Article by Tim King
I try to stay in shape, but usually that shape is “melted He-Man action figure”. There is an athlete hidden somewhere inside me, underneath all of those lumps and folds forming my sultry physique, but he gets distracted easily. It seems every time I get into a routine, something stops me. One particularly clear memory of my shattered exercise regimen is an incident four years ago, when I was living in Liaoning Province. I had joined a gym. It was a nice enough gym—the equipment was all working, the hours were flexible for my schedule, and it was conveniently located on the top floor of a mall near my apartment. I promptly stopped going to that gym after the time I noticed that a young Chinese couple had spent at least twenty-five minutes of their date night watching my breasts Baywatch-bounce on a treadmill from across the way. A couple thousand RMB down the drain. Had that gym been Flying Tiger CrossFit, however, I’d probably have become an Adonis.
Flying Tiger CrossFit, located on the East Second Ring, is the first of its kind in Xi’an. Owners/Operators/Trainers Matt Allen and his wife Tina founded their gym with the hope of bringing something new and different to the city, and on every level they’ve succeeded. Not only is it likely to be the most unique gym experience you have in our fair city, but it’s the reasons why it’s unique that make it special.
CrossFit is described by its proponents not as a mere workout routine that incorporates such disparate fitness practices as interval training and weight lifting, but as more of an exercise philosophy. That philosophy is evident from the moment you enter their slick, minimalist subterranean facility. Everyone in the gym was working out. Some of you expat gym rats may be incredulous about this claim, but there is a zero-tolerance policy on MegaFit-mirror-selfie-time shenanigans. Not only were these people all working out, but they were working out together. Even a patron who swears that we became best friends a bar one time and was upset when I didn’t remember him wasn’t shy to shout out “You got this, Tim!” when I was trying to find power for a last couple of reps. Even with my cynic’s mindset, I couldn’t deny the positive energy coursing through the air, and it was a feeling I’d never had working out, at least not in China.
The workout I participated in was a class, lead by Matt, in which we did mostly bodyweight exercises, with a bit of deadlifting. His instruction allowed those of us with taffy instead of muscles to work more at our own pace, but not without the encouragement to push ourselves just that little bit further. There are other activities to do at their gym, including rowing, gymnastics, and throwing a giant tire around like you’re training to be on a Soviet Olympic team, and I’m definitely keen to return at some point and get my fat ass whipped into shape a bit more.
Those of us with more modest incomes may find Flying Tiger’s prices a little steep, but there are a lot of different membership levels (the ten-class membership in particular may be attractive to anyone who wants to shake up their jogging routine every once in a while but not commit fully to a monthly membership). At any rate, if you’re sick of unmaintained gyms or trying to fit in reps between unsweaty people sitting on machines and padding out their WeChat moments, Flying Tiger’s got the cure.