One of the things we enjoyed most about Southeast Asia was going to the local park to watch everyone get active at the end of the day. We first noticed the phenomenon in Bangkok. Lumpini Park comes alive after 5pm, when locals flock there to jog, play soccer, do the fitness track (I know there was a time when these were put into many of the parks in Chicagoland, but I do not believe I have ever seen anyone using them!) or, best of all, do aerobics.

While it seems kind of rude, not to mention lazy, to watch while others get out and jazzercise, we just could not help ourselves. We had so many questions…like, is it free? Can you just jump in or do you need to be registered? Is the instructor someone who is actually officially in that position or can anyone get up there and lead?

As obsessed as we were with these seemingly impromptu workout sessions, we could never have been prepared for what we found upon exploring our neighborhood in Phnom Penh…the mother of all park-based aerobics venues, Olympic Stadium. We saw a lot of people heading there after work one day, so we thought we’d go check it out. Outside of the stadium, there were numerous soccer games being played, which we enjoyed watching for a while. Eventually, we made our way up the steps to the stadium and found what has to be the world’s largest aerobics center. There were no fewer than half a dozen different groups of 30+ people doing choreographed routines around the stadium walk. It was at first hilarious, and then actually pretty stunning, to us. You can get a small taste of it for yourself here:

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