Bai Jinqin exercises at a gym in north China.
Bai Jinqin exercises at a gym in north China.

Even though gyms are currently closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, Zhao Wanting still undergoes regular strength training with dumbbells and foam rollers and strictly follows her fitness regime under the online instruction of her coach.

As an executive of a media company in northwest China's Zhao Wanting, 40- year-old Zhao pays great attention to her personal health and body shape. Three years ago, she hired a personal trainer to instruct her.

"Now many people think I am no more than 30 because of my slim figure and shiny skin," she beams. As the living standard in China continues to improve, workout has become an increasingly important part of life for many Chinese people. In 2016, China upgraded its ‘Fitness for All’ programme, stepping up efforts to raise people's awareness of scientific guidance in exercise.

Like many fitness enthusiasts, Zhao used to think exercise meant sweating before she realised the importance of professional instruction. "Scientific guidance can reduce the risk of getting injured and improve the effects of exercising," she says.

"Professional fitness requires knowledge of anatomy, nutriology and so on. I spend a lot of money on education each year," says Wang Guangdong, a coach with a fitness club in Yinchuan, Ningxia's capital.

"Customer demand is higher than before, and coaches who are not professional enough will be weeded out," he adds.

In addition to personal training, fitness apps have boomed in recent years, as they can provide basic instruction for fitness enthusiasts with lower cost and no time limit.

Zhang Xiaofan, 25, is a lawyer in Xi'an. No matter how late she returns home, she exercises every day under the guidance of an app called Keep.

"I have mastered many training methods from the app. I've recently been doing abdominal muscle training every day, and observing a get-lean diet by myself. Now you can see my Vline abs!" she says proudly.

As an industry insider, Guo Zhaoxia, a sales director of a sports goods company in Ningxia, feels that people's idea of exercise has changed a lot in recent years.

"People used to play basketball and badminton with the same shoes, but now they want more professional equipment. We have also introduced smart equipment with data analysis ability in recent years," he says.

At present, there are more than 16,000 qualified social sports instructors in Ningxia, which means two instructors for every 1,000 people. There are over 1,000 public fitness sites, and each facility has at least one social sports instructor to provide guidance for people.

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