Night workouts help busy urbanites let off steam

By Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-21 07:07
People work out in an unstaffed gym in a converted shipping container in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Users pay for the 24-hour facilities by scanning a QR code with their phones. [Photo by JIANG HONGJING/XINHUA]

Young white-collar workers are exercising at unsociable hours as relief from long working days and unsatisfactory social lives. Zou Shuo reports.

Fitness experts often advise against working out close to bedtime because of the belief that late-night exercise can hinder people's ability to nod off and may also result in poor-quality sleep.

However, as the grueling work schedule commonly referred to as 996-9 am to 9 pm, six days a week-becomes more prevalent in Chinese companies, energetic night owls and fitness fanatics have found respite by working out at 24-hour gyms.

While it is not a new thing for gyms to open their doors to members overnight, the phenomenon is becoming increasingly popular, especially among urban white-collar workers who do not have time to exercise until work ends late at night.

Frequent users of 24-hour gyms said exercising at midnight is not only a good way to stay healthy, it is also a distraction from long working hours and overtime, and a form of consolation for their hectic lives. It also helps them recuperate and deal with problems more efficiently the next day.

For the past year, Wan Gong, who works for a State-owned enterprise in Beijing, has regularly visited a 24-hour gym near his workplace.

"I usually get to the gym between 10 pm and 11 pm five times a week, which means it's quieter and I can use the machines without waiting. It suits my lifestyle perfectly," the 27-year-old said.

"When I stand on the treadmill, put on my earphones and turn on some music, the whole world comes to a standstill. I do not have to worry about anything. All my problems disappear. I know that for the next hour, I only have to focus on exercising."

Wan, a native of Chongqing in Southwest China, said his daily trips to the gym also mean he doesn't have to think about how to spend his spare time after work.

"I don't have many friends in Beijing because everyone seems to be busy with their own lives, so I don't really have a social life. So, instead of staying in my small, rented apartment and playing the same video games over again, I would rather go to the gym."

Moreover, compared with his other distant goals, such as buying an apartment in the capital, getting promoted to a managerial position or falling in love with someone special, going to the gym every night is a much easier ambition to achieve, he said.

"Realizing this small goal gives me a sense of achievement and satisfaction, and also reaffirms my belief that I will achieve my other goals," he added.

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