Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Freestylers in class

I’ve joined a new gym, where they have Les Mills classes such as spinning, fat burn, bodypump and you name it. It’s awesome. After having spent the last year or so on a treadmill in order to get my weekly fitness dose, it’s nice to be able to go to classes, be inspired by the instructor, do as s/he says and not having to think so much on your own (might come across as a bit strange, but when it comes to training it’s actually ideal).

I used to do a lot of spinning when I lived in Australia and Finland, but since my move to China it has only happened on rare occasions such as at fat burning parties in Suzhou. So, during the last week’s classes I’ve sort of struggled to keep up.

But, no worries about that. I realized, from looking around in class. Me struggling was actually considered a minor problem for the instructor. Most people didn’t listen to a word he said.

Spinning over here is like freestyling: go into class, get on a bike, and do whatever you like. Stand up if you feel like it, and when the instructor tells you to sit down, you might as well continue standing if you want to. It really is like that: people here do whatever they like to do, and yesterday I was watching the instructor running out to some of the participants, encouraging them to listen to his directions rather than just doing their own thing –in vain. There is no real class discipline –people just do what they feel like.

It’s quite similar in yoga class, even though it’s way better there. People tend to try and follow the teacher’s instructions. But then you have the freestylers, who take their training into their own hands (which I think is good in most cases, but maybe not when you take part in a class?). Accidently stand behind a freestyler in yoga class and you can kiss seeing yourself in the mirror/keeping your focus and balance away, as the freestyler is all over the place, bending in another direction when the rest of the class is going left, doing little jumps on the spot when everyone else are busy balancing on one leg, swinging the other one behind in the air.

Normally the teachers don’t care about it, but once one American yoga teacher saw what was going on, went up to a middle-aged woman who was clearly not listening to his instructions and asked her what the h*** she was up to. “You are putting everyone off with this kind of behavior!” he said, and then she actually stopped, at least during that class.

Anyway, point to be made, it cannot be easy being a gym instructor here in China. Yesterday I caught myself wondering why a lot of people here are not interested in following instructions/do their own thing, and I came to the solutions that maybe they just don’t take it that seriously. Maybe they just wanna go for a work-out, and do their own thing.


nova said...

Yeah it just seems weird that they'd spend the money to take a class if they're just doing their own thing anyway.

anazei said...

Just out of curiosity, I just had a thought, any chance you can record a youtube video of yourself speaking in the local language?

chhipa said...

Agree with nova.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Nova -yeah, well at the gym they pay for a membership and then classes are included. But I would see it as a waste of time if I went to a class and then still just did my own thing. Then I might as well stay on a bike outside of the class.

anazei -naaah, I am not so much for putting out videos of myself. I was on a TV show in Changxing in Dec and I posted a link to the show on my blog. If you want to hear me speak Chinese you can watch that clip.

Anonymous said...

I have seen this seemingly anti-social behaviour both in China and here in Toronto, Canada, but still cannot explain why.

In my case here in Toronto we have parent-tot daycare (90% Chinese kids, so you hear lots of Mandarin), supervised by a teacher, who teaches the kids English. Grandparents and mothers bring the little ones, but the adults talk so loudly to themselves that the kids cannot hear the teacher at story time. No amount of yelling at the adults did any good, and the problem was never resolved.

Some Chinese simply want to do their own thing, and think nothing of disrupting the group. They have no important guanxi in your group, so there is little social consequence for them. They did not pay extra for the class, so they feel the class is simply part of the whole gym. There is no exclusivity to the class and therefore they treat the class the same as a treadmill: get on and off whenever you wish.

These small examples highlight one of the difficulties for the Communist party in governing China. While Westerners believe the Communist Party controls the Chinese people, in reality the Party tries to control rampant chaos from breaking out.