Exercise in the Middle Kingdom

As with many things exercise isn’t quite what you would expect here in China. When you think of exercise, you probably think of jogging, going to the gym, or maybe even swimming. Whilst these activities are present in China, they are quite uncommon.

Firstly almost every Chinese person I’ve talked to can’t swim. Unlike at home they simple aren’t taught how to. In all the time I’ve been in China, I have seen maybe 4 or 5 people jogging. To be honest, with the air quality here, it’s not a great idea!  Lastly gyms. Gyms are a recent introduction to China, along with McDonalds, and Starbucks. My city (a city of 7 million) has 4 gyms. 4 gyms!!! This should give you an idea of how popular they are.


The Chinese have their own, very unique ways of exercising. Some of them need to be seen to be believed. I write this post from a park bench, surrounded with Chinese doing exercises ill never understand. I’m starring at them with the same expression of bemusement and curiosity that they so often look at me with. So I suppose you will be wanting me to try and describe some of these exercises. Well here it goes…
To my left there is a Middle aged woman crawling about on her hands and feet. This is a new one I haven’t seen before.

Next we have a topless elderly gentleman. He is standing directly in front of me, repeatedly slamming his back into a tree. Nice.

Also in front of me are two women. They are slapping their arms. This is a very common sight. I should question someone about the health benefits sometime.

To my right, my favourite! A man is walking backwards clapping his hands. Ask any Chinese person and they will tell you walking backwards is good for you. Clapping your hands is optional. Personally I can’t think of a more dangerous place to walk backwards than China.
Oh I almost forgot the spinny wheel things!

Spinny things

Again this is something I have no idea about. Your guess is as good as mine.

This Chinese exercise is not for me, call me close minded, but I joined a gym.

My Gym

My gym is full of all the things that you would expect in a gym. Treadmills, weights, rowing machines, bla, bla, bla. The difference between my gym and a gym back at home is the addition of Chinese people.  Every time I go to the gym it seems like I’m the only one actually doing exercise. Everyone stands around talking, drinking hot water, and smoking. (Surprisingly a gym full of smoke doesn’t bother me! Although I have refrained from smoking there.)  When they do decide to do exercise it absolutely baffles me! I have seem the strangest things done with those machines. Completely the opposite of the intended use.

But I’ve saved the best for last. Walking backwards on a treadmill! Really! I’ve seen quite a few people do this over the last few months. Madness.

(Ps: when was the last time you seen a fat Chinese person?)


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