After the yoga trend, the new sport practice of young Chinese women is … boxing! They are between twenty and thirty years old, all working girls in professional ascension and they wish to maintain their physical condition with boxing. A report on women’s boxing, which gathers more and more followers in China:
Healthy lifestyle, last wave in Chinese society
Under the greyness of big cities, Chinese city dwellers dream of a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and a sport that allows them to develop a muscular body. While it is strongly discouraged to jog or practice an outdoor physical activity because of the city smog, fitness center seems to be the ideal solution.
Lina * first practiced yoga for one year before turning to boxing: « It was a bit too girly for me! Then I realized I need to be stronger to improve my immune system, and boxing is a fast way you can gain strength and be stronger ».
A fashion launched by … Victoria Secret’s Angels
The reputation of the Victoria Secret top models is huge in China, where it is common to see their annual catwalk relayed at karaoke reception. These girls of all ethnic origins are role models for Chinese women, who dream of the same muscular abs.
As the last Angels parade was held in Shanghai, the interest of the fans converged on the ultimate question: how do these models manage to keep their body fit? It turned out that models like Adriana Lima and Romee Strijd practice boxing, more specifically aero boxing, a brand-new discipline that combines boxing and aerobics and has become their fitness routine. They practice this discipline with a famous coach : the ex-boxer Michael Olajide Jr. This new sport has been an integral part of their training session for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, some models like Kelly Gale were also regularly sharing their training sessions on their Instagram account for their fans.
Targeting Adriana Lima’s abs
The result of it ? The young Chinese fans of the Angels rushed into boxing clubs to sign up and regularly post their own fitness routine on their Wechat account. Aero Boxing does not lack efficiency: all the body muscles are indeed worked through this combination of boxing movements and intensive workout. The body turn out to be muscular but not swollen, the main defect of bodybuilding for those looking for a slim figure.
The ‘Girls Only’ teaching lessons, popular among beginners
According to Kyle*, receptionist at a Shanghainese boxing club, young Chinese women are developing their social network at their gym center. They often motivate one or two friends to accompany them to begin the practice together, then encourage each other to persevere. Shandy* has just signed up for three months: « I wanted to have a try on a new sport with a friend, and also be able to defend myself later on ».
Alva * winces while doing squats: she suffers from an old knee injury following a skiing accident, but keeps on training despite it. « I really need to become more enduring! This is only a training matter ».
Boxing classes ‘Girls Only’ are very successful because they allow young women to meet each other and toil in training without being spied by male eyes. They still have the opportunity of joining the mixed lessons, a free choice that gives those beginners confidence. In the ring, an experienced practitioner is training with a private coach; the impacts of her strikes echo throughout the hall.
Why boxing has always been a successful sport in China?
Boxing is not really a new matter in China, where there are hundreds of martial arts waves and where kung-fu (also known as wushu) is popularized in the West through the performances of the Shaolin monks and Jackie Chan’s action movies, when not speaking about Kunf-Fu Panda for children.
Chinese boxing as a competitive fighting sport is called sanda: it is derived from traditional wushu.
National martial arts are millennia old and have had influences from various schools of thought: wushu art is a good example of the ideas association of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian within Chinese culture.
Female boxing represents a market in China
Sports practice has become very important in China. Having a healthy and muscular body slowly becomes a primary aesthetic criterion. Faced with this social trend, Chinese women are ready to invest in their sports education. Gym membership card is now part of the budget of their personal expenses.
In the case of female Chinese boxing, sport‘s ambassadors – we would call them KOL (Key Opinion Leader) – are obvious: the Victoria Secret Angels have truly helped to popularize this sport among young Chinese women, sharing their daily training on social networks before the Fashion show in Shanghai.
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* Respondents’ names were modified to maintain their anonymity