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Staying fit during COVID-19 restrictions in Vietnam

Staying fit during COVID-19 restrictions in Vietnam

Sunday, August 08, 2021, 11:27 GMT+7
Staying fit during COVID-19 restrictions in Vietnam
A woman exercises in the comfort of her home in Vietnam. Photo: M.Q. / Tuoi Tre

I’ve never been to a gym in my life. This explains why I look like a pear.

However, I do my best as I’m getting older. At 63, although I’m lucky enough to look about 50, I do have to work on my fabulous bod. And that’s harder now that we have to stay home and watch Netflix all day. The luckier of us live in semi-rural towns like Hoi An in central Vietnam so we’re not moaning so much as we’re trying to stretch muscles that usually only reach for the top shelves at VinMart. Those shelves are not high actually.

About 14 years old, there was no such thing as a gym except at the high-class resorts open at that time. Barely a few weeks ago, everything looked remarkably Western: Vietnamese cyclists in the latest skintight sports gear complete with snazzy sunglasses and water bottles while young adults run on a treadmill in body showing-off fashions. 

Nowadays you can’t walk anywhere without falling over a yoga teacher. I can understand us flabby Westerners rolling on mats but when you get unbelievably slim Vietnamese women joining the classes, I have to wonder at the power of Vietnamese image-promoting media. Vietnamese do eat a rather healthy diet, I believe.

Now it’s fair enough if you’re stuck in Ho Chi Minh City in a shoebox with the kids screaming in the background and not much room to swing a cat, let alone do some decent body squats somewhere between the kitchenette and the pile of laundry blocking the TV set. For sure, you’ll shut your eyes as you pass the mirror trying to avoid staring at the love handles flopping over your waist.

Boredom does create an unwillingness to switch off the telly, shut the fridge, and not hit the alcohol during our present stressful times. But it’s got to be done! It’s time to wiggle a toe, bend a knee, and practice your marvel movie moves in the privacy of your own fantasy space! 

But we’ll get back to that in a moment.

Fitness is a weird concept. We imagine that our prehistoric ancestors whizzed all over the place running down dangerous big things with nothing more than a spear. And some people want bodies like that. Amongst young Vietnamese and their young Westerner counterparts, the body becomes part of their attractiveness. Hey, wait until you’re my age and you’d be surprised how little difference that makes to your future romantic happiness.

So, what to do during these movement restrictions? Well, get some bricks, there’s your weight. Use your body weight instead of fancy gym gadgets. Stop eating huge meals, as you can’t afford them anyway. Start at the beginning, which means doing two or three of some exercises – not twenty or thirty, why? Your body needs to get used to all your madness.

Don’t let the house fall apart just because you don’t feel like doing anything – cleaning is important and good for your sanity. Actually, just rolling around the floor with your dogs is probably as effective as a half-hour walk around the block. If your partner is the main chef, do it yourself. You’ll lose half a kilo out of sheer nervousness.

Water is a great weight trainer for your arms and chest. Remember all those plants dying in Vietnam’s current heatwave? Go save the planet and feel proud of yourself remembering to do something meaningful.

OK, that’s it for tips. Now the warnings.

We’re all too long sitting in front of the computer. It’s bad for the eyes, heart, and legs. So go make a cuppa and while you’re waiting for the water to boil, squat up and down a bit – it will make your bum tighter and more attractive! Just ignore the giggles, you now have stronger willpower than they do!

For those who can actually leave the house, please don’t run or jog in the middle of the day. It’s the height of stupidity and you’ll collapse in the middle of a crowd debating what to do with you as you slowly die of heatstroke. 

Keep this other idea in mind. We get around 80 billion heartbeats in a lifetime, why waste them running when it’s totally unnecessary at that time of the day. Haven’t you noticed that almost all Vietnamese do exercise in the early morning when it’s still cool?

And here’s a really good tip. Make a friend for exercise – nothing else – you can even do this via video phone these days, so there are no excuses for not stepping something up. People are important, they snap you out of daydreams and depression, they give you ideas and advice; and the best ones never judge you.

Fitness shouldn’t be a goal – ever. Enjoying your body’s groove when it’s in tune is rare, so savor it, treasure it and above all, don’t take fitness too seriously, prehistoric folks would have rolled on the floor watching us exercise.

But since it’s enhanced social distancing, I don’t blame you if you order takeaways, sleep a lot and get a little fat. After all, we did come to Vietnam to relax, hey?

Stivi Cooke / Tuoi Tre News Contributor

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