People & Interviews / Phillip Geerts, Physical Trainer in Merida

Phillip Geerts, Physical Trainer in Merida

Phillip Geerts, Physical Trainer in Merida

12 May 2008 People & Interviews 24

YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and from where did you move?
Phillip: I moved here to Merida on January 9th of 2007. I moved from a small city in Florida called Punta Gorda.
YL: Why did you move?
Phillip: My parents moved here 3 years before I did. I came to visit them on vacation in October 2006 and found Merida an interesting place.
YL: Why did you choose the city you now live in over other places in the world?
Phillip: Well, it’s quite funny. I believe many gringos who have never been to Mexico have the wrong image of Mexico and fail to see its real beauty. My parents called me from Belgium, where they were living at the time and told me they were moving to Mexico. I asked them “Whaaatt are you crazy??”. The things I had seen of Mexico (other than Cancun) were not very pleasant and I had heard it wasn’t safe. My parents told me "No, it's just like home... they have a WalMart and everything." So I came on vacation and decided to get away from my "normal" life and try Merida for a change. Little did I realize how great it was going to be.


YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the
right decision?
Phillip: I am currently living in an apartment behind my parent’s house. For now it is the right decision for me. I enjoy living with them. I had many years without them in Florida, so it gives me a chance to catch up.
YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here? If not, why not?
Phillip: Well I am a personal trainer and when I first came here I thought I could find work easily. I worked as an independent contractor for the WW gym and had little luck with clients. So I ended up purchasing a gym here to run myself. Not exactly what I had planned to do, since I am only 23.
YL: What is different about training and keeping in shape here, versus where you came from? Are there special things to take into consideration in this culture and/or in this climate?
Phillip: Well the most important thing is to keep hydrated. Training in any climate you should always keep well hydrated but here it is extremely important. I also recommend sunblock. Sometimes we forget because we are not going to the beach. We think a short run around the block a few times will be fine, but not here!
YL: Do you find the climate a lot different from Florida?
Phillip: Well the heat here is very intense. From May to July it is just scorching outside. Florida also has its heat but it is nothing compared to here. But I think the humidity is a lot worse in Florida. We seem to get a lot more rain there and it sits on the surface a lot longer.
YL: Where do you think are the best places to go out at night here? Where is
the best "nightlife"?
Phillip: Well that all depends on your age and what music or atmosphere you fancy most. For some loud and exciting Latin salsa dancing, I always recommend that newcomers go to the Mambo Cafe. For the younger generation, I usually send them to Tekila or El Cielo. The Centro on the weekends gets to be fun too. There are live bands playing and lots of people around having a good time.
YL: What are the most popular sports in the Yucatan among people your age?
How are sports different here than in the US?
Phillip: Soccer, of course, is one of the largest sports here and then baseball. The Yucatecans love their baseball! Sports are not so much different here. The athletes train the same, and play the same games. Mixed Martial Arts is now a large uprising sport in the US and is becoming popular here. I train in Mixed Martial Arts and train a few combat athletes here now as well.
YL: What do you absolutely love about living here?
Phillip: For me, it’s the great friends I have made along the way. I have met so many people here in the last year, it’s incredible. The nightlife in Merida is incredible. I love the outdoors here. I am close to all that I love to do. I can drive 30 minutes and I am on the Gulf Coast, and in 4 hours I can be in Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. I also love diving in cenotes and camping in the rough terrain of the Yucatan.
YL: What do you miss from your "former life"?
Phillip: I miss my family and friends mostly, but also the access to anything without a hassle. Sometimes you can not always get what you need down here.
YL: What don’t you miss from your "former life"?
Phillip: How small my town is. Where I grew up, you can’t drive to the grocery store and back without seeing 10 people you know!
YL: What is your favorite local food?
Phillip: I am big dieter but sometimes I slip away for a panucho or salbute here and there.
YL: What is your favorite time of year here and why?
Phillip: I am going to have to say the winter because it’s the only time it gets cool. Also the holidays are great. Christmas is amazing here. Merida does a spectacular job with all the lighting and decoration.
YL: Where do you take guests who visit you here to show them something really special?
Phillip: I take them to the Gulf Coast to eat fish... that is a must in my book. Also, I take them around the Centro on a Sunday for Merida en Domingo.


