If there’s one thing you need on your fitness journey in Hong Kong, it’s versatility. We live in a place and time where we have less control over our individual freedom of movement than ever before. This can make it easy to lose focus on our fitness goals when the government can close gyms and exercise areas any time they choose.
When the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting us in 2020, the government closed gyms more than once, with one period being for 10 weeks between July to September. This was incredibly infuriating for many reasons which I will try to avoid mentioning here. Suffice to say, when you have individuals who are focused on improving their health, and the science clearly shows that healthier people are far more likely to recover from Covid-19 faster than unhealthy people, it goes against all logic to shut down the very places which can help improve this. Particularly when those places in question have implemented strict practices to ensure ridiculously high hygiene levels.
Recognising I could not rely on gyms as my sole form of exercise, I actually began playing football in the open parks and outdoor football pitches. But when the government in their wisdom also shut these down, I had to find something else which was future-proofed to any government interference.
This was when I decided to try cycling again, something I hadn’t done for 30 years since I was a teenager. Through Asiaexpat I found a used mountain bike and began cycling around the quiet roads, slowly venturing onto the trails around Tai Lam Chung Reservoir.
More than 18 months since the 2020 shutdowns, I continue to enjoy cycling and love the opportunity to get out into nature around the trails and country parks. Those cycling routes would usually keep me out for two hours or more, but this is not the only way I use my bicycle.
What I discovered was how versatile a bicycle is for different forms of exercise:
- Mountain Biking: As mentioned above, mountain biking is a wonderful way to be in nature, explore trails, and combine HIIT and LISS all in one place.
- Street Biking: Sometimes I don’t want to hit the trails, but I still want to move and do some exercise. So I’ll simply take my bike out onto the streets and ride around exploring. The beauty of having a mountain bike rather than a road racing bike is the ability to traverse curbs and ride off road when required. Yes there may be some “not entirely legal” attributes to this type of cycling, but it is infinitely safer than staying on some roads. If I ever do go onto the pavement, I am highly respectful of pedestrians, always stopping to allow safe passage.
- High Intensity Interval Training: On the trails there are always areas where HIIT is necessary. That’s the nature of trail riding. But at times you just want a quick fix of HIIT exercise, which is where cycling really is perfect. Take the bike, hit the roads, and ride as fast as you can pedal for short sprints. Six short sprints is enough to get the heart racing and is a wonderful cardiovascular exercise.
- Low Intensity Steady State Cardio: Cycling is arguably far better than jogging for steady state cardio due to the lower impact levels on the knees. Needless to say all you have to do is take your bike onto the streets, and cycle for as long as you like at a pace you enjoy.
For an extra challenge to your cycling, find a hill. For HIIT, see how fast and far up the hill you can go until you burn out. Or for LISS, drop down to the lowest gear and see how long you can pedal for. You might surprise yourself.