Another thing about Phnom Penh Sports Club

I did it, I got the photo!

The thing that you need to know about Phnom Penh Sports Club, is that they have a dress code.  More than that, they actually call it a uniform code, which is splendid. There don’t seem to be any people around to enforce it, any more than there are people around to help with equipment in the gym or rescue people from drowning in the pool.  Nevertheless, I am mindful of my responsibility to be culturally sensitive, so naturally I will not be able to use the Jacuzzi area as currently I am not in possession of the appropriate uniform which is CLEARLY on display.


I know the photo is a bit blurred, but you try taking surreptitious photos in a public jacuzzi and see how you get on. In any case, I think the photos are rather risqué for my blog, so best leave something to the imagination through careful camera wobble say I.  Even if I had the outfit and the inclination to wear it (which I don’t) I’m not sure I could maintain those poses for the duration of a jacuzzi.  The one demonstrated by the woman in the bikini looks especially hard. On the plus side, you wouldn’t want to stay in the jacuzzi too long what with all the eating that goes on alongside it.  I know it’s a cultural difference, but it is to me a particularly bizarre and franky repulsive one, to be eating rice and veg and having a full on meal right next to the bathing area so there is rice and vegetable peelings scattering the shower and resting areas is pretty gross.  Not sure if you can tell in the photos, but those chairs and tables are all covered with eating paraphernalia and associated by-products (left overs, fruit and veg peel, screwed up napkins, litter).

I nearly didn’t make the gym today!  I overslept and hadn’t set my alarm.  I normally wake up spontaneously about 5.00 a.m. but last night violent rain and thunder and lightning woke me periodically, and then I was sound asleep. The light woke me at 6.36 a.m. and I was up in a shot.  This is the good thing about committing to meet someone at the gym.  Left to my own devices I’d definitely have gone straight back to sleep, as it was, I got up and dressed and out the door before I was even fully conscious.  In the circumstances, the fact it wasn’t the best ever work out is I think forgivable.

The functioning treadmills were all in use, so me and my gym buddy tried out the cross trainers, which do have programmes on them – we went for interval training, and it was tough to be fair, so maybe I can mix it up a bit.  These machines though are away from the windows so no breeze at all.  After 10 minutes my knees were creaking and I was near collapse with heat stroke, so we moved back to the now vacant treadmills. I  only did 3km today, but that was partly because a Cambodian woman on the adjacent treadmill struck up a conversation, wanting to practise her English I think. She doesn’t know about my ‘I can’t speak and run’ ruling.  For  my part, I have a new rule, which apparently tops my ‘speak and run’ one, which is I must be pathologically friendly and approachable to all Cambodians at all times.  I do sort of feel a bit like an ambassador for the UK and Westerners in general, and it takes courage to practice your language skills so I don’t want to be the person who is dismissive of such overtures.   We had an interesting chat in fact, though the consequence was I had to stop running and revert to walking for a big chunk of my workout.

She began by complimenting me on how strong I was because although I’d only been running 14 minutes I had burnt 260 calories, whereas in an hour her treadmill only showed 130 – which I think says more about how the machines are calibrated than our respective efforts.  Anyway, turns out she was a student at CWF some years back so knew all about our volunteering. She too would like to volunteer overseas, so I showed her the workaway website on her phone (which was challenging, as I really can’t see without my glasses these days, but I draw the line at wearing them at the gym).  That could be a realistic way for her to travel, I have no idea of her income level – it is very expensive for Cambodians to travel anywhere outside their own country.  In exchange she showed off her idiosyncratic training technique. On the moving treadmill, she periodically turns sideways doing a sideways skip and even turns round completely to run backwards.  Granted, the treadmill wasn’t going very fast, but I had a go with just a speed of 5.5 and it nearly ended very badly indeed.  Respect for those who work out this way, and I’ve seen a few at the gym now.  I’ve never seen it before, but then I’m not a gym user in the UK, maybe it is in fact a thing?

She also suggested the Olympic Stadium as a running option, it seems you really can go there for free any time, any day.  If you go at 5.00 a.m. you can join one of the many exercise classes.  These typically go for 2 hours(!)  The first hour is aerobics, and then there is an hour of traditional Khmer dancing.  Men and Women can both go (I asked about my friends – two male volunteers joined me at the gym today) and apparently that’s fine.  It costs about 1500 reil (4000 reil = $1 so less than 50 cents).  A tuk tuk there would be between $1-$2.  I’d love to try it – though early morning isn’t altogether appealing.  It seems this pattern for exercise – like the dance class we joined at Kratie is a ‘thing’ here in Cambodia.  There are also sessions along the riverside in Phnom Penh.  Teaching is going to get in the way of some of this exploration I fear!

Because it was more talking than running, I opted to say polite farewells and take to the pool.  It’s much better going with a friend.  He likes to do some power walking before he does ‘proper swimming’ using the resistance in the pool, whilst I do my old – lady breast stroke in an adjacent lane alongside.  It’s quite companionable, and we can share stories about our respective changing rooms. I also explained how I’d nearly gone arse over tit walking to the pool.  The sides are astonishingly slippery – more slippery even than goose shit which I previously thought was the most slippery substance known to man.  The point being, that a local older man, saw me nearly go, and made a sort of appreciative grunt as I recovered my balance.  I turned to smile and acknowledge his relief I was OK, and went into a pantomime of ‘my goodness I nearly slipped’ and in recreating the slip nearly went down again.  Taking method acting a bit far.

So gym, and swim, then off to breakfast, I hadn’t eaten since yesterday lunchtime so was starving, very relieved to go to Joma’s bakery and have hummus and vegetable wrap and a really good coffee – though it was expensive, then to the school for a teaching tutorial on lesson planning. These sessions are really good, but it does make me realise how steep this learning curve is, and whilst the tools are valuable, it adds stress in trying to do everything properly. We talked about scaffolding and differentiation, which I may say more about in another post, but I need to stop now. Talking of lesson planning, I need to get my session for tonight sorted.  Eek, where has the morning gone?  Also, I’m rather off-topic now, it was the jacuzzi uniform I wanted to make you aware of. Top tip if you are travelling to Cambodia, work on your bikini pose and outfit to get yourself through the kit inspection to use the jacuzzi at Phnom Penh Sports Club.  You have been warned. I’ll try and get a shot of the men’s outfits too, they are even funnier – goggles and a swimming hat too!  Hilarious.  Maybe I’m too easily entertained?

UPDATE!  GOT IT!  Very proud…

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2 responses to “Another thing about Phnom Penh Sports Club

  1. Pingback: Olympians in the making? | Cambodia Calling·

  2. Pingback: Marathon Madness – New Year’s Eve reflections | Cambodia Calling·

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