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21 Jan, 2019 10:36

Dancing school principal breaks rules and becomes Chinese viral sensation (VIDEO)

Dancing school principal breaks rules and becomes Chinese viral sensation (VIDEO)

A school principal in China has gone rogue, binning the state-approved, mandatory daily exercise program in favor of a more ‘Footloose’ approach to keeping his pupils fit and healthy – by shuffling.

40-year-old Zhang Pengfei, principal at Xi Guan Primary School in Shanxi Province, has become an internet sensation in recent days for his unorthodox fitness program that has both staff and students alike smiling ear-to-ear while shuffling. One Facebook video of the school routine has amassed over 26 million views since it was posted Friday.

Zhang introduced the new fitness regime back in November 2018 as the standard callisthenics program was deemed to be too boring for teachers and students. He taught himself how to shuffle before sharing his new-found skills with colleagues and pupils.

His reasoning for learning the shuffle is that it is more interesting and fun than the standard, government-mandated exercise program and might wrest children away from electronic devices and make them more active on a day-to-day basis.

Zhang’s routine is called guibu, or ‘ghost steps,’ and is a shuffle dance incorporating some contemporary jazz moves for added flair. However, government inspectors carry out unannounced visits at schools to ensure the exercise routine is strictly adhered to, which is where this ‘shuffling principal’ ran into trouble. Half of the teachers at his school initially opposed the new exercise regime, as he was deviating from the curriculum and breaking the rules in the process.

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The state-sponsored exercise program has been mandatory at elementary, middle and high schools since 1951 and combines flexibility, stretching, and jumping exercises with a view to increasing strength, dexterity and teamwork. It was previously a part of the work day at state-owned factories and government institutions though this is no longer the case.

The callisthenics routine is believed to have its origins as far back as 19th Century Germany and can be traced through the Soviet Union and the Japanese military during WWII, reports the SCMP.

According to a study by Peking University’s School of Public Health, roughly 28 percent of Chinese children between the ages of seven and 18 will be obese or overweight by 2030, totalling a staggering 50 million children.

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