A foreign fitness expert "restarts" daily life in northwest China
YINCHUAN, China, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- It is cool in the early autumn evening in Yinchuan, but the atmosphere in the fitness room is hot.
Ma Qiang buckles his belt, takes a deep breath, then starts the 100kg deadlift training for the day.
As Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has recovered from the epidemic, Ma's life appears to be back on track.
29-year-old Ma Qiang, whose real name is Mebarkia Seif Eddine, is from Algeria. "Ma Qiang" is the Chinese name he calls himself. "Ma" is a common surname in Ningxia, while the name "Qiang" means "strong" in Chinese because he loves sports and has a strong body.
In 2015, with a strong interest in Chinese, Ma came to China to study at Ningxia University. He stayed and worked in Yinchuan after graduation. Proficient in English, French, Chinese and Arabic, he now teaches English in a training institution.
With broad shoulders and big muscles, Ma is often mistaken for a professional fitness instructor. Before coming to China, Ma enjoyed boxing.
When first coming to China, he lost a lot of weight for not being accustomed to local food. In order to gain weight, Ma laid out a detailed plan and went to the fitness room five times a week in helping him build the strong muscles.
Ma also loves swimming, cycling and kayaking. "Exercise is as important to me as eating or drinking water. I will go crazy if I don't exercise," he said.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, China's economic and social order was once affected, as well as Ma's life.
Ma's living community entered temporary semi-closed management to cut off the spread of the virus, and people could only go out to purchase daily necessities every other day.
"I had to cook at home at that time, but I was not good at cooking. I missed restaurants' soup noodles and diced chicken with peanuts very much," said Ma.
During the fight against COVID-19, teaching in the classroom had to be halted. Then Ma turned to teaching online but found himself plagued by problems such as computer crashes and poor internet connection.
What frustrated Ma most was that his fitness plan came to a halt due to the closure of the fitness room. He could only do some push-ups and pull-ups at home or in the fitness area of the community. "I was very upset in those days," he recalled.
Ma said his parents were very worried about him and wanted him to return to Algeria as soon as possible. Ma told his parents that he believed that China would be able to contain the epidemic soon. "It looks like I've made a good choice to stay in China."
With the epidemic brought under control in China, the gym where Ma used to go was reopened in early April. Ma went there on the first day of reopening. "I was very excited when I heard about the reopening," he said.
However, Ma found that the fitness center was a little different after reopening, as a limited number of people are allowed in the gym every day, and an appointment became necessary before entry. People also need to have body temperature checked and personal information registered.
Now, Ma said he feels that his daily life has been "restarted". He is busy working, studying and exercising every day. Sometimes he goes to a barbecue with friends at night.
"My life is back on track. I will complete the fitness plan that I left unfinished. I'm going to step up training. My goal is to gain 10kg," said Ma. Enditem