A combination of factors have allowed me to remain a consistent gym-goer for the past eleven and a half years, not least of which include a desire to stay healthy as well as some leftover boyhood ego that convinces me to want to stay “jacked” all of the time. However, the main reason I think most of us remain dedicated to the gym over a long period of time is simply the development of habit. At some point, it begins to feel wrong not to go and that’s when you know you’re a fitness buff for life!
But when we break well out of our standard schedule, for example when we pick up and leave our country to go travel elsewhere, it makes it very easy to break out of some of our homespun habits as well, including those that are fitness related. I’ll never stop working out here in Canada; it’s part of my overall routine. But when I travel, I really have to go out of my way to even make it inside of a fitness centre. Bruges was the only city on my recent European excursion where Teresa and I managed to locate, return to, and actually utilize a gym.
As I mentioned previously, we stayed in a hostel called St. Christopher’s Inn. When we travel, we try to explore every nook and cranny around our accommodation and beyond. About a ten minute walk from St. Christopher’s, towards the northeast of the circumferential moat that holds the old city within, we managed to find a fitness centre and it only cost six euros for a daily drop-in.
I never would have noticed the place if it weren’t for the large sign in the street pointing us towards Continental Gym. The building itself looks nothing like any gym I’ve ever seen (although most of the buildings in Europe don’t look like their North American equivalents; if only schools and offices were as rustic over here).
Upon entering, I was a little surprised to see how extensive the facility was. The weight-training equipment was fairly up-to-date and the free weights exceeded my expectations. This was the third gym in Europe that Teresa and I had scoped out so far, the first two being in Amsterdam. The first one we looked at, the free weights maxed out at about fifty to fifty-five pounds. The older gentleman who owned the place insisted I’d hurt myself if I tried to lift anything heavier, laughing at me for even asking what was available and quoting a whopping fifteen euros for one visit. I suppose we all maintain various outlooks when it comes to fitness goals.
Continental Gym had dumbbells up to at least one hundred twenty pounds (if my kilo to pound conversion serves me well) which is plenty for the majority of fitness enthusiasts. With Teresa by my side, who’s been frequenting Good Life Fitness with me on a regular basis since December, we took on a solid hour and a half workout. She trained her legs, I worked on my chest and arms. Perhaps because we were away on “vacation” it felt extra productive to be in there, crushing the weights between exploring cobblestoned streets and romantic canals.
Being the type of travellers we are, it’s next to impossible to work out on a regular basis while backpacking. Despite our high levels of energy, our time spent abroad is too precious to be exuded on weight training. As much as we manage to see, there is always plenty more that we manage to miss. Considering we’re always on the move, I believe that our style of travel keeps us active enough to exempt us (at least at this youthful stage in our lives) from seeking out a gym every couple of days and smashing through the weights. Perhaps a more drawn out adventure would have us seeking out fitness facilities more often. But with only three weeks to spare in four countries in Europe, our only real down time was late in the evenings after an entire day of being out and about, exploring, hiking, visiting, dining, and so forth.
If you can make it to a gym like Continental in Bruges, more power to you. But unless your business revolves around the fitness industry, don’t feel bad for giving yourself a decent break from this constructive at-home habit…just make sure you get right back into it when you return!