Between all the delicious food I expected to be consuming regularly — empanadas, helado and choripan to name a few — and being accustomed to regular sweat sessions in the U.S., I knew I would need to find a gym in Buenos Aires. I had heard less than stellar reports about gyms in the city, but I held out hope. My elliptical-ized, Body Pump salvation came in the form of Always Club, (as the Argentines pronounce it, “Aaaahl-weys”) a very travel-friendly three blocks from my apartment.
It was almost comically easy to join, and I recommend anyone spending at least a month outside the U.S. and looking to work out inquire about a membership at a local gym. Though I cannot guarantee it works everywhere else as it does in Argentina, there are no activation fees, no signing contracts for a minimal amount of time and no penalties for ending your membership whenever you want, because you’re paying month-to-month. Always Gym, which is on-par with other “nice” gyms in the city, runs about $35 USD per month, or $25 USD if you opt for the year-long payment plan, which has you pay the total amount for the year in the first four months. (It makes sense in Argentina…)
I’ve found the gym experience here to be pretty similar to that of my times at Evanston Athletic Club or Gold’s Gym in the U.S. in that there are classes, cardio machines, stretching areas, weights, etc.; the standard you would expect from the gym. One key difference: If you are joining a gym in Argentina, be prepared for a mandatory EKG to determine if your heartbeat is regular. Do not miss the appointment either, because this is one thing they take very seriously.
As for other differences — the more subtle, enjoyable, humorous or at times slightly annoying differences — I’ve compiled a list below to give you an idea of what to expect from a Buenos Aires gym, based on my couple months so far as a member of Always.
- The gym is a show. It’s like a procession of peacocks, and you bet the girls are dressed in tanktops they could wear out one night and walk the treadmill with their loooong hair loose and flowing. The men are in their most stylish sneakers, even if they’re not the most sensible for working out, and walk around with chests puffed. At Always, I say it’s allowed. It’s a pretty good-looking bunch of clientes. Speaking of which, can I put in a special request to organize some Always Gym social functions?
- The teachers and trainers are called “professors,” and they will greet you with a kiss on a cheek. Even if there are 30 people in class, everyone gets a “hello” kiss. They also will not hesitate to playfully call you out in class if you’re slacking, even a little. Which leads me to my next point…
- The most jacked women at the gym are the older ones, and they all take Body Pump. At least from what I have seen at Always, this is true. We’re talking six-packs and everything. For the longest time I thought no women knew how to really sweat it out and work at the gym, because all I was seeing was girls walking on the treadmill or pedaling with no resistance on the bikes. It’s because they were all in classes getting down to business.
- The gym makes the city a smaller place. You see the trainers walking their dogs in the neighborhood and begin to recognize regulars. You also might see that person you gave your number to out last weekend. Just a warning.
- There are no water fountains and no towels. The gym probably also lacks central air, even if it’s one of the nicer ones. Brace yourself to get sweaty.
- Everything’s a party. The gym, too, is on the Argentine schedule and opens later in the morning than most in the U.S., and also stays open pretty late into the night. If you take a class (note: my gym offers Body Pump and Body Combat, how international) the music will be loud and probably techno, and “professors” will be singing/dancing along. There’s also a good chance the lights will be dim, and that there will be some variation of multicolored strobe light going off. It’s a good time, to say the least.
Enjoy your workout!
–Karina for TKGO