I’m here in the Philippines, and so far it’s been an absolutely great experience. I’ll share some of the highlights:
It almost makes me angry how I spent two years in Korea struggling to understand people – not to mention putting up with the cultural bullshit Koreans have.
So far in Manila, I haven’t met a person who doesn’t speak English. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve met someone who doesn’t speak fluent English. It’s so incredibly refreshing, I still can’t really get over it. When I’ve been out with a group of people, they have absolutely no problem having their entire conversation in English, even though they would regularly be speaking Tagalog.
My Gym & Job – CrossFit MNL
CrossFit MNL has been opened for just over a year, and I’m taking over coaching duties at their newer “Fort” box. It’s actually located in the same building as the Filipino army bases’ gym and the same building where Manny Pacquiao learned to box.
It has about 80-90 members through the door each day, and while I actually start teaching classes next week, already I have two guys doing muscle-ups. It’s a good start.
The actual gym is quite spacious with a high ceiling and nice big windows covering one side. It has lots of bumper plates, a large pull up rack and all the good stuff. Air conditioning will be working soon… with temperatures outside being 32 or 33, it gets to about 35 or 36 in the
The noon class is a bunch of rock-stars: two guys and a girl that were on “The Biggest Loser: Philippines.” Collectively, they’ve lost over 500 pounds. They’re sticking with the fitness thing and coming in each day and working hard, it’s great to see.
The evening classes seems to be part classes and part hangout for a few people. They show up around 5 or 6 and end up leaving at 9. It’s a pretty cool group they have of young people.
I also got to work with a group of Filipino models who are shooting a yogurt commercial(!?). The commercial involves CrossFit movements, so I was sent to make sure they’re doing them correctly. We first did an athlete assessment to see what they could and couldn’t do. I put them through a couple different exercises and the producers decided what would and wouldn’t work. On Sunday I’ll be spending about 3-4 hours with them on their actual shoot as a consultant (and be getting paid handsomely). Did I also mention that the 3 women involved are absolutely smoking hot? I almost had trouble remembering what I was teaching them.
Yeah, it’s hot. Really hot. We’re now just getting into the height of summer, so today’s 34 will apparently get even hotter. It’s fine when on vacation, but I do wonder about living like this for the next 6 months (at least).
My first workout was fine, until minute 25 of the 30 minute WOD – where I felt like I was almost about to pass out. I made it through and all was fine. A few days later it was even hotter, and 4 minutes into my second workout I strained my calf muscle. It was from dehydration. I should have been smarter and scaled back a bit to compensate for the heat.
That being said, my apartment has everything except for hot water (which will be installed in a few days). I’ve been fine by just standing outside for a few minutes, then jumping in the shower.
On Sunday, I got to go to ASAP 2012, a Filipino noon-time variety show. It’s apparently very, very popular here. One of the singers used to do CrossFit, so she hooked us up with the tickets. It was a 3-hour live show which was quite entertaining. At each commercial break there was a crowd entertainer. Being the only foreigner there, and him being openly gay, he didn’t leave me alone and came back to me each commercial break. First to tell me my father will love that I came out of the closet, and next that his father will love to meet me. It was all in good fun.
I went with Liza, a member at CrossFit MNL who’s also in the entertainment industry. She took me backstage after and I met the “Brad Pitt and George Clooney” of the Philippines. Girls were going absolutely insane for these guys, but backstage they were cool and graciously welcomed me to Manila.
Death Cab for Cutie
Monday night, Liza took me to Death Cab for Cutie. Being hooked up, she got us VIP passes and we had excellent seats. I hadn’t listened to them much in the last 5 or 6 years, but they actually put on a very good show. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Sure, overall there isn’t as much money as back in Korea. But, the craziest thing here is how much friendlier and happier people are. People are relaxed and easy going, unlike Korea which is always in a rush. Everyone at the gym I’ve met seems extremely excited to have me there and have told me they appreciate that I came. I’m just there to make them fitter than they’ve ever been – and happier.