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July 21, 2009

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Home » Feature » Health and Environment

A new 'guy-thing' - A kinder, gentler fitness course for men

A new men's fitness course - Wuji (infinite) Body and Mind Fitness - combines tai chi, yoga and pilates and builds wellness, flexibility, balance and peace. Fei Lai reports.

Guys traditionally go for muscle-building workouts and weight-training at the gym. It's a guy-thing.

Increasingly, however, men are turning to yoga and other fitness programs that emphasize both body and mind. They want more than big muscles, they want balance, flexibility and maybe a bit of serenity.

In response to this surge in male interest, the Wuji Body and Mind Fitness Course combines elements of tai chi, yoga, pilates and other approaches.

Wuji means limitless or infinite. The course, launched early this month in Shanghai, was developed by Chinese martial arts film star Jet Li and adidas.

It is offered at any adidas-authorized gyms.

According to the kung fu vision, the mind represents the heart, soul and the beginning of all things, while the body refers to the physical presence and overall fitness. Together, when they are balanced, they can lead not only to physical wellness but also mental calm.

"I've been to many countries and seen many people working out at gyms - sometimes they look uncomfortable or even in pain when they exercise," says Wuji coach Han Li.

"The fast pace of life in the city makes physical training of the body alone insufficient to achieve genuine health. We need to reunify body and mind," Han adds.

To relieve stress while strengthening the body, four traditional Chinese elements/concepts are involved - water, earth, fire and air.

Eight segments

"Water stands for body fluids such as blood and sweat, which symbolize freedom and movement. Earth stands for bones and muscles, representing stability and meditation," says Han. "Fire is for temperature, which includes body heat and signifies stamina and passion. Air refers to breath, signifying qi (energy) and recovery."

The course is a group fitness program, with 30-40 people in a class lasting 60 minutes.

Based on qigong, an internal Chinese meditative practice using slow graceful movements, the class is divided into eight exercise segments.

It includes a warm-up session, exercises to stretch and strengthen the body (chest, back, abs, shoulders, arms, lower body), and a relaxation period.

A beginner, with a coach, can complete all the exercises in just 60 minutes.

"The exercises are different from those for muscle building and those for meditation," Han says. "It takes care of the overall development of a man. It's not about simple repetition but challenges a man's persistence."

A multi-purpose Wuji exercise belt complements the course and can be used at home or office for stretching and strengthening muscles and relieving stress and fatigue.

"With the belt, men can get relaxed with simple exercises for their neck, back, leg and arm muscles," says coach Han. "The easy, basic body-mind moves help men focus on their jobs and gradually develop good habit of exercise, ultimately achieving body-mind harmony."

The course will be updated every six month to keep it fresh and interesting. The next theme, replacing the four elements, will probably be "Spring, Summer, Autumn and Fall" and apply the 24 solar terms.


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