Beijing's Silver Games

Editor's Note: Jodi Noffsinger, an American living in Beijing, is filing regular updates on the scene at the Olympics in The Beijing Blonde column on

China may be winning gold at these games, but if you really want to see China's athletic prowess, head to one of Beijing's many parks on any given morning. Here you'll find the senior set wowing passersby with their self-discipline when it comes to staying fit.

I'm a regular at 7 a.m. in Ritan Park and it's always bustling by the time I arrive. Groups have already gathered near the south gate for Tai Chi. At the east gate, a Chinese form of line dance is underway. And in the center of the park, you'll find a mix of the two.

There's also an exercise station with various resistance and elliptical trainers that's always packed. All the while, walkers are doing laps around the park. But the most impressive part of the park is seeing the men over 50 gather at the gymnastics bar area, a few even going shirtless, showing off their six-pack abs that would put Michael Phelps to shame.

As I watched these senior gymnastic wonders this week, I was curious if they felt inspired by the Olympics. Perhaps they've been stepping up their fitness routines after seeing China's male gymnasts dominate these games. "No," a 67-year-old in the group tells me, adding, "We always come here every day."

So while these games may not be inspiring these Ritan Park regulars, they're definitely leaving an impression on Olympic tourists, who stand in awe watching their workouts.