Skip the Chinese Gym! Workout Routines You Can Do at Home

Skip the Chinese Gym! Workout Routines You Can Do at Home
Jun 23, 2017 By Andrea Scarlatelli ,

It's hard staying in shape, especially when the beck and call of China's various distractions get in the way—"Dinner at my favorite Sichuan place? Why, sure I'd love to join you after work instead of going to the gym!" But with the heavy food-and drink-fueled lifestyle that many expats indulge in, it's more important than ever to remain healthy and fit.

Gym memberships, however, tend to be the place where perfectly good Renminbi bills go to die. So what's a well-intentioned person to do? Enter the home workout: the perfect way to save money and time while still staying in shape.

Working out at home is super convenient since your gym is literally waiting for you when you walk in the door. And the best part: no need to feel self-conscious—the only person more fit than you is the one on the video!

Skip the Chinese Gym! Workout Routines You Can Do at Home

Choosing a workout routine

There are a ton of home workout videos on the market right now. Luckily, since you live in China, you can pick up copies for a fraction of the price at your local DVD store (or through other freer channels online—we won't judge). Here are three of the best workout DVDs for those who are aiming to get into serious shape:

1) P90X
A bit old school (the DVD's came out at least five years ago) but still just as efficient, P90X uses muscle confusion—mixing up your moves within the same workout so your body never gets used to one thing—to achieve major results in just three months. It's a six days per week routine with a total of 12 discs/workouts that rotate continuously.

The workouts are an average of 55 minutes each with the exception of Yoga, which is an excruciating hour and a half long including warm up and cool down. Workouts range from Cardio to Arms and Shoulders to Kenpo X, an interesting mix of karate and boxing. And then there's the evil sounding 15-minute Ab Ripper X—don't be fooled by the short time frame, the "X" is short for exhausting. Minimal equipment is needed – just a mat, hand weights, and a resistance band. 

2) Insanity
Imagine P90X decided to start taking steroids—now you can imagine what Insanity is like. This is basically a newer, even more concentrated version that focuses on interval training with minimum rest periods. Each of the 10 discs features a roughly 45-minute routine that has you doing long stretches of extremely intense exercises (think squats to push-ups to jumping jacks) with only a few seconds of rest in between each.

It's a 60-day program whose users supposedly burn up to 1,000 calories an hour. Another good thing about Insanity is that there's absolutely no equipment needed because all the exercises use your body weight for resistance.

3) 30 Day Shred
For those who watch reality television, the host of 30 Day Shred will most likely look familiar—Jillian Michaels is one of the boot camp instructors on The Biggest Loser, a televised weight-loss competition. This workout video has practically attained cult status, probably because it is comprised of only 20-minute workouts, making it ideal for people on the go.

The three 20-minute workouts (at three different ability levels) have the same general principle as the Insanity workouts—work out hard, work out quickly, see results. The only equipment needed for this workout is hand weights and a mat.


As mentioned above, most home workouts require that you at least have a few pieces of basic equipment. In general, it's good to have:

1) Hand weights
Hand weights can vary in price depending on their heaviness (the heavier they are, the more expensive they get). You can find them in a variety of weights, so be sure and test them out before you buy. Keep in mind that for home workouts you'll be doing quite a few reps, so you may want to start out a little lighter than you'd expect. Prices range from 40 RMB and up.

2) Exercise mat (运动垫)
Mats are important if you'll be exercising on hardwood floors. Without one, you're likely to slip and slide all over, potentially setting yourself up for a major injury. Look for a mat made of thicker material that really grips the floor surface—you can get some cheap ones that are basically just foam rubber, in which case you might as well just use your bare floor. Decent exercise mats retail from 100 RMB and up.

3) Yoga block (瑜伽砖)
Even though only one of the above-mentioned workout routines features yoga, a yoga block is still a great tool to have around if you're interested in doing any additional stretching to increase your flexibility. It gives you a few more inches to grab on to if your hand (or foot or elbow) can't quite reach the floor yet. Quality's not a big issue here since it's just for support, and you can usually find one for around 50 RMB.

