Before I came to China I was fully intending on continuing on my home fitness routine using my various home workout DVDs however due to my living situation (sharing a relatively small room in a student hotel) it was clear that was going to be impossible. So I figured I should join a gym near school and was referred to Fly Up Gym which majority of the students use that is about 10 minutes away by bike and about a 15-20 minute walk away.
It’s a pleasant gym, has all the necessary equipment: treadmills, circuit machines, free weights etc even a ping pong table! What sold it to me the most though was their workout classes. They have between 3 to 5 classes a day that include 5 types of yoga, pilates, step class, Chinese dance, latin dance, belly dance, body pump, body balance (mix of taichi, pilates and yoga), pop dance, spin bike and aerobics. And the best part is I don’t have to pay extra for classes!
So my current workout schedule is as follows:
- Take 3 yoga classes a week: Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga and physiotherapy yoga
- Take 2 body pump classes a week (body pump is a weights class using barbells, free weight plates and an aerobic step)
- Take 2 belly dancing classes a week
- Take one step class a week
- Take one aerobics class a week
- When I have a day with only one class I do 30 minutes on the treadmill and shadow a friend on the weight machines.
- I take rest days randomly, usually on days that have classes I have already attended that week.
The Chinese LOVE to stretch! You often catch them stretching in the parks while taking a walk. Asians generally are ridiculously flexible and I envy it! I want that flexibility so it’s no surprise that my favourite gym classes are the yoga ones and pilates.I have two yoga instructors, a strict but friendly man for ashtanga and physio, and a lovely lady for hatha. Hatha seems simple at first but it’s very slow and therefore wrecks havoc on your muscles. Your muscles are constantly contracted while holding poses and before long you find yourself sweating and wanting it to be over. Ashtanga and physio is easier because we move faster through the poses. Pilates is similar to yoga but uses more of the core but employs the same principles; flowing through poses and holding till you sweat. The male instructor also takes this class. Both instructors walk around correcting poses and as result I’ve quickly learned the names of body parts and directions for body movements in Chinese. None of the classes are in English.
I love weights because I feel so strong and ready to take over the world after a workout with weights. Body pump is the only class that I use weights in which is why I had to find someone to shadow on the weight machines too. My workout partner is quite experienced in the weights area and has a 6 pac to boot so I ask no questions, I just follow instructions! Our weights session is always preceded by 10 to 15 minute warm up on the treadmill at our highest running speed. When we began I started at 6 km/h but have improved and now go at 8/9 km/h. Apart from toning weights also pull the double duty of helping with yoga because some of the poses require some strength that I currently lack.
I hate cardio, always have. But Once or twice a week I force myself to do 30 minutes on the treadmill, I should probably be doing more treadmill sessions but like I said, I hate cardio. So my strategy is to sneak it in through other means like aerobics and step class. I also want to give spin classes a go but so far I’ve either arrived late and not found a free bike or I miss it because it clashes with one of my other classes. So that is a work in progress.
I had never belly danced before joining this gym and it is odd that my belly dancing instructors should be Chinese but I guess that’s the best I’ll get here. I love dancing so I don’t really look at this class as a fitness class. I must admit in terms of coordination and rhythm I’m way better than my classmates! One of my belly dance instructors is male though, and makes us all look hopeless, he has some skill!
Overall I love this gym and it will definitely be a consistent part of my life in China. It gives me something to do everyday that is not related to school, and through it I have made friends with people that have the same interest. The Chinese (both instructors and classmates) are very friendly. At the beginning they didn’t say much to me but would smile and stare curiously making me feel very self conscious. Eventually one of my older classmates approached me and struck up a conversation about my hair and now everyone says hello and they now know me well enough to recognise me with or without braids. The most consistent attendees are the Chinese ladies (they appear to be middle aged) and I try to keep up with them. My only goals are to become really good at yoga (which requires me upping my flexibility and strength) and getting a super flat toned stomach. So the mission continues…