The Cojimar Gym

Osmel Almaguer

Cojimar, a fishing village on the outskirts of Havana, photo:Caridad

My friend Leslie spent about a year doing exercises with weights at a gym.  It improved his figure noticeably, eliminating almost all the excess fat around her abdomen and building up muscular mass where it’s needed to show off a good figure.

I’ve led a sedentary life since the last time I really exercised – about 15 years ago.  Of late I had been feeling increasingly tired and out of shape, but I this didn’t prompt me to head to a gym, especially because of my problem with blood sugar.

One morning I woke up with a real desire to change things.  In a fit of elation — which later made me feel regrets, perhaps for the fear of making my life go through such a radical change — I came to an agreement with Leslie to begin at the same gym where he trains.

This was only fifteen days ago.  I remember that the first time I went in there I felt embarrassed.  All those muscular or stylized bodies, shaven from head to toe, made me feel like an anachronism.

Leslie assured me that this wasn’t a problem…that everybody goes through the same thing in the beginning.  So then I registered, changed my clothes and I began working out.

The first few days I found it difficult to adapt to the exercises; these gave me hypoglycemia, though I was able to control it with a bottle of water mixed with sugar.  I worked out with very light weights, coached by Leslie and other aficionados with more experience.

The gym is in good condition, almost as good as those First World ones they show in the movies.  It’s clean, has mandatory hygienic standards and is spacious; plus it has music, good equipment and everybody there gets along well.

In addition to my progress, all of that has encouraged me to keep going.  The drops in my blood sugar level have decreased significantly, and I hope it continues this way.  With this exercising I’ve been feeling better every day, and that rebounds in better health and a better state of spirit.  In summary, my life has improved significantly.

The price of the gym is 70 pesos in domestic currency (about $3.50 USD) a month, which means it’s not cheap given our low wages that average $20 a month.  But when you keep in mind the conditions, I believe it’s fair.  I’ve learned that other gyms charge less, but they’re dirty, have few machines, no ventilation and sometimes don’t even have a roof.

Most of the gyms in Cuba are private undertakings, have rudimentary equipment and weights, and are in the backyards of houses and buildings.  Nevertheless, there are some like the one in Cojimar, whose fixed facilities have been assigned in usufruct by the government to the person who manages the gym.

This manager is a former athlete who continues to enjoy much prestige.  He has won numerous awards and recognition for the contribution that his initiative has made to the Cojimar community in terms of health and well-being.

People come there to train daily from places as far away as Guanabacoa, Centro Havana and Guanabo.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

2 thoughts on “The Cojimar Gym

  • Regarding the gym in Cojimar, I would also like to see some pictures or even better a short video on YouTube anyhow I’m going to Havana in April for one month and I’m hoping someone can tell me where i can find a good hard core gym …. ” Your muscles don’t know the difference between old rusty weights and fancy shiny equipment ” Please I’m tired of people of talking about gyms and not giving a name or address as the whereabouts… please don’t reply unless you know the name and or address of a gym.

  • it would be nice to see pictures. I go most days at 5:30 a.m. for a session of weights and then alternative with a run. Would this be a good private business under the new laws in Cuba?

Comments are closed.