Less & better food, more aerobics and a dash of R Lee Ermey's philosophy combine to make Chinese fitness camps for kids an exercise in tough love... with the emphasis on the exercise.
Pipsqueak Private Pyles with a lingering taste for jelly donuts will find no such delicacies waiting for them at one particular summer boot camp in Wuhan. Instead, they'll find hula-hoop-dispensing instructors ready & willing to change unhealthy lifestyles that would otherwise certainly shorten their lives.
What may look like a lineup for summer Sumo signups or auditions for a Chinese version of The Biggest Loser, Kids Edition is actually a weigh-in for new arrivals at the Wuhan kid's fitness camp. A humbling experience to be sure, but all that changes at the weigh-out 28 days later.
Chinese children are becoming obese due to a number of factors. Like their Western counterparts, China's kids are enjoying the benefits of a wealthier, upwardly mobile society. Unfortunately, many kids appear to be enjoying some of those so-called benefits (processed food, sugary soft drinks) overly much while the lure of TV, video games, computers and the Internet are reducing the amount of time spent on outdoor sports and recreation.
Another cause of childhood obesity in China can be attributed to parents overindulging their only offspring: China's One Child Policy has spawned a generation of little princelings and princesses who are spoiled to a fault.
The Wuhan fitness boot camp provides a rude awakening to kids accustomed to snacking on sweets to their heart's (and stomach's) content. Breakfast at the camp is spartan to say the least, and the bland, basic meals discourage any requests for second helpings. Please sir, can I have... eh, never mind.
For some sedentary kids, a brisk walk in the fresh air beneath the clear skies of central China's Hubei Province is a novel experience that with any luck will become habitual... though without the daunting chain link fences.
All that's missing is barbed wire running along the top of the fence, guard towers at the corners of the yard, and a leather-lunged Chinese version of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman leading the happy campers in a rousing singalong. Everybody now, “This is my rifle. This is my gun. This is for fighting. This is for fun.”
If all else fails, bring out the needles! I don't know about you, but I'd rather carry a backpack filled with rocks on a 5-mile hike then be turned into a human pincushion by the Wuhan fitness camp's Mengele, er, medical staff.
The child above, however, seems to be taking it all in stride as he conjures up visions of purloined jelly donuts and his rifle, Charlene. Just don't get TOO relaxed, my chubby chum... you might accidentally roll over in your sleep. (via Xinhua)