From：Global Times View：557 Date：2014-11-13
For the community of senior gents who work out daily in Beijing's public parks, it is about more than just looking good
Although the wrinkles on his face and the tussle of salt and pepper hair covering his scalp may betray his age, to watch the effortless way in which Zhang Haijiang goes through a grueling routine of lifts and holds on the parallel bars at the Temple of Heaven Park, one would never think he had already reached the ripe-old age of 66.
Lean and sinewy, Zhang has been coming to the public park to exercise nearly every day for the last three years. Formerly a manual laborer at a factory that produced precision instruments, Zhang commands respect from the dozen or so daye (elderly men) he works out with each day.
Zhang's brigade of elderly gents is one of several dozen that use the park's free facilities to keep fit and healthy in their older age.
"These days, it's natural for men that are getting on in years to come here and work out together," Zhang said. "We come here to work out, talk, laugh, and have a good time."
Almost every public park in Beijing provides basic gym equipment for public use, and for years, men of a more elderly persuasion have been taking advantage of the free facilities.
Like the more well-publicized phenomenon of dama (elderly women) congregating to dance in parks and public squares, for the daye, these exercise groups provide a sense of camaraderie and community as they enter their twilight years.
Flexing their pecs
The outdoor gym facilities at the Temple of Heaven Park which Zhang frequents is used by an assortment of seniors every day.
Gazing over the exercise grounds, one is able to witness a cross-section of the elderly male community in Dongcheng district. There are muscled grandpas doing chin-ups and lifts on bars; frailer looking men treading leisurely on exercise cycles; small groups of limber-limbed seniors playing jianzi, a traditional game of keepy-uppy using a weighted shuttlecock.
"At our age, building muscles is secondary to general health and well-being," said Zhang. "The main thing is to be happy, and not to push yourself too hard to the point where it becomes dangerous."
A 65-year-old man surnamed Yang, well-known among the seniors who exercise in Houhai area for his muscular physique, echoed Zhang's thoughts.
"There are different ways for seniors to keep fit, depending on their age," said Yang, a retired truck driver.
Although Yang currently follows a demanding routine that includes lifting weights at a nearby gym, he said that when he reached the age of 70, he would probably do something less strenuous, like tai chi.