Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Beijing Workout

The Ming Dynasty may have taken track maintenance a bit too far!

First of all, my apologies for not posting anything for a while. I managed to get sent to Beijing, China last week for work, and since they charged for internet access by the minute at my hotel I figured I should save my blogging for the return home.

China was certainly an eye-opener. As you can see from the photo I took of the Great Wall above, everything you've heard about air pollution in Beijing is true! The roads are full of cars where only a decade ago most people would have been riding bicycles. Add to that the coal-generated power for heating and massive factories and you've got an environmental nightmare.

You don't hear much about outdoor recreation in China. I guess in the past there wasn't that kind of leisure time available. And now, it just doesn't seem to be part of their culture to appreciate being out in a natural setting. And yet, on a smaller scale the Chinese do enjoy getting outdoors. Tai chi at dawn is practised in almost every park around the country. Why exercise indoors when you could get some fresh (well, not exactly fresh) air at the same time?

While exploring a small, urban park in Beijing, I saw what I assumed to be a children's playground full of brightly coloured equipment. On closer inspection, however, it wasn't for children at all. It was an outdoor gym.
That's right, a full set of gym equipment in the park for anyone to use. No joining fee, no monthly fees, no pulsating dance music. In the photo above you can see the elliptical cross trainers in the foreground, the stationary bicycles to the right, and directly behind the cross trainers are treadmills. Nothing there used external power of any kind. The treadmills use sets of metal rollers on an uphill slope, and everything else just works with mechanical resistance. It's low-tech, low maintenance and probably quite effective.
So that's how folks in Beijing can get their workout for free. And perhaps that's why you see so few overweight people in China. There it's cheaper to be healthy than it is to be unhealthy - as long as they stay away from the local McDonalds!


whitespider1066 said...

Why can't other Governments think like that?
Cheaper to keep you healthy than have you being ill... hmmm novel idea but a very very good one.

Anonymous said...

Interesting park! I can picture my kids breaking their necks on those things. LOL :) G

Perth Hotels said...

It looks fun, what is the name of the park? A free workout, China is an amazing country they always have good idea to enjoy. I can't wait to visit the great wall of China.

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