Best fitness classes, sports and gyms in Hong Kong

Stay in shape and look great with our fitness guide, featuring the hottest trends, cool fitness classes and gyms in Hong Kong

Gyms for people who hate gyms

Let’s face it, some of us actually want to get fit but for various reasons are intimidated by the prospect of gyms. Some are put off by the physically perfect specimens, the size of the gyms, the volume of people present, the size of the contracts placed under our noses by the sales staff and the overall pressure to succeed. With this in mind, we’ve scoured the city for gyms that won’t intimidate you, ones which offer something a little different and more personal – no chain gyms here! Now we can’t promise there won’t be physically perfect specimens (of both sexes for you to ogle at) but the flavour of these gyms is vastly different to your fancy steel-and-glass venues. From mixed martial arts and Muay Thai to stripping down to the bare basics, we’ve got you covered…

Impakt MMA Studio
Impakt is renowned for training several of Hong Kong and Asia’s best known amateur and professional fighters. The gym’s focus is on mixed martial arts and Muay Thai, although it also offers more traditional forms of martial arts such as kyokushin karate. If you’ve lost your inner Bruce Lee then come here for a variety of bootcamp sessions or hook up an appointment with a personal trainer to meet your needs.

Type: Walk-in gym, mixed martial arts, personal training.
Location: 2/F, Wing’s Bldg, 110-116 Queen’s Rd Central, Central.
Price: Drop-in: $200, membership: $1,000 per month up; personal training: $300 per hour up.
Phone: 2167 7218

JAB has a reputation for being the place to go for grappling and wrestling. With an entire floor dedicated to mats, boxing bags and a combat ring, this gym is serious about its training. Spread out over two floors, JAB provides more than just mixed martial 
arts training, with several programmes on offer, including various strength-and-conditioning schedules.

Type: Walk-in gym, mixed martial arts, personal training.
Location: 5/F, Kimley Commercial Bldg, 142-146 Queen’s Rd Central, Central.
Price: Drop-in: $200, membership: $1,000 per month up; personal training - $750 per hour up.
Phone: 2851 6684

Fitness Compass
This outlet can best be described as homely, with a twist. Spacious yet compact, Compass shuns overuse of equipment and focuses primarily on movement in all forms, as much as correcting posture and balance imperfections (their speciality) and alternative forms of getting fit. The gym is small, but this also means you’re more likely to have it all to yourself (and your trainer). Or why not book an appointment with your significant other and get into shape together? Make sure to check out their cool power-plate machine, a safer alternative to heavy lifting. It also doubles up as a massager.

Type: Personal training only.
Location: 3/F, Waga Commercial Centre, 99 Wellington Street, Central.
Price: Personal training: $700 per hour up.
Phone: 2882 2849

Fitness on the cheap!

Not all of us have the resources to plonk down two years’ worth of contract fees up front. And not all of us want to spend a sizeable portion of our income on monthly payments to fight our flab. Of course, some may just be using the price excuse to avoid going to the gym (we know who you are!). However, there are cheaper options out there. If you’re as serious as we are about whipping yourself into shape in 2012, then ‘I can’t afford the fees’ is just a wimp’s excuse. Get your workout done here instead…

LCSD Fitness Rooms
Boring name, but this is more a word-of-mouth facility than your super-popular gym. It’s not quite as fancy or as posh as the private candidates but the LCSD facilities still provide the basics – everything you really need to shed that extra weight and/or to tone up those muscles. Much like its other public facilities, LCSD’s fitness centres are fairly well maintained, easy to access and, most importantly, cheap. All you have to do is sign up for a fitness training course (or an equivalent qualification) to gain the required certification and you’re in. With fitness centres in nearly every district, there’s no excuse. You’re not likely to find the most newfangled exercise machine in town – and you’re probably going to have to wait your turn – but for that price can we really complain?

Type: Walk-in gym.
Location: Check website for more details.
Price: $180 per month.
Phone: 2414 5555

LCSD Parks
Hong Kong is a city where money rules but there’s certainly no shame in using what’s available for free. Yep, that means public services again. They’ve given us quite a bit to work with here. In addition to the fitness rooms, the LCSD’s urban parks are scattered all over Hong Kong. While generally good for a stroll, they also offer added benefits – many, such as Quarry Bay Park, come with jogging tracks and gymnastics bars of various shapes and sizes. If you really fancy it and don’t think you’re embarrassing yourself, then have a go at the monkey-bars in the kids’ playground. A few pull-ups and push-ups, a few tricep dips and a jog – and you’ve paid absolutely zilch for a cardio workout! Fancy a longer jog? Head along to Happy Valley Racecourse by the football pitches and time yourself against the horses. Well, we can but dream of winning...

