Let's Qing! - Fitness Fun In Wuhan

My personal trainer Bobo, who everyone says is super handsome (and I would feel inclined to agree), and I. I coerced him into taking this picture, although it really didn't take that much coercing.

'Here goes nothing,' I thought to myself last May as I handed the receptionist my Chinese bank card. I had finally found a gym worth joining, a ladies-only gym, and was in the middle of signing the contract and paying annual gym membership. With the contract came four free classes with a personal trainer, which I decided was a pretty cool thing, and which also got me hooked on the whole 'personal trainer' thing.

Taken sometime last year, after a delightful workout. Sweaty but happy.

You see, this all happened about two months after my burn injury and the skin graft surgery, I had to have because of it. More on that here and here, in case you have some catching up to do. My doctor had given me the all clear in terms of exercising, he even highly encouraged me to do regular exercise, and while I felt ready to tackle a new challenge I was also sceptical, very sceptical. My leg muscles had suffered quite a bit from the lack of use during my two-month-long bed rest and there were a lot of movements I couldn't yet do or do properly.
Snapped just the other day after I finished my workout on the treadmill.

I've never really been good at sports and I hated P.E. class throughout my school years, especially gymnastics which I always refused to do. It drove my teachers nuts. I did enjoy playing basketball and volleyball was kind of cool too but I just never made it into the club of the "sports fanatics". That's all changed now though, I'm finally part of the "in crowd". I go to the gym almost every day and as you've already guessed I even have a personal trainer. Yeah, I'm one of those cool people who has a personal trainer. A really cool and funny guy who will turn over backwards to arrange classes for me and with me. Someone who cares enough about my health to design customised meal plans for me and check in with me when I don't show up for my workout for two days. And I don't even live in L.A.! I'm also not famous nor would I consider myself rich.
Summer, my health manager, who's a pretty cool gal with a super cute son and a great attitude. She's fun, a little crazy and about seven kinds of awesome.

Living in China does have its perks. The annual fee for my gym membership wasn't all that expensive and while the classes with my personal trainer are nowhere as expensive as they would be in Ireland or Germany, they definitely aren't cheap. They are worth it though. Spending money on keeping healthy and fit is so much more worth it than an all day shopping trip. I've been working out with my trainer for a good few months now and to have someone at your side to push you and cheer you on is definitely better than having to find all that willpower to continue on your own. I won't kid you, I have my moments sometimes, but I now have an iron will to keep up with my fitness program, I don't find any excuses to not go to the gym and I feel genuinely happy working out. My trainer and I have a really good relationship, a bit like 兄弟 (brothers, best buddies), although I'm a girl and in China a girl and a boy would never be considered 兄弟. That term is exclusively reserved for the all-boys-club, not that it's stopping me from barging right in. I guess Chinese girls just don't have the same type of humour as Western girls. I wouldn't last a day with a female personal trainer, I can tell you that right now. I need a bit of testosterone by my side to keep me motivated, to occasionally tell me off and remind me that I'm always wrong about how much I think I can do and how much I can actually achieve. My trainer knows me better than I know myself and that's something that doesn't happen often.
My personal trainer snapped this after I achieved one kilometre on the exercise bike in under seven minutes. He was pretty proud of that achievement since I was the first one to complete the challenge. I did while he and my health manager Summer idly stood by and chatted about whether I would manage to actually complete the challenge or whether I would fail. Such things don't sit well with me so I pedalled my arse of, determined to show my trainer that I could indeed do it. It stunned him into silence and he now knows exactly how to get the best out of me. Mind you, he did know that before this happy incident but ever since I bascially I've handed him the best way to get 110% out of me he uses it whenever it pleases him and I'm at his mercy. not that there's anything wrong with that.

Also, it really doesn't hurt to have someone handsome to look at while you're sweating your arse off!

In terms of how my life has changed since I decided to join the gym, and exercise regularly, well not only do I feel relaxed after a good workout, but I also manage to keep my temper in check. I generally feel healthier and more energetic. I try to juggle all my interests but fitness comes first. I've learned that trying is everything and I now know how to box. I've learned that asking my trainer to "exhaust me" will mean he'll have me want to crawl home and moaning about the exercises will get my no sympathy at all while completing them gets me smiles, pats on the shoulder, congratulations and a whole bunch of other sweet stuff anyone likes to hear. We are suckers for compliments and it's amazing what we'll do for one.

Of course, I have my off-days when I don't perform so well but those are far and few in-between and when one does hit me I just remind myself that I'm only human and can only do so much. I do get annoyed with myself for not performing as well as I should have but then I try to push myself harder the next time to come out on the other side.

Just a typical day on the treadmill. Ninety minutes of fast uphill walking. Piece of cake.

I have really good relationships with everyone at the gym and what with the amount of chatting I do I sometimes find myself wondering how I manage to squeeze the workouts in. My health manager is fantastic and just like my personal trainer she bends over backwards to make me happy. We've become really good friends and I brought back some gifts from Germany for her and also for her son.

If you're a female expat in Wuhan and you're looking for a good gym the I recommend: MS. 蜜思女子健身 (MS Fitness Club). They are located in Wuchang, Zhongnan Road 11 (武汉市武昌区中南路11号) and not only do they offer great facilities for fitness but the showers and changing rooms are in perfect condition, everything is clean, the staff is wonderful, funny and polite and to top it all off they have yoga classes, aerobics classes, dance classes and a SPA where you can relax, get facials and massages. They have a movie theatre and also a great place to relax after your workout where you can indulge in free tea, Wi-Fi, magazines, music and extremely comfortable sofas. I swear you won't want to go home ever again. (I'm not getting paid for saying all these wonderful things, the place is just generally great.) In case Wuchang is inconvenient for you, they have another, much larger gym in Hankou with a swimming pool and tennis courts and whatnot. I've never been there though, so I couldn't give you a first hand review. The Hankou gym is a mixed one though and has been running for a couple of years. If you want more details I can get them for you, just get in touch.