Exercise online to maintain fitness levels during lockdown

Edited by Sun Chao. Subtitles by Zhu Yuting.

“Working out a little” has become a positive and healthy time-killer for many Shanghai residents amid the city’s COVID-19 resurgence.

Some of them are expats and members of the free fitness community FitFam.

Most people in Shanghai have been enduring a stay-at-home period since April 1 in accordance with epidemic control measures.

The FitFam courses run from 5:30am to 9pm, including high-intensity interval training and body weight workouts as well as yoga, Pilates, running, strength, and dance.

“People can join the classes they like in their free hours,” said Liu Yuandong, a team leader of the fitness groups. “It is a very flexible choice during quarantine time.”

“During the outbreak period, starting each day with a one-hour workout can make my whole day energetic and positive,” Liu said.

“When you are being positive and optimistic, you can also influence the people around you.”

The online fitness sessions have recently attracted the participation of many foreigners who account for about 60 percent of customers, Liu said.

Exercise online to maintain fitness levels during lockdown

Ti Gong

Screen shots show FitFam members’ workout sessions during the COVID-19 resurgence.

Exercise online to maintain fitness levels during lockdown

Ti Gong

The FitFam schedule offered during the COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai.

Exercise online to maintain fitness levels during lockdown

Ti Gong

People, including expats in Shanghai, positively engage in online fitness programs during their lockdown.

Liu has lived in Shanghai for over 10 years and works as a senior adviser in a foreign company.

“I have been with FitFam for over five years. I joined when a weight loss idea first came to mind,” he said.

Liu said the most important thing he had learnt from sport, or the FitFam community, was the meaning of leadership.

“Leadership is not about leading others,” he explained, “it is about leading yourself. If you can control your own time and energy, the people around you will follow.”

The community now has branches in seven cities in mainland China and has also expanded to 14 other nations. It is easy to access through its mini program on WeChat.

“From our mini program everyone is free to register in online workout classes that run every day,” said Wang Qianqian, a woman who has been a member for over six months.

“Doing some exercise is really helpful to keep a positive attitude towards life now, and also can help some of us to chase away the bad feelings, such as anxiety,” she said.

“Usually, our activities are outdoors. Now the classes have been moved online, but it hasn’t reduced or affected our enthusiasm to take part in workouts. We also set a new goal – to complete five workout days within a week.

“On the bright side, the recent outbreak gave us more time to work out,” Wang said.

“The epidemic is temporary, but cultivating a positive attitude towards life can benefit us forever,” she said.

The community, founded by six foreigners in 2015 in Shanghai, aims to provide everyone with a free opportunity to take part in fitness activities. Now it has spread worldwide.

“During the past two years of the pandemic, FitFam has not only adapted but we have thrived,” said one of the group’s founders, Vy Vu, an Australian.

“We were early adopters of online workouts in 2020 and now two years later our virtual community is bigger and stronger than ever. We’re able to reach those in remote places and also stay connected to people who are isolated.”

The group now has developed into a completely functioning organization.

“FitFam has always been accessible because it’s free, but free membership isn’t the only appeal. It is fueled by an incredible and tireless 100 percent volunteer community that dedicates its time, energy and professional-level expertise to empower others,” Vu said.

The community aims to promote a connected and healthier lifestyle, and keeps discovering a sense of shared freedom through sport activities it holds in public spaces.

“We committed ourselves to a healthier lifestyle, which used to start from Luwan Stadium at 6am in the morning, and with each workout we got stronger physically and mentally as our friendships grew tighter,” Vu said.

Exercise online to maintain fitness levels during lockdown

Ti Gong

Aerobic exercises during an offline FitFam activity

Exercise online to maintain fitness levels during lockdown

Ti Gong

A FitFam group running session