A friend of mine is moving to an area near Sanlitun and he was looking for new gyms to join. There are two, next to each other, one called Nirvana, the other is in the Pacific Century apartments.
He first went to Nirvana and asked to be shown around.
However, before they even began the tour, a young woman brought out a wand and explained that she had to scan him to make sure he didn't have swine flu, or the A(H1N1) virus.
He was not amused and tried to explain he was healthy, that he lived in Beijing and that they had no right to intrude on his privacy.
She tried many times to explain that this was the rule -- they had to do this health check before they proceeded further.
But what were they going to do? If they did find he had a fever were they going to call the police and send him to a quarantine hospital?
She even offered to give him the wand to do the scan himself, as if that solved the problem.
Realizing this was going nowhere, he stormed out, without having a look at the gym facilities at all.
Then he went in search of the other gym, which he eventually found and as he describes it to me, it is an exercise nut's paradise.
The gym equipment is all new, and members get fresh towels and water. The indoor pool is about 17m long and at the time it had two people swimming in it.
My friend asked if it got busy in the pool and the woman who showed him around replied that it was busy now.
There is even a hot yoga instructor who is bilingual and got her teaching certificate from the Bikram's Yoga College of India in the US and was crowned the Women's World Yoga Champion in 2005. However, a look on her website reveals she is quite the prima donna.
Nevertheless, it looks like not many people use the gym thanks to the high membership fee (6,500RMB).
After the tour my friend was completely sold and wanted to sign up.
But then the woman whipped out the same scanner as the previous gym to check to see if he had A(H1N1).
He questioned her on having to do it, but she sheepishly agreed he didn't need to and put it away.
Why does China still have these stringent regulations on swine flu when the rest of the world has pretty much given up on containing the virus which is not as virulent as people had feared it would be?
This is what China is good at -- enforcing silly rules that create more frustration than productivity.
How it became an economic miracle is beyond me.