Ren Ren La

Isn’t that a rather cute name for a department store? That’s where I spent a major part of my Saturday. My day began with rather a bang. Last week, there were some flyers posted all over about March being a free workout month. Life Stream was the name of the fitness center it led to. Having checked it out the previous evening, I had learned that they offer Crossfit kind of workouts. Now, I have tried a few workout regiments – Body for Life, Turbulence Training, and Crossfit, despite all the controversy surrounding it, seemed worth a try.

So there I was at 10AM. The trainer was an American – he had his kid in tow, who kept yelling “Dad, Dad,” at regular intervals. There was another American, Josh, who I had met the previous day. Together, they seemed to have started this new business venture. The gym was rather sparse. Not many machines. A squat rack, an entire set of dumbbells, no cardio machines, but a boxing bag, a few ropes and the like. Very rough cut. But as Birdy and Tee might want to note : the loos were clean, and the showers too. I kept my bag in the locker room, and the trainer was already beginning some stretches. Mental note to myself immediately – stretching a cold muscle? Hmm…no no, I thought to myself. You would want to stretch AFTER a workout, not BEFORE. Minus marks to the trainer there. Still, I went through the motions. What Crossfit does is to have a new workout every day. So that day we had Boxing Squats, Dumbbell Boxing, a few Ab Crunch variations, a Chest Press on the ball, Bicep Curls with Resistance Bands, Kickbacks again with Resistance Bands, Medicine Ball Twists, and some skipping. You are paired with a partner to enable some ‘community’ feel, I guess. These days, communities are all the rage. No one wants to be solitary, anymore? I was paired with a Chinese girl, a former basketball player. It worked fine except during the Medicine Ball Twists where I would misunderstand her ‘zou’ for ‘you,’ or left for right. :-).

My initial opinion? I was glad to get any workout and it was free, so what the heck, yeah? Back to the room, I was still bubbling with energy, except that the famous pink boots have permanently cramped my poor little toe. What’s the name of that toe? The one that is right next to the little toe? Does it have a name? Anyway, that nameless toe to the right of the little toe is all swollen still. This is my open letter to it, urging it to get well and not behave like my ass. Out for lunch, this time taking a route suggested by Dawei, our gentle Englishman. We head out through the South Gate, and find yet another Xinjiang-style restaurant. Order a few veggies, and the usual mound of rice served by a rather grumpy lady. Step out, and go to Ren Ren La. Spend the rest of the day roaming around there. I made an important discovery : here, apples are cheaper than bananas. Birdy got a few bananas weighed at the counter, and we saw with shock that the price of 5 bananas was RMB 9.80. Why are they so expensive, we wonder? Then, I suggest buying apples. So, we bought some 7 apples, and 3 pears – and the price was RMB 9.45. Crazy, huh? Dump the bananas then. I also tried the Dragon Fruit – which was helpfully kept sliced. Birdy also gobbled a sample glass of plain milk, and an egg. I also spent a marvelous 10 minutes on the electric massage chairs – you can just go and sit there, pretending to look very serious about buying RMB20,000 machines. Switch it on, and enjoy a free massage!

Ah, did I like the Dragon Fruit? Not much. Photos of that will come soon. Mini mangoes are also in season now – horribly expensive though. I guess they are imported. My favorite fruit so far has been the Long Yan. Cousins of the lychees, these fruits are not cheap, but they are just deliciously sweet melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Ah, we also walked up to a fitness center above Ren Ren La called Miracle Fitness. The gym was superb – lots of machines, some 10 treadmills, and the price for 3 months membership was RMB600. In India, I would take it blindly. Especially considering the lousy gym I go to, which charges a bomb for one functioning treadmill, and a few crappy machines. Here, it was too tai guile. Too expensive. As we walked down, I tell Birdy that Dawei was telling us about a gym in the BASEMENT of Ren Ren La, not at the top. As usual, we never find what is in front of us. So we spend an hour trying to find Hosa Fitness. Eventually, we discover the little entrance – but it’s only the entrance that is little. The gym is huge – with yoga rooms, sauna, shower rooms, 15 treadmills, loads of machines that I am itching to try, and even a dance room. Price? RMB320 for 3 months. Rupees 1920. I will take it. I also met Xiao Feng, a lovely girl, who works there, and who tells us that we can start using the gym from tomorrow even though we say we will come from April 1st. I wonder if she thought I was joking? Hehe.

Coming back, we buy a sweet from an old man. It goes with the bei tang that I had bought earlier in the morning – Birdy says those were like sweet appams. This latest sweet though (photo to appear here) was more sugary with a lot of sesame in it. Yum yum. All that running around in Cross Fit should have some benefit, yeah?

We bumped into Jorke and Dawei, and arranged to go to Jinli Street later today. I must remember to come back in time to watch the match though!

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