minus 19

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Year 2009. Mongolians are known by being strong and healthy and that is because their good life habits. In Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia where I stayed many months assigned professionally, the winters are harsh. It is cold, windy, dry and dusty. Temperatures can stay around -20 degrees celsius more than a month in row without moving more than 2 degrees.

On Sundays morning, my only free day, I liked to wandering in the city parks. On this day, 11th January, before I left the hotel I checked the outside temperature, it was -19 and prepared myself with proper cloths and my gear. I went straight to an area I have seen the day before, in the evening, what it look like a pit in the ice besides an open air swimming pool. It was dark the evening before so I was not sure what it was and what was it for.

I walked directly to that spot in the early hours, a distance of about 4km from the hotel. I arrived there around 9.30 and felt a shivering on my skin when I saw what I saw. A group of strong men and women stroking the water in the semi-olympic swimming pool. I checked the water in a wonder if it was hot but it wasn’t! not for my feelings at least. I stay put to observe them. It was a swimming clube that gathered mostly on the weekends to exercise, swim and do sauna. They would spend some time in a very poor state of conditions sauna, would move to the swimming pool where they would do at least 1o laps in a slow pace and then moved to the hole made on the ice of the lake in the city’s park. Brrrrrrr! And finally back to the sauna again.

We all know that this practice is very healthy, we can read about, but it needs courage nevertheless to do this regularly. They do not do this for a betting challenge among friends, they do this every single weekend as part of their regular exercise.

I personally admire these guys and whoever regularly practices challenging healthy habits.