YL: The last time you went out to dinner, where did you go and why?
Phillip: Kon Sushi! I live for sushi and this place does it the best, for those of you who enjoy sushi.
YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?
Phillip: To be honest, you really need to live here to understand the way the culture works in Merida. You need time to adapt and learn how to get around this busy city. Most of the tourist do not make it out of the Centro to see the other parts of Merida.
YL: Do you have friends from the local community or do you pretty much hang with the expat crowd?
Phillip: Most of my friends are locals. There are not many young expat kids here my age.
YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here? How is it different from doing the same thing in your country of origin?
Phillip: Well, income is much different, that’s for sure! The problem I find here in the business I run is the lack of motivation in the people to train. I own a gym and am a very active person myself. Where I lived in Florida, people were very into fitness. I have a hard time finding motivated people here who want to continue training.
YL: Do you find it more or less difficult to make a living here than in your country of origin?
Phillip: It’s much more difficult here for me because the people pay less and my bills are through the roof!
YL: Are your work habits different here?
Phillip: Yes, in some ways. I am a little more laid back here because that’s the way people live here. I am not pressured by time so much and it allows me to focus on my business more.
YL: What interesting Spanish word or saying have you learned lately? What does it mean and how did you learn it?
Phillip: Si como no which means “Yeah, right” in English. I was taught it by my girlfriend!
YL: Are you a Mexican citizen? Do you plan to become one?
Phillip: No, I plan to return to Florida one of these days. I am young at the moment and if I have kids I would like for them to grow up in the States.
YL: Have you traveled much within Mexico? If so, where and what has been your favorite location to visit? What did you see there that you liked so much?
Phillip: I haven’t been far out of Merida. I like to go diving in cenotes in Cuzama. I made my way to Playa Del Carmen a few times and haven’t had a bad memory from there, that’s for sure.
YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?
Phillip: There are many types of people here. By mostly I am treated very well and welcomed. I get along great with everyone here.
YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico? Of the Yucatan?
Phillip: For me, it’s of no concern right now. I am more worried for the future of the United States!
YL: What are some changes you are hoping for in the city in which you live? Do you see any progress towards these changes?
Phillip: Well, I would like to see more bus stops put in and more rules enforced upon them. They drive like maniacs here!
YL: What are your plans for the future here?
Phillip: If I do decide to stay for good, I am very interested in opening another gym or expanding the one I have now.
YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone buying property and/or planning a move to the Yucatan?
Phillip: Take your time and get to know the entire city. Don’t just stay in the Centro. Experience everything the city has to offer.
YL: If you could say something to all the people of Mexico, what would you say?
Phillip: Vive Mexico!!!

Phillip Geerts is the inhouse trainer at the gym at Rosas + Xocolate, the small luxury hotel on Paseo de Montejo at the corner of Calle 41. He is also a personal trainer and Mixed Martial Arts practitioner.



  • Marco Villegas 12 years ago

    My god my friend! you're a kind o celebrty here, you know that I care about you, so I always wish you the best of the best in your bussines and in your life.

    Your friend

    Marco Villegas

    Yeah! it's true a real yucatecan! lol

  • Tim Perry 12 years ago

    Vincent ..Hi great response and a lot of valuable info. I haven't been on site for awhile ,just wanted to catch up on some articles and read your comments. I agree fully..I don't think a lot of us soon to be expats want to run out of America but over the last 20 years, the writing has been on the wall that the US has been running out on its People. Look at the daily news... pick anything: the war, oil, electricity, foreclosures, food, taxes. Like you I live in the Northeast (Maine). The taxes are ridiculous for what we receive. Oil monthly payments will be as high as some mortgages. The US has the balls to say oil has dropped by 17$ the first drop like this in 10 years. was never over $99 a barrel before. Once it hit 100 it was only up everyday to 134. People have had the US shove everything down the Public's throats for years. It's time to have every Person speak up and say NO. We Americans can change policies only in numbers, strength and convictions about what is right for all of us. I could go on like a lot of people, but the reason I love this site is because of the People, the climate, the Culture, the respect for family... all lost over the years in the US. I love all of it in Mexico. Yes it has problems, but I always praise it and go every year just to really feel good and get cleansed from the hassles of life and living here. Its not worth it to me any more. Over 55 years (so far) I have seen My own town and state go somewhat sideways. I live on Sebago Lake, a beautiful lake but only about 4 months are good living. The rest of the year its not worth it! Check out the article Gringo Go Home, about Bush. Keep reading the forums; great people, great articles, etc. It keeps me going and only enforces my convictions to Leave. Take care, TIM Perry

  • Kyle Stevie 12 years ago

    Yes, he's got the right idea. I lived in Merida after I graduated from college in '02. I was there for a year, and absolutely loved it. I moved down by myself, moved in with a family that I had met while I studied there, and enjoyed every second of it. I even played in the local TOCHITO league. It was a blast, with many good flag football teams. I hope that anyone reading this and thinking of retiring to Merida do it. I know that I am going to.

