Maintaining Normalcy: Fitness
Traveling or relocating to a foreign place is full of amazing new experiences, but it is expected to want to keep some normalcy and routine in your life. For me, that means getting a daily dose of exercise. Although most people who are traveling tend to walk more than they would at home while exploring their new surroundings, I need to find a gym that has proper equipment so I can get a sweat session in!
Here in Guatemala, you can walk, cycle, run, hike, swim, do yoga, and yes, go to a gym. As part of my routine in the states, I participated in CrossFit, so I made it my goal to try a few CrossFit branded gyms here in Guatemala. Surprisingly common in the city, and almost nonexistent outside of the city, I did try a number of them, and have paid for monthly memberships at a few other gyms here.
Although everyone’s exercise routine may be unique or specific, I found the CrossFit boxes that I visited to be just as welcoming as any I had been to in the states. In fact, they all insisted on getting a group photo with their visitor (me!), and each of the coaches was extra-attentive. The workouts were super tough, and the gyms were clean, had proper equipment, and all the other athletes were friendly and eager to make me feel welcome. There was no significant difference between the CrossFit locations here in Guatemala and the one at home where I had trained, Bloodline CrossFit near Fort Myers, Florida. Prices ranged from $7-$12 for a drop-in class, and per class prices only went down with longer-term packages. If you’re in Guatemala City for any length of time and want to get a WOD in, try CrossFit Habit (Zone 11), CrossFit Spring City 7 (Zone 12), OB Crossfit (slightly northwest of Zone 3), or Crossfit Sense (Zone 10). All four come highly recommended.
There are a myriad of other gyms in Guatemala City, including an Orange Theory Fitness location, and a chain of gyms called Scandinavia Gym. Many of the larger chain hotels have small fitness rooms as well. I walked throughout the city for most of my explorations, and lastly, the bike tour with Marcos from Quetzalroo Hostel was a great way to get some exercise (but call ahead to book it).
I’ve managed to find other small, Guatemalan owned gyms in Flores (Smart Gym), Antigua (La Fábrica), and Panajachel (Pana Gym). Each had attentive staff and trainers on hand. A day pass was approximately $4-$5 at each one, and the equipment ranged from iffy-but-doable (Smart Gym), to wonderful (La Fábrica - which included classes also). Feel free to ask a staff member to look around at the facilities before committing, but realize your options may be limited.
All in all, if you’re looking to stay in shape on the road or to get in shape while establishing life in a new place, its entirely possible to find a gym in the larger cities. However, you’ll have to be creative in the smaller places where no exercise equipment might be found for miles. In those cases, there are some resources you can use to discover hiking paths in the area (maps.me was recommended to me recently, and I used https://growyourowncure.org/lake-atitlan-offers-stunning-views-from-hiking-trails/ to plan my hike from Godínez to Panajachel). Make sure you research first, take proper equipment with you, and ask locals if there are any precautions. Some trails may not be suitable to do without a local guide, or may have become impassable due to recent rains. Yoga classes and studios abound in certain touristed places, and swimming is usually an option as well. Lastly, you’d be surprised how you can improvise with little or no equipment on hand (although I did pack my jump rope). There are tons of free apps that you can use to create short but effective workouts at home (I tried SWORKIT recently, and also watch yoga/workout videos on YouTube), or just Google your location with some keywords and lots of intrepid travelers will surely have blogged about their running, cycling or hiking routes.
Best of luck with your fitness goals on the road, and remember, you see a lot more while walking than while riding in the back of a pick-up truck with 17 other people :)