Mornings in China are a bit different than mornings in the Netherlands. Instead of getting up, taking a shower, having breakfast, and going to work the Chinese have a bit more active routine. In China it is: getting up, having breakfast, and going to the nearest public park! Not for a casual morning stroll or a jog, but to actively work out. It is a typical morning ritual I greatly admired in China. I saw it in Shanghai, Beijing, and Xian, but I am sure you could see it in almost every city in China. I just hope that I am as flexible as they are when I am in my fifties!
Dancing with umbrellas & hand fans in the park
You might wonder: what is so interesting about seeing people work out in the park? Well, it is how they work out what makes it so fun to see. They go ball dancing, dancing with little umbrellas, sword dancing, practicing tai chi, fitness, and many more. Every morning the park is a mini-festival of sports. And you can also find the traditional Chinese sports here, like dancing with a hand fan. This art exists for over 2,000 years in China.
Getting up early
Throughout the park, you see several groups of people doing their workouts in the morning. People of all ages are here: from the late thirties up to eighty. The groups change every minute, people come and go. They do the workout they love and when they are done, they go to work. To see this active morning routine, you have to get up pretty early. Most ‘athletes’ go to their nearest park between 6.00 and 8.30 am. Around 9.00 am they are all gone. Trust me, it is worth it getting up so early. When you see all those smiles, you will forget all about the time.
Getting in shape
When I walked through the park of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing I was surprised to see how athletic the Chinese are. There is a huge fitness area in this park filled with elderly people working out. In the Netherlands, I would expect young guys here, but in Beijing, it was packed with seniors. It is impressive how well in shape they are. For instance, I saw a 60-year-old man hanging upside down in the gymnastic bars. I think that this is the Chinese secret for a long life: start the day with a workout in the park. And if that is dancing with umbrellas, then that is okay. It is all about getting the exercise to start the day fresh and healthy.
Bonus video: dance, dance, dance!
Besides photos, I also shot a short video showing all the different sports activities you can see in the park, and join if you want to. It is great to show how much energy these people have in the early morning. And how much fun they have doing the workouts.
Do you want to see the morning park dancing rituals in China?