Fit & Play

Part of the reason I moved here to Dumaguete in the Philippines was to keep pursuing a healthy lifestyle. So it’s no surprise that I joined a gym first thing, but I actually belong to three gyms now! One is for standard weightlifting and in a convenient location near the Boulevard, one is boxing and mitt work at a security agency close to my apartment, and my favorite one of all is Fit&Play.

Not only do I enjoy it most of the gyms I go to, but the people there have become my genuine friends, and going to work out there is the highlight of most of my days. Most importantly, the results have been encouraging.

Fit&Play looks like a typical U.S. CrossFit gym from the outside, with its roll-up warehouse door and spartan, open interior. But you won’t find people with colorful socks throwing around weight they shouldn’t be lifting, grunting through overly technical pullups and moves, and otherwise acting cultish until they suffer an injury.

Instead, Fit&Play operates under the vision that movement is medicine. And from beginners to well-conditioned athletes that do those CrossFit-type workouts, that’s what they get.

Of course, they offer private training for those that have an injury or special athletic issues or goals (it’s touching to see a son bring his stroke-victim father in most afternoons to rehab). But most workouts are structured as well-planned Workout of the Day (I know, sounds familiar!).

But these are all about moving as you perform the exercises so you build functional strength – a far cry from the static exercises you do while lifting weights. So everything is designed to activate your core (which will get rock solid within just weeks of training there!)

Typical workouts rotate through 6-12 rapid fire rounds of kettlebells, running, sprinting, shuffling, side stepping, etc. through cones and ladders, battle ropes, jumping onto truck tires or blocks, pushups and situps with medicine balls, planks, med ball slams and twists, creative squats and lunges galore, and a ton of movements with Suisse balls.

There is very little actual weight lifting outside of small dumbells that you combine with other exercises to work on your balance and functional strength. We occasionally do a standard pull ups on the bar – but far more pulling motions with TRX cables, and the same goes for chest-tipping pushing exercises and flys that force all of your stabilizing muscles, joints, and tendons to work at the same time.

Each workout is different, and range from a moderately strenuous technical and strength building drill to workouts that are soul crushing and a true test of will just to complete. (After their Freedom Day workout, I couldn’t walk for four days!)

The trainers are fantastic and go around encouraging, explaining, correcting form, and being very hands on with all of the patrons as they go through their workouts. Even though everyone starts at different times and goes at their own pace, there is a spirit of camaraderie, which I also love.

Unlike many of the gyms here (or anywhere in the developing world), the gym is clean, as they wash the mats and equipment down at least twice a day, and also don’t allow outside shoes that could bring in dust and dirt, etc. But it’s definitely a hardcore gym and not a health club, as there is a water cooler, some primal bathrooms, a few stuffy lockers, and good music blasting at all times, but not much else to it.

Fit&Play will take your workout to the next level if you’re in Dumaguete and want something more than the typical weight lifting regime. Try out movement as medicine and see how you like it!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post, Business.com, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo, Hotels.com, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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