Type: Open parks.
Location: Check website for more details.
Price: Free.
Phone: 2414 5555


Muscle building exercises

Muscle building is much more than just bulking up your biceps. You can pump serious iron without ending up like a swollen Arnold Schwarzenegger because muscle building isn’t all about turning your arms into mini-mountains. In fact anyone can ‘build’ muscles – all it refers to is strengthening the ligaments, the tendons and every other important attachment beneath your skin. Better still, you’ll get a toned look and your metabolism will increase, thus burning more calories... even when resting or doing nothing. Sounds too good to be true? Then it’s time to pick up those dumbbells…

BodyPump at Fitness First
At first glance, BodyPump looks like a choreographed fitness video with atrocious taste in music. Except it’s very real. And very effective in getting a full body weighted workout. The great thing about this programme is that it forces you to focus on two big muscle groups that you would otherwise ignore – the legs and the back. And the larger the muscle group, the more work it requires. The weights are also all your own choice, so you’re not being forced to crumble under something you obviously can’t handle. Don’t worry if you’re inexperienced. These group classes will always contain another person who’s in the same shoes as you.

Type: Group-exercise.
Location: Fitness First, various locations including Central, Wan Chai, Quarry Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui.
Price: Membership - $500/month up.

TRX suspension training at Coastal Fitness
Firstly, training at Coastal Fitness means you will (probably) get to be instructed by some of Hong Kong’s Rugby Sevens stars. The boutique gym is run by Ed Haynes, with help from brother Ant and Sevens co-star Tom McQueen, among other trainers. Voted the best new fitness tool in 2009, TRX suspension training has since been incorporated into the workout regimes of many of the world’s top athletes. TRX (Total body Resistance eXercise) doesn’t require much, so it can be done anywhere. All it requires is a few adjustable straps and some space to manoeuvre. You’ll look fairly silly doing most of the poses, positions and exercises required, but you’ll feel a million bucks afterwards. TRX also uses your natural body weight to strengthen your core, which is arguably your most important ‘muscle’. Therefore, having a great core will further help your transformation into superb tightening and toning.

Type: Personal training.
Location: Various locations including Gold Coast, Aberdeen and Central.
Price: Contact for packages.
Phone: 9862 9851

Fat loss exercises

BodyCombat at Physical Fitness
BodyCombat mimics typical martial arts moves to a fast-paced beat. It’s a fun way to exercise and burn off those excess calories from that double cheeseburger and milkshake the night before. Our tip is to pretend you already know martial arts and start air-kicking and punching immediately. If we were to compare BodyCombat to anything it would probably be a tornado – one that you never saw coming. It’s the all-out exercise regime that will leave you dehydrated, vomiting or blacking out the first time around; yet you’ll be leaner, fitter and asking for more by the 15th session. All it takes is (a lot of) dedication. Starting off with slow-paced music to warm up the muscles, BodyCombat quickly whirls into action as you try to keep pace with the ‘enthusiastic’ instructor. A few air-punches followed by a rest? You wish! This is 60 minutes of frenetic action that gets progressively more frenetic as the hour wears on, with only one or two breaks in total. That said, you can take it as lightly or as intensely as you want, depending on how advanced you think you are. Remember to steer a good two metres clear on all sides of your nearest partners – BodyCombat is supposed to be non-contact!

Type: Group-exercise.
Location: Various locations including Central, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin.
Price: Membership - $175/month up
Phone: 2733 3333

Workouts that won’t break your spirit

Why suffer a sudden cardiac arrest on the treadmill when you can enjoy exercises which are more fun? Not every regime has to involve bulging veins, gnashing teeth and muscle aches (followed by a complete inability to move the following day). Exercise, at its core, is still about having fun, and if you’re not enjoying it then you’re less likely to do it on a regular basis. That would simply ruin your 2012 resolution to whip into shape. Sometimes it pays to take a break and find programmes which won’t necessarily get you shredded; programmes you will enjoy, which are exciting, offer a good workout and are also comparatively low-intensity. Be warned, that doesn’t mean they’re easy!

California Fitness
Dance yourself fit with the latest craze in town: Zumba toning! This incorporates Latin dance moves into a fantastic cardio workout. The frenetic but exciting class is accompanied by ‘melodious’ Latin harmonies and uses weighted maracas to enhance toning of the limbs for an overall body workout. Zumba itself is a hot trend worldwide, with Zumba toning at California Fitness taking it to the next level. The exercise focuses on calorie burning, flexibility and core strength coupled with tricky dance moves and techniques to keep it improvisational and entertaining. The best part is that previous dance experience is not required (hurrah!), so there’s nothing other than your embarrassment and utter lack of co-ordination stopping you from joining.

