Fit for fat in Beijing

(Beijing This Month)
Updated: 2006-12-27 14:57

An overseas'posting, holiday or study tour can be an excuse to let the fitness routine slide. Everyone's heard of or experienced the situation where you come home a little heavier than you left-and we're not talking about the gifts in your suitcase!

Here we were determined to be good hosts while you're in our town, and not let that happen to you! We want to make sure the only thing that expands while you are here is your business network!

We propose to do this by listing the most popular fitness trends from around the globe along with some local favourites and matching them with convenient and high-quality service providers right here in Beijing. So get your running shoes on and check out whats on offer.

Pilates

Invented by Joseph H. Pilates more than 75 years ago, this series of floor movements and apparatus exercises (which proponents claim combine the best of Eastern and Western conditioning programmes) reached its current level of massive popularity only in the last decade. Pilates demands two sessions a week, and promises you'll feel the difference after 10 sessions, see the difference after 20 sessions £­ and that others will see the difference after 30 sessions.

'Boxercise' or 'Boxaerobics'

An extremely physical form of exercise that mirrors the kinds of training Olympic boxers endure. Constantly moving, hands held in front of the face in the classic 'boxing' stance, the exercise looks a lot like what a previous generation would have called 'shadow boxing'. Because of the high level of aggression involved, proponents claim this physical regime helps them develop the sort of mental toughness associated with success in life.

Indoor Cycling or 'Spinning'

If you've got a mental picture of sedately pedalling a fixed bicycle, maybe with a portable MP3 player taking you to your own 'zone' you have never seen a Spin Class! Indoor cycling has gone extremely high energy. Because cycling is a very 'low impact ' activity (especially if your cycle is kept at low resistance), there is a huge potential for cardiovascular aerobic workout in 'riding' your indoor bicycle very, very fast! Add high-volume dance music, and an instructor who rides at the front of the room exhorting you not to quit now, and when to turn the resistance up, and you have spin. Much more fun than it sounds!

Yoga

Yoga is actually a set of holistic spiritual beliefs, but most people know it purely for the exercise regime part of the system that takes the same name. Devotees will tell you that there are as many systems as there are people doing yoga, but in fact it is fairly easy to divide yoga into several different "schools" that have quite different emphasis. Characterised by its gentle stretches and subtle position changes, breathing exercises and minimal equipment, yoga can be practised well into old age.

Tai Chi

No list of exercises available in Beijing would be complete without mentioning China's homegrown perennial favourite, Tai Chi. Westerners who follow a Tai Chi exercise regime often report that they 'picked it up' on a visit to China and they saw no reason to stop. Often associated with the crowds of senior citizens one sees in Chinese public parks on weekends, Tai Chi can really be done anywhere once one has learnt a personalised set of movements. There s no excuse for spending any length of time in Beijing and not at least getting out there and trying it once!

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