Even though I continuously remind myself to explore new things here in Shanghai, I definitely have my habits, my routines and my very favorite spots! Meaning, I seldom just stroll down a new Shanghai lane or bike to a new Shanghai area. But this Saturday when Culture Shock bike tours invited me to join a guided tour around the heart of Shanghai's French Concession, myself and Leon got a change to do just that!Read More
Last weekend we did something I wish we'd done a long time ago - because then I'd have done it several times since. We went to Bihai Jinsha - known as the best quality beach near Shanghai and if you translate the name you get something like "Bluish green sea, Golden sand".Read More
Apart from Yoga, I haven't been doing much fitness lately and to be honest the thought of HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING scared me just a tiny bit. So of course I said yes to Lizzy's invitation.Read More
It's getting hot in Shanghai (though most of us know we haven't seen nothing yet) and it's time to hit the pools! Whether it's for a little day-drinking session, a solid swim or tanning, escaping to a pool just make summer in Shanghai more bearable.. And much more fun!Read More
Summer is here and as I've had such a busy spring I just recently started finding the time and effort to go back to my no. 1 Urban Gym in Shanghai: Xuhui Waterfront!Read More
Oh I am not so sure about that. Or was that is. Before I went for a surprisingly successful and fun morning class at Spinback Fitness here in Shanghai. Here's the story:
Last time I went to a spinning class I was 16 and it was one of the most intense (and horrible) hours in my life (Ok I probably chose the wrong level as well as forgot to listen to my body). As I got down from the bike I literally passed out (!) and the next thing I remember is looking up and seeing the faces of half the spinning class... and feeling very uncomfortable and awkward.
So when Jen from Spinback Fitness invited me to come and join them for a spin I was so grateful about the invitation and in such a dilemma about what to do about it. With my past experience still haunting me every time someone suggest me to get into this calorie-burning activity, I really did not feel like going. On the other hand, I'm all about having an open mind, an open heart & discovering Healthy Habits in Shanghai... Dileeeemmmaaa!!
Then I got this awsome idea of sending my boyfriend (and his iphone camera for blogging purposes). He loves all kinds of activities, he loves being active everyday and he is keen on trying almost anything. Also spinning! Am I smart or what!
Of course my BF was super keen but of course he wouldn't let me get away with my great idea this easy, especially taking into consideration that I booked him on a morning spin class at 6.30... So in the spirit of Healthy Shanghai I joined him.
Friday morning very very early we were met by the super smiling and energetic instructor Chrissy and a room filled with shining bikes. The room in itself is super bright and makes your feel awake before evening getting on the bike.
My favorite thing at Spinback Fitness is.. Their TV!! And I never watch TV so that's interesting. The cool thing is that during your whole spinning class the screen take you on the most awsome adventures throughout the world: you go biking throughout New York, you go surfing somewhere tropical, snowboarding somewhere awsome and lots of other places and action-packed mission. It's such a treat for the eyes and before you know of it you'r halfway through the class.
Another great thing is the way Chrissy took us through different tours. So the whole class was 8 tours with different pace, different levels of steepness and different music. She also emphasized that we should listen to our body and bike with the pace and resistance that felt good (yet challenging, its just one hour right!).
The class went super fast and spinning was super fun!
Spinback fitness is currently moving their gym from Xujiahui to the heart of the French Concession (good move!) and from the end of January you can find them on Jiashan lu very close to that street most people know very well...whats the name again Oh Yoooongkang!
Spinback fitness also offers spinning in combination with posture exercise and personal training. This is what they call the Spinback Fitness Method:
Read more on their website and get in contact so you can start spinning in Shanghai!
It's not a secret that I like to visit Shanghai's parks and green spots several times a week - whether it's for a run, some yoga, a tabata workout or just a stroll. What is kind of a secret is the location of some of my spots! But Sharing is Caring right?
I find that by having different spots with different qualities (near my home, near some water, big & bustling, small & secret etc.) there is always a place I feel like going when the alarm rings too early in the morning! And there are less excuses...
Fuxing Park is easy and accessible, it has a decent size for a 5k morning run and it has great green areas for doing post-running stretches. But if you don't feel like running around hundreds of curious locals during their morning routines Fuxing is just a no-go. This has sometimes been my excuse for not getting out there (oh yes, I have good excuses as well).
