'Boot camp' recruits shed excess kilos

By YANG FEIYUE | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-09-11 07:01
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A beach volleyball session is organized by Jianfeidaren Go Change Now in Huizhou. [Photo/China Daily]

Data analyzed

Researchers from the Chinese PLA General Hospital's First Medical Center analyzed the data of about 15.8 million participants from 519 health check centers operated by Meinian One-Health Healthcare Group in 243 cities nationwide. The group is headquartered in Shanghai.

Based on the Chinese body mass index classification, 34.8 percent of those studied were overweight and 14.1 percent were obese. The eligible participants were 18 or older and 52.8 percent of them were male. Just over 41 percent of Chinese men were overweight or obese, compared with 27.7 percent of Chinese women.

Complications associated with overweight peaked among males from the ages of 50 to 54, and among females from 65 to 69. The prevalence of obesity-related health problems peaked from the ages of 35 to 39 in males and from 70 to 74 in females.

Wu Xueyan, a professor at Peking Union Medical College Hospital's endocrinology department, said men are more prone to obesity for several reasons that are usually related to stress at home or at work.

To relieve stress, men often resort to unhealthy lifestyles such as drinking alcohol and overeating, Wu said, adding that insufficient or irregular sleep for a long period can lead to obesity among males.

More people are overweight or obese in the north of China than in the south, with the Inner Mongolia autonomous region (37.1 percent), Shandong province (37.1 percent) and Hebei province (36.6 percent) ranking in the top three in this respect.

Li Buman, deputy director of Tsinghua University Yuquan Hospital's endocrinal immunology department, said that due to poor diet and sedentary lifestyles, the number of people with metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by abdominal obesity, has risen significantly in modern times.

High hopes

Many market players have set their sights on the training camp business.

Last year, the Hilefit gymnasium chain opened about 7,300 training camps and welcomed some 30,000 trainees, said Zhou Denghong, an official in charge of the gym's group class. The number of camps is expected to rise by more than 20 percent this year, Zhou added,

Each camp offers about eight classes, which last for an hour.

"The emphasis is placed on precise body measurements, a personalized scientific fitness plan, and comprehensive dietary guidance," Zhou said.

"Those who sign up are seeking a positive collective workout atmosphere in which to get in shape."

About 60 percent of the participants join the camps more than once, he said.

Fang Bing, a fitness training camp instructor based in Shenzhen, gives two or three classes for four to 12 students every day.

"Most of them are white-collar workers with previous workout experience. They have a very strong awareness of the need to stay fit, and are extremely self-disciplined," Fang said.

Many of these people also join the camps for social interaction.

"They feel it is more fun to work out together and make friends to watch one another's diets and other daily routines," Fang said.

He has provided instruction on issues such as fat-burning to muscle building at about 300 camps, and most of his members have been with him from the start. "I don't really look for new members these days, because those I currently have take up about 98 percent of my energy," he said.

Fang considers his job rewarding, as many of his members thank him for improving their physique and health.

"This motivates me to keep promoting the concept of exercise and health," he said.

Chen, who joined the boot camp in Dongguan, said the two experiences enabled her to make like-minded friends and maintain a healthier routine.

"We often encourage each other to keep going when we work out," she said.

Chen said it is important for those wanting to join boot camps to tell the trainers about their health conditions, as most people who are overweight may experience difficulty in exercising.

"If you seldom or never exercise, it is unwise to suddenly take up a demanding training schedule," Chen said. "It's important to keep an eye on your heart rate and what you eat."

Chen said she will take time off to join similar boot camps in the future. "Why not? It will be a nice vacation experience for me to relax and stay fit," she said.

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