4) Resistance band (弹力带)
Resistance bands can be used instead of hand weights if you prefer. They're like giant rubber bands that, depending on the length (the shorter the band, the more intense the resistance), are equivalent to a certain weight when pulled. They're required for the P90X workout as an alternative to pull up bars (which we're assuming most people don't actually have at home). These usually cost  around 200 RMB each, but you can get great deals on TaoBao.

5) Appropriate athletic gear
This one seems pretty obvious, but I personally know people who equate "home workout" with "working out in my pajamas" (or less). Even though you're technically not going to a gym, it's still important to dress appropriately for whatever workout you're about to engage in. This includes supportive athletic shoes, sports bras (there's a lot of jumping going around in these videos, ladies!), shorts and shirts made out of breathable fabrics. It is still a workout, after all!

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Keywords: Home exercise in China healthy in China China workout


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dont listen to the fool (guest922618) home workouts are a great idea - if you can keep at it. Most of the dvd's above are available for free download on TPB or other peer to peer sites.

Jun 24, 2017 12:56 Report Abuse



you just have no idea of real sports jumping up and down in front of the tv ain't one of it

Jun 26, 2017 13:45 Report Abuse



Home workouts are good if you know what you are doing. Handstands against the wall and lowering yourself up and down are a great replacement for presses of any kind in the gym. Likewise 45 degree decline push-ups where your feet are up on a bed or dresser or against the wall. "Bulgarian" squats with a suitcase work the legs... and any playground usually has monkey bars you can use for pull-ups to work the back...or if not that strong you can do inverted rows. These are just a few of the many exercises you can do. A fully equipped gym does have advantages of course...but the effectiveness of a home workout is only limited by your dedication and imagination.

Jul 05, 2017 13:58 Report Abuse



that cr*p cannot replace a gym if you just wanna do some cheap sports, go running outside and die from lung cancer i guess. workout videos are a complete bs as they are not tailored to the person. and those who only train arms and shoulders... well no comment

Jun 23, 2017 16:57 Report Abuse


John Jackson

Why does this woman always post crap articles?
P90X isn't that efficient. The author is only repeating what she heard in the infomercial like a drone.

The trainers in the videos didn't get ripped doing P90X at home, they went to the GYM!
"Chinese Gyms" are actually much more efficient than this american home workout crap. Going to the "Chinese Gym" will give you much more motivation than working out alone at home and the DVDs gets very repetitive and boring after 2 weeks, especially with the arrogant american douchebag in it. Plus the "Chinese Gyms" have the proper equipment and trainers who will give youadvice on form, safety and nutrition that will be valuable for life, unlike P90X that only tell you to keep form without telling you what is the correct form, and have a nutrition plan that is food mostly available in america (some are available in China, but at ridiculous prices) and filled with marketing of their own products.

P90X and Insanity are a waste of time and are only an excuse for the lazy fat people to say with their mouth half full of double cheeseburger "hey look! I just got this video. I'm so going to start working out... Tomorrow..."

- You want to eat healthy? Ditch this P90X/Insanity nutrition plan crap that is full of product placement from their own companies and go see a CHINESE NUTRITIONIST!
- You want to get ripped or toned? Ditch this P90X crap and go to the "CHINESE GYM"!
- You want to lose fat? Ditch this Insanity crap and go outside and RUN!

It doesn't matter what the weather is like outside. Wanting to get fit and to have a healthier life is enough of a motivation to go out and become better.

Oct 19, 2012 00:50 Report Abuse


Press ups

Press ups over a hot chic

Oct 11, 2012 01:22 Report Abuse



Another unoriginal article, this applies no matter which country you are in and this type of article has been written so many times before in probably every country. some originality please.

Oct 10, 2012 07:25 Report Abuse


Samuel Burgess

I was studying in Hangzhou and I use to use the university gym, 300rmb for a year membership. I now live in the north of Shenzhen, and the closest gym is still a trip away for me. I used taobao to buy a weightbench for 300rmb and then I bought weights (steel weights) for 600rmb. I have had them for about 2 years now.

The bench and weights are in the front room so there is no excuse to avoid them. Seeing them everyday helps encourage me. Doesn't matter about the weather as the apartment has air con for when it is hot, and I don't need to go travelling and get wet if it rains.

I support home exercising, especially if you are working long hours.

Oct 09, 2012 19:52 Report Abuse