Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Part E. Exercise. Teaching in China

It's worth going for a walk in the mornings in China to see the hive of activity in the purpose built exercise areas, complete with colourful equipment, as well as on footpaths and in parks.
You'll see people striding purposefully around clapping, beating their chests, swinging their arms,  right arm over left shoulder – left over right – whack, whack, whack, circuit after circuit, in parks, by walls overlooking a river, under trees, by roadways. There are groups ballroom dancing, exercising with swords or fans, doing tai-chi or press-ups. 

One morning I was watching a woman waiting for her dog who was enjoying an interesting smell. Rather than just stand idly by, she leaped up and grabbed an overhanging branch and started swinging. Not something you see in downtown Melbourne! Maybe I could start a trend?

Exercise is part and parcel of the way of life, and I often felt that I'd like to join in, especially when we came across thousands of people power-walking around Yunlong Lake (aka Dragon and Clouds lake) in Xuzhou.
The pillars and glass walls create a walkway within the lake.
It was an unforgettable experience, completely unexpected and mesmerising. Our hosts had taken us for a drive to see the lake at sunset and to walk into the glass lined observation area within the lake. It had been a charming and peaceful stroll perfectly suited to the humid summer evening. There'd been giggles, dagging around, lots of photos and general lighthearted banter.
Come on in, the water's fine!
We're IN the lake!
Coming back to the car however, we were met by battalions of briskly marching people, rank upon rank of them. Some squads carried large red flags with lettering on them, some people were scurrying to keep up with the leader, some groups were disorganised but clearly enjoying themselves. But the most arresting were the large formal groups in uniform, four or five abreast, brisk, businesslike, arms swinging in time to the blaring music, seemingly emanating from the leader's waistline. The orange shirts. How I wanted to join in with a group! This wasn't just marching music, it was MARCHING MUSIC for the serious power-walker, designed to get the feet of the most reluctant body striding along!

We told some of the Canadian teachers about it at breakfast next morning and it turned out that one of their students was a member of one of the groups complete with flag, logo and uniform, and they were invited to participate the next evening! Apparently this happens every evening of the year, and around 10,000 people (yes, that's really Ten Thousand!), stride, march or walk around the approx 7km circuit every night! That's awesome!

The photos here are better than mine, and contrary to what it says, the people we saw weren't just elderly women. There were children, men, young people, families and fit older folk as well!

Some of our teaching colleagues incorporate a demanding exercise regime into their daily lives at home. However due to work/social commitments and the hours we spent adapting lessons to meet the needs of our teacher-students, along with the sticky humidity, there was little time for doing much more than meandering down to the shops in the relative cool of the evening. 

I think I'll rename myself Sloth Sue.

My previous posts about Teaching in China were our ArrivalBanquets,  Culture and comfort foods and Driving. The next one will revisit Food!

More about the region:



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - you don't sound like Sloth Sue .. more like Curious about the world Sue .. and helping others Sue ..

But honestly we should all do this over in our neck of the woods and America - we'd all be healthier ...

Cheers Hilary

Sue Travers said...

Hilary there's something so supportive about the huge crowds of people exercising. It really seems that there's something for everyone!