As an ex-personal trainer I have always loved the atmosphere of a gym. The perspiration, the determination and the endorphins. Tacloban’s Quick Fits gym is no exception.
The owner, Allen Patano, has owned the gym since 2004 and his clientele has grown ever since. Bouncing back after Yolanda, Allen invested in 100% new cardio equipment which he believes has expanded his business and attracted wider range of members.
As I look around the gym there is definitely a diverse variety of individuals. Both female and male weight lifters, those hoping to lose weight or increase their fitness and a surprising large number of expats. Finding such a diverse group in a confined area is a rarity. This confined space along with a mutual interest and high levels of endorphins lead to entertaining conversations between these different groups. People exchanging different stories, workout techniques and laughter with people outside of their regular social circle can help break down social barriers and build stronger communities (as well as muscles).
The added benefit of a gym (or primary benefit depending on your priorities) is the improvement in fitness and health of regular members. The number 1 cause of death in the Philippines is cardiovascular disease and the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that this will continue to rise with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. Allen believes, however, that the popularity of gyms and fitness organisations are increasing, especially amongst the younger generation. Quick Fits has several school groups who come every week to use the equipment and learn about how to stay healthy.
With the Filipino heat and the lack of accessible sidewalk in Tacloban gyms are a good alternative to walking or running for exercise. It is good to know that fitness organisations are helping Tacloban not only build back better, but build back healthier as well.