JASMINE ON: Exercise

I have performed more exercise in the two weeks I’ve been in China than I have the past year in America alone.


Every day there was some obstacle I needed to walk or climb. Tours and exploration of the nation’s largest, most impressive sites. The Great Wall almost killed me. I tandem biked around every bit of Xi’an’s city wall. For an hour and a half straight. My lady bits tingled after that uncomfortable ride, but now I can look at any part of that wall and know I’ve biked it. Thank goodness for that (?)! Museums. Love ’em, but not multiple ones in a row. Being on my feet for five consecutive hours is not the fun you might expect it to be.

And then I arrived in Chengdu. Time to move in!

My room is on the 6th floor of a building without an elevator. Moving my luggage in was a barrel of laughs. My point? Exercise every day, voila! I take the stairs up and down at least four times a day. More if I forget something important enough to stagger back upstairs. I’ve learned not to forget things or not to care if I get wet when I forget my umbrella.

By the end of this semester? Thighs. Thighs of steel.

Earlier, I mentioned I’d have pretty impressive guns. My biceps don’t look much better than before, but MAN can I just say

ping pong.

Oh man. Can I just also say…


Ping pong tables everywhere on campus, but there’s a particular lane that has some lovely shade that I’ve gone to with some classmates. Be forewarned: ping pong is a sweaty activity if you’re doing it correctly. Or maybe I’m doing it incorrectly and that’s why I get so sweaty. Although…I’ve seen this older guy go at it and he’s dripping. They just slam it! I’ve adjusted to what I thought was the Chinese-style grip, but I think I’m doing it backwards still. I’ve been doing a whole lot of backhanding (with super duper skillz, obvi), which has served me well.

Today, an older lady (I’m talking gray hair) came up to me while I was watching the guys play each other. She pointed between the two of us and said something to the effect of “You and me? BRING IT.” Nervous city! I ended up giving as good as I got (which is to say I stuck a few tricky shots), and she was just happy volleying back and forth. Quickly. Very quickly.

(Note: I have my own ping pong paddle now! Best souvenir ever?)

Our ping pong playing spot is by a basketball court. That, at least, appears to be somewhat popular here. Basketball, that is. I see groups with basketballs (which I suppose doesn’t mean they actually play), and I even saw a car with a gigantic NBA decal.

Rugby games happen here, rain or sun. Just like back at home. Mostly foreigners v. foreigners, though. I haven’t been to the swimming pavilions yet, and the gym isn’t too popular.

I mean, stairs. Six flights of stairs. Who needs a treadmill?

OK, brief mention: jogging. A few of us thought it didn’t exist here, because I’ve only seen foreigners jog around. YOU GUYS. I have discovered the secret:

[in a whisper] Night joggers.

Seriously. I passed four Chinese guys on a run on my way back from an evening seminar, so at approximately 10pm. I guess Chinese joggers just…come out at night. Secretly, in the dark.

From the lips of our student volunteer: “I don’t like sports. I like to sleep.”

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