Monday, April 7, 2008


산정스포렉스 (aka SanJeong Sporex) is a fitness center right in front of 중앙하이츠 (aka JungAng Heights) in Old Mokpo and it's a pretty decent gym even by North American standards. It has the usual fare of treadmills, exercise bikes, weight machines, free weights, and (a real selling point for me) a swimming pool. But it also has the usual fare of Korean accessories:

Loud N-R-G Music
It's a safe stereotype to make that Koreans enjoy cranking up the volume in their daily activities:

The city here is like a giant amusment park without any rides. Lights are flashing at you from every direction, there 101 different pop-and techno-music songs always within earshot, and billboards assault your English skills with strange slogans like "Happy Awesome 100" or "Ace Perfect". It's never really wrong, it just feels so far from being right.
While places like grocery store will probably have the same repeating mix of top 10 k-pop hits, all gyms are regulated to have loud techno music turned up to eleven. I don't know why but SanJeong is no exception.

I could really enjoy the TVs if it wasn't for the lack of ear buds. In SanJeong there's a good collection of 20 or so treadmills lined up all along the windows on the second floor and in front of each treadmill is a decent flat screen television. It's even better than other fancy fitness centers since we get our own personal TV. But Korea (and yes I mean the country) doesn't believe in earphones and FM transmitting technology so the only way to hear the TV is to over-crank the volume past the eleven-dialed techno music resulting in the perfect metaphor for Korea's work harder, not smarter mentality.

Foreigners are often confused about certain aspects of Korean society. We think that either they're so backwards that they're stuck in 1950s America or they're so frickin ahead of us that their minds have literally evolved to a point beyond our comprehension. Using vibration machines for exercise is one of these contradictions and SanJeong has both old and new school body vibrators. Now, the academic opinion is that vibrationizing is a just a fad exercise that is coming back for another round but at SanJeong theses machines are right next to the massage machines. So I guess the Korean see the value of a jiggling rubber band tied around your waist as a relaxing Swedish massage chop. Westerners have other ways of recognizing their value:

No comments: