Kickstart your new year fitness routine with this language guide to working out
Afresh start to the calendar is a symbolic moment to make changes in one’s life. New Year’s Resolutions (新年计划 xīnnián jìhuà), usually to do with accomplishing a personal goal or breaking a bad habit, are becoming more and more popular with young Chinese today.
According to data research software developer Statistica, around 50 percent of Americans made New Year’s Resolutions to exercise more last year, and 48 percent planned to lose weight. In 2016, newspaper China Youth Daily published a similar survey, with 60 percent of Chinese respondents vowing to “keep fit and take care of themselves” after the Lunar New Year.
New year, new atmosphere. I will start exercising.
I want to transform myself by spring.
It doesn’t help that most things people eat during the holidays tend to expand their figure:
Every holiday I gain 5 kilograms. How can I burn these calories?
But according to e-commerce platform Tmall, there are over 100 million people “pretending to work out” in China every day. That is to say, of the 400 million users on the website who have expressed an interest in fitness, less than 300 million actually exercise regularly, while the rest simply buy gym memberships and exercise equipment they never use—or better yet, simply watch and forward exercise videos, without following the steps.
Fitness is about more than announcing your intention to exercise. Before embarking on your new year exercise routine, check out this language guide to not only refine your workout plan, but learn some essential fitness vocabulary:
Rather than just having a simple goal like “I’m going to work out,” most trainers recommend that you set a specific training objective to make you both physically and mentally ready to begin a new fitness program:
I want to lose fat.
I want to sculpt my body.
I want to build muscles.
It can also help to create a timeline for your exercises, spreading out your goals throughout the year:
Every Wednesday, I will work on my abs.
I will lose 5 kilograms by February.
Exercising at Home
Want to start your fitness routine without committing to expensive gym memberships and equipment? With social media, it is now easier than ever to exercise at home. On video-sharing platforms like Bilibili, exercise vloggers can become influencers in their own right, winning millions of views with their accessible content and fun delivery:
Everyone who has tried this exercise video swears by it. Millions of netizens agree that this works.
Vloggers who are knowledgeable in their subject, effective with their recommendations, or simply entertaining to watch, are referred to as “hidden treasure vloggers” or “宝藏博主 (bǎozàng bózhǔ),” even though they may have millions of followers and brand endorsements already:
Pamela Reif is the devil. You can always trust her intensive full-body weight-loss training.
On the other hand, exercising alone without anyone to push you makes it easier to skip a move or take a day off due to “exhaustion.” Home-exercisers who make a habit of “点赞收藏一键退出 (diǎnzàn shōucáng yíjiàn tuìchū, click ‘save’ a video, then quit)” might console themselves with:
Sharing the video is equal to doing the workout, which rounds up to weight loss.
Those wishing to avoid this fate might try to rally fellow netizens in the comments section under the workout video:
For every like under my comment, I will stick to the workout for another day.
Hitting the Gym
However, you might find that no amount of “likes” and comments online is as motivating as in-person instructions and the presence of other exercisers pushing themselves. Thankfully, in most Chinese cities, gyms are easy to find—it’s usually just a matter of standing on the sidewalk until a salesperson approaches you, waving a brochure:
Wanna learn about swimming and workouts?
Once you’ve taken the brochure, agreed to add the persistent salesperson on WeChat, and toured the premises, the salesperson will swoop in to offer you a gym membership with attractive benefits and discounts:
Members can enjoy free beverages and snacks, and free 24/7 hot showers year-round.
If you buy a two-year membership now, we will give you four additional months for free, plus a free trial session with a personal trainer.
Personal training is where gyms earn most of their revenue, so the salesperson will push hard to sign you up:
Our trainers are all top-notch personal fitness coaches accredited by international associations.
But figuring out the membership system is only half the battle. After hitting the gym for just a few days, you may get stuck in a trap of self-satisfaction and mock yourself as part of the 健身气氛组 (jiànshēn qìfēnzǔ, workout atmosphere group):
I’ve spent five minutes working out, and two hours taking selfies.
My gym card has turned into a shower card, and I’ve blocked my personal trainer’s texts.
You might find that the real benefit to a personal trainer is not your coach’s accreditations, but simply having someone to nag you to hit the gym:
Can you make some time to come over and exercise in the next few days?
It’s not enough to just get a gym membership. You need to get moving!
Some might also find it helpful to join a group on WeChat or other social media platforms with friends or fellow exercisers, who can share progress, participate in fitness “challenges” together, and motivate one another:
Day 25: I jogged for 5 kilometers and my intake was only 1,500 calories. See you tomorrow!
Claiming Your Reward
To further motivate yourself, consider giving yourself rewards for achieving your fitness goals, like a fabulous dinner at your favorite restaurant:
I bribed myself into exercising with a cheat meal.
But be careful not to let your rewards defeat the purpose of exercising:
I found myself gaining another kilogram after my cheat day. I’m crushed.
If you resist all the temptations and stick to your plan, reaching your goals can also be its own reward:
I’m so excited to have learned to use three pieces of gym equipment today.
It feels like I’m freeing up my body every day.
No Excuses: New Workout Phrases for a New Year is a story from our issue, “Sports for All.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.