Staying fit in Valencia

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Call me a freak, but I LOVE going to the gym and doing exercise, especially fitness classes. I often wonder how people, especially in the UK, manage to get through a week and stay sane without the physical and emotional relief that exercise provides. You can even do it for free, but prescriptions and other drugs require less effort. However, I digress.

After we had arrived in Valencia and found somewhere to live, I joined the nearest gym to our apartment. I was especially pleased to see that it offered the ‘Les Mills ‘ classes I had so enjoyed back in York. These were: Body Combat, Zumba and Body Balance. My three favourites: challenging, fun and relaxing, respectively.

Now, I would say that it’s fairly obvious to any Brit who has participated in a Les Mills class that Les Mills is not a British concept in fitness (I thought it was American but it’s actually Aussie). Why do I say this? Well, whenever I’ve shaken my thing in Zumba or punched an imaginary foe in Body Combat classes in York, the instructors have persistently encouraged us all to shout/grunt/do other sound effects. I did not appreciate this. I am pretty fit, but it took all my energy to co-ordinate my moves and breathe without adding “huh!” “aargh!” or “woop woop!” into the mix. Judging by my fellow fitness buddies’ lack of verbal participation, it’s safe to say I was not alone.

When I entered my first Body Combat class in Valencia I felt at home. There was familiar British and American music; even some of the routines were the same as back in York. For once, I knew exactly what to do in this unfamiliar city. However, twenty minutes in, without warning, people started running around the room, high-fiving each other with sweaty palms. Was this a move/sequence I had missed from the instructor? I was confused, and must have appeared so. But that was not all. Halfway through one of the high-octane, fat burning tracks, my classmates started whooping and howling like the cowboys and Indians of spaghetti westerns. Were they in pain? Had the instructor already pushed them to the limit?

My questions were answered in subsequent classes, where I soon realised that the sweaty high-fives, whistling and howling like you are at a rock gig were de rigeur during Zumba and Body Combat. As this is my fourth time living on mainland Europe, I am well used to adopting the ‘when in Rome’ mentality.  So, on Tuesday and Thursday nights you will find me high-fiving and “Wooooooing” like the best of my Iberian classmates. ¿Porque no?

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