Das Gym

By Bryan • china, nanjing, personal, sports • 16 Nov 2004

One of the many goals I have while over in China is to pack on some pounds. My gym time over the past two years has been sporatic and working in silviculture all summer is a real calorie burner. My company had a running joke that we would probably double our income by starting a fat camp. We’d have people pay to follow us around in the bush for 10 days at a time and eat what we eat. Lose 25lbs a shift guaranteed.

I doubt I’ll gain any weight here either, but whatever…I find exercising is a good way to relax, unwind and finishing off one’s day.

I found a gym nearby…it’s actually a fitness club, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It’s got everything…swimming pool, squash courts, massive weightroom, more equipment than I’ve ever seen, showers, sauna, steam room, restaurants etc. The treadmills all have their own televisions. As I walked up, I had the door opened for me (I’m finding that is is pretty much standard practice at nice places in China) and I knew this place wasn’t coming cheap. A membership is quite expensive. One can only buy in three month chunks, which works out to be a considerable amount of money. I took the tour and left. I bought a month pass for a common gym nearby, for about the third of the cost. I just couldn’t shell out that kind of money at the time.

I haven’t been here long enough to really accurately guage how much I spend a month. In all honesty, I really wanted a membership at the nice gym. The common gyms is alright, but it’s a bit run down…kind of like the old gym in Mackenzie. So last night I had a number crunching session to work out exactly what I’m making, and where my money is going. To my surprise, I found out that I can totally afford this gym. A membership for 8 months would work out to be approximately 10% of my yearly salary. It seems like a lot, but I really don’t have any expenses here. My income is almost all disposable. I buy food, and that’s about it. I don’t drink very much and I’m finding that I don’t really have to do too much to stay entertained (every day I see, smell, hear, taste something new). In addition, I hate shopping and spending money on clothing, so I don’t have any leakage there. I eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner (mostly on the street) and that still only accounts for approximately 25% of my salary.

I have to justify everything…I’m such a wuss. Anyways, I finally decided that I’m going to get a membership at this gym after my other pass is up. I can afford it, and furthermore, there is no way I would ever be able to afford a place like this in Canada, as the fees would be at least several hundred dollars a month. So, from a relative perspective, is an incredible deal.

Before coming to China, I was really worried about my salary, but I’m realizing just how far my money will go in this country. The other thing too is that this is the very first time I’ve had any sort of significant purchasing power and I’m a little unsure of how to go about using it. As a student, you are given a fixed amount of money and that is going to last you a full 8 months, with no cash injections. You only buy things if you really needed it, and everything had to be justified. I think I’m still stuck in student mode (which might not be a bad thing, as I am considering going back to school as a possible option for next year).

My salary isn’t very high either. There are a couple of FT’s here (without any sort of TESL and experience) who are pulling in double what I am. I know an Italian teacher who is receiving his normal Italian salary in Euros. Their buying power is ridiculous.

*update* – There’s a “beauty salon” almost right next to my apartment block. I walk past it everyday and didn’t take any notice, I just thought it was a standard barber shop. It is so bloody obvious what it is, I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on it earlier.

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