Wang Zhenbao, a 29-year-old marketing staff in an international company, has been devoting himself to fitness training for the past five years. He has been going to the gym no less than four times a week, until last month.
It was not because his enthusiasm towards fitness faded, but because he found a new and more comfortable way to achieve his goals with outdoor training. Recently, he only goes to the gym twice a week on workdays, and focuses more of his attention to the weekends when he meets a group of peers in a suburban area.
"Outdoor training is not general outdoor activities, but a professional method in nature to further train the body's strength, balance, core ability, agility and explosive power, which is more difficult to realize in indoor training," said Dong Yunqiang, a fitness instructor based in Beijing.
Wang said since it is getting warm and more people start to go to the gym, the gym he goes to is always full.
"It is underground so the air is not fresh, and it is too crowded with sweaty people," he said. "But when I go to the wild for outdoor training, the air is good, the space is excessive for everyone, and I can look to the sky and trees to hear the birds singing, which is much more comfortable than gym fitness."
Dong said outdoor training mainly focuses on empty-handed training since there is no professional training equipment in the wild. He suggests beginners start from simple moves like deep squat and leapfrog, as well as training with some portable equipment like skipping rope and dumbbells.
For advanced and experienced outdoor training enthusiasts, Dong said there will be more fun if they know how to make good use of the natural landscape.
"For example, they can climb a tree, hop alongside a river or do river trekking. They can also do some simple parkour moves like jumping from one stone to another," he said. "But when doing these, people must be well prepared by doing enough warm-up exercises, because the environment and topography are both unknown, and it may cause accidental injury like a sprained ankle."
Wang said the most interesting and unforgettable outdoor training experience was about two weeks ago when he went to a mountain area in Huairou district on a clear day. At first he and his friends were doing routine exercises like running and, push-ups, and some girls were doing yoga. About one hour later, someone suggested a tree-climbing contest, and things started to get wildly interesting.
"We chose a solitary high tree with many side branches on flat ground, and padded the ground under the tree with yoga mats, bags, inflatable sleeping pads and even clothes as a safety method," he said.
Then they tore some toilet paper and wrote competitors' names on it, and everyone tied the piece of toilet paper on the highest branch he or she reached.
"There was a professional outdoor trainer with us, and he would tell us how to balance our body and how to grab onto the branches and use them efficiently as stepping stones without hurting ourselves," Wang said. "Finally a man won. He tied his paper to the highest branch, about four meters high, and the coach announced the prize, which is an honor of being an environment protection pioneer, which means he had to climb the tree again and get every piece of paper back after resting for half an hour."
Dong said while having fun in the wild, people need to pay attention to safety issues. "They should choose sports gear with comprehensive protection functions, and they must be waterproof. In addition, they will need gear you don't usually use in the gym like knee and ankle pads," he said. "And the most important thing is not to go into the wild alone, and it is best to go with a professional trainer."