When you think of going for a stroll in the park, what comes to mind – birds singing? a gentle breeze blowing? swathes of greenery punctuated by plots of brightly colored flowers?
If you’re walking through a park in China, you’ll get all of that… along with a few surprises older generations have waiting for you. One of the great things about it is all the groups of people doing things in the park are very open to newcomers, so if you’re curious about what’s going on, just ask!
1. Square-Dancing Aunties
In places across the country, from central “squares” (广场 guǎng chǎng) to open areas of “parks” (公园 gōng yuán) to the sidewalk outside a “shopping center” (购物中心 gòu wù zhòng xīn), you can find groups of square dancers stepping along to choreographed sequences of moves.
The phenomenon is especially popular among middle-aged women, and generally there’s one or two group leaders to guide everyone though the steps. An absolute “must” at these gatherings? Rolling suitcase-sized audio speakers.
音响(yīn xiǎng): n. (audio) speakers
wǒ de péng yǒu wèi wǒ jīn nián de shēng rì dìng zhì le yī tào yīn xiǎng .
我 的 朋 友 为 我 今 年 的 生 日 定 制 了 一 套 音 响。
My friend made me a customized set of speakers for my birthday this year.
tā mǎi de nà xiē yīn xiǎng zhēn de hěn bàng!
她 买 的 那 些 音 响 真 的 很 棒！
Those new speakers she bought are really awesome!
2. Calisthenic Grandpas
Stumbling on public exercise equipment can be one of the most shocking sights you’ll come across in a Chinese park. Chances are, you’ll see a group of exercisers doing pull-ups, dips, and various kinds of spins on the bars and rings. That’s all well and good, and maybe you yourself can do some of these movements, but take a closer look: chances are, the average age of attendees is 60+.
引体向上 (yǐn tǐ xiàng shàng): n. pull-up
nǐ néng zuò duō shǎo gè yǐn tǐ xiàng shàng?
你 能 做 多 少 个 引 体 向 上？
How many pull-ups can you do?
wǒ nǎi nǎi měi tiān zǎo cān qián zuò 10 gè yǐn tǐ xiàng shàng .
我 奶 奶 每 天 早 餐 前 做 10 个 引 体 向 上。
My grandma does 10 pull-ups every morning before breakfast.
3. Tai Chi for the Whole Fam
If there’s one thing people know about China, besides some of the amazing food, it’s that there exists a huge variety of martial arts. One of the most well-known types is tai chi, characterized by slow, controlled movements and widely practiced abroad.
While it’s often marketed as something for older people to use to stay active, the truth is that tai chi has a passionate following of people of all ages, and you can probably find a group to learn with in your home area!
灵活 (líng huó): adj. flexible
wǒ hěn jīng yà wǒ de māo měi cì shēn zhǎn shí dōu nà me líng huó .
我 很 惊 讶 我 的 猫 每 次 伸 展 时 都 那 么 灵 活。
I’m amazed how flexible my cat is every time she stretches.
nǐ rèn wèi shén me yùn dòng zuì xū yào líng huó xìng?
你 认 为 什 么 运 动 最 需 要 灵 活 性？
What sport do you think requires the most flexibility?
Public parks may be the best place to people watch in China, but you have much to gain by stepping off the sidelines, introducing yourself to a group of people you want to know, and giving something a try!
Is there any part of Chinese sport, culture, or customs you want to learn more about? Leave a comment or send us a message and let us know!
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