The Workout Culture

When I came to Venezuela I quickly realized that I would eat a lot. I mean…. the food here is great, unhealthy, but great. When you live here for a while you forget how crazy it is to eat a deep fried empanada with a Malta (this cannot be explained use Google) for breakfast. It is simply impossible not to love it (except the Malta, that thing is still disturbing to me). Because of this I thought it was a good idea to join a gym avoiding becoming too chubby (and no, not eating empanada, arepas, pepitos was not an option). After some language trouble I had paid for my gym membership. I was really excited for my first time where I was going to work out with a trainer before going to a Salsa Casino class. All alone I went into the gym and immediately realized that this was going to be very different from the gym-culture at home.

The first thing I noticed was that everyone seemed to have spent the previous hour in front of the mirror or at the beauty salon. I am not only talking about the girls… When I go to the gym I take OFF the make up and put on some random workout clothes. In the Venezuelan gym this is not the case for sure. The guys all wore tight tank tops and used every spear moment flexing in the mirror or taking photos with their phone. The girls were also really into taking photos of their workout session. I guess it does not count if the rest of the world does not know you went to the gym.

Second… I have never seen so many fake boobs (and buts) at the same place before. Don’t get me wrong I am not judging, but it was like gravity did not exist. As I looked around I understood that I was the one who looked different with my makeup-free face, a sloppy t-shirt and some old tights. Most of the girls were wearing tiny shorts, a tight top or just the sports bra and then they had a huge belt thing in the middle that made their waist look non-excising. It looked really painful and maybe it has a purpose, but I had never seen something like that before.

Nevertheless, people were so friendly towards me (even with my lame outfit). While waiting for a machine to be free a girl talked to me, asked where I was from and as always they told me if I needed anything I should let her know. Again, making friends in Venezuela is so easy and I love it. Waiting for the Salsa Casino class to start I asked the instructor if the class was hard for someone who did not know how to dance salsa. The answer I got was: “no no no, muy facil”. That’s great, I thought, and was excited to learn some dancing (even though I looked like an hobo compared to the other girls in the class). When the class started (only 30 minutes late) I momentarily realized that “no no no muy facil” was a big fat lie. Oh how I laugh at the though of me trying to follow the dance steps in a crowd where everyone knew what they were doing. And to make this experience more embarrassing… the room did not have closed walls but rather glass walls so the entire gym could watch the dancing class.

Walking out of the gym all I could do was laugh about how misplaced I felt and that the gym thing might not be my thing over here. And so it was until a few weeks ago. I decided that I would give the workout culture here another try so I started outdoor crossfit. I am still not sure why I am doing this to my self because I am almost dying every time (and the coach is scary), but the culture in this group is more what I am used to at home. More people with what I consider “normal” workout clothes, without fake lashes and less posting on instagram.

In Norway I often get the feeling that people are looking at each other at the gym, judging what you do and how you look. In a group class in Norway you talk to your friends and not to the stranger next to you. In Venezuela people are not so serious, they are joking with each other during class and of course you can easily make some new friends if you want. From the first time I went to class people were so welcoming that some days I feel like going there just because of the nice people. The only thing that is a mystery to me is why I am the only one looking like a lobster after class… maybe Venezuelans are just created beautiful no matter what they do 😉


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23 Responses to The Workout Culture

  1. dara2021 says:

    I just joined a gym in Venezuela as well and I totally understand and relate to this post.

  2. Victor says:

    I always get mixed feelings whenever I read your posts… It’s sad and hilarious at the same time. Keep ’em coming, please.

  3. Veronica says:

    Hi Martina, I’m your roomie’s relative, I just want to let you know that every post you write make me laugh so hard, seriously, I’m having a blast with your histories and somehow you remember me all that I miss from my land. Have fun and enjoy the nice weather (even if is too hot lol). Greetings from Madrid 🙂

  4. Ange says:

    I am a Venezuelan living in the USA. I laughed when I read your post and felt relieved that I am not weird, just different (i.e.: Venezuelan). I have to show your post to my husband who is Irish-American. He could not understand WHY I had to take a shower, blow dry my hair, and put make up BEFORE going to the gym. One day he asked me: why you just don’t put a shirt and shorts, you don’t need make-up. I looked at him with eyes wide open, asking to myself “is he crazy?”, we Venezuelans don’t go anywhere without taking a shower first!

    Your point of view makes me understand my self (and my culture) better, and makes me realize how much I miss my country and my people. Thank you for writing about your experiences in Venezuela.

  5. Gloria Rodríguez Montilla says:

    This is so accurate!! I laughed a lot while reading it and remembering my own experience at the gym. Thank you for the wonderful way you describe how we are.

  6. Como siempre, hilarantes y reveladores tus escritos, aunque no me gustó eso de que: “the food here is (…), unhealthy”. No pienso que sea así y le pedí ayuda a un chef venezolano para que me sugiriera una página en inglés… para que dejes de comer solo: “empanada, arepas, pepitos”.

  7. Maria Rodriguez says:

    Hello Martine! I read today all of your entries and loooooved your blog! I’m a venezuelan living in Argentina and your perceptions and stories made me smile and remember the day-by-day in my hometown. Your descriptions are so accurate! Jajaja! I went to Norway once for 2 weeks and had the same shock (reversed) so I understand your feelings!! But as a good venezuelan, I took everyone to the dance floor, and hugged my new friends, and kissed them! I didn’t mind their “coldness” and in the end of the night they understood my latin ways and went with the flow! Jajajaj. I congratulate you and encourage you to keep posting! Thank you!!

  8. jose says:

    I miss your posts… upload a picture of yourselve so everyone here con see you… Im sorry for my english

  9. amira says:

    thank u so much for what are u doing…i know the my country its crazy right now and a lot of us have to move out, but i always remenber my homeland with joy and specially the people!! and all u say its incredible true …so i hope u keep posting =)

  10. It’s always so nice to read your posts.
    I have a theory that if you didn’t grew up drinking Malta you’ll never like it.
    I hate gyms here because of all the things you said, so I recommend that you gather a group of friends and play some soccer. 🙂

  11. Viv says:

    Yey, new post!
    Not everything is Empana y Malta, you can try “Cachitos” o Mini lunch”, of course you cannot eat that every day if you want to keep your shape.
    I was laughing with your experience at gym because I KNOW what you mean. It’s like “my house is bigger than your house” game. Running or Jogging are also a nice option.

    “maybe Venezuelans are just created beautiful no matter what they do ;)” haha thank you, don’t say it too loud 🙂

  12. Yule says:

    I just found out about your job! Congratulations and thank you for posting this amazing things about my country (things that it seems that I may forget when moving out a few years ago)
    Im completly sure my mom would love to have you as a guest in my hometown (San Cristobal)
    Sweet and warm kisses and hugs from US.

  13. Winnie Zait says:

    Jajajaja Siempre me distraigo leyendo tus Post sobre nosotros los venezolanos, y es chistoso porque jajaja yo soy de ese tipo de venezolanos excesivamente amigables, que habla con quien sea en el transporte público, pero comparto lo de la Salsa, JAMAS he aprendido a bailar salsa, no entiendo aún como a la gente se le hace sencillo, en fin, saludos cordiales desde Caracas, espero visites nuestra querida Ciudad Capital y también mi universidad (La universidad Central de Venezuela) un día de estos. Abrazos.

    PD: Si tienes Twitter Sería bueno lo publicaras, con gusto te seguiría.

  14. Maggie says:

    It is so nice to read your post!
    I love the funny way how you describe your experiences… I have been living out of Venezuela for so long, I forgot how preppie and coquette we are. Last time I went to visit, two years ago, I decide to go hiking with my nephews, at Cerro El Café in Valencia, by the time I got back home I told my husband: “I would look up to see how far I had to go and all I could see was perfect butts!!!!!!”
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  15. Daniela says:

    Oh god! I cannot feel more like home each time that I read your stories! It is all so well written and so true 🙂 I have been living in Paris now for the past 5 years (all my family is in Venezuela though) and at the beginning I tried so much to adapt to this other way of living and of course I couldn’t…Now after so many years in France I could do it for sure but I dont want to! I believe that the Venezuelan way of living is what makes us such a happy people, funny, sociable and so different from the others. You are more than welcome to Paris!

    No dejes de escribir, a los venezolanos que estamos lejos se nos pone el corazón chiquito con tus palabras! Disfruta cada segundo de mi Venezuela!

  16. Laurita says:

    I wish you luck, girl. Venezuela’s gyms aren’t an easy place hahaha keep working 😉

  17. Marge says:

    I love your stories about my country. I miss Venezuela so much. Be SAFE!

  18. Vanessa G says:

    Excelente blog, soy venezolana (viviendo en el exterior) y me río demasiado con tu punto de vista extranjero. Jajajaja felicitaciones! Saludos

  19. hahaha i LOVED this post! as a venezuelan living in the netherlands i felt totally related with this hahaha the workout culture is completely different than in holland as well, here is more like u described about norway, if im honest i kinda miss how it is in venezuela, it can be easier to make friends over there. Im actually running a fitness related blog. How nice to hear ur experiences as norweigan, my grandfather used to live in Mandal when he was young, her mother was from norway but then she moved to venezuela, looong time ago! will keep on reading ur blog! saludos!

  20. ma says:

    Girl, i hear you! it is so funny how everyone wears makeup to the gym… i used to do that when i was much younger, but now i laugh every time i see my sister doing her hair before going to the gym – my only though is “what are you doing???” Venezuelans can be very superficial but i have to admit i did love talking and laughing while doing my pilates class.
    I am from Maracaibo, and left a couple of years ago, and haven’t been able to return so it’s nice to hear you talk about my culture and bring back some memories!

  21. ur so sweet…. i totally agree, girls in the gym, should cut down on the make up specially here in maracaibo, where did u live?

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