But not long ago we discovered an amazing spot just around the corner from our apartment and I've been going there several times since. It's lush, it's beautiful and it's the spot I like to call my Secret Yoga Garden. In the morning you literally see below 10 people in this garden and it's just such a good little morning or afternoon green get-away from concrete and crowds! Only minus is that a 5k runs would include quite a lot of loops - but it's a great destination for a run through the streets and for doing yoga or other post-running activities!
Sharing is Caring
My Secret Yoga Garden is actually not my garden (!) no, it belongs to the Okura Garden Hotel on Maoming Lu/Changle lu which started as a French Club in the 1920s. Due to a visit by Mao in 1959 the Garden was designed with its current look including lots of small paths so the chairman could have his leisurely walks (read more on the Okura Garden Hotel's website).
The Garden is open everyday with access from Maoming Lu (between Changle and Huaihai) and as far as I am aware it is public (otherwise I am pretty convinced the Chinese guards and gardeners would have informed me as well as the small expat groups I've seen doing picnics here on weekends).
Do yourself a favor and visit this lush, secret spot in the heart of the French Concession in Shanghai. Whether its for pure healthy activities or a nice hangout make sure to bring a blanket and don't forget to do some stretches on the grass or practice your headstand like me and my boyfriend (I'm making him a yogi, so happy!!).
Enjoy Friends, and see you in the garden!
I find that mornings are the best time to run, do yoga and work out: (I) The air in Shanghai is so much better in the morning (ii) most of us know when we have to be at work - we never reaaally know when we are going to leave work later (iii) it gives us that energy boost from the morning that support us in having an amazing day (endorphins friends endorphins...).
Everyone can set their alarm to ringing 30 minutes earlier - but does that really buy us the time needed for a workout? Say Ta-Ba-Ta. My Partner In Crime has introduced me to this High Intensity Interval Training which is known for burning fat & calories (and even more important: giving us energy, happiness and awsomeness) fast.
Tabata, in a sentence, is a super intense, super efficient and super quick training method. It's a form of High Intensity Interval ("HIT") which is really intense exercise performed in many, short intervals with tiny breaks in between. This one is named after a Japanese Professor Izumi Tabata who studied Olympic speed skaters.
It involves using cycles of 20-seconds of intense exercise, followed by 10-seconds rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes. The theory behind it is that the body works so much harder when its really being pushed and that is burns more calories and recovers stronger.
There are many ways to do Tabata - try to google it and you will find websites dedicated to the concept. According to my Partner In Crime our favorites are body-weight exercises like pushups, pullups, dips, crunches, lunges, squats, jumps etc. It is easy to integrate running as well just switch between high and low intensity.
But Try it!
Classic routine of 3 or 4 sets:
- st set: Squats (4x cycles i.e. go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, repeat 4 times)
- nd set: Pushups (4x cycles)
- rd set: Crunches (4x cycles)
- th set: Pull-ups or dips (4x cycles)
Give yourself 100% and you will be buuuuuurning. Then repeat 3 or 4 times per week!
The beauty of Tabata is that its quick, no gyms required, its super flexible and its super effective! Don't forget to download the "Tabata Timer" app or similar to keep your timing.
Suzhou Creek is just a 10 minutes bike ride away from my home in the French Consession and I love to go here for a run or an evening walk. Especially on a day like today where I had plenty of time for outdoor activities and where the air feels so fresh, the sky is blue and the temperature has dropped to more running-friendly degrees.
I lock my bike at the Creek in the Jing'an-end and if I have a good leg-day like today I run all the way to the Bund and back. There is something really spectacular about running by the creek as it gets broader and broader and suddenly the Pudong Skyline shows behind bridges and buildings. Before you know of it the creek runs into Huangpu River and you are being stopped by a Chinese tourist for a photo together at the Bund.
If you're not sure how to get to the creek or where to start you can check out my route and map here. Or just grab your trainers, head to the creek and start running along the tracks on both sides of the water.
I love running by water and I literally feel like I've been on a little morning get-away from busy Shanghai every time I do this mission.
This morning I skipped yoga and my regular Morning Energy Class in order to join my friend Martin at Iron Dragon Cross Fit in Jing'an. Martin represents Iron Dragon in competitions and is a cross fit PRO so I was'nt really sure whether I was super lucky to have him give me a session or super fuc****.... Anyways, I was super keen to visit and experience the original CrossFit gym in China: Iron Dragon (the name says it all doesn't it?) and give Cross Fit a proper go.
