China Elevator Stories

“I’ll Make You Gain Weight”

A trainer at a gym in Shenzhen tells me I’ll gain weight by exercising.


Ruth Silbermayr-Song


“I’ll make you gain weight. 2-4 kilos the first month, 4-6 the second month and 6-8 the third month. Believe me, it will work.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to believe it. But rather that I had heard this all too often and it had never worked so far.

When I came down with a debilitating illness in 2009, I lost a lot of weight. I was skinny to begin with, and the weight loss was alarming. 

I often hear people talk about how they want to lose pounds, but I hardly hear anyone talk about trying to gain weight. I never thought that being skinny is beautiful, as do many people I know of, and always wanted to gain weight to be in a normal weight range.

When this private trainer working at the gym I went to in Shenzhen told me about his plan of having me gain weight, I was sceptical. It had never worked before. All these years, I’ve tried everything starting from eating a lot to seeing TCM practitioners. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do exercise, either, but rather that for some time I wasn’t able to do more than a little Qigong. At one point in time of being down with this illness, I wasn’t able to do that either – even walking slowly would cause me a lot of pain and make my heart race.

The TCM practitioners as well as some of the Western doctors I saw during that time would all tell me that this illness is nothing to worry about and I’ll be fine within a few weeks. I wasn’t. The antibiotics I got in the beginning made my symptoms worse, they made them worse so much that I swore off antibiotics for good. I tried TCM and other alternative therapies over a period of two years. I fully recovered and became healthy again after eventually being treated by a naturopath in Vienna.

In 2013, I decided that I would start working out at a gym. The private trainer who charged 300 CNY for one lesson wasn’t cheap. But after this crippling experience, I was on a mission to stay healthy.

It didn’t take long to see results. I couldn’t believe it at first that exercise would really help me to gain weight. I gained 3 kilos within the first month of exercising and was finally back to the weight I had 7 years before.

Have you ever tried to gain weight to stay healthy?