Caitlin Gilmore: Staying Active in China

Within the last couple of decades, America has had a growing gym culture. The trend of becoming active and focusing on getting fit has been rising in a society that has for so long had been filled with fast food and overeating. Gym memberships have become more common within America, and new gyms have been popping up everywhere to help people focus on healthier lifestyles. Colleges and universities often times have gyms and weights free for students to use. At my university back home, they try to keep the equipment clean and up to date.

In China, it can be a bit more difficult to find gyms. They are not a few blocks away from each other like I am used to back home. I have only been able to find two nice ones is Chengdu and my campus does not have one. At Sichuan University Huaxi Campus where our g-MEO program is located, if we wanted to use the school gym we would have to travel to the other campus. Although it is a bit far from where we are located, the trek is not too bad, but there is not a lot of equipment and it does not seem to be a popular attraction. So, we have decided to find ways to stay active close to home.

Even though the gym does not seem to be a popular choice for many, we have found ways to stay busy and fit while here is Chengdu. A few g-MEO students including Brittany, Morgan, Paul, Deja, and I, have joined Professor Bosworth to play some rugby. Many of those who play have been teaching English and are foreigners to China like we are. Those of us who traveled to China with g-MEO have never played rugby before but were eager to test it out. The players welcomed us with open arms and helped us pick up on the game quickly. After a couple of hours of running around and learning the game, we decided we liked playing and even have returned a couple of times to brush up on our rugby skills.

The students in g-MEO are fortunate enough to have a track right next to our American Center where our classes are held. At night, the track is filled with people working out in all types of ways. Many walk the track, forwards or backwards, or do exercises on the field or off to the sides. Next to the track, we often see a group of people doing night Tai Chi. A few of us have even tested our skills in the matter as well.

Two other ways to keep active in China include riding a bicycle and walking. Bicycles are both convenient for transportation and a great way to exercise. Since day one, I have realized that my Chinese people like to keep their two feet moving. In this country, you walk EVERYWHERE! I can still remember the first week we were here and the aching of my legs and feet every day from walking and going up and down stairs. By now, I have become accustomed to both. I have even conquered the Great Wall, twice!

Even though China is different from the United States, we have still found ways to keep healthy and fit. No matter what we do – running, climbing stairs, playing rugby or riding a bike – we have found it important to stay active.

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