  • Yucatan Living - Merida Events: Classical Beatles, Maya Classes 12 years ago

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  • vincent 12 years ago

    Im also worried about the economic future of mexico. Pemex currently generates upwards of 60% of mexico's total tax revenue, yet even with oil screaming towards $140 a barrel revenue has not increased proportionally. True, Mexico does not have a sub-prime crisis as lending requirements have been strict and the number of defaults is incredibly low as the number of people needing homes still outpaces the builder's supply. (look at a chart of HXM, the mexican homebuilder as it has been a huge winner..full disclosure: i am a daytrader, and have traded HXM in the past, but currently hold NO posiiton in any mexican equities) But the current battle in Congress over foreign aid or indpendence of Pemex is a huge concern. At the moment previously Brazilian state owned and poorly run Petrobras(PBR) which itself underwent a huge resurgence by allowing foreign oil co.'s to bring their drilling technology and know how is aiding Pemex to attempt a similar change. Current Pemex drilling and environmental practices are horrendous leaving many towns in disarray by using sub-par drilling techniques and a system of piping that is in desparate need of repair. Furthermore, what happens if oil does indeed correct? What happens when demand destruction sets in and the continual adoption of alternative energies hits the market? This recent commodity super cycle has been at the forefront of a latin american revival. Mexico is indeed on a major uptick, but growth does not come without fits and starts. I am extremely positive on the growth of Mexico going forward, and I have been traveling there for years as my girlfriend lives in GDL. I am also a big proponent that a strong Mexico, U.S. and Canada alliance will be increasingly important as Asia increases her power. Increasing birth rates in North America in the face of declining european birth rates will make our economic growth more of a probability. I am looking for a property in the Yucatan, so my worries lie in the economic viability of a younger couple making a comfortable living if our U.S. income stream would be eradicated by the move. I know Philip voiced his concerns for the U.S. economy, as I also have my worries there, but looking at in the not so distant future I think a better coordinated relationship between north american countries will yield better living conditons for us all. We certainly are experiencing powerful divergences in world markets from sky high commodity prices, a falling dollar, food shortages, inflationary pressures on our food supply as we continue the horrifc policy of burning our food for fuel and a Euro that seems to know no boundaries. Is it any wonder so many of us are seeking refuge in places like Merida to bask in her beauty and enjoy a more tranquil lifestyle? I know that I, for one, am tired of NYC and seek a more fulfilling way of life, and to further enjoy my true passion of ancient Mexico. This is a wonderful site with great happy to have found it.

  • Chris 12 years ago

    Phillip, if you read this please email me back at I am 40 and live in Englewood, FL just 30 minutes from your old Punta Gorda area. I am looking for a BIG change and heard the Merida area might be it. Tell me how it is going for you. Also, I definitely would use your services down there!

  • faith 12 years ago

    I'd love to know why Phillip would want to be back in the US to have kids. I'm a mother, and will be moving my kids down there along with three other adults this September.

    I'm excited about the move but also EXTREMELY cautious. I want to know that my kids will be safe and happy there. My girlfriend grew up there and assures me its a wonderful place for kids, but it would be good to hear from people who moved there from the U.S. for another perspective.

  • Tim Perry 12 years ago

    Phillip-Good luck in Your Gym business, I started lifting weights when I was 12- I'll be 55years old in June. The last couple years have been hard as I have Right shoulder rotator cuff totally shredded and need surgery it also works its way to My left shoulder, I"m working out and around it as I can ,running more etc also like You have been involved in Karate Kenpo Chineese..The culture of the Maya and Mexican People are hard workers and heavy laborers and don't have the soft life like in the states where People go to the gyms to do the social scene look pretty and spend money. I hope You can make a living at it there as the Country and its' People are great which I have total respect for Them and Their Heritage and Religion love of Family. All but lost here in the states do to drugs excess of everything money , stress pressure etc.,etc,I commend You for Your dedication of the healthy life,healthy mind, IN MY humble opinion You are in a great Place which I will be moving to from Maine in 7-years as We can retire, for the love of quiet slow,life and weather and to get away from all the Jones here to enjoy the real quality of life...enjoy Your youth everday,because You can never get back yesterday..Take care will You give Me a senior discount when I get there??? VIVA MEXICO!!!!!!! TIM PERRY

  • Luc De Wachter 12 years ago

    Great story, very intresting for people who come to Merida.
    Gym and sport is part of living for all
    Hope to visit Merida again in the next future
    Luc of Belgium

  • Pat Walker 12 years ago

    I live in Punta Gorda Florida. I would like to find out if your parents are still in Merida. I have been thinking about relocating to the Yucatan and would like any words of wisdom that they might have for me.

  • Shirley & Jose Herrera 12 years ago

    My wife, who was born in Costa Rica, and I was born in Santa Barbara, CA will be moving to Yucatan. The weather will be very similar to Costa Rica. We still do not know if Merida may be the place to be "from here to eternity" or perhaps nearby the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. We like Celestun, Sisal, Puerto Progreso to Dzilam... in that area!!If there are any advise from you "experienced" inhabitants of Maya Land we certainly appreciate any advice you may want to pass on to us....& many thanks !!!

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