Gyms in Shanghai are many, and they range from amazing spa-like fitness centers, which cost over $1000 a year, to local community centers, with mismatched weights and shirtless, cigarette-smoking patrons.

Lots of articles have been written about the different gyms in Shanghai, so Im going to skip that.

I like going to the gym as much as the average person, but last year when I was short on funds and unable to put down for a full membership, I used Taobao to buy all the materials to make my own home gym, and spent around $1000 RMB ($160). Using Taobao to build you own home gym is an especially good decision for those living in smaller Chinese cities where there are no gyms, or where selection is very limited.

For learning how to do online banking in China, see my previous Shanghai Guru blog post For using Taobao in China, check out the Taobao Field Guide, which I highly recommend

Build Your Home Gym in China

When building your own home gym in China, first decide what you need. For me, the essential (and most expensive) were free weights. Thankfully, you will not have to buy a whole set of weights. Instead, you can get a knockoff Bowflex dumbbell, which allows you to turn a dial and change the weighs engaged by the dumbbell. Heres how you buy this on Taobao:

Search 博飞哑铃 on Taobao. Open up tabs on the top 3-4 most popular dumbells (the ones that show up near the top of the page).
To find out the price you will have to first decide which dumbbell you want. There are 2 kinds.
24 kilogram (55.25 lbs). This may be written as 24 公斤, and may be identified by the product number 552.
41 kilogram (90 lbs). This may be written as 41公斤, and may be identified by the product number 1090.
Youll have option to add extras, like a weight stand, or a bench. I didnt do this, but its up to you.
For shipping calculation, you need to choose where it will be shipping. This is done by province, so click on the appropriate box. For Shanghai, look for the Chinese for Shanghai (上海) or its abbreviation (沪). Shipping will be expensive, because the dumbbell is really heavy.
Finally, if you are buying 2, change the quantity from 1 to 2. Add it to your cart. ***Note*** I bought my 2 dumbbells separately from 2 different vendors, and I would not suggest this. Because they are not exactly the same, the dumbbells are not 100% interchangeable, and I have to pay attention which dumbbell belongs to which base.

The next thing I needed was a pull-up bar, and push-up bars.

Push-up bars are simple to buy. Search for 俯卧撑. Then just search and pick a pair that you like. They are always sold as a pair, and there may be a couple of choices of style, so pay attention to this before adding them to your shopping cart.

A pull-up bar is a little harder. First figure out with your landlord if you are able to have a pull-up bar that goes inside the door frame and attaches with screws, or if a removable one that hooks over the door frame is better. Search for 引体向上. You can also search for pull up bar. Youll need to pay attention to 2 important measurements in the description. One is door frame width (宽度). The other is door frame thickness (厚度). Door frame thickness can also be thought of as the thickness of the wall. Door frame thickness only matters if you are buying one that hooks over the door frame. Some products will be suited for thicker walls while others will be better for thinner walls. Most pull-up bars will have to be assembled, so make sure your measurements are good before you buy.

The final workout equipment I bought was a yoga mat and a thicker cushy sit-up mat. Search taobao for (瑜伽垫), and browse the hundreds of options. When getting a yoga mat, check the length (长度) and the thickness (厚度). These figures can usually be found as you scroll down on the product page, right before the detailed product description (section with a bunch of big pictures). When bu