Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Omar the Trainer

Thursday I got a personal trainer. I’ve actually never had one before so it is most peculiar to have my first experience with one in Guatemala. If you don’t mind, let me explain.

Shaila and I, both of us being used to regular exercise routines in The States, have been trying to figure out how to work some cardio into our weekly schedule. We tried soccer but found out that girls can only play on Saturday and Sunday. Then we tried running outside, but its only safe for girls to run along the careterra (main thoroughfare) where bus fumes choke the lungs, tuk-tuks swerve and honk, dogs chase and people stare, really stare and oftentimes whistle, so we started looking for other outlets. I started dancing (god i miss “So You Think You Can Dance”) and doing basic tae-bo moves in my room to Britney Spears, T-Pain etc. which was serving me fine until Shaila mentioned one day that her Dona said there were gymnasios in town. Then the search for a gym commenced. There turned out to be two in town. The first we visited was in the back room of a clothing shop- old weight machines and a broken elliptical. not too promising. The second was just a few blocks down from our houses it actually had a name “Lifesport Gym” with a mural of a buff blonde guy painted on the entry wall. When we entered Euro rave music was blaring in the background and about five short buff men stopped their lifting and just stared at us. The gym was the whole bottom level of someone’s house and the facilities were decent, free weights, random exercise machines AND three spinning bikes. Perfect. We were sold. The owner was very kind and enthusiastic and said we could use the gym on a day-by-day basis for 10Qs or $1.25 an hour and a half including a trainer. We said we’d be back.

Thursday we did go back. We spent thirty minutes on the bikes during which we realized were technically in the “dining room” of the converted house, a 6 year old smiley faced kid entered the gym and pushed his bike upstairs and the family dog ran in and out and around the equipment for a good 10 minutes. This is how things are run in Guatemala. When we were done with our cardio Omar (the trainer) appeared. He is a personable fellow about 5’2 stalky with big muscles, probably half chinese half Guatemalan and dressed in a full black workout suit with a gatorade logo on his chest. Without hesitation he just started giving us different exercise to do. He let me plug my ipod into the gym’s “stereo system” and after a good 15 minutes of quad work including many unsuccessful attempts on my part to perform squats to his liking we decided to call it quits. We stretched, chatted it up with Omar a bit more, he showed us the garage where a carpet is rolled out and the karate classes take place and then we headed home for cena (dinner).

So that’s my Omar the trainer story but of course the fun didn’t end there and since I haven’t kept bathroom stories from you thus far, why stop now...

When I got back to my house I told Dona Paula that I needed to take a quick shower before dinner. So I ran to my room grabbed my bathroom stuff and jumped into the shower room. Just to give you a visual. The house is a huge square with rooms all opening into a large courtyard in the center where the cars are parked, the roosters have their pen, the clothes hang to dry and there is a little garden. My room is across from the kitchen and about ten steps to the left of the toilet room and the shower room (remember all open directly onto the courtyard). The shower room is the size of a handicap bathroom stall and has a narrow space with a chair between the door and the shower curtain to use as the “dry area”. Ok so I'm in the shower room and I check to make sure the water (its cold water) is running cause it sometimes isn’t in which case I have to fill a bucket with water (again cold water) from the pila outside and bring it into the shower room to bucket bathe. Luckily, the water was running so I jump in the shower and turn the water on, rinse, turn the water off, lather (remember the steps Dona Brenda taught me) turn the water on, or at least I turned the nozzle in the “on” direction but no water came out. I turned the nozzle off and back on, off and back on a good eight times before giving up. Ok great, so the water stopped running mid shower and there I was all sudsed up with no water to rinse. So now I have to get out of the shower and somehow get a bucket of water from the pila into the shower room. I step out from the shower curtain soaking and soapy to the “dry area” to grab my towel to wipe the suds from my body but my towel wasn’t there. In my haste to quickly shower I had somehow forgotten to grab my towel. Shit right? But this is the randomness that i deal with everyday so I wipe the suds off as best i can with my hands then throw my clothes on and go outside. I fill a bucket with water from the pila and put it in the shower, run to my room to get my towel, run back, jump back into the shower room and bucket bathe.

The rice and beans I had for dinner that night tasted delicioso after that ordeal.


  1. I really think that either a career in journalism, or writing a book about your experience, is definitely in the cards.

  2. You are hilarious. Keep it up, I love reading it!