Type: Group-exercise.
Location: Various locations including Central, Causeway Bay, Hung Hom and Mong Kok.
Price: Membership - $299/month up.
Phone: 2960 4988

Hot Flow yoga at Pure Yoga
Yoga fitness took off as a ‘craze’ in Hong Kong a few years ago (a good 10 years after Europe), with yoga gyms and yogic, ahem, gurus popping up all over the city. Of course, if you ask a true yogic yogi about hot and cold regimes they would instantly swat you away like a fly, but modern trends have little to do with their true origins. Anyway, most HK yoga gyms shut down as quickly as they sprang up, the majority in highly dubious circumstances. Thankfully, that leaves us with reliable gyms with certifiable track records that won’t scam you or throw bullshit in your face. So, true yoga focuses as much on the mind and spirit (and breathing) as it does on the physical body. The fact that it’s lasted several thousands of years should tell you something about its success as a healthy regime. In short, yoga was ‘detox’ a millennium before the word became cool with the chattering classes. While contortion of the body and extreme flexibility is obviously desired, yoga extends far beyond this; its singular purpose is that only when the mind and soul are free can the body be free too. Hot Flow at Pure Yoga provides you with an opportunity to do just that, taught in a heated room which allows for a detoxifying sweat while you flow through a dynamic sequence of postures.

Type: Group-exercise.
Location: Various locations including Central, Causeway Bay and Quarry Bay.
Price: Contact for packages.
Phone: 8129 2200

Outdoors & Sports

Sure it’s pretty damn cold out there, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying some great outdoor options. After all, a little cold never hurt anyone (save Scott of the Antarctic). Thanks to Hong Kong’s massive country parks, large water areas and small urban parks, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can enjoy right on your doorstep if you don’t like being stuck in a competitive indoor environment with machines...

Casual football
Hong Kong has several football pitches, but sometimes it’s hard to find a game with all the public concrete pitches being overcrowded day and night. Also, stomping and running on hard concrete every week probably isn’t doing your knees or ankles any favours. Why not sign up to a friendly pick-up league which organises games for you on safer and nicer pitches?

Location: Various locations, including Happy Valley and Tung Chung.
Price: $25-50 per game.
Phone: N/A

Kayaking with hiking
If you’re not scared of chilly weather and icy water, join up for a Kayak and Hike session. With several itineraries to choose from including full days hikes, snorkelling and cave exploring, Kayak and Hike has become one of Hong Kong’s most popular outdoor meet-ups with a group arranged to go forth and explore on most weekends. It also makes for a great way to check out the lesser known regions of Sai Kung – and after spending days or even weeks in the smoggy city, SK’s clear and fresh air will make for a great getaway.

Location: Sai Kung.
Price: $700-$1,200 per day.
Phone: 9300 5197

Intensive workouts

This is for serious commitment junkies only. Some of you may enjoy the extra motivation of a friend or trainer who pushes you to succeed; others need the sadistic shouting of a fitness master ordering your ass to give him another 20 push-ups. Whatever keeps you going, the best intensive exercises in town are sure to keep you fit, yet they are far from pain-free. After all, ‘pain is just weakness leaving the body’, right?

Bootcamp in general is one of the most popular intense exercises in Hong Kong for the hardy fitness folks, and one of the best ways to get into shape, or stay in shape. Ideal for the office-worker who doesn’t have time to come up with a programme, bootcamps are intense circuit exercises used by military recruitment camps. They use the immediate surroundings to create a full body workout and test. Bootcamp (the company) offers several programmes to choose from – from the relatively easy beginner stage to the eight-week iron man challenge which takes you to your very limits. Grab a towel and a few litres of water... you’ll need them.

Location: Various locations, including Repulse Bay, Stanley, Pok Fu Lam.
Price: $720/month up.
Phone: 2552 9925

The beauty of Circuit25 is the way it breaks down each session, with 25 being the magic number. Split into two 25-minute sessions of strength and cardio respectively, Circuit25 leaves you drained of energy but satisfied mentally for having completed the distance. Unlike regular bootcamps, it doesn’t pitch you against other group members or opponents, but against yourself. Their philosophy is always to try to better yourself as well as doing as much as you possibly can within the 25 seconds for each routine. And, as we all know, there’s no joy like bettering your previous best.

Location: Various locations.
Price: $600/month up
Phone: 2501 0922