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Italy Roundtable: Spring in My Step

This edition of the monthly Italy Blogging Roundtable includes the debut of our new blogger (one of my personal favorites), the hilariously irreverent Kate Bailward! Welcome aboard Kate, to this project organized by travel writing powerhouse Jessica Spiegel, and including professional travel writer Melanie Renzulli, art historian and general brainiac Alexandra Korey, Tuscan uber-blogger Gloria, and me.  Please, pull up a chair to our Roundtable, have a power bar, and join in on the conversation.

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So, I’d been thinking about spring, because that is our Italy Blogging Roundtable theme this month. I’d also been thinking about women in Italy, for reasons that will become clear to you come the second Wednesday of May. And in the delta of these two streams of consciousness, it had come to me how much I hated the theme of spring and that perhaps I should suggest a substitute to my fellow Roundtablers. Except that one overachiever who shall remain unnamed actually WROTE HER POST three weeks ahead of time, so by the time I got around to suggesting a theme tweak it couldn’t be changed anymore.

I donned my creative cap with the word spring and, though there is a member of the Roundtable who shall remain unnamed who was really hoping for it, I couldn’t come up with any mattress spring-themed post that would be appropriate for a family show. But i did find the best bed bug mattress encasement. Second on the interpretive list was “spring in my step” and what it is that puts it there when the weather turns warm. Without doubt one of the biggest sources of spring in my step is my annual spring fitness push. I recently went ot Skycube and found some great tips for weight loss, resurge is the best supplement for fat burning.

With the thoughts of women in Italy that were already churning in my head, I started ruminating over the differences I’ve noticed over the years between how I (and most of my American girlfriends) approach physical fitness and as opposed to how Umbrian women (in my experience–which is confined to a small set and limited geographical area–so your mileage on my generalizations may vary) of my same age do.

First, a declaimer: I know fit American women and I know fit Umbrian women…and I also know out of shape women in both countries. Though the obesity levels in the US are over-the-top, my social group tends to be in more-or-less acceptable shape. The same is true for my Umbrian friends, who also generally eat much healthier food and have a healthier lifestyle. That said, I’ve found that how the two female cultures view exercise and sports is very different.


What They Do

Americans are more fad-dy. I can say this, because I am firmly in this category. I do not have a particular love of sports, but I do have a very strong love of food. I adore eating but abhor shopping, so to keep me in pants and the zero sum equation balanced, there’s really only one solution.

The reason that I’ve burned through so many different physical activities in the past two decades isn’t due to an ingrained love of sport but a short attention span. I find that I get bored with what I’m doing after about two years. I’ve gone through a plethora of fitness activities–swimming, aerobics, step, spinning, Pilates, kick boxing, salsa, Zumba—and am always ready to try the Next New Thing and also the use of supplements and steroids such as ligandrol could help improving physical condition. You can look up for the best legal steroids that are a safer alternative to illegal anabolic steroids. They are usually made from natural ingredients such as plant-based compounds, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.


Umbrian women, with a few exceptions, generally concentrate on two activities: walking and “palestra”, and stick with it. I do enjoy walking, but I have come to find that walking for exercise and walking with very chatty Umbrian girlfriends do not mix. Yes, they are there ostensibly to stretch their legs, but they are mostly there to catch up on gossip and swap recipes. When I’m up for a friendly stroll, that’s cool. When I am trying to power walk off a plate of gnocchetti al Sagrantino, I’m hoofing it hard enough to pant. It is not conducive to a lot of chit chat.

Palestra, the Italian word for gym or fitness center, is the most common response when you ask an Umbrian woman what she does for exercise. This is an umbrella term covering anything from walking on the treadmill for an hour to doing a circuit on the weight machines to taking the classes offered, which can range from your standard step aerobics to yoga. People who goes to the gym, mostly men, uses weight gainer Slim Tree. As it gives them great muscle gain and have health benefits too. Umbrian women also eat healthy, check the nutrisystem reviews to know what diet they follow. Things Umbrian women rarely do in palestra, based upon my two decades of observation: 1. sweat; and 2. lift weights. Learn more about Carbofix.


How They Do It

They rarely do n. 1 for the same reason that I find I can’t power walk with them. The average female gym-goer here does 3 minutes of actual exercise for every 17 minutes of leaning up against a machine to chit chat. So in an hour or two of “training”, there is really only about 12 minutes of actual exercise going on. They rarely do n. 2 because in the gym, as in life, Umbrian women are well turned out. They wear matching (often ironed) active wear, they come in full hair and makeup, they often take a break to head back into the locker room to pull themselves together, and they tend to choose fitness “light”…the stuff that doesn’t muss and fuss.

