While I was living in the desert last year, lacking anything else to do, I became a bit of a gym addict. I spent sometimes three to four hours a day at the gym and incredibly discovered that I quite enjoyed it. This led me to do doing a number of races, including 10 KM runs and half marathons. Therefore, when we arrived in Kazakhstan in August, one of the first tasks I set myself was to find a gym.
Sadly, this was not going to be easy. Although it is not unusual to see people outside going for long walks, you rarely see people jogging or riding bicycles – the car is the transport of choice (perhaps because petrol is 40 pence a litre).
I managed to find gym a 10-minute walk down the river from us, but at nearly £400 for a three-month membership, I was not particularly impressed with the quality of the gym or the facilities. A cross trainer stuck together with sellotape and bicycles with broken pedals! Sadly, this was one of only a few gyms in the city and they all had similar price tags.
The only good thing about gyms here is that very few people use them so one never has to wait for machines or find them self bumping into people in the swimming pool. Once this membership ran out, I decided to find another gym which I hoped would have better facilities.
There are a number of elite clubs which cost around £1,700 a year but this seemed a great deal to pay all at once so I eventually went for a gym called Fitnation, which I had been a member of in Almaty and meant I could use the membership in both cities, should I need to go back there at anytime.
The membership was once more ridiculously high, I assume due to the lack of demand and limited competition, but to keep up with my new found appreciation of exercise and also for somewhere warm to go when it was -40°C outside, I joined up, plus they have good facilities (large pool, three types of sauna, large gym and great classes).
A few weeks ago I received an email from the Astana International Club, a club for ex-pats living in Astana. My eyes were immediately drawn to the information on the First Astana Triathlon.
A good friend of mine lives in Australia and her husband has been inspiring us over the last few years with his, what appears to be, growing addiction to triathlons. Every time I heard he was doing another one, I pictured the swim in the sea, dash to the bikes and final sprint to the finish line. I could, however, never see myself in any of those stages. But sat in my flat looking out at the frozen, uninspiring, white landscape, reading about the Astana version, I felt I needed something to keep me busy and to focus on. I hit the reply button. I now had a reason to attack the gym.
Due to the lack of sea anywhere within a few thousand miles of Astana, the swim will take place in a swimming pool. The 20km cycle stage and 5km par of the race will also have the advantage of being in one of the flattest cities in the world! I now just need to organise a training plan for myself or I may have the honour of being the first person to come last in the first Astana triathlon!