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Finding a Gym in Jordan

Sarah Looks Into The Distance

By Sarah J., YES Abroad 2021-2022, Jordan

Jordan is a country where you can see amazing historical sites around every corner. You can find markets, pharmacies, bakeries, and more. What can’t you find? A gym. Surprisingly or not, finding a gym was one of the lengthiest challenges of my exchange. It took months to find a place that was affordable, convenient, and gender inclusive. Furthermore, as a woman, finding a gym where I felt comfortable was a whole new mountain. Thankfully, I had some help.

When I first got to Jordan, I was not at all worried about finding a gym. I figured there would be plenty of reasonably priced gyms all around because, in a huge city, how could there not be? Turns out, there aren’t many. I live in the cultural part of Amman, a great area for cafes and meeting new people. I slowly started searching for a gym every time I went out to explore. However, after a month when I hadn’t found a gym, I got worried. To Google I went. I found several amazing looking gyms all around Amman. However, most of them were way out of budget. Being a student, I wanted to save most of my money to spend on activities and getting to know new friends. Furthermore, many of these gyms were all around the city, adding lots of time and/or money to every trip I wanted to take to the gym. Time was something I considered I needed primarily for family, friends, and studies. Since the internet failed me, I went to the people. I asked people from the strangers I met in the store to friends from school. I ended up hearing of a few and tried to work with those. From what I was told about there were four restrictions: time, money, gender, and comfort. I wanted to find a place where I didn’t have to worry about going alone or about who attended at the same time as myself, a boundary I was not willing to break. There were plenty of women-only gyms, just not any that worked for me. Eventually, I was talking with another friend who lived in the area who told me of a good gym. I went, tried it out, and found an amazing fit! It was gender inclusive, in my budget, and walking distance from home! I signed up soon after. It has been a great stress relief as well as a place to meet some new people.

While I knew what to search for in a gym, I did not realize all I would gain from a great one. In other words, I did not expect the small interactions and relationships that have become so valuable to me as an exchange student. Interactions such as when the owner asks after your health if you miss a day of your routine or the other customers to chat with between sets. Such relationships that are not the stereotypical “goals” of an exchange but are the relationships that have truly made me feel at home, made me feel a part of the community and valued as such. For me, finding a gym was as much about my mental health as physical yet it has still given me more than I hoped for. It wasn’t the easiest to find, but the fun of the search and victory of the result have been worth the trouble.