Sports\Team China

Shanghai firmly focused on fitness

By Shi Futian in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-22 06:55

Expanded programs underline city's commitment to exercise

In addition to being China's economic hub and hometown to superstars like NBA legend Yao Ming and world and Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang, Shanghai has a reputation for hosting prestigious international sporting events like the F1, NBA China Games and ATP Shanghai Masters.

The city's high profile, combined with its success in showcasing the world's best, has created a solid foundation for nurturing the national fitness program among the ranks of regular citizens.

According to the 2016 Report of Shanghai's National Fitness Development, 42.2 percent of the city's population regularly participated in physical exercise - up from 40.8 in 2015 - and there were 45,813 registered fitness teams.

Xu Bin, director of the Shanghai Municipal Sports Bureau, said the city's dramatic dedication to fitness is testament to its goal of becoming a global sports center by encouraging more people to enjoy the charm and benefits of physical activity.

Shanghai firmly focused on fitness

"Many of Shanghai's international sports stars and outstanding athletes devote themselves to encouraging more people to start to exercise, and they are playing the role of promoters and ambassadors of sports," said Xu.

"Shanghai has already become the host city of many top international sports events, making it one of China's most famous sports centers. Through those top international events, people can learn more about different sports and fall in love with them."

Wang Liqin, retired Olympic gold medalist and world champion paddler, participated in a recent forum called "Table Tennis Explores More", stressing that sports can have a unique and positive impact on people's lives. More forums are scheduled, with famous stars offering their insight and encouragement.

"It is Shanghai that turned me from an amateur player into a national table tennis champion," said Wang, who was born in the city.

"Sports can build strong bodies and also forge great personalities. For an athlete to stand on the podium takes great effort and sacrifice."

The growing number of sports enthusiasts in Shanghai can be traced to the National Fitness Program for 2016-20, aimed at encouraging 700 million Chinese to take part in physical exercise at lease once a week.

Over the course of the program, total consumption of sports is projected to reach 1.5 trillion yuan ($226 billion), but Xu said there is still more to be done to promote the national fitness program - including upgrading facilities.

Smart courts

According to the Shanghai fitness report, a total of 770 million yuan ($116 million) was spent to create and develop fitness programs in the city last year.

Today the city boasts 11,869 fitness spots, 446 public courts and 507 walking tracks, with more infrastructure, including high-tech smart venues, still to be unveiled.

On Beixinjing street of Changning district, new fitness and leisure equipment, including muscle building stations and chess tables, were recently installed to meet the needs of both young and old residents.

Some of the new high-tech facilities even monitor basic health data of users on a daily basis, such as the body fat percentage.

"People's need for fitness is dramatically increasing, and our priority is to meet the demand," said Zhang Xiaolei, deputy director of Shanghai Changning District Sports Bureau.

"We have built and refurbished lots of fitness facilities in many places of our district based on the different conditions of communities and blocks. All of the construction is based on the actual needs of local people."

Smart basketball courts were introduced in Shanghai this year. Just like the popular bicycle-sharing system, the courts can be shared and booked online.

"This is very convenient for every basketball lover in the city," said Yu Biao, director of Shanghai Jing'an District Sports Bureau. "Through the new system, we can monitor the courts all the time online and manage their use more effectively." Shanghai firmly focused on fitness

Yu said the only way to unlock the front door of the smart courts is to make a booking and pay the user fee through smart phones. Users see the exact number of players currently on the courts on their phone and decide if they want to join in or try to book a different one.

The user charge, 5 to 8 yuan per hour for each player, is relatively cheap compared to traditional courts in the city.

The smart courts also feature closed-circuit TV cameras in each corner, allowing online operators to monitor the courts, control the lights and oversee safety.

"First of all, I don't have to bring cash to pay for the user charge of the courts ever again, and all I need is my smart phone," said Luo Weishun. "I'm really satisfied with the smart courts. I can see the exact number of players, then I decide if I want to play. It's convenient and cheap."

There are currently two smart courts in Shanghai, with 15 more planned.

 Shanghai firmly focused on fitness

Sun Wen, who was named FIFA Female Player of the Century in 2000, watches kids get their kicks during the Shanghai Soccer Festival in May, The festival was run in conjunction with the city's junior soccer tournament, which was part of the inaugural year-long Shanghai Amateur Games.Fan Jun / Xinhua

(China Daily 11/22/2017 page24)

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