You are about to embark on amazing trip filled with incredible new foods, weekends filled to the brim with activity and travel time, and afternoons of spontaneous exploration in your new city. On Wednesday nights you will leave your evening classes and run to a $2 movie, buying candy at the mini super and enjoying life with friends. On certain days you will taste complimentary treats on the third floor of Veritas while on a break from Spanish class. Every day your mama tica will make you hearty meals and encourage you to eat it all. Basically, you are about to experience a pretty incredible phase of life, but sometimes loving life spontaneously and being good to your body can be hard.
First, I urge you to embrace the new lifestyle. If you come here on a diet, you will miss out on the beauty of being open to trying an abundance of new things. If possible, accept that these few months will not be devoted to health, but instead to a cultural exchange where you are uniquely not in control of exactly what, when, and how you eat. Coming from a rather health-obsessed part of the states, I know that accepting a lack of control can be tough. Therefore, finding your ideal way to exercise is important.
If you have a full four months (or more) here, and you are someone who works out frequently back home, I encourage you to check out the Diamond Gym in Zapote. This gym has full cardio and weights, but it also offers classes like yoga, Pilates, cardio dance, spinning and more. It is a 5-minute walk from school and $40 a month for students. Regularly heading to a gym will help you feel at home and adjusted here.
If you only have a month or two here, it may be best for you to spend your afternoons exploring rather than getting into a comfortable gym routine, and in that case, there are many other ways to get in some endorphins while trying something new.
Telas Deportivas in San Pedro is one of the more fun, difficult workouts I have ever tried. Telas, or silks, refers to the nylon that hangs from the ceiling that you use to climb up, hang from, and more. This two hour class only costs $5 your first time, and I guarantee that the hours will feel more like a fun, new, cultural experience, than a work out. Depending on your level of Spanish, you can enjoy this class either in Spanglish or in Spanish.
If you, like me, are a yogi, you are in luck. San José has ample yoga options, but for price, quality, and convenience, I’d say you have two great options. First, there are yoga classes offered at Veritas twice a week. The instructor, Emmanuel, is extremely wonderful, the classes are affordable, his vinyasas are always changing, and the location could not be more convenient. If you are lucky enough to be here when he runs a yoga and surf retreat in Uvita, go on it! It was one of the best weekends that I have had here. If you are looking to get off campus and enjoy a yoga studio, DownTown yoga is a 20 minute walk from school, and the classes are amazing. Offering everything from candlelit relaxation yoga, to intensive power yoga, you can choose exactly what type you need, while feeling like you are further immersing yourself in San Jose, getting out of the Veritas bubble and joining a community of Tico yogis.
Offering more yoga, there is UPole in Los Yoses, a 15-minute walk from school. For the price of the class ($10 drop in) I recommend trying out something new instead of yoga, like a pole class. UPole offers classes ranging from the absolute basics to classes for advanced pole dancers. The work out is intense, you will spend most of the class laughing, and you may leave with a bruise or two. I attended my first class with my best guy friend and it was a blast for both of us.
Finally, if yoga, pole, or telas do not appeal to you, San Jose offers many different fitness options as well. In San Pedro, quite close to UCR, there is an MMA Kickboxing studio. You can take classes or pay just to come in and train. This option is intense but definitely still fun with friends.
No matter what you choose, if staying active is important to you back home, than staying active will probably be important to you here. Make the transition easier and keep getting the amount of endorphins that your body is used to. For me, working out here allows me to be carefree and eat each new food available, say yes to every spontaneous plan that gets in the way of a healthy meal, and consume gallo pinto until I can’t move. I think food is a big part of traveling, and I am so happy to be able to enjoy this trip in an open-minded, accepting way. I don’t know if I would be able to travel this way had I not found a workout routine that makes me feel happy and healthy while trying it all.