Don’t Sweat It

Don’t Sweat It

In 2017 I didn’t do a lot of sports. Most of the three months I spent traveling in the United States were spent on my ass behind a steering wheel. Safe to say, I rarely broke a sweat. When I got back, I occasionally went for a run but that was about it.

Ever since I moved to Davao City, late last year, my inner “athlete” has been reawakened. Now I get the old heart pumping multiple times a week and it feels good.

But I had to adopt some new habits to do sports under tropical conditions, such as rising early and drinking lots – and I mean lots – of water. And I did something I thought I would never do in my life; I joined a gym.

Muscular dudes

Gyms have never appealed to me. During my first year at university I had a part-time job in a restaurant that was part of a bigger building complex with a gym. They gave me a free gym membership and I think I went three times in a whole year. It felt stuffy in there with little natural light, and I can’t remember seeing anyone smile plowing away on the treadmill.

Now Sophie and I hit the gym twice a week before work. I run, row and play around with the machines for a good hour. And granted, I enjoy it, if only for the opportunity to chuckle at the muscular dudes making love to their reflection in the wall-to-wall mirror.

Submerged shorts

Part of the appeal is that the twice-a-week gym visits add much needed substance to a much needed routine. That applies as well to the Sunday afternoon badminton training sessions I’ve started having recently. I play with Hugo, a fellow tall Dutchman, and a couple of twenty-somethings from Davao. The venue is called “Smash ‘n Drop” and it’s located smack bang in the middle of Bankerohan, Davao City’s gigantic public market.

During the two-hour training I can easily go through three liters of water. Smash ‘n Drop is not air-conditioned and overall offers little in terms of ventilation. You play, you sweat. After ten minutes my shorts feel like they have been submerged in water. The trick is not to care and simply enjoy playing. Besides, sweating is really good for you, says the author of this GQ article I Googled randomly!

So that’s gym, badminton – what else? Well, you know I like to run and that’s what I try to do once a week with one of my expat friends. Our favorite 14-kilometer lap includes Shrine Hills and a long downhill stretch along Diversion Road. Halfway we always stop for fresh coconut water, or buko juice. Coconut water contains a similar electrolyte profile to human blood, making it an ideal beverage to replace fluids and help remove toxins from the body. In other words: it’s the perfect sports drink and the best kind of fuel for getting up those darn hills.

Poolside tranquility

Not sure this counts as sports, but occasionally Sophie and I go swimming on Sunday morning. There’s a nice pool in a gated subdivision called “Woodridge” not that far from our place. You simply leave some form of I.D. with the guards at the main gate and you’re free to roam the grounds and take a dip in the pool. I’m not much of a swimmer, so I usually muck around, trying to stay underwater as long as possible and making it all the way to the other end without coming up for air. Sadly, I have not yet once been successful.

Most of the time, we have the pool to ourselves. Not much goes on here on Sunday mornings; pretty much the only time of the week that’s the case. People are in church, traveling to visit family or sleeping in after a late night singing and drinking at their local KTV bar.

Against a backdrop of swaying palms and rustling leaves the poolside tranquility allows for reflection. How surreal it still is sometimes to live and work here. And how privileged we are to gain new perspectives on life and on ourselves. I’d wish that upon everyone. Maybe then, people would stop fearing and start opening up to each other more.

Mindanao sports culture

Playing sports is known to build bridges between people. One prominent initiative proving that point is the Mindanao Peace Games (MPG). Now in its third year, the MPG put center stage coaches and women student athletes from fourteen universities across Mindanao. MPG consists of tournaments, coaches’ forums, community outreach programs and inspirational TED Talk-like presentations.

I recently joined the MPG as communications officer. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about sports culture in Mindanao and how it can contribute to lasting peace in this part of the country. I’ll be writing stories about the different events and interviewing coaches and athletes. Follow the MPG Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts for things to come.

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