CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (2/21/2020 Fri.)

CHINA

Podcast: Story in the Story (2/21/2020 Fri.)

People's Daily app

02:31, February 21, 2020

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From the People's Daily App.

This is Story in the Story.

Boxing is becoming popular among China's white-collar workers as a way to battle bulging bellies and release pent-up stress.

As a fast-growing fitness trend around the globe, boxing, along with other combat sports, such as Muay Thai and BodyCombat, has also become popular among young Chinese people. It has popped up in the form of boutique workout studios such as Uppercut, a boxing studio in Beijing’s Chaoyang district.

Figures from Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall show that the purchase of boxing gloves by women increased 75 percent between 2017 and 2018. 

A report released in March by a retail firm Suning shows that the annual purchases of boxing gloves by female shoppers skyrocketed 354 percent compared to the previous year.

Zuo Yunfan works in an office in Beijing and trains three times a week and says boxing has helped dramatically improve his physical strength.

"Boxing is a well-rounded workout that would benefit everyone. It gets your entire core fully engaged, so it is good exercise for office workers to strengthen the waist and abdomen after a long day sitting still," he says.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at the increasing number of fitness gyms featuring boxing programs that have sprung up across China, signaling that a boom is underway.

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Two foreigners living in Beijing practice boxing in a gym. (Photo: China Daily)

Ye Zi, 26, a staff member of Uppercut, says the gym only had a few dozen members when it was founded in 2015. Today, more than 400 people are taking boxing classes in the studio.

"With the newly frenetic pace of life in China's megacities such as Beijing, young people live and work under increasing amounts of stress, which draws them to gyms, where they can let off steam and achieve a balanced lifestyle by exercising. Boxing is a perfect sport to release a lot of that pent-up stress and that's maybe one of the reasons why more and more white-collar workers are jumping on the bandwagon," Ye says.

What surprises Zuo is that there are more women hitting the pads at the gym than men.

Zuo says: "It never occurred to me that so many women are fans of boxing!"

More than 60 percent of Uppercut's members are women and that looks set to continue growing, Ye says. Boxing, which used to be defined as a male sport, has been trickling down more into the female fitness scene.

Many women are inspired by the Instagram feeds of celebrities, who snap themselves boxing. US model and designer Karlie Kloss' pictures showing her punching bags have gone viral on Twitter, and dozens of Victoria’s Secret models have been shown visiting a former champion boxer's studio for fitness lessons. Even pop singer Beyonce Knowles and former first lady Michelle Obama have demonstrated a love of boxing.

Influenced by this trend, Chinese actresses have turned their attention to fitness fighting. Zhang Yuqi, Lin Chi-ling, Liu Tao, to name just a few, are among the stars queuing up to participate in this sport on a regular basis.

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Two foreigners living in Beijing practice boxing in a gym. (Photo: China Daily)

Huang Wensi, a professional Chinese boxer who won the Asia Female Continental Super Flyweight Championship gold belt in 2018, says boxing is "the best fat-burning exercise for office workers." Data shows that about 45 minutes of boxing can consume 500 to 800 calories.

"Focusing specifically on punching, ducking and foot movement, these exercises will improve reaction times and coordination as well as help people to tone up," the 31-year-old says, adding that "punching really sculpts your arms and shoulders."

Another member of Uppercut, Wang Yifan, says she enjoys squaring off one-on-one with her boxing coach, an interactive session which distinguishes boxing from other, self-managed fitness activities like running.

"I didn't really enjoy boxing, because I wasn't good at first, but when I found the rhythm and power, everything changed," Wang says. "I enjoy the clean and powerful sound of fists hitting the target held by the coach. It's like music to my ears."

Other benefits of boxing, especially for women, may be the boost to their self-confidence and the way it helps them cultivate a strong mentality.

According to data from the National Fitness Program for 2016-20 launched by the State Council, China's sports population is expected to reach 435 million by 2020. Experts say that, as a new form of fitness training popping up in China, boxing has great potential in the future.

By the end of 2020, gyms in China are projected to have more than 21 million paid users, up from a total membership of 16 million at the end of 2017. According to Xinhua News Agency, the number of people attending gyms across 70 Chinese cities has increased by over 4 million each year since 2011.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Brian Lowe, Lance Crayon and Paris Yelu Xu. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Daily.)


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