When I told my friends and co-workers that Nick and I planned on hitting the gym while on holiday in Santorini, they looked at me as if I had said that we planned on hitting children.
“Awww Hailey, why? You need to take a break and relax. You should actually enjoy your holiday”
This comment led me to explain that I genuinely enjoy working out, as does Nick, and as such we have no interest in taking a break from something we love.
The look on their faces told me they were not convinced.
In fairness, this hasn’t always been my mindset when it came to working out on holiday. I used to be like my co-workers, shocked that you would spend your “adventure” time locked away in a gym. That was until Nick and I travelled to Istanbul, Turkey and he gave me a whole new perspective on why heading to the gym on hols rocks.
When we travelled to Istanbul neither of us had brought our gym kit. However, it wasn’t long after we had got off the plane that Nick, a bodybuilding enthusiast, was itching for a workout. After speaking with the owner of Lemon Residences (where we were staying), he recommended that we check out Jatomi, the gym near by located in a large modern shopping centre on the main shopping street. Nick then headed out to pick up the missing essentials- pair of gym shoes, t-shirt and shorts on a relatively inexpensive bill.
I had decided to sit this one out. I was going to bag a few extra hours of sleep and get some work done. But when he came back after his first workout and he was so excited about how awesome the location was, I decided I had to check it out for myself.
And I’m glad I did. At only 68 Turkish Lira for 7 days (£22.00 GBP or $35.00 USD) Jatomi is a large, modern gym with fantastic equipment and endless space. A gem in the heart of Istanbul. It was clear that we were some of the very few tourists who had ever passed through there as barely anyone spoke English but everyone was friendly, helpful and kind. Although there was a language barrier, we had the chance to interact and share our passion with locals and Nick regularly helped some of the guys with their sets, showed them a new workout or corrected their form. There was a lot of over the top hand gestures involved to overcompensate for the lack of words but it was such a wonderful experience nonetheless.
I was hooked and after getitng my own kit and joining Nick everyday after that, I decided I would never travel again without accommodating my love of keeping fit on future holidays.
So when it came to booking our trip to Santorini, the first thing we did was check to see if the island had a gym. Without a proper website or much information, we managed to locate a place called Mainas Fitness Centre, the only gym on the island. I tried to find pictures and reviews but there was little available on line so we packed up our gym kit and hoped for the best.
And yet again we were not disappointed. Mainas Fitness Centre is reminiscent of an 80’s/90’s old school gym with dated yet effective equipment and a buzzing vibe. The gym was busy with locals and tourists alike. Even more exciting is that 50% of the individuals in the gym were women and they were using a mix of both cardio AND weights. As Oxygen Magazine would say, it is truly inspiring when you hit that gym and 50% of the patrons are Sisters in Iron, especially on a holiday island. Mainas will run you €20.00 Euro for a 7 day pass (£17.50 GBP or $26.50 USD) which is a fantastic deal if you are going regularly.
Going to the gym on holiday is an awesome experience and has genuinely deepened my love of keeping fit. Not only do you get to check out a new ‘playground’ but you also meet like-minded people from all over the world and you get to mingle with the real locals.
Why hitting the gym on holiday rocks:
1. You feel good. After both aerobic and anaerobic (such as weight lifting) exercise, your brain releases a chemical in the brain called endorphins (I’m sure you have all heard of it!) Endorphins are known for alleviating pain but they also give us a “high” which can help improve body image. So strap on your running shoes and hit that road- squeezing in a workout, even a short 20 minute one, will leave you in a better mood.
2. You look good. There is no fear of sporting a bikini for holiday gym goers. When you feel good, your confidence is up meaning that you have the gusto to wear that eenie teeny bikini and look awesome in it. Good posture can also contribute for a leaner looking figure so don’t be afraid to stand up tall with your shoulders back and show off your hard work.
3. You meet new people. Heading to the gym on holiday means that not only will you be surrounded by locals, but you will also meet people with like-minded interests. Whilst on our trip to Santorini, I noticed two other women in the gym wearing Lululemon athletic gear. After a short chat and round of introductions, it turns out they were from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It’s moments like these that you start to build an international network of like-minded people and these connections can be useful for future travel.
4. You see how others live your passion. Ever wonder what day to day life is like for someone on the other side of the world? Heading to the gym is the perfect way to gain a deeper understanding of the modern cultural similarities between you and your foreign counterparts.
For me, I was so surprised and impressed by how many people of all ages (literally! youngest boy was about 14 and oldest women was probably about 65) were heading to the gym in Greece. Fitness is definitely still apart of their culture (which is no surprise given their athletic history) and it is cool to see how it is apart of their every day life in comparison to other countries I have travelled to.
Overall, hitting the gym on holiday is a truly enlightening experience and one that I would recommend for any fit-minded traveller.