Episode 10 - Fitness and Sports Abroad
In this episode of the podcast, Matt and I chatted about how we stay fit and our own experiences with sports abroad!
It's our first time coming to you from Europe (and our first time ever being in Europe!), specifically in Prague, Czech Republic. We also made this podcast right before the Super Bowl aired, so we felt that a podcast based on sports and fitness was only natural.
Traveling long-term can make it a hassle to stay in shape and to watch your favorite sports, whether in real life or on TV, but it definitely isn't impossible!
Thailand: October 2014- April 2015
We were a bit chubby when we got to Thailand. Definitely. But, it turns out that we went to the right place at the right time! Because of the heat and the small food portions (they were actually accurately sized, but small compared to the American portions that we were used to), we dropped a lot of weight. The food was not only accurately sized, but also healthier. It was basically noodles, rice, vegetables, and meat, which is far healthier than the greasy and heavy crap in America!
We honestly didn't exercise very often during our six months there, so we mainly focused on our diet in order to stay/be more fit, which was easy! But, when we did exercise, we worked out by following YouTube videos or Insanity in our apartment. We had other options for exercise as well. We could've ran outside, but didn't because it was far too humid for us! There was also the option of going to a gym, but we didn't feel like commuting there in the heat every day. So, exercise is very possible in Thailand and abroad in general!
Soccer is huge in Thailand! Sports were also a big deal to our school specifically. Sports were so vital to our school that we had two different school days specifically dedicated to playing sports: Students' Sports Day and Teachers' Sports Day.
Matt and I missed the Students' Sports Day because we had some visa things to take care of, but the students simply versed each other in different sports and games, such as soccer, racing, their own form of basketball where kids held baskets in the air instead of using basketball hoops, and more!
Teachers' Sports Day was VERY interesting. First, all of the teachers had to practice and prepare days in advance. No, not practice the sports themselves. Those many of us left not playing sports still had to attend the Sports Day-- and cheer. And we had to practice those cheers until they were engraved in our minds so that we didn't lose face for our school during Sports Day.
Then, after practicing the chants, which was a whole lot of dancing, singing, and screaming, we were ready for the big day. At the Teachers' Sports Day, all teachers from four different schools in our area had to attend and either play in the sports or cheer those playing the sports from the bleachers. So, we spent a few hours shouting, dancing, and singing for our teams from the bleachers of a gym while people played basketball, volleyball, and even sepak takraw (basically volleyball and soccer combined!). Then, Matt and I luckily got to leave early for our visa run to Laos (HALLELUJAH!)!
Matt and I also attended a Chonburi FC home game, which was our city's home soccer club. It was a wonderful experience! The teams ended up tying, but we had a great time during the game, just drinking with both familiar and unfamiliar foreigners. After the game, we decided to stay outside the stadium and join in the unofficial after party with a bunch of randoms! Just like the game, it was an excellent experience-- maybe better than the game itself!
South Korea: August 2015- January 2016
After being back home in America for a few months, we arrived in Korea and immediately decided to get back into shape. Luckily, our apartment complex had a free, perfectly equipped gym! How convenient! So, we did the High Intensity Interval workout called P90X most of the time in the gym and a couple of times in our apartment, until our neighbor below us came upstairs to tell us to be quiet (but, once he realized we were foreigners, he profusely apologized to us! Ha!)!
The only problem with our gym was that it was freezing! They never turned on the heat in the winter! It was the same temperature in the gym as it was outside, so we were actually running on treadmills and lifting weights in hats and gloves! That was pretty brutal, if I'm being entirely honest.
We also rode bicycles everywhere we went and the portion sizes in Korea were relatively small and were healthy, too! So, that definitely helped us stay fit and healthy.
One of Korea's biggest sports is baseball, but since we arrived in early September, we just missed the baseball season! So, we unfortunately didn't get the opportunity to attend a baseball game there or any other sporting events.
Vietnam: January-August 2016
Matt and I joined a Vietnamese gym in Ho Chi Minh City. The gym was about a twenty-minute walk to and from our apartment, so that walk every day alone was incredibly helpful to our getting in shape! It was hot, relatively old, rundown, and dirty, but it was the closest and cheapest gym we could find. Plus, it did get the job done of providing us with machines for exercising-- and we were fortunate and careful enough to not get tetanus! Ha!
Before joining that gym, by the way, we went gym "shopping." One gym we found in particular was incredibly fancy, so we figured it was expensive, but maybe affordable because it was in Vietnam. However, after a forced showing of the entire gym and its plethora of amenities, we discovered it was certainly not affordable for us: it was $2,000 per year! Yeah, not happening.
