The Oldest Gym In China
About an hour outside of Shanghai on the way to Hangzhou is Jiaxing City with a population of 4 million people. This is the old town area called River of Moon. We went to see some local sights like the charming Jinghang canal. This canal goes all the way to Beijing. If you remember the 007 Golden Eye movie, some shots were done here in Jiaxing in Old Town. We passed by God Wealth hall, if you need something you come here and say prayers. Some people pray for more money or blessings etc.
We also passed by a rice cake museum which the Chinese eat a lot of. No correlation to the rice cakes used for contest day for bodybuilders. This passage with these tiny leaflets of paper are when people make a wish and want it to come true they hang it up there. This area is a local treasure with a lot of restaurants, small businesses and local amenities that tourists can enjoy too.
The oldest gym in China was also on our list of stops.
"I knew when we pulled up into this neighborhood that this would be like Metroflex. All of the best athletes come out of gyms like this!" Branch Warren
The owner and legendary Bodybuilder Bian Qiuwei started this place 30 years ago and Michael Johansson was eager to ask him some questions.
Michael Johansson: Where did you get your inspiration to start this gym? 30 years ago in China, wasn't it hard to find information or knowing what to do to start a gym like this? Mr. Bian: When my brother and I were young my father wouldn't allow us to go out and play so we lifted weights at home. I got my inspiration from Mr. Olympia champions like Frank Zane and other American bodybuilding champions and from the Chinese magazine Fitness and Beauty. To open the gym, I got help from key people from Shanghai that I knew.
Michael Johansson: In order to develop your successful gym what was important, what was the cornerstone of your gym? Mr. Bian: I think learning how to execute the movements correctly is the most important. To share my knowledge with my members. Teach them how to actually do bodybuilding and pursue fitness.
After trying Bien's one of many home made shoulder equipment pieces Michael Johansson concludes that: You realize that he really put some huge efforts and passion into making some totally flawless and smooth shoulder equipment that still to this day is future proof for any experienced pro bodybuilder in the USA - and this was made already 30 years ago.