Mr. Motivator

Last week I had an interesting chat with the guys I was sharing a room with when we were working (saucing it up) in Jeju island. The gist of it came down to whether exercising, working-out, going to the gym, or whatever you want to call it is a waste of time and energy? A couple of the group said that it was nothing more than an opportunity to perfect your posing techniques in the many mirrors on offer. However, if you live in Korea, you’ll know that mirrors in the gym are JUST another place for the poseurs to look into. I don’t think I’ve come across anything (or anyone) as vain in many, many years as some of the folks I come across here on a daily basis.
To cut to the chase, the argument was more about personal motivation and what you wanted to gain (or lose) by exercising at the local gym. For me, it’s more about trying to feel reasonably good, and as something I can channel my energy into when my schedule isn’t so full with work and MA studies and what not. Moreover, this month (August) will be the 9th year since I last had a cigarette. I don’t feel like I’m in danger of breaking that any time soon, but working out when I can definitely helps me both mentally and physically. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. What’s good for the goose and all that.
So, yesterday, I’m at my local neighbourhood gym. It’s not swanky by any means (at $45 per month it is however great, super-sweaty value), and it does the job. I’m about 3/4 the way through my 5K run, sweating like a fat-lad chasing an ice-cream van, when a kid of about 15 or 16 gets on the treadmill next to me and starts fiddling with the remote control for the TV. For the record, I never have the TV on. Ipod (or MP3 player back in the day) loaded with a smorgasbord of tunes and podcasts to keep my mind occupied is more than enough for me, but in this wee gym of mine it seems that the TV is one of the most important pieces of equipment.
Anyway, there I am doing my thing, trying to ignore the spotty teenager struggling to find the channel with the most canned laughter and nobody celebrities on it, when another woman steps on the treadmill next to me and proceeds to go through the same rigmarole as our teenage compatriot. The lady to my right then proceeds to (what I can only describe as a ‘lady belch’) give us a flavour of what she’s just had for dinner (it’s about 6-ish at this time) and it was mostly a cheeky whiff of garlic and kimchi, although maybe not in that order. I don’t think I’ve finished a run that quick ever in fear of her ‘dropping one’ or sharing more of her exquisite meal with the rest of us. That was my motivation for the afternoon.
All of this of course coincides with the London Olympics, which for some (sadly not those poor saps that couldn’t get tickets for events, even though the corporate fat cats couldn’t be arsed turning up and left scores of empty seats) in this wee part of the world is the next biggest opportunity to give it laldy (translation – laldy). You know, after 12.5 years here, I get it. I really do.
You’re proud to be South Korean (or Korean depending on your perspective) and whoever is representing the country is in essence representing you. It’s the whole “우리 나라” (woo-ri na-ra – our country) deal. I get it. However, when things go awry (tits up, to me and you) you have to deal with it and move on.
First, there was the swimmer being disqualified, then subsequently reinstated. He got silver, and good on him. That said, the netizens were having none of it. Next, there was the fencing malarkey. If you don’t know about it, this clip kinda sums it up nicely.
You have to feel bad for her. Putting hundreds (if not thousands) of hours into her sport of choice, only to be shafted by some shady muppetry from the officials. At the time of writing this, the North Koreans are doing well in their sports of choice, winning a few golds to boot. Sadly, they had to balls it up when Buddy declares the medal for his “shining supreme commander”. I wonder if that’s a euphamism?
If this wasn’t enough after only 5 days of ‘stuff’, yer man from Switzerland decided to call Koreans “mongoloids” and that they could go and fiddle with themselves… Talk about pots and kettles.
The last straw for me (in a motivational sense) was the bullshit I saw earlier when these badminton players decided not to play to win as it meant they would get a harder draw in the next round. Seriously?
I get cynicism and brinkmanship, but all that energy, effort, dedication, hard work, sacrifice (think of a life with no pies, ciggies, beer, or m&m’s – and that’s just the beginning) so your coach can tell you to “throw the match” is just plainly wrong. In fact, it’s bullshit, and I can’t believe these twats had the gall to appeal the decision to kick them out.
It must be so disappointing to be beaten by teams/players who employ these kind of cynical tactics. And where do the competitors find the necessary motivation to pick themselves up and prepare for the next big meet?
For me, I’m somewhat optimistic. Motivation means that for every one hour I spend in the gym, I get to spend two hours in the pub.
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Author: From a Late Night Train

Teacher. Musician. Ponderer. Had lived in Seoul, South Korea since 2000. Moved back to Glasgow, Scotland in May 2017.

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