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6 Fun Ways to Stay Active in Chongqing (Without Joining a Gym!)

By Micah Steffes , Add your comment Newsletter

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Now that summer is upon us, it’s time to get active again. At least I keep telling myself that. I don’t know what it is about Chongqing, but every time I think about getting back in shape, I wind up in front of my computer watching pirated totally legal movies for the umpteenth time. Back home I’d join a gym, thinking that paying through the nose every month would be enough incentive to get up off my butt. But schlepping to the gym out of some sense of obligation to my billfold isn’t any fun. Neither is the treadmill once I get there.

If that’s your cup of tea, check out this article. If it’s not (or if Chongqing’s gym membership rates are too reasonable to guilt-trip you into schlepping), keep reading for six fun ways to stay active in Chongqing, without joining a gym.

1) Trek the mountain city (go hiking)
A friend of mine, an English guy and a smoker, claims he can run up Gele Shan “no problem.” For normal folk like myself, just trekking up the hill from adjoining foreign language college Chuanwai’s gates to the upper campus where the trails start is a nice little work out. Because most people take the rather rickety gondola up to the viewing platform, the trails are rather quiet and refreshingly nature-y. Nan Shan, Chongqing’s Victoria Peak, is likewise worth your while. While a bit further from the city centres, the views of Chaotianmen and the confluence of the rivers are rewarding. Nan Shan also has an accompanying park that is great for a relaxed warm-up walk.

Getting there: To get to Gele Shan (歌乐山), take the 210 or 821 buses. For Nan Shan (南山), take the 21, 23, 383 or 384 buses.

2) Go for a joy ride (go bike riding)
Chongqing was never a bicycle city – the mountain city’s own hilly, stair-stepped topography made sure of that.  But now that the city’s inhabitants are becoming increasingly health conscious, Chongqing’s riverside paths and challenging inclines have a new appeal. Try Shapingba’s Hard Rock Bike Shop for a bike and gear. While you’re there, ask about local bicycle touring groups – they’re probably a safer bet than going at it on your own in “traffic smooth” Chongqing. On the other hand, renting a bike at Ciqikou is fun and cheap, with safe (enough) pathways immediately accessible from the bike stands. To get there from Ciqikou’s main gate, head down to Bingjianglu (滨江路).

Hard Rock Bike Shop (重庆硬石头自行车专卖店)View In Map
Add: 74 Shapingba North Train Station Road, Shapingba District; 10 Changjiangyi Road, Lianglukou, Yuzhong District (Next to the library)
地址:沙坪坝火车北站东路74号(市八中旁); 渝中区长江一路10号(两路口图书馆旁)Tel: 02365319835; 02363627707

3) Conquer Chongqing (join the rugby club)
Foreigner-founded and foreigner-run, the Chongqing Conquerors rugby team is a surprising presence in a city with such a small expat community. They are headquartered out of a sports bar founded for the specific purpose of being a meeting place for players – the team that drinks together stays together!

Tel: 15823865298

4) Go to college (check out the local universities’ outdoor courts)
Chongqing’s universities typically have a full array of courts, tracks and fields, all open to the (paying) public. While equipment is not typically available to rent, the rates for time rented are quite reasonable. Your best bet is Chuanwai’s (Sichuan International Studies University) lower campus or any of Chongqing University’s campuses.

5) Stair master (run the stairs at Shibati)
Perhaps the most obvious way to stay active in Chongqing is to take advantage of its hills and stairs. The best place to do that would no doubt be Shibati (十八梯) in Jiefangbei. Whether walking or trotting (or trudging!), this is certainly the most interesting workout in Chongqing. If Shibati is too much (or if it’s gone by the time you get there) go out and discover your own Chongqing stairs circuit – most neighbourhoods have a set of stairs or an area where the incline is steep enough to get your heart pumping.

Getting there: From Jiao Chang Kou (较场口), walk toward the river. The stairs start down next to a teashop called Laojie Cha Lou (老街茶楼).

6) If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em (go dancing in the square)
One of my favourite things about China is the tradition of dancing in public. Unfortunately, the younger generation isn’t taking on the torch. So you, foreigner, must step up to the plate! Only the intrepid would venture to hop in, but alas, making a fool of oneself is such fun (I promise!).  Since dancing with the large-scale city-centre groups will usually cause quite a scene, neighbourhood groups are your best bet. The dancing starts at sunrise and sunset, but times vary. Keep your eyes open to find out when and where your own neighbourhood group gets together.

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Keywords: activities in Chongqing staying healthy Chongqing sports and fitness Chongqing expat get togethers Chongqing

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