This is the first article from a guest author, Mr James Wanderlust. James has been in the fitness industry for over 12 years as a certified personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, fitness writer, and lifestyle workshop leader. He’s also addicted to travel!
You can read more about James adventures on his website, Fitness Wanders.
In his first article, James discussed the gym scene in South Korea and breaks down his top tips for how to train for free when visiting this amazing country.
Annyeonghaseyo! (안녕하세요!) I’m writing this post here in Ulsan, South Korea.
Ulsan is home of the Hyundai Motor Plant, the world’s largest single factory, as well as several stunning natural landmarks such as Daewangam Park and Mt. Gaijisan.
So, here’s the deal… You want to jump into a gym to keep up with your swole goals whilst in South Korea, but the question is:
“Is hitting the weights as prevalent in Korea as it is in America, Australia or the UK?”
Put simply: The gym culture in Korea is quickly catching on.
EAST VS. WEST: GYM SCENE
One of the biggest differences between the East and the West is the price tag. On average, your typical American gym is going to cost you around $35 or £28 per month. Some fast-food-esque commercial gyms (You know which ones I’m talking about…) will charge less. In fact, I’ve seen these places advertise for as low as $10 or £8 per month. Your basic suburban, higher end gym will set you back around $60 or £48 per month.
Personally, I could never imagine paying more than $30 or £24 per month… Until I came to Korea.
Gym memberships in Korea are NOT budget traveler friendly. If you’re here for the long haul as an ESL teacher, the hit may not be as hard because you’re earning a steady income in currency of the country.
HOW MUCH DOES A KOREAN GYM CHARGE?
Expect to pay approximately 100,000 won for your basic gym membership in Korea. Depending on how strong the Korean currency (won) is doing, that will be around $80 to $90 USD or £70 to £75.
Are these the newest facilities with an array of high tech Samsung gear that includes lasers and a gravity training room?
No. Not at all.
What you get for that price is similar, if not exactly the same, as what you’ll find in the States or the UK.
If the idea of spending that kind of money is bothersome to you, then keep calm and save your won for travel. There is a simple and easy way that you can work out and pay nothing.
WHAT KOREA DOES BEST
While the West may have Korea beat in terms of the price tag, if there’s one thing that the K-Pop Capital does best, it’s FREE outdoor fitness facilities. That’s right. These well stocked outdoor gyms are free to the public.
Regardless of where you are in Korea – Seoul, Busan, Gyeongu, Daejeon, or Namhae – you are guaranteed to find a well-kept, functional outdoor gym. Now, while some of these outdoor gyms may be pretty basic, they will be more than enough for most budget travellers. Best of all, you won’t have to walk far from your hostel to find well-maintained outdoor gyms.
Again, while some may be modestly equipped, other outdoor gyms are extremely well-stocked with dumbbells, barbells, and weight plates. Truthfully, these ones may be harder to find, especially in more rural areas BUT make no mistake about it: even the most backwoods town in Korea will have free outdoor fitness equipment to use.
WHERE TO FIND AN OUTDOOR GYM?
The best place to look for outdoor gyms is at your nearby park. It sounds simple and it sounds obvious but simplicity usually is the best answer. No matter which city I have visited in South Korea, if I went to a public park, I found an outdoor gym. Every. Single. Time. (I’ve even found an outdoor gym on the grounds of a temple miles from the city.)
What’s more, if you find a biking trail, then you’ve struck gold. Biking paths are (more than likely) going to have several gym stations along the path! That means you can perform resistance exercises AND sprints.
OUTDOOR GYMS BY CITY
Telling you to go find a park is easy for me and potentially confusing for you. With that said, I’ve compiled a list of the most popular cities in South Korea AND parks where you can find well-maintained outdoor gyms.
*Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. As I mentioned above, you are going to see numerous outdoor gyms scattered throughout the cities, parks, and hiking trails. The ones mentioned below are the most popular.*
1. Calisthenics Park
- Daechigil, 일원2동 (Irwon2-dong), Irwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 135, South Korea
2. Boramae Park
- 33, Yeouidaebang-ro 20-gil, Dongjak-gu, Seoul
- 서울특별시 동작구 여의대방로20길 33 (신대방동)
3. Yeouido Hangang Park
- Seoul-si Seongdong-gu Seongsu1-ga 1-dong
- 서울 성동구 성수1가1동 685-124 (왕십리길 544)
1. APEC Naru Park
- 116, Dongbaek-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan
- 부산광역시 해운대구 동백로 116 (우동)
2. Igidae Park
- 68, Igidaegongwon-ro, Nam-gu, Busan
- 부산광역시 남구 이기대공원로 68 (용호동)
3. Yongdusan Park
- 37-55, Yongdusan-gil, Jung-gu, Busan
- 부산광역시 중구 용두산길 37-55 (광복동2가)
1. Ap-san Park
- 574-87, Apsansunhwan-ro, Nam-gu, Daegu
- 대구광역시 남구 앞산순환로 574-87 (대명동)
2. Dalseong Park
- 35, Dalseonggongwon-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu
- 대구 중구 달성공원로 35 (달성동)
3. Bongmu Leports Park
- 394 Bongmu-dong, Dong-gu, Daegu, Korea
- 동구 봉무동 산135-2, Daegu, Daegu, South Korea
1. Incheon Grand Park (인천대공원)
- 236, Munemi-ro, Namdong-gu, Incheon
- 인천 남동구 무네미로 236 (장수동)
2. Jayu Park
- 11, Songhakdong1-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon-si
- 인천 중구 송학동1가 11번지
3. Songdo Central Park
- 1049 Songdo 2(i)-dong, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, South Korea
1. Manseok Park
- 434 Songjuk-dong, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
2. Gwanggyo Lake Park 광교호수공원
- 437-1 Ha-dong, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
3. Yeongtong Central Park 영통중앙공원
- 961-6 Yeongtong-dong, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
1. Bomunsan Park
- 15 Jinhyeon-dong, 대전광역시 Chungcheong-do
2. Ppuri Park
- 15 Jinhyeon-dong, 대전광역시 Chungcheong-do
3. The Yurim Park(유림공원)
- 2-1, Bongmyeong-dong, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-301, South Korea
1. Taehwa River Park
- 67, Naeosan-ro, Jung-gu, Ulsan
- 울산 중구 내오산로 67
2. Ulsan Grand Park
- 94, Daegongwon-ro, Nam-gu, Ulsan
- 울산광역시 남구 대공원로 94
3. Daewangam Park
- 산 907, Ilsan-dong, Dong-gu, Ulsan
BENEFITS OF EXERCISING OUTSIDE
I think that travelling is one of the best times to get a workout in. Why?
Where do you work out when you are back at home?
The stale, musty aired building that you call a gym.
Imagine trading in those rusty dumbbells and overused treadmills for fresh air, ancient ruins, and the beautiful locals of a foreign country. Who else is going to be able to say they did push-ups while overlooking the Seoul Tower? Who do you know that has the bragging rights for performing jump squats on one of the tallest mountains in the world?
With your personal ego aside, working out amidst nature is better for you. Don’t believe me? Science has my back.
One study published in Environmental Science & Technology reviewed scientific literature from over 11 control trials totalling near a thousand subjects. These studies focused on whether performing basic exercises in an outdoor setting produced any benefits when compared to working out inside of a traditional gym. The results?
The comprehensive review confirmed that exercising outdoors provided the following benefits:
- Positive outlook
- Overall feeling of mental well-being
MAKING TIME FOR EXERCISE
Maybe you’ve got the will but you’re stuck on finding the way. If time is of the essence, learn about the 4 easiest things you can do to help you make time for exercise WHILE maximising your time sightseeing by clicking here.
Now that you’re convinced, let’s get you set up with a couple of workouts that you can do anywhere in the world.
THE OUTDOOR WORKOUT
Once you get yourself to one of these outdoor gyms, it’ll be time for you to jump into a workout that will be challenging and help continue pushing you towards your goal.
I have two separate workouts that are ideal for these outdoor Korean gyms. I use these workouts myself, especially when I’m travelling throughout South Korea.
- I’d recommend this workout if you are still learning the basics or just looking to give yourself a break while on your travels.
- This is a higher level H.I.I.T. workout that will save you time but also leave you feeling satisfied.
SOUTH KOREA AND EATING HEALTHY
If you are currently on a diet, maintaining your weight, or trying to achieve a specific sports-minded goal such as cutting for bodybuilding, then you need to know which Korean foods are going to help you and not set you back.
I’ve narrowed down the healthiest foods in South Korea that are also the easiest to find and won’t leave you broke. Discover the top 5 fittest budget foods in South Korea.
TAKE HOME POINTS
Going to a gym doesn’t have to be a luxury, although it may feel that way when you see how much you have to pay in Korea. Lucky for you, Korea is filled with outdoor gyms that have great equipment. You’re able to work out for free while enjoying the sunshine and local Korean banter.
LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS
Do you have your own workout that you like to do while travelling?
Have you found a great gym in Korea that won’t break your bank?
Tell me about it in the comments!
GET YOUR STALK ON
James has been as dedicated to bodybuilding as he has been to writing and travelling. He has a vast knowledge on exercise science, human bio-mechanics, proper nutrition and supplementation, and motivational techniques. Most importantly, he has been assisting others in developing their physiques and changing their lives for more than 12 years.
James’ mission is to share with you his personal travel fitness tips, tricks, and hacks to improve your health and travel experience. He wants to help you discover the best ways to have an inexpensive, amazing, and memorable travel adventure.
You can check out James’ website, blog, and vlog at FitnessWanders.
1. J. Thompson Coon, K. Boddy, K. Stein, R. Whear, J. Barton, M. H. Depledge. Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Wellbeing than Physical Activity Indoors? A Systematic Review. Environmental Science & Technology, 2011.