I had been in Korea for almost a month and had yet to get a good workout in. We were settled, adjusted to the time, and I was ready to find a gym, particularly a Crossfit gym! I did some research and discovered Crossfit Moodo aka CFMD in Madu, only three subway stops from where I live in Hwajeong.
I sent them a Facebook message, hoping that someone who speaks English would read it, asking if I could drop in. I got a prompt response, in perfect English, and was welcomed to come whenever I wanted.
Not wasting any time, the next day after school, I hopped on the subway and headed out, ready to experience Crossfit in Korea!
Now, what I love so much about Crossfit is that it is the same across every continent. Terminology is the same, coaches are trained by the same expectations, and the equipment is (mostly) the same. The gyms may look different, the language spoken may be different, but Crossfit is Crossfit no matter where you are. I have been to Crossfit gyms in Guatemala and Belize, as well as around the USA, and have always been able to drop in and get in a good workout.
Another awesome thing about Crossfit is the community. It is not just a gym where you stand by yourself in the corner and leave without talking to anyone. You work alone, but you work together. Everyone encourages each other, they help each other, they get each other through the workouts. I have been welcomed with open arms into every Crossfit gymI have dropped into, and Crossfit Moodo was no exception. In fact, it was the most welcome I have ever felt at a gym. I was immediately paired up with a girl who spoke English (Enna), and she did an awesome job guiding me around the gym. There were 2 coaches, both very knowledgeable, who led the class. One explained and coached from the front while the other one walked around and corrected individual people’s form. Just like at Crossfit in America, we warmed up, we had skill practice and then we had a WOD.
Now, even though most things were the same, there were a few things that made Crossfit in Korea unique!
There was a lot of bowing
At the beginning of class there was a lot of bowing, as that is how people in Korea greet each other. During class, anytime someone helped another person out, with weights or with form, they bowed to each other. When I hopped on the rower after a man got off, he bowed to me. I was caught off guard and found myself bowing to the rower instead of the man. At the end of class, everyone bowed to each other again. So much bowing at Crossfit in Korea!
English words are randomly spoken
All of the coaching was, obviously, in Korean. While I only know a few words (lets be serious, I only know enough words to order food) I was able to catch a few things because Crossfit terminology is the same. So the coach would be jabbering on in Korean and suddenly I would hear, ‘hang clean’. Then he would go on and I’d hear, ‘pistol’. Burpee, double under and squat were also peppered into the conversations. It was comforting to hear some of those very familiar (if not terrible) words when I otherwise had no idea what was being said.
Bring your calculator, math is on the agenda
Everything here is in Kilograms, so at first when I saw that the RX weight for Hang Cleans was 43, I scoffed at the light weight. Then I realized that 43 was not pounds, but kilograms! I had to think hard, 1 kilogram= 2.2 pounds. So 43 divided by 2.2… no… 43 times 2.2! That would be a 95 pound RX, sounds right. I double checked with the English speaking coach and he went to get a calculator! He helped me by writing the weights on the board in English, so sweet!
When someone is standing behind you yelling in Korean, you go faster
When people cheer me on, I go faster. It helps keep me motivated to get the workout done. In America, I understand what they are saying to me: “Good job! You can do it! So close!” In Korea, I had a couple of people cheering me on but they were cheering in Korean. I’m sure the words of encouragement were the same, but I didn’t understand, so it made me go even faster!
Class ends with a full body rubdown
At the end of class, all 16 people moved out into the main entrance/hallway/hangout area and proceeded to partner stretch for 30 minutes. This was not just any old partner stretch. This involved getting on top of your partner and massaging their shoulders, backs, and legs. I got real close with my partner, real quick. In Korea, it is not uncommon to find men stroking each others backs or holding hands, they are a touchy culture. In America though, I would imagine that straddling someone you just met is not something many people are comfortable with! I enjoyed my massage/stretch, though, it was an awesome way to end class!
I was treated like a celebrity
I got a lot of attention during class. People kept coming up to me wanting to practice their English. I got a lot of “Hello’s” and “Thank you’s” and “Good works”. One guy told me in broken English how strong I was! I learned after class that I was the first English-speaking-white-person to workout at Crossfit Moodo. They have been open for a year, and are just building up their community, so they don’t get too many drop ins from foreigners. After stretching, it was picture time! I posed for some pictures, and everyone waved and bowed as I walked out the door.
It was an excellent experience all around. Tough workout, kind community, and a well-run and well-equipped gym! If you are in Korea, I highly recommend checking out Crossfit Moodo!
30 hang cleans (95 pound RX)
30 pistols (15 per leg)
To get there.
Take Subway Line 3 to Madu.
Exit at number 4.
Moodo is in the first building on your left. You will see a big sign on a building that says Crossfit!
Walk in the building, go to the right and go downstairs.