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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hanging out with the Reebok crowd

Hanging out with the Reebok crowd

T

he International Youth Club has a French facade that may intimidate the

low-budget exercise enthusiast. I walk in and am greeted by a beaming Khmer

smile and charm and confronted with membership rates - $70 per month. However,

if married or in a defacto relationship a hefty discount is on offer which

brings the cost down to $45 a head - I guess it's a positive incentive for Phnom

Penh's couples to not let their bodies slowly deteriorate as they happily grow

old together. I didn't ask whether the management is liberal enough to give

discount to homosexual couples.

On the second storey is the weight room

which is a few aerobocycles, ergo-rowers and dumbbells short of a gymnasium. The

equipment is a real mixed bag - some good basic free weights, mats, cycles,

benches and treadmills, and a few high-tech designer contraptions - good for

muscle isolation training and not much else, say bioaerobic scientific studies.

The room is sparsely populated by the beautiful people of the expat

community, sporting Reebok attire which I suspect may have been picked up at the

central market on the cheap. They anxiously glance for mirrors to ogle their

plumage. A few much fitter looking Cambodians are also in the room. They seem to

have a lot more carefree fun with the gadgets.

After a few minutes on a

stationary bicycle I begin to regret that occasional puff on a tax-free

cigarette, and I realize just how unpleasant exercise is. But I continue for the

same reason that a person bangs his head against a brick wall - because it feels

great when you stop.

After working up a sweat I'm ready for the pool,

jumping in it feels like warm pee soup, but I'm told the temperature is cooler

in the morning. The idiot who built laid a concrete slab on the bottom which

stretches over 20 meters of its 50 meter length, making this section too shallow

for anything but socializing and playing with toddlers. You can't really swim

laps anyway, there are no lane ropes or lines on the bottom to guide you. But

the bathers don't seem to care, swimming freestyle laps is the last thing on

their minds.

The ambiance is serene, small trees covered in twinkling

yellow lights surround the pool and light pop music is faintly heard from the

place next door - a new Khmer nightspot. The Khmer staff are wonderfully smiley,

fun-loving and relaxed, they do not kick you out at closing time, and don't even

appear to care what time it is. All up an idyllic calm is created - the perfect

therapy for the many neuroses I along with most expats have carried with me to

Cambodia.

The tennis courts are high quality plexiplave with good

lighting. They are keenly used by people who cannot play the game.

Why

join? Well why not? It's to hot to run around the Olympic stadium, the National

stadium for Badminton lacks courts, I'm tired of attempting to catch a wealthy

lover pool-side at the Cambodiana, and gratuitous sex, I've been told, doesn't

take the muscle groups through a full-range workout. So for the yuppie fitness

fanatic, what other exercise options are there?

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