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Living in Beijing Guide

Health clubs

A common way for expats to relieve stress and maintain a healthy constitution is to join a gym. Increasing interest in health and fitness in Beijing, combined with rising incomes and international influences, have caused new upscale health clubs to pop up throughout the city. All offer fitness facilities including cardio machines, free weights and fitness classes such as aerobics, yoga and body pump. More elaborate facilities also provide access to swimming pools, tennis courts and spas. As with many luxuries in Beijing, they might not be cheap, but you still pay considerably less than you would for comparable facilities back home. Most clubs require membership, with a pricing system that encourages you to sign up for a year. Some of the local clubs that target Chinese patrons are much cheaper, but also much less well-equipped, perhaps offering table tennis and badminton rather than swimming and squash. Most new apartment buildings and villas have modern, spacious facilities for residents. If you’re moving into a building with a fitness club, be sure to check that gym membership is included in the lease. The key to maintaining an exercise routine over time is not finding the best fitness club, but finding a suitable facility that is conveniently located near your place of work or home. Therefore, start your search close to home.

Health clubs Alexander Health Club 亚历山大会馆

Bldg 8, Central Park, 6 Chaowai Dajie, Chaoyang District
朝阳区朝外大街6号,新城国际8号
(6597 0088, www.alexander.cn)
Upmarket club with first-class facilities, classes and a spa.

Amrita Fitness 港澳中心健身房

Swissotel Beijing, 2 Chaoyangmen Beidajie, Dongcheng District
东城区朝阳门北大街2号瑞士酒店
(6553 2288)
Classes and one of Beijing’s nicest indoor swimming pools.

Beijing YMCA Fitness Center 北京幸福家园YMCA生活会所

Bldg 13, Nolita Center, Guangqumennei Dajie, Chongwen District
崇文区广渠门内大街幸福家园13号楼
(6719 5151, www.ymcabj.org)
A very nice child-friendly YMCA in a three-floor complex with swimming pools, weights, a dance studio offering classes for the whole family, yoga and karate.

CSI Bally Total Fitness 中体倍力健身俱乐部

Locations all over the city
连锁店遍布北京
(www.csibally.com)
Bally is very popular with expats for the sheer range of equipment and group classes offered.

Fitness and wellness centresMani’s Body Combing 马妮形体修理

Several locations
许多连锁店
(www.mani.com.cn)
Not exactly a gym, but a wellness centre. Mani’s offers a new age mix of ballet, gymnastics, Chinese dance and acupuncture.

Pacific Century Club 盈科会所

2A Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang District
朝阳区工体北路2A
(6539 3434)
Pacific Century Club is a family-friendly facility focusing on all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. It has everything. There are pools, tennis courts, basketball, yoga, Pilates, weights and cardio.

Chinese health

Rather than concentrating on building cardiovascular stamina and body strength, the Chinese concept of fitness focuses on general health in a holistic sense. Living in Beijing is a great opportunity to explore holistic health. Places offering massages, acupuncture, martial arts and meditation are relatively inexpensive and located throughout the city. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on a pre-scientific paradigm of medicine that developed over several thousand years and involves concepts that have no counterpart within contemporary scientific methodology. In TCM, the body is treated as a whole that is comprised of several systems of function.

Acupuncture and acupressure

Reports from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the American Medical Association (AMA) and various government reports have studied and commented on the efficacy of acupuncture. There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by welltrained practitioners using sterile needles. It’s useful to do some research and go to an Englishspeaking practitioner the first time, so that you gain an understanding of the process. If you do decide to go to a local practitioner, make sure they are recommended. While acupressure is basically safe, there are health concerns with acupuncture including hygiene, sterilisation of needles (even packaged needles may have been recycled) and herbal medications.

Guang’anmen Hospital 广安门医院

5 Beixian’ge, Xuanwu District
北京市宣武区北线阁5号
(8800 1123, www.gamhospital.ac.cn)

Beijing TCM Hospital 北京中医医院

23 Meishuguan Houjie, Dongcheng District
北京市东城区美术馆后街23号
(5217 6852, www.bjzhongyi.com)

Dongzhimen Hospital 东直门医院

5 Haiyuncang, Dongcheng District
北京市东城区海运仓5号
(8401 3161, www.dzmhospital.com)

Yoga

One of the best ways to relieve stress while finding inner harmony is through the practice of yoga. While you can find Beijing’s elderly population practicing tai chi in city parks, the younger generation are stretching and sweating in one of the many yoga centres across the city. There are several yoga styles to choose from. Hatha yoga focuses on holding postures and enhanced breathing, while Vinyasa emphasizes building strength by moving from one posture to the next. If you need to sweat out stress and toxins, give Bikram (hot) yoga a go. For beginners, try three to four classes per week. It will be painful at first, but long-term practitioners swear by its short and long-term benefits. Try www.yogafinder. com for a comprehensive list of yoga centres popular with expats.

Bikram Hot Yoga 高温瑜伽体系

Pacific Century Club, 2A Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang District
朝阳区工体北路甲2号盈科中心
(6539 3434)
Mainland China’s first authorised hot yoga studio features Bikram-certified teachers Huiping Mo and John Williams. Classes are 90 minutes long and drop-ins are welcome.

Yoga Yard 瑜珈苑

17 Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang District
朝阳区工体北路17号
(5413 0774, www.yogayard.com)
Yoga Yard is a Hatha Vinyasa centre with yoga classes offered for all levels. It also offers pre and post-natal yoga.

Massage

One of the luxuries of living in Beijing is getting a quality, affordable massage. There are countless massage parlours throughout the city, with prices ranging from RMB60 to RMB400 for a session. The most common form is the Chinese massage, which involves digging, prodding and pressure of the main pressure points to facilitate the positive flow of qi throughout the body. This is excellent treatment for sore or knotty muscles. Oriental foot massages feel very therapeutic (unless you’re ticklish) if you’ve been on your feet all day. Aromatherapy massages are another popular form, offering a gentle touch by relying more on the power of essential oils that work wonders as they are absorbed into your skin. Avoid massage parlours adorned with red lights or twirling barbershop poles.

Chinese tea

The practice of drinking tea is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. It is believed that the practice originated here in 2737 BC. Legends say that while Emperor Shennong was boiling water, a leaf from a camellia sinensis tree fell into his pot and the tradition was born. In addition to rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar and firewood, tea is considered one of the necessities of life.

All Chinese teas come from the camellia sinensis plant and can be categorised into four main categories – white, green, oolong and black. Initially, Chinese teas were used primarily for medicinal purposes such as purging the digestive tract of toxins, and while most continue to believe in the curative powers of Chinese tea, it has also developed into a flavour loved by most Chinese. You will see green tea-flavoured ice cream and cakes as well as many local dishes.

The Chinese tea drinking ceremony is used for various cultural purposes in China. It can be employed as a sign of respect, to apologise, in wedding ceremonies and as a means to express thanks.

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