[Photo Gallery:] Daily tai-chi & morning exercise in Yonghe, Taipei, Taiwan

These scenes are daily images of life in Yonghe. When I get to the park at 7am it’s already full, and the largest groups are formal clubs performing tai-chi with various weapons. Most of these shots were taken over two mornings between 7-8am as I walked from our apartment to the exercise bars I work out on, which is why the sky is gray and it’s a little dim. The last four were taken out the front door of PEI, around 8:15am. I reduced the file size on all of them so they’ll load faster.

The second morning workout gallery is below this one.

Every morning the park across the street is full from before 7am (when I show up) until after 8 with people exercising. There’s lots of tai-chi, low-impact aerobics set to music (everything from traditional Chinese to cheesy primary school synth to sassy Britney Spears-ish Taiwan pop), ball-room dancng classes, dog-walking, and countless individuals doing their own personal exercise regimen – much of which we didn’t recognize as exercise at first (the tire pictures are a great example, as are the ingenious ways people try to stimulate circulation by repeatedly slapping themselves or rubbing their legs/arms/shoulders/backs/heads/necks/butts against trees and metal poles). All this not counting the old folks yaking it up and the kids shooting hoops.

Exercise a big part of life here that we see everyday, and is one place where the worldview differences between the Taiwan and the West become apparent. Exercise for us is entirely a biological/emotional enterprise; for the Chinese their concepts of ‘health’ and ‘wellness’ include a spiritual component that is manifest in how they exercise. Tai-chi aside, much of the other physical exercise reflects these beliefs, like by activating certain pressure points in the step-aerobic choreography.

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