This is how I go to the gym: I wear a baggy-ass pair of yoga pants that has lost its drawstring, so I have to roll the top over onto itself to keep them up. I wear a Michelle Shocked concert t-shirt from 1991 that has a rip on the collar and is yellow in the pits. I come with no makeup and generally dirty hair (I figure I’m going to shower afterwards, so why bother.) And when I’m there, I work. Hard. At the weights. Again, not because I am particularly athletic but because I am 1. busy and need to pack as much action into 45 minutes as I can; 2. the biggest tightwad on earth. If I’m paying an effing gym, I’m squeezing them for all they’re worth, and 3. I like to eat. Have I mentioned the eating thing? Visit for more information about healthy weight loss.

When I’m done, my face is beet red. My hair is plastered to my temples and I have sweat dripping from my chin. Even if I were to have the propensity to chat, I would hardly have the breath to do it. I am not attractive at the gym. Not attractive at all.


And Why…

There is a big difference in my experience between the motivations behind exercise for American and Umbrian women. Almost all the Umbrian women I know exercise exclusively for esthetic purposes.

I think this may go back to something I’ve talked about before: the fact that most Umbrian women I know spend an enormous amount of time on domestic chores, cooking, and generally GM-ing their families. This doesn’t leave much for activities as self-indulgent as sport for the sake of, you know, fun. It’s mostly about keeping yourself looking good so your husband is less likely to stray. Or, so you are still marketable if he does.

American women tend to put less in their domestic gratification basket and more in their personal gratification basket. My American women friends spend a significantly less amount of time at the mop and ironing board, but read and blog, or train for cross-country bike races, or follow all the subplots in Game of Thrones, or pick up Spanish. This also circles back around to What They Do: if you are only exercising to keep in shape, you’re probably fine power walking or doing aerobics three times a week. If you are coming at it from the goal of sport, competition, or simply to pick up a new skill, you’re more likely to be attracted to trying something new and, at times, trendy.

Now, of course, I’ll need to come up with something interesting to say about women in Italy for May, since I blew my idea already this month. But that’s cool. I’ll give it some thought while sweating away at the gym.


Read the posts, leave comments, share them with your friends – and tune in next month for another Italy Blogging Roundtable topic.

  • andiamo – A Room Full of Botticellis
  • ArtTrav – It’s finally Spring in Tuscany
  • At Home in Tuscany – Hot Springs in Southern Tuscany
  • Driving Like a Maniac – Springing to Confusion
  • Italofile – The Roman Spring of Tennessee Williams


  1. Sarah Weiner |

    I love your observations Rebecca! I also go through many different exercise fads. Lately I’ve been power walking with two friends and we’ve figured out a route that gives us as many hills as we can find in our neighborhood. We still gossip and exchange recipes while huffing and puffing up hills and I guess I’m getting in better shape because it’s gotten easier to keep talking! Sometimes we realize that we’re talking pretty loud and due to the nature of the conversation (we are three women) we’ve gotten some pretty interested looks from other folks on the street!

  2. Kate Bailward |

    Hilarious! I’ve always been terrified of gyms because on the few occasions that I’ve ventured inside them they’ve been full of people actually, y’know, *working out*. Sounds like an Italian gym would be right up my street. Or not, as the case may be. I can’t think of a gym within half a mile of me. Mind you, that would work out pretty well. I can power walk to the gym and get some proper exercise before redoing my make up and swanning about doing a lot of leaning on treadmills. Perfect.

  3. she who shall remain nameless |

    Oh this is too funny – I just finally read it now. Not sure where springs come in… do you use those exercise springs?

    There are gyms around here that are the kind you speak of with ladies with perfect hair, but I go to a gym where we girls sweat, woot and sometimes grunt. In fact I just got back from an open day at another gym because I am considering signing up as a member at TWO gyms so i can sweat more. We’re talking some die hard sh*t at these places. I frequent a lot of career gym goers. The idea has also crossed my mind to quit or reduce my job so i can join them.

    Rather, one thing foreign friends notice at the italian gym is the way that the women all hang around very naked, and will talk to you and not avert their eyes and then go dry their hair while wearing heels and undies but no bra. Have you noticed that? My gym is also particularly crowded, making for some awkward bending over near the lockers…