Mornings in China are a bit different than mornings in the Netherlands. Instead of getting up, taking a shower, having breakfast en going to work the Chinese have a bit more active routine. In China it is: getting up, having breakfast and going to the nearest city park! Not for a casual morning stroll or a jog, but to actively work out. It is a typical morning ritual I greatly admired (and envied) in China. I saw it in Shanghai, Beijing and Xian, but I am sure you could see it in almost every Chinese city. I just hope that I am as flexible as they are when I am in my fifties!
Dancing with umbrellas and hand fans
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 2000 years in China.
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 88. 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 get up pretty early. Most ‘athletes’ go to their nearest park between 6 and 8.30 am. Around 9 am they are all gone. Trust me, it is worth it getting up so early. When you see all those smiles on the faces of the Chinese, you really see that they are having fun. And you will forget all about that early morning.
Getting in shape
In the park of the Tempel of Heaven in Beijing I was surprised how fit the Chinese are. There is a fitness area in this park. In the Netherlands I would expect young guys here, but in Beijing it was packed with seniors. It is impressive how well in shape these elderly are. For instance I saw a 60 year old men hanging upside down in the gymnastic bars. I would never expect this from our Dutch seniors. I think 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, than 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 sport 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.