View From a Chinese Gym

One of the unexpected upsides of living in China has been our ability to consistently live a healthier lifestyle. Between walking to work everyday, the active nature of our jobs, and the wide availability of cheap and delicious fruit and veg, we’ve become much more fit and healthy than we were when we left. Plus, we’ve added about four or five weekly trips to the gym. But of course, Chinese gyms are not exactly like what we’re used to back home…

While the gyms here look very much like gyms back home, there are some key behaviours that you’re not likely to spot at your local Anytime Fitness. Here are a few of the most chuckle-worthy:

Treadmills

Yelling and loud grunts while lifting are encouraged. Where Westerners may find this to be obnoxious and annoying, so far it’s the norm in our gym. Doesn’t matter what weight you’re lifting at the time, if you need to make the noise of a demon being exorcised to get it up there, you go right ahead. No one in the gym will bat an eyelash. 

Dropping weights is also accepted practice. In some gyms back home this could lead to the termination of your membership, but here it seems that the best way to get the weights down to ground is by playing a bit of shot put. The greater the height you can drop the weight from seems to translate to a better lift overall. So don’t put any unnecessary stress on other muscles by placing your weights on the ground; you give those dumbbells a hefty toss and see how much you can make the ground rumble. 

A Ping Pong Table is a main attraction. If you’ve seen any Olympic ping-pong tournaments, you know that the Chinese are beyond proficient at this table-top game. We’ve seen some mighty exciting table tennis at our local gym, and every round is played at a furious pace and lasts for quite some time. Much faster and much longer than any ping pong we’ve seen in Canada. We certainly won’t be embarrassing ourselves on the table anytime soon. 

Ping Pong Table

There are no excuses made on workout clothes. We know that the activewear industry is a big one and some people even need the right outfit to motivate themselves to get to the gym. Not in China. Some of it is odd but still in place, like the men wearing lifting belts despite working on their 2kg bicep curls, or all the women wearing waist trainers. But other outfits are a little unexpected, like all the jeans, flip flops, full business attire (dress shoes and dress pants included), and even heels. In a way, some praise should be given to those that feel no need to avoid the gym because of their lack of a change of clothes. What’s wrong with the ones on your back when you’re trying to make those gains?

In the end, everyone’s trying to accomplish the same goal: to better themselves. If there’s a way that works for you and you’re happy then who are we to judge? You keep doing you!

Chinese Gym Outside view

Have you ever been to a gym in China? Did any thing stand out to you? Let us know down below.


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