure, since I knew I’d only want to go to gyms that were right by my neighborhood.

Both gyms had me jump on some physical assessment machine that told me how much lean muscle and fat I had, whether I was within range, or over- or under- weight, etc.  Essentially the gyms seem to do this to pressure you to join with guilt — “you are sooooo fat, you better join a gym!”  For the most part, I am within the normal range, but in both cases, I’d be asked to see a fitness trainer to explain how normal still wasn’t enough, and I had to improve still.  While I agree there’s definitely room for improvement – especially in that my right side is much stronger than my left (another measure revealed by the assessment), due to years of fencing, I did not appreciate the figure that said my waist-hip ratio was in the “excessive” category — I have no problem with my curves, and it felt more like a measure of aesthetic than fitness to me.

In any case, there is a HUGE difference between CF and Pure. Pure is definitely expensive — and of all the different plans it had (6 month, versus one year, versus two years; off-peak hours; access to all locations or some locations or one), no plan could possibly come close to how cheap California Fitness was.  A one-year all-access membership at California Fitness was cheaper than any of the Pure plans — and that’s overall, not per month!  In spite of that, I still went with an off-peak single location 6-month plan at Pure at what’s roughly $116/month for 6 months (I managed to get initiation waived by knowing a friend who is a member).

Now that’s a pretty steep cost for a gym membership, but to me, the alternative, California Fitness (now if I’d known Fitness First was as close as it is, I may have ended up there, but in spite of that, I’m extremely happy I went with Pure) was just impossible.  First, the gym is incredibly crowded — not just in terms of people, but even all the machines feel on top of each other.  There is no sauna/steam room, and seemingly no real amenities.  Finally, the salesman was pretty impatient and pushy.

In contrast, Pure is a heaven.  Think Equinox plus plus plus, for those of you reading from NYC.  In addition to a beautiful gym with up-to-date machines (including a great spin workout machine for when I can’t make class — something I’d always wanted back in NY), they offer you just about everything you need — gym clothes (less shoes and sports bra), locks, earbuds, DVDs, computer terminals in the lounge, even fresh apples for a healthy snack after a hard workout!  The facilities are extremely clean, there’s plenty of classes, seriously, nothing to complain about!  They have the TRX – my very favorite workout device of late, pole dance classes, thai boxing! Oh, and did I mention the RAIN SHOWER?? I can go on!

I even signed up for 25 sessions of personal training in order to take advantage of specials that resulted in $55/hour personal training — now that’s much cheaper than what I was paying at New York Health & Racquet (although my membership there was insanely cheap with a corporate discount/buying 22 months in advance).  Hopefully my membership can only get cheaper once I start working — or at the very least, it will be affordable when I have supplemental income.

I’ve been to the gym every day since joining and just LOVE it.  I had no idea how important the gym/working out was to me til I joined Pure in HK.  I just feel all that more normal, and the endorphins from working out keep me healthy while I also feel a heck of a lot less guilty about my HK diet/having to eat after a late night out.

So hopefully I’ll be back to my pre-HK fitness (I’d become particularly devoted to building my personal fitness last summer once I had more time to go to the gym and had found an amazing trainer).  My new trainer and I have a goal of getting me to do a pull-up in two months’ time!  Now that would really be something!

As of the publishing of this entry, I’ll have been back in HK for two whole weeks in 2010, and I have to say I’m feeling relatively accomplished (I also have cleaned up my inbox which gathered over 100 excess emails in my absence, developed a short list of jobs to apply to, and uploaded my India photos to facebook).


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