Hot bodies are hot commodities. Fact. And, in Hong Kong, where finding space to work out or go for a run away from a crowded pavement, can be an impossibility, it’s the perfect place for a growing number of fitness entrepreneurs to capitalise on the gym scene. However, these fit-business gurus need to think outside the treadmill and veer away from the conventional gym experience if they want to make it work in our city of potential workout-aholics.
The competitive fitness business trend isn’t exactly new. In the USA, for example, there’s a glut of popular, celebrity-endorsed lifestyle game-changers like SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp. In recent years, Hong Kong has also seen its own share of boutique gyms pop up, like XYZ and Studio Fitness. In these spots, clients pay top dollar to not only work hard and sweat, but to experience something different than the classic work out-on-your-own. In these gyms, the instructors are engaging and charismatic, the space is chic and the classes are supposedly fun (though we’re still dubious of fun workouts).
But now the game is changing once again, with the addition of four new gyms that’ve opened their doors across town in the past over the summer. Fight Hard Fitness, Topfit, Spark Fight Fitness and UTime have already been hits with fitness fanatics as they plan to take the ‘different experience’ card to the next level. And we want to find out just how they’re doing it all differently. So we pull on our gym shorts and go along to discover who’s hot and who’s already exhausted...
The verdict: Sleek lines, classy shades of grey and taupe, a generous 8,000sq ft space and a panoramic view of the city give Fight Hard Fitness (FHF) a fighting chance in the gym game. In fact, when we enter, we marvel at FHF’s luxurious image. You may have noticed recently that Cantopop star Pakho Chau has been endorsing the gym with his new set of pecs and abs. We’re into that. And we also like the personalised sessions here, which are supposedly based on the ‘energy’ of the ‘water, fire and earth’ elements. From what we can tell, though, it’s all mostly centred on fire because we definitely feel the burn during our ‘functional training’ session, which focuses on all areas of the body in a bootcamp-style that’s similar to crossfit. FHF also offers quality machines, a free weights area, a yoga room and a boxing ring. And, at $888 for starting membership, this high-end spot is already offering something different and reasonably priced as it goes up against the more established gyms in Hong Kong. 20/F, Soundwill Plaza 2 – Midtown, 1-29 Tang Lung St, Causeway Bay, 3955 8050; fighthard.com.hk.
The verdict: Spark Fight Fitness classes makes you feel like you’ve entered Fight Club – but in a friendlier environment. The 5,500sq ft studio is a rabbit warren of activities, from high-end gym machines and punch-bags to an MMA cage. If the red and black colour scheme and battle-orientated layout doesn’t get you fired up, then the high intensity courses and professional team of fighters will. We certainly get fired up. You definitely don’t have to be a black belt in karate or know anything about MMA to take part – so there’s no need to be intimidated from the get-go. We take our first shot at muay thai with an ever-patient instructor who makes us feel totally at ease. After an exhilarating session, we realised just how much pent-up ferocity we’ve been harbouring. And, with membership starting at $1,280 a month for eight classes, we’re not too bothered about the costs here either. 9/F Asia Standard Twr, 59-65 Queen’s Rd C, Central, 2899 2825; sparkfightfitness.com.
The verdict: UTime is exactly what its name suggests – gym time that suits you. The team at this new Kennedy Town spot understands that, as busy urbanites, opening times from 8am to 11pm just don’t cut it for some – so they’ve made themselves accessible 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. This is actually the third location for UTime, but this fresh facility is even more spacious