Fuzhou has recently held the Chinese National Youth Games. With this, and the arrival of cooler Autumnal weather, what better time to talk about ways of staying fit?
It would be remiss to talk about staying fit in Fuzhou without making reference to one of China’s most popular sports. It seems like nearly everyone in the city plays badminton. From little kids practising on the pavement, to the elderly playing in parks, to what-seem-like pro’s smashing shuttlecocks at each other in the courts, if there’s unoccupied space in the city, chances are it’s being used for this.
Badminton’s a very popular activity for our teachers. Regularly they organise games with our teaching assistants. Courts are cheap to hire too (around 20rmb per hour).
Badminton is popular with people of all ages in China but basketball has massively grown in popularity with the younger generations. Our students between 9-16 seem to be obsessed with it, definitely helped of course by the success of Yao Ming in popularising the sport over here. In Fuzhou basketball courts can be found all over the city. They’re free to use and people will definitely be eager to see what a laowai (foreigner) is capable of.
Football isn’t hugely popular in China. Unlike in Europe where pitches can be seen everywhere, in China they are often tucked away. Despite this Fuzhou has an excellent 5-a-side pitch nestled into a central street in the city where our teachers play every week. Attendance is usually pretty good and tends to attract a crowd of interested onlookers.
As anyone who’s played 5-a-side before will know, this is an excellent way to get fit and have fun at the same time so if you come and join our teaching team why not join us for a game. There’s rumours of an inter-school cup starting soon too…
Fuzhou is wonderfully located in between mountains, some of which have excellent trails and paths to be explored. A couple of the more famous ones in the city include Gu Shan (Drum Mountain) and Bai Yun Feng (White Cloud). The latter is a beautiful spot, not only because it’s quieter than the more well-established Gu Shan but also because of the spectacular scenery once you reach the peak. The climb up can be brutal. Reports vary as to how many steps there are but needless to say there are plenty. At some points you need to practically pull yourself up on a handy rail that accompanies the path. Despite this it’s definitely worth the slog and for those who work up an appetite while exercising there’s a temple at the top where monks sell cheap but sustaining bowls of noodles.
5. Cycling (and running)
Although it’s surrounded by mountains, the centre of Fuzhou is surprisingly flat which makes cycling a hugely popular activity here. Bikes are cheap and easily come by (there’s even a city-wide bike hire scheme). Popular places to cycle and run include: along the Min River, around Cangshan Island or out of the city towards Min Hou. There’s something for everyone. If nothing else it’s a great way to get around and beat the traffic. On that point, due to the popularity of bikes here cycling is a very safe activity as cars are used to dealing with bikes on the streets.
A number of our teachers at York cycle to work and also take trips out on their bikes at weekends to explore the city and get some exercise. Equally, a lot of teachers go running around the parks of Fuzhou.
The long, warm summer in Fuzhou lends itself well to taking a swim, so cooling off in one of the city’s many outdoor pools is a popular activity. These tend to be quite popular first thing in the morning and in the evening but as York teachers don’t start work until the afternoons they’re ideal for a quick morning dip. If that’s not enough, there’s plenty of indoor pools for the chillier winter months too.
7. Tai Chi and Martial Arts
Another really popular activity in Fuzhou and another free activity too! What could be more Chinese than waking up early and doing some Tai Chi in a park? OK so it’s not super strenuous but it is really relaxing and if you want something more energetic there’s always martial arts classes, available across the city
OK so it’s not an outdoor activity but gyms are very popular over here with our teachers and of course there’s a gym for every budget and every need. There are gyms with swimming pools, spin classes, Zumba classes, weight rooms, personal trainers, basically everything you could want.