Wednesday, February 18, 2009

fear of fitness

Gyms in China are nothing like gyms in America.

For starters, gym memberships are way more expensive here than in the States. Working out is a very American thing to do, and as such it's seen as a luxury and "foreign" so they charge outrageous prices and rich status-seeking Chinese people (and foreigners who have been raised in a society where NOT having a gym membership makes you a freak) are willing to fork out the dough.

Also, they have tons of equipment...and yet, they don't really have much variety. For example, my gym, Best Fit, has about 25 treadmills, but only 1 elliptical, 2 stairmasters, and 2 bikes. Why 25 treadmills? It makes no sense to me.

Unlike in America, gyms in China are always empty, which makes me question even more why they thought they needed 25 treadmills. In the States if you go to a gym before work (between 5-9AM) or after work (between 3-7) the machines are pretty packed and I've even had to wait up to 30 minutes for my chance on the stairmaster. My gym doesn't even open until 10Am, for starters, and even with ONE ellipitical machine, I've never ever had to wait. It's like walking into a ghost town filled with free weights and yoga mats, I halfway expect a few tumbleweeds to scatter across the floor in front of me after I swipe my membership card.

Okay, I'm not being 100% honest here, because my gym is never completely empty. There's always about 10 personal trainers milling about, walking slowly from one side of the building to the other, or going out in the courtyard for a cigarette break (they all smoke). And when they're not busy doing that, they're busy harassing the few people that actually go to the gym (read: me) into using their services.

A lot of people who are out of shape say they don't want to go to the gym because they're embarrassed, that they don't like the idea of other people watching them work out. Well, these people definitely could not hang in a Chinese gym. Chinese trainers are on you like hawks the whole time you're there, waiting to pounce at any sign of weakness, like when you take your iPod ear bud out of your ear for a split second to untangle the cord, or set your kindle down next to you to focus on your work out. They see that as their "in" and they pounce.

And they. won't. leave. you. alone.

I straight up had to tell one of them "LEAVE ME ALONE!!!" because he was being so annoying. So he left me alone. Left me alone by standing two feet away from my weight machine and staring at me while I finished my set.


Andy said...

Wow. Smoking and stalker trainers for a ghostly expensive gym?? You're not alone in thinking they are weird.

Kel said...

what about the locker rooms in chinese gyms? at mine, the women would hang around for hours, naked, wearing those whitening masks and eating KFC... also they used the hair dryers to dry ALL of their hair, if you get my drift... and i'm pretty sure they never actually used a machine.