Beauty Travelogue: Beijing

Chinese women are famous for their ageless skin and healthy hair. We go on a search for their hidden secrets.

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February 22, 2012 11:00 AM
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Inside Out

Chinese women don't get fat, yet fitness isn't a priority. "Gyms are mainly frequented by expats," Tiffany Wang, style and living editor at local magazine The Beijinger, says. "It's not unusual to see Chinese people working out in jeans and heels — they're only beginning to form ideas of what it means to stay physically fit." But massage, I'm warned, is a workout unto itself. Beijing has entire hospitals dedicated to it, and blind massage therapists are considered the best. (Lack of sight is believed to heighten their sense of touch.) I test the theory at Aibosen Blindman Massage. First, a hot-tea foot bath, then a petite yet impossibly strong blind woman tackles my acupressure points from toe pads to heels. I'll take a deep massage over a weak Western one any day, but this is no joke! Traditional Chinese massage — or tui na — is vigorous and often uncomfortable. During the 70 minutes, there are moments I swear my arches might be impaled. OK, so the Chinese have a higher threshold for pain. I leave, however, surprisingly nimble, my neck and shoulders relaxed and my feet ready to tackle Tiananmen Square.