I thought I’d start this sunny day by sharing a story about my Chinese friends and that time when they were going to start exercising. To make the writing a bit smoother we can call the girl Yang and the guy Wang. Yang is a lovely girl in her mid-twenties from Yunnan, and Wang is a nice guy in his mid-twenties from Harbin.
It started somewhere during the early spring. Wang kept telling Yang that she should lose some weight. I personally don’t understand why, because she’s already very, very thin, but obviously there ain’t no such thing as ‘being too thin’ here in China. Rather, the more visible ribs the better.
Wang kept mocking Yang who kept complaining to me, telling me about obscure diets and days where she would only eat apples.
-Stop that stuff and come and visit the gym instead, I suggested.
-Ehh… I don’t like training. I don’t want muscles, Yang responded.
-Well trust me, you are not going to get loads of muscles if you just go once or twice a week. It’s healthier than starving yourself anyways, come on, give it a try!
Yang decided to take my advice and joined her local gym. After some weeks of hesitation she’d worked up enough guts to ask the personal trainers to make her a program, and before you knew it she was working out 3 times a week –and loving it.
In fact, she loved it so much that she asked her boyfriend Wang to join her.
Now, some notes about Wang. He’s a very traditional Chinese man. He’s that kind of guy who believes that house chores are stuff that women should take care off, meanwhile he’s playing his computer games. When Yang suggested he’d come with her to the gym, he frowned and said no.
But Yang nagged and nagged (apparently she’d seen many other guys working out and was keen to get her own man to abandon the couch and maybe get a bit fitter at the same time) and in the end, Wang finally gave in and promised to join her at the gym for two weeks.
For two weeks straight they were sweating and panting, running on the treadmills and lifting free weights. Yang was over the moon.
After two weeks Wang threw in his towel. Said he’d now given the gym an honest try and that he thought it was ridiculous and stupid and that he was never to return again. He also thought it was a waste of money.
Yang wasn’t happy with her man’s decision but it didn’t matter what she said –Wang could think of millions of reasons why he wasn’t to return to the gym.
One day when Yang came home she found her lovely Wang in the kitchen, lifting a table up and down.
-What are you doing? She asked.
-Working out! He said. I figured that if I have to burn my energy I want to burn it on something that’s worthwhile. See, I can lift this one too! (He lifted a chair), and this one! (picked up a pile of books). And look what I made you!
He showed her a box that he had filled up with heavy stuff.
-This one you can carry with your left hand while you are standing at the stove making dinner. When you get tired you simply swap hands! Then you get your work out at the same time as you are doing something useful!
Yang was speechless. She couldn’t deny the fact that her boyfriend had a point, but she would have still preferred him joining him to the gym once or twice a week.
-What about you then? She said and pointed at his belly. How are you going to get fit?
Wang’s lacking fitness was a lingering question for a while, until one day when he turned up outside the gym with his bike. Yang was just leaving (catching a bus) and was surprised to see her boyfriend there.
-Are you here to exercise? She said, with hope in her voice.
-No, I am here to pick you up. In that way, we save on the bus fare, I know you get home safely AND I get some exercise at the same time.
Yang couldn’t protest. And from that day onwards, Wang always picks her up from the gym with his bike.
As for the cooking/weight lifting…. It didn’t really happen as I believe Yang more or less refused. Although according to Yang, Wang is still trying to think of house chores for her that are more physically challenging.
-In order to use the energy you want to burn for something good! he says.
I say nothing.
I say nothing.