Korea loves a garish trainer, as do I. (lilywhites.com)

Korea loves a garish trainer, as do I. (lilywhites.com)

When the realisation hit me that I’d be turning 30 in less than a year, I had a freak-out about it and, in a bid to prove I was still young and age wasn’t getting the better of me, I decided to run a marathon.

Six months later, my work was done. The marathon was over and so, it seemed, was my foray into the world of Regular Exercise. Coming home from work to don a set of hideous Saucony running shoes and hit the tarmac for ten miles was replaced by a far more sensible regime of going swimming a couple of times a week and scuba-diving each weekend.

Until now. Three years, two continents and nine time zones later I once again have a daily routine that involves wearing garish footwear, punishing my legs and generally looking like shit: I go spinning. And over these last few months, my presence at, and love for, my Korean 7pm Spinning Class has taught me and my fellow spinners a lot.

Dante's Hell: He missed out UK gyms (jackaulfus.com)

Dante’s Hell: He missed out UK gyms (jackaulfus.com)

1. Group Exercise is the work of the devil…
…if it’s anywhere other than the 7pm Spinning Class. UK gyms, to my mind, are synonymous with the Seventh Circle of Hell, and are ruled by Lycra-wearing posers of the ilk that were total bitches at school, contorting themselves around machinery to the kind of tunes I imagine are perfect for terrorist interrogations. Group Exercise in Korea at the 7pm Spinning Class is akin to being at a house-party circa 1995: questionable music, terrible outfits, hilarious ‘dancing’ and, therefore, an excellent place to be.

2. Confident day-Glo is super-cool…
…when under UV flashing lights and maniacally cycling atop a bike that’s going nowhere to a soundtrack of banging-yet-saccharin K-Pop tunes whilst doing upper-body dance routines and sweating. It’s true.

Lorne: Scottish skin-hue after exercising (macbeths.com)

Lorne: Scottish skin-hue after exercising (macbeths.com)

3. The Western Beauty Myth has been well and truly destroyed…
…single handedly, by me. However highly Korean women view Western characteristics (and judging by the popularity of cosmetic surgeries like jaw-shaving and eye-lid creasing I’d say it’s pretty high) I’d hazard a guess that there’s not one woman in my class who envies the pasty, sweating mess I metamorphose into after 60 minutes on my bike. As if my luminous pink trainers and Husband’s Fulham football top weren’t enough.

4. The Koreans-Don’t-Sweat Myth has been well and truly destroyed…
…en mass, by my fellow spinners.They do sweat, only not to the extent that we Westerners do. Their perspiration is merely a drop in the oceanic amount my sweat glands produce, and they seem genetically incapable of turning the colour of Lorne sausage that accompanies Westerners when

These Yakuza are not my crew. (okinawan-shorinryu.com)

These Yakuza are not my crew. (okinawan-shorinryu.com)

exercising. Which is a good thing and I am envious.

5. Tattoos don’t equal gangs…
…but Westerners in places like daily spinning classes do equal English teachers. Thankfully, my class consists of various young professionals my age, and word got out I was a lawyer in the UK and am working here as an English teacher. So they’ve stopped seeing my inked body as a clue to my being a member of the Scottish Yakuza, and instead say hello and let me try my pigeon Korean out on them. Which is just as well, as I’m probably teaching most of their kids.

I can only imagine what the next few months will bring from this hotbed of cultural exchange. With their dreams of Western beauty dashed on the rocks below, and what I’m convinced is an unsettling-for-them attraction to ink, I suspect my fellow spinners are wondering the same thing.







One thought on “My Single-Handed Destruction of the Western Beauty Myth and Other Consequences of Spinning

  1. OMG! This was fantastic! As Elaine is the runner, spinner, sweater…I will leave her to respond in more detail. Hope life is treating you and husband well!



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