As an avid runner, I found plenty of opportunities to exercise in Korea. Don’t forget that the No. 1 pastime in Korea is hiking so there are millions of trails snaking through the plentiful mountains. Here are a few options to stay or get fit while you’re in Korea:
From the standard sidewalks that line even the smallest streets in Korea to the World Cup tracks to the mountain trails and organized marathons, there is always a chance to go for a run in Korea. Check out this site for a list of marathons. (It’s usually outdated but it’s a good starting point to checking out some marathon websites, a few of which offer English.)
Whatever you want to call it, it’s incredibly popular in Korea and there are vibrant international teams in cities across Korea. This is a great site for the team in Gwangju.
Yoga classes abound in Korea in all the small gyms and in their own yoga centers. Check with your local international center or your co-teachers if you’re interested. If you’re brave enough, just check one out on your own at your neighborhood gym. I did yoga in an all-Korean class for about a year and loved every minute of it. Just remember, you don’t have to understand Korean to follow exercise instructions. Just watch and repeat!
If you’re a golfer, you’re in luck. While, unfortunately, there are not many greens in Korea, there are literally thousands of driving ranges. Most likely, there will be two in your neighborhood. For a cheap fee, you can hit golf balls to your heart’s content.
If you have any interest in martial arts at all, Korea is probably one of the best places in the world to get involved in the sport. Taekwondo, the country’s national sport, is the easiest to get into at studios on every street block. Just go in and ask for information or a schedule or ask your co-teachers for help.
There are also gyms in every neighborhood in Korea these days. They’re usually a little cheaper than their western counterparts and usually come with an amazing sauna (public bath). These gyms are open at all hours and are great for those cold dark winter days when you don’t feel like getting outside.
There are indoor swimming facilities in most cities where you can pay a monthly or one-time fee to go swim laps. Be prepared. You MUST wear goggles and a swim cap. And don’t be surprised if you are sharing a lane with about 10 other people, including a few who just float slowly from side to side.
There are basketball and tennis courts dotted across most cities for your use. Just make sure they are not reserved for a specific team or practice.
Looking for something different? You can even take jump-roping classes in Korea. Just ask around to your co-teachers and students. You’ll be surprised what’s available!