Being a Jacked White Guy in China

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Aug 14,2023|8 min| 3180

Geoff Verity Schofield explains his life in China

Geoffrey Verity Schofield is one of the most popular bodybuilding educators on the internet. He has a YouTube channel containing over 120,000 subscribers that is growing by the day, and he also has a few free workout programs on the Boostcamp app. Our very own Michael Liu was able to sit down with Geoff to discuss different aspects from his bodybuilding journey, and there were some interesting topics covered, one of them being Geoff’s residency in China.

You can find the full interview on the Boostcamp Podcast!

Being a Jacked White Guy in China

Bodybuilders stick out to begin with, but to be a white bodybuilder living in a foreign country, where the culture is very different, that makes you stick out even more. Geoff explains that it is kind of something he prefers people not to notice, although with his beard and physical size, he certainly does get noticed, and he knows it. However, he relates it to when he speaks the Chinese language and people tell him how good he is at it, he would just prefer them not to notice and carry on a normal conversation.

Cultural Differences

Geoff goes on to talk about some of the things he noticed in China that are much different than the western culture. He talks about how people in China do not want to say things that may come off as offensive, but then for other things they are super direct, which differs from western culture. He says that some things said outright in the west just would not be said in China. 


He then goes on to explain some instances of line cutting he has seen, where there is a line of maybe 20 or so people, and someone will cut the entire line to get right to the front, and no one says anything. Geoff states that this differs from the United States; an instance like this would cause an issue amongst the people involved. 

Geoff talks about some of the challenges of finding what is taboo and what is not as well. For example, he said that in his second or third year living in China, someone outright asked him what his salary as an English teacher was. Another almost comical topic Geoff covered was dating in China, relating it to a job application and explaining that he has been asked about height statistics and the eye color of his relatives, as well as how much money he makes, all on first dates, which he described as off-putting, saying it is much different than what he grew up with.

Gym Etiquette in China

Michael asked Geoff what the gym etiquette was in China, and Geoff said that this is a newer concept in that culture. He stated that the idea of lifting is a newer thing to Chinese culture, and since he has been there he has noticed maybe 3 times as many gyms as there were when he first started lifting in China. He says that weight training is a very niche thing in China, and that means that the gym etiquette really is not there. Geoff talks about how he has had plates stolen right off of his bar, even when he was just going to get a sip of water, then when he would confront the person about it, they stated that they did not know he was using it. 

Geoff goes on to state that because of instances like this, he always checks the plates on the bar. Before every set, he said that it has become a habit to make sure there is the same amount of weight on each side, because people will literally just take the weights off of the bar the second he walks away. This is very dangerous, because if you unrack the weight when you are squatting or bench pressing, you are risking an injury if there is not an even amount of weight on both sides. Even with lifts such as the deadlift, you can really mess yourself up by not having an even amount of weight on both sides of the bar. Geoff actually said that he was at a powerlifting meet once, and there were 2.5kg more on one side of the bar than the other, and on a deadlift that was that heavy, it threw the lifter off and he ended up hurting his hamstring. 

While he is a patient person, Geoff said that people taking the weights off of the bar does certainly get frustrating, and there have been a few times where he had to step out into the hallway and cool off. This differs a lot from American gym culture, where you see people (most of the time) really trying to be mindful of others in the gyms, asking how many sets someone has left, if they can work in, and so on.

Geoff wraps up this part of the conversation by talking about how instances like the ones that he spoke about usually are not malicious, and even when he gets frustrated he still tries to be nice to everyone. He also says that you have to remember that with social media and how well the people are connected today, the world is always watching. Even with negative YouTube comments, Geoff says that he still makes sure to be nice. 

Chinese Weightlifting

While the concept of the average person being in the gym may be newer to Chinese culture, it is no secret that the Chinese are very prominent in strength sports such as Olympic Weightlifting and powerlifting. There are a rising number of Chinese bodybuilders as well, an up and coming name in the bodybuilding industry is Chen Kang, who has competed at the Mr. Olympia in the classic physique division.

Wrap Up on Being Jacked and White in China

Overall, Geoff has some very interesting stories that put into perspective the differences in cultures. Geoff certainly sticks out being a jacked white guy in China, but that is more than okay. He has become very well accustomed to the culture and stated a few things that we can all learn from. 

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