Developed in 1978 by Swedish Johan Holmsäter, Heyrobics is a full-body cardio workout set to the beat of fun music – none of your typical thumping aerobics tunes here. Managed by Linus Holmsäter, the son of Heyrobics founder Johan, this Swedish style of aerobics has taken Beijing by storm. Holmsäter left his day job with a Swedish investment company in China to promote his family’s unique brand of fitness. Led by Holmsäter and a team of pink short-wearing instructors, Heyrobics classes are open to all ages and are offered for a small fee across multiple locations in Beijing, including Chaoyang Park, British School of Beijing (Sanlitun campus) and Jianwai Soho. The organization also provides team-building exercises to clients such as ricsson China and Li-Ning. When he’s not instructing a Heyrobics session, Holmsäter is an active marathon runner, having finished 15 international marathons. He is also the senior advisor for the Li-Ning iRun Club in China. After an energizing Heyrobics session with students at Dulwich College Beijing, this fitness enthusiast explained the science behind Heyrobics and how his love of sports blossomed into a full-time job.
William Li, 10, Australia
Do you enjoy Heyrobics and sports?
I love sports – that’s why I’m doing it. I love standing up more than I love sitting down. I have to be active; otherwise, I’ll fall asleep.
Claire Hou, 9, China
Who invented Heyrobics?
It was my father in Sweden. He was an athlete on his way to the Olympics, but then he got injured and no doctor could heal him for two years. So, he started experimenting with music and movements and he came up with Heyrobics.
Nicholas Li, 10, Canada
Why is it called Heyrobics?
“Hey” is the way we say “Hello” in Swedish. I want you to come [to Heyrobics], smile and have a good time. People don’t have to make perfect movements or score a goal. We want people to forget that they’re training.
Sam Kill, 10, UK/Netherlands
How long have you been in Heyrobics?
When I was small, my father and mother did Heyrobics in our living room, so I couldn’t watch the TV shows I wanted to see. I absolutely hated Heyrobics then, because I thought it was disturbing my TV habits. Then I found out by accident that I liked it.
Jackel Chung, 10, China
Why did you come to China?
When I came over in 2009, I had a job behind a desk with a computer, trying to sell stuff to Chinese people. But I’m a sportsman and felt bored. I started doing Heyrobics during my free time, but it became really popular. So I quit my job and started doing it full-time.
Josh Nieman, 10, UK/US
Besides China and Sweden, where else do you do Heyrobics?
This organization is non-profit, so it hasn’t spread beyond Sweden, France and now China. But in Sweden, it is the biggest sport – bigger than football!
Charmaine Hur, 9, Australia
When did you start Heyrobics in China?
My father started Heyrobics in Sweden 33 years ago. In China, we started it last year and 0.001 percent of the population, or something like that, does Heyrobics. It’s very new in China.
Jonathan Ding, 9, Belgium
How long is a Heyrobics session?
A normal session is about 45 minutes of active exercise and then 10 minutes of stretching and relaxation. We also do tough super sessions that are 75 minutes long.
Nicole Sun, 10, China
What does Heyrobics really do you to your body?
There’s a science behind the music we choose. We go through these stages with a warm-up, running and stretching. We train all the muscles in the body. That’s why all these professional football players and marathon runners do Heyrobics to warm up.
Stephen Lin, 10, US
What type of music is used?
Every instructor can pick his or her own music. There’s a lot of hip-hop, eighties rock, pop music, Chinese music and Swedish music.
Jeanne Salamin, 9, France/Switzerland
Which is your favorite Heyrobics move?
I think the running is quite fun and sometimes the push-ups. I think it’s fun when you become really tired.
Sara Michael, 10, US
What inspired you to be a Heyrobics instructor?
When I was 9 years old, I wanted to be a football player or the president. I became a Heyrobics instructor because I love sports and want to influence other people, which is probably similar to my presidential ambition. This is the first time that I have found something I really like: making people happy through exercise.
Audrey Chan, 10, China
Normally, how many people do Heyrobics with you?
It can be anything from 20 to 2,000 people, like at the World Expo in Shanghai. At some of these marathon races in China, it’s more than 1,000 people.
Olivia Heywood, 10, UK
Where is your favorite place to do Heyrobics?
My favorite place is in the park, because it’s so easy for people to join in. When we start doing the park exercises, there are around 30 people. And after a few minutes, there is a big crowd of curious Chinese people watching and more people start joining in. At the end of the session, we’re maybe 100 people, so it’s a flash mob.
Gloria Hui, 10, China
Are you sort of famous for being a Heyrobics instructor?
Maybe I’m becoming a little famous around different cities in China. Every time we do a Heyrobics warm-up, they have to delay the start of the marathon, because hundreds of Chinese people are taking pictures instead of running. So in that sense, when I’m out there, I’m a little bit famous.