Why I ditched China’s No. 1 fitness app “Keep” and went back to the gym

I am a 28 year-old girl living in Beijing. I have been exercising for about four years. In the beginning, I did not exercise to be fit. Back then, I just became a journalist and had flexible working hours. I thought I should increase my self-discipline, scheduling my time better. Isn’t it a great idea to exercise regularly?

After making this decision, I bought an elliptical machine in order to do aerobic exercises at home. I also did some yoga by watching videos. Though it was boring and hard, I stuck with it. I did not follow it everyday, but I did enough to make myself proud. Then, I wanted to do more. Maybe I could achieve having a good figure.

I began to speak with my friends about exercising, trying to figure out efficient ways. Then in 2015, it seems like everyone around me were talking about “Keep”, a popular fitness App. It attracted more than USD 32 million in investment in May, with about 30 million users across China.


Most of my friends were posting pictures on Wechat, China’s equivalent of Facebook. These pictures were accompanied with the claim that “I completed my exercise today at Keep”.

“Oh my gosh, this is so trendy,” I thought.

Living in a social network driven world, we constantly share our lives online. Having dinner with a friend? Post! Travelling with family? Post! We constantly check our Wechat accounts every few minutes. However, I decided to exercise without publicizing it online. I set my own goals and stuck to it until it was completed. I did not want to show it off online just to get “likes” from friends. I did it only for myself. To be honest, I do not think showing off will be of any help. Maybe a week later, they will totally forget about maintaining the fitness plan.

So I decided to use the Keep app without posting my pictures. In the beginning, it was all right. I picked some routines and followed it everyday. However, with the app upgrade, it became more and more complicated. I had to make choices all the time. What is your purpose? Losing weight? Getting good? Increasing muscle mass? There were lots of different courses for different purposes. I truly did not know what to choose.


I browsed through all the courses trying to understand the differences. I opened every course to see what it was like. It drove me crazy. This process took almost an hour.

After that, I saw that my friends started “following” me on the app. Out of curiosity, I checked to see which exercises they picked. And with that, another hour went by.

I spent so much time on these rather than exercising. The point was, I still didn’t know which exercise fit me best. Moreover, “Keep” was not able to tell me either, and I was still left to CHOOSE.

After repeating exercises on “Keep”, the courses became much easier. However, I did not feel that my fitness has made any improvement. Finally, I decided to look for a gym. At least there will be a coach who could correct my movement.

In Beijing, there are many gyms. Unfortunately, not many gyms have ethical practices. They only want you to purchase more and more courses. Luckily for me, I found a gym where the founder graduated from the top athletes program in the country. He is also the counselor of Beijing boxing team. Technically speaking, it is not a gym. It is a physical fitness training center.

The trainer evaluated my body, and he told me which was my weakest part, and advised me what I should do to improve it. Finally, I figured out the differences in losing weight, getting good shape and increasing muscles.

Of course, there are routines in the gym that the Keep app has. However, I only knew the exact positions for these exercises while I was training in the gym. No wonder I did these exercises with ease while using “Keep”.

“I witnessed people getting hurt using “Keep”. They know how to do it, but they may not be doing it correctly,” my trainer said.

I am so satisfied with the result now that I decided to share my story.

But I am still reserved about taking selfies. Take a selfie in my gym to post on Weibo?

Hell no. After all those intensive exercises, the only thing I want to do after that is to lie in bed.

(All Photos from Keep)

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