Once again, the diet in Vietnam was incredibly healthy in both portions and content. There were lots of noodles, fish, meat, rice, and vegetables available-- and they were delicious!
Like Thailand, soccer is huge in Vietnam. We never got a chance to attend a soccer game at a soccer stadium or anything, but next to our gym, there was a soccer field in plain view from the windows in front of the treadmills. So, we were able to see children, teenagers, and middle-aged to elderly people play soccer right in front of us, which was great to witness! Plus, it gave us something interesting to watch during our workouts!
Japan: August-November 2016
Considering we would only be in Japan for three months, Matt and I together decided to simply skip any gym membership fees and headaches and simply run outdoors and do any other exercises in our apartment, which was exactly what we did for exercise in Japan. We also walked a ton when our friend and my brother visited us, too. I also did a lot of yoga in our apartment because I pulled my knee and hip flexor while running, which surprisingly made my muscles strong! So, yoga is definitely a good option as well for exercise.
Again, the diet in Japan was just ridiculously healthy. We cooked a lot and ate incredibly healthy as well. We had a lot of fish, rice, sushi (almost every day because why not!), vegetables, eggs, noodles, and meat. We even sometimes had the unhealthiest things, like tempura, but even that wasn't that bad for you because it was lightly-fried vegetables! It's really no surprise to us that Japan has the second highest life expectancy in the world!
We saw a Hanshin Tigers (Osaka's team) vs. Tokyo Yakult Swallows baseball game in Osaka with our friend who came to visit! It was unbelievable! The game was played the same, but the fans and cheering were completely different than in America. The fans sang cheers together constantly in order to distract the other team, which would be up to bat, they'd bang loud balloons together, and make various other noises with other gadgets and gizmos.
Our favorite part of the baseball game was in the seventh inning stretch. Everyone blew up these long balloons and on the count showed on the jumbotron, everyone would let them go at the same time, filling the air with these whistling, chaotic balloons. It was quite a sight to see!
The food was unique as well. We ate curry and rice and slices of pizza. There were other different food items available that you might not envision at a baseball game as well! There were also tons of girls that worked for the stadium that walked all around the bleachers with kegs of beer on their backs so that, if you wanted a cup of beer, all you had to do was wave one of them over, which was easy because there was always one nearby! That was definitely a job that I wasn't envious of, though.
Prague, Czech Republic
Currently, Matt and I are in Prague, Czech Republic! In the two weeks or so that we have been here, we've noticed that the portion sizes are a lot bigger and heavier than they were in Asia. They eat a lot of meat, potatoes, and things like that. However, they do have a lot of Asian cuisine available, such as Vietnamese food! And, of course, we've eaten that a number of times now.
As for fitness here, Matt and I joined a gym that's about two subway (called "metro" here) stops from our apartment, which is incredibly handy! It has all sorts of awesome, new, and clean machines, which is nice, since the last gym we had joined was the dingy once in Vietnam!
We definitely will need that gym during our time here because there is a plethora of good cheeses. beer, and bread-- our favorite things!
In general, it is relatively easy to stay in shape when you a living/traveling abroad!
Last words of advice: do a workout program, such as Insanity or P90X, when you're living abroad if you don't want to join a gym. Also, definitely see a live sporting event!
And how exactly do we watch American sports abroad, though, like the Super Bowl?
For American Football abroad, Matt paid for a program called NFL Game Pass. It gives us access to all of the football games during the football season, including the postseason. Cost: $200 per season. They also have a package where you could just watch only the team or teams that you want to watch. Cost: (about) $100 per season (not including the Super Bowl, though). Side note: you need to be outside the U.S. to qualify for the program.
For baseball, Matt uses MLB.tv for access to all of the baseball games. Cost: (about) $200 per season. There's also programs for other sports, such as hockey, basketball, golf, tennis, etc. Matt doesn't watch those sports that often, so we don't have those programs and therefore, don't know their names, but we're positive that they have packages like the NFL and MLB have, too.
Many bars in almost any country will play important games, especially games like the Super Bowl! For example, in Ho Chi Minh City, we went to an Australian-owned bar and watched the Super Bowl in 2016. It also wasn't the only bar playing it-- and it was packed! And they even served chicken wings, nachos, and other good, homey, greasy, Super Bowl food! So, you can definitely watch big games in bars as well.
What do you do to stay in shape while abroad? What sporting events have you attended and/or participated in outside of your own country? How do you watch sporting events abroad, like the Super Bowl?
Thank you for reading and/or listening! Remember: don't be shy! We'd love to hear from you.
Wine: Ludwig - Modry Portugal (Hungary)