The gym's box (yup, when you train Cross Fit you are not really inside a gym or a center - you are in the box) the biggest in Asia and all I can say is that it's a super cool box! Being inside Iron Dragon feels like being in another world - a world inspired by an underground environment, simple warehouse facilities and a hardcore gym (don't expect to find any nice motivational quotes around here telling you that "come on, you can do it CLAP CLAP" instead you find "no excuses FULL STOP").
Cross Fit shi shenme?
According to Iron Dragon CrossFit is "The Sport of Fitness” and despite it's rather rough edges it is said to be suitable for everyone - even weak'ish unexperienced yoga girls. I actually did the same program as the PRO Martin this morning - just with fewer repetitions and a little bit less weight...or a lot less...or actually no weight sometimes where I just did the squat... But I did it. Cross fit is a combination of lots of training systems and philosophies - even elements from yoga is super important as cross fit is more than strength: balance and flexibility are essential! (And suddenly I found my Cross Fit advantage).
If you want to try this action packed work out just visit Iron Dragon's website for bookings of classes and private sessions or rock up at 325 Changhua Lu / Kangding Lu in Jing'an district on Fridays after 18pm where they offer open workout where anybody is welcome for free. Yes: For free. You don't hear these words too often in Shanghai friends so I'll just repeat the words of Iron Dragon: NO EXCUSES!
I have discovered some great running routes in Shanghai. Some with open spaces, some with greens, some with a water view and some which include all three.
What I have been missing is a running route which motivates and supports me to run longer distances. I am very much a 5k runner. With that I mean that 5k is my base and my comfort zone. It seems like I can always run 5k and it seems like I have a hard time motivating myself to run longer than that. When I reach 5k I'm like "sweet, time for yoga". But I often think about getting into running longer distances again. Maybe do my first marathon here in Asia - have you heard about the half-marathon in Cambodia through the renowned Angkor Wat? It's in December this year and It sounds aaaaamazing. But it just seems so difficult - I almost feel feel like saying impossible to train for a marathon in Shanghai.
Willpower & Century Park
Then the other week I remembered my friend Lars. Lars is a super-runner and a very inspiring person if you like running. In 2012 he ran the Great Wall Marathon. Oh yes 42.195 km and 5,164 steps on the Great Wall and a run that puts participants physical ability to the test. No problem for Lars' physical ability. Later the same year he joined the Sky Marathon and with over 300 other stair-running enthusiasts he conquered the 100 floors of the World Financial Center in Shanghai. In 2012 I had just moved to Shanghai and I was so fascinated about Lars' commitment and running ability. His secret? Willpower & Century Park.
Century Park is located in Pudong east of Lujiazui and it is the largest park in Shanghai. It is a bit of a mission to get there but this Saturday I decided to see if the mission is worth it.
Saturday morning Me and my friend Anne who is visiting me these weeks enjoyed one of my home-made green smoothies, we put on our running gear and we went with the subway to Century Park. It's Line 2 and you either get off at Shanghai Science & Technology Museum or Century Park. When you are D.O.N.E jumb in a taxi and it's a RMB 25 ride back to Puxi Centre.
Out at Century Park you can run on the running track around the whole park with lots of other running enthusiasts or you can pay RMB 10 to get access into the park and it's many paths, it's green fields, it's big lake and it's small tivoli.
Century Park and it's outside area is fresh, open, green and biiiiiiig. So you can definitely get your marathon training started in Shanghai by doing a couple of weekly missions to Century Park.
Bonus? A Century Park mission almost feels like a small Shanghai get-away so why not try that and skip the hung-over brunch for a change. An after running brunch just taste so much better.
Have a lovely Sunday in rainy'ish Shanghai and don't forget to subscribe to receive other running tips & healthy stuff
A very good reason to do less outside activities when living in the middle of Shanghai is the air quality, the lack of green areas and the unescapable big city buzz. Especially when you are use to being able to run by the beach, in the forest and close to nature in general, running in Shanghai seems very unappealing. Well, I have decided that even though the conditions here are not perfect my physical condition shall remain the same. This includes running which have been one of my main ways to stay in shape for years.
What I have discovered is that Shanghai is truly a totally different city in the early mornings. A run, a walk or a bike ride before 7 is so awesome. In the early mornings the air is much cleaner, the traffic is limited and the parks are bustling with Chinese people doing all sorts of activities (and I mean all sorts). Taking a run through for example Jing'an, Xiangyang or Fuxing park is such an experience: It seems like all the locals meet to play feather ball, do Tai Chi, dance, brush their teeth (in their pyjamas of course), walk their dogs or give their birds some fresh air... Yes that is actually a perfectly normal activity in Shanghai. So grab you bird cage, go to the nearest park, hang it in a tree and just hang out with the other bird owners while your bird gets some fresh air... Or do as I like to do: grab your running shoes and get out and play with the locals as early as possible.
It is truly fascinating and not least motivating that no matter the age so many locals seem to stay so active. And apart from being such a healthy habit to start your day with being active it is sooo interesting to se what the locals are up to today!
A Little Guide to Shanghai's Parks
- Fuxing Park: My favorite! Why?
- Fuxing Park is a 10-15 minutes run away from my home on Shaanxi Lu
- Fuxing Park is big enough for a 10-15 minutes run inside the park before returning home
- Fuxing Park has big green area in the middle where I can do stretches, yoga or my favorite (actually not): Squats
- Xiangyang Park
- Xiangyang Park is very small but a great green stop if you're doing a run in the streets of the French Concession. I sometimes run by Xiangyang Park on my way to Jing'an Park to do some loops and push ups on the benches
- Jing'an Park
- like Jing'an park though it's not as big as Fuxing Park. A run here is always very interesting and the pictures below are all from this park. The streets around the Park and the Jing'an Kerry Center area are big, open and not too busy in the early mornings. Compared to the small busy streets around Fuxing Park this is so much nicer for a combined city-park run
- Jing'an Sculpture Park
- Though currently being renovated this park is an interesting run with some interesting sculptures. It is a little further north in Jing'an and in an area I wouldn't come across if I didn't run to the park or sometimes run/bike to Suzhou Creek (which is another favorite running destination of mine)
- Xujiahui Park
- Big, open and though busy it is great as a running destination. It is a little inconvenient for me in terms of running to this park in the mornings so I personally don't use this park for morning runs
Find your local running destination in Shanghai
Running in the morning has to be easy and accessible so the reasons for "not to go" are minimized. We all know how valid these excuses seem when the alarm rings at too early o'clock. Still, even when I have had a bad sleep and I feel so-so, actually getting up for even just a small run to awaken my body & mind makes a huge positive impact on the rest of my day.
Shanghai has many smaller and bigger parks - go explore and find your own convenient spot and running route. In this way you can easier make morning runs a habit of your own!
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Last month the 6th Best Of Shanghai Awards took place in order to celebrate the city's best offerings. In case you like me are wondering about the best Healthy Choices in our city I'll share them with you here.
Best Yoga Studio: Pure Yoga
Best Gym Chain: MOB Fitness Club
Best Gym: Rebook CrossFit MeWellness
Best Travel Company: Ctrip
I've been around MOB Fitness Club which is such a cool and modern fitness club (with pools) and I can't wait to try Pure Yoga in IAPM Mall to see if it's really that good or too modern for me (I appreciate Body & Soul Yoga's spiritual style and small classes - this morning we were only two students so it's full-on and full-value-for-money practice).
I would have appreciated some more Healthy Awards on the list - like Best Healthy Selection Cafe, Best Healthy Selection Supermarket and Best Healthy Blog... Guess I'll have to get into contact with Best Of Shanghai and work on that for next year's award show!
What's your favorite healthy choice in Shanghai in terms of gym, cafe or personal habit? I'm working on my Top 5 Healthy Cafe Choice in Shanghai so if you wanna share your favorite spot let me know which & why!
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One of our favorite spots for running, playing, doing yoga & other activities is Xuhui Waterfront. Never heard of it? Neither had I before one morning were we decided to run from our home to the Bund and instead of heading towards the West Bund where we have another favorite running route (check this one out here) we just ran in a straight line through Xuhui.
We ended up at the water as planned but were surprised to find what seems like a newly renovated waterfront. I love this spot because you get open space, a great water-view and fresh air (if the air quality is okay on that given day). Another great Shanghai Escape!
You can do a great run from your home to here and then enjoy the area while you do your push ups, jumps or headstands. Another option which I prefer in order to avoid running in the busy streets of Shanghai to get here is to jump on my bike to the Bund and do my 5k run at the water. Or do as my boyfriend and get up suuuuper early (he prefers 5.30) and you are almost able to run in empty streets which is a pretty cool experience to - Shanghai definitely seems like a different city in the early hours!
Xuhui Waterfront is worth a visit - great for a weekend stroll as well.
Check our route (the Black Line) on the above map and click here to find an interactive google map where you can see more details and make your own route.