attempting to create a membership at hong-ik on my first visit to the place was an interesting encounter. unfortunately the receptionist did not understand my korean 'telegraphic speech', and it took quite a while for her to figure out just what i wanted. if only she could have slowed her speech down just a little, i might have been able to catch her words, but she instead talked to me at the speed of a native korean speaker with only a doubtful look on her face as a consolation prize. we eventually settled on a sort of game of charades and i was practically doing imaginary bench press on the countertop between us before we finally agreed on a membership plan.
so i began heading to that place everyday. it's actually pretty large, offering swimming lessons, dance lessons, even 검도 ('geomdo' - modern fencing, the korean kendo) and squash quarts, all of which i have yet to take advantage of due to the limitations of my membership plan. one curious feature of my gym is the basement shower room. the women's locker/shower room is on the main floor, but to get to the men's, you have to go down a dimly-lit flight of stairs and pass through what appears to be a storage place for old furniture and is likely a supposed 'amenity' (nobody, however, is seen lounging on the torn, 'fleather' couches and partaking of this comfort). every time i enter the locker room, i take off my shoes (as is the custom in korea as well as japan), place them in the little rack, and give a greeting to the old man who is always sitting in the same spot, day in, day out, and who i suppose to be the 'shower room manager', despite the lack of instances in which i have witnessed him 'at his duties'. the locker room itself is very cramped and low-ceilinged, but it's lighting coupled with the steam from the showers give it a friendly, dull glow that is quite relaxing. i meander through and nimbly tiptoe over the men and children lounging about (all of whom are comfortably naked) to get to my assigned locker and change into my 'workout clothes' which could be better termed: 'the clothes i wore yesterday'. i have yet to use the showers because i keep forgetting to bring a towel (no towels are provided due to the mysterious disappearance that befalls many of them). even though it's unnecessary due to the fact that i live just a few minutes away and usually shower at home after the gym, i still want to try a shower down there sometime.
nobody seems to pay any attention to the videos anyway, as the majority of the patrons to the weight room at 12pm are 아줌마 (ajummas - literally means 'aunt' and refers to all middle-aged women) on bicycles or stairmasters. this leaves me with relatively free-reign of the weights (except for the occasional 'hee-men' - slightly disgustingly muscular, short men who comprise the only male patrons). i usually take a short jog on the treadmill to warm up and do a few rounds on the weight machines before heading home, spending no longer than an hour and a half total.