The young woman standing in front of me was the picture of health. She was wearing a trendy Lululemon outfit that showed off her toned body and when she smiled a dazzling set of white teeth flashed. “I’m being transferred from Thailand,” she began as her blond ponytail bobbed in the afternoon sun. “Elephants, inexpensive tailored clothes and rice.”
Until that moment, I hadn’t given Thailand a lot of thought, but the one time I had visited the beautiful beaches, spicy food and graceful women had left an impression. “Well, that is quite the transfer,” I said slowly. “You don’t look Thai.”
Many international companies have offices in Panama City and the amenities are developing fast to keep up.
“No, no I’m from Cincinnati,” she laughed. “I’ve been working in the international division of a company headquartered in my hometown and I’ve had the opportunity to grow my career and travel with the company. It’s been great and while I loved Thailand, the traffic and overpopulation in Bangkok really was getting to me so I jumped at the chance to take a transfer to Panama. I actually have a degree in Spanish, but I’ll need to put in a lot of work before being functional in the language. I never did get the hang of the Thai language,” she said and then bowed deeply with her hands together. “Sa-wùt dee kà” she said and I knew it was the traditional greeting. I liked her immediately.
“This is my first visit to Panama,” she said, “and I really want to ask a lot of questions about the lifestyle. I just never thought much about Panama before this opportunity came up. My parents are pretty happy I’m moving so much closer and that I’ll be on the same time zone. That half way around the world was difficult for communicating and visiting,” she continued.
What About The Fitness Of Panama?
The beautiful Cinta Costera in Panama City is very popular for walking, running and biking.
“I know this is going to be a strange question,” she began. “I feel certain I’ll be able to find a great place to live as she looked around at the tall buildings in Coste del Este. “There are all kinds of great restaurants right here and plenty of places to jog, but I really want to know about the fitness of Panama.”
It took me a minute to think what she meant exactly. Most people looking to transfer to Panama were full of questions about the different areas to live, how to open a bank account and get permanent residence status, but this woman wanted to know about the fitness of Panama?
When You Do Ironmans
“I should have been a personal trainer,” she began, “I love to work out. I love the knowledge of how to get the very best from my body. I do Ironmans.”
There are numerous triathlons of varying length and difficulty in Panama every year.
“I’m impressed,” I responded. “I do some of the shorter triathlons when they are in Panama City, but never a full Ironman. Swimming is my Achilles’ heel. With training, I think I could manage the 26.2 miles of running and 112 miles of biking, but a 2.4 mile swim might be the end of me!”
“Not a lot of people do triathlons,” she graciously responded. “I guess you’d be able to advise me on places to work out. That was what I meant about the fitness of Panama. The people in Thailand are generally not fed well enough to need to do a lot of working out. Except for a very few, most need to put on pounds. There are a lot of gyms that cater to men but woman just really don’t exercise. They are so thin and eat so little and they think it is unattractive to have any type of female muscle. I usually tried to get day passes at some of the Western hotels when I wanted to do something other than run or bike, but I certainly was the oddity.”
People In Panama Are All Shapes And Sizes
Many of the newer buildings in Panama are built with an in-house gym, and fitted out with modern equipment for their residents.
I had collected my thoughts enough to answer this interesting woman. “First, there are a lot of expats in Panama with more arriving every day. There are something like 135 multinational companies located here and they transfer a lot of executives from all around the world so you have all kinds of people in all kinds of shapes and sizes. In the Parkside residential building over there,” I said as I turned to face Central Park and the vibrancy of Coste del Este, “there is an amazing gym which is just part of the amenities of living in the building. You’ll find that in pretty much all the towers where people live.”
“But is it like one treadmill and a few weights,” she laughed. “I figured I’d need to join a gym to really work out.”
Amenities Include Fully Equipped Gyms
“They are fully equipped. You also would have Casa Bonita as a place you might want to consider living because it has the Pearl Club where Barrack Obama worked out when he was visiting Panama,” I responded. “He commented on the great facilities and I’m thinking he’s seen a lot of great facilities,” I smiled.
The Pearl Club at Casa Bonita is an excellent facility with state of the art equipment.
“But I get your point about the people. I guess I could just sum it up by saying that Panama is wealthy enough that people need to work out. Pretty much everyone has more than enough to eat so they need to worry about exercising. Out in the country you might have people working the land and not eating a lot of protein, but basically Panama is a well-fed society. There are cross-fit gyms, yoga studios and enough pools to swim laps all day. I can help you with finding the perfect gym for you as soon as we figure out which of these lovely residential options will work for you. There will also be lots and lots of like-minded females for you to have plenty of work-out buddies.”
“I’m loving this,” she said. “I guess I thought Panama would be a lot more third-world, but we could be anywhere in North America—well except most of the signs are in Spanish! I’ve got to forget working out and concentrate on my Spanish.”
“Puedo ayudarte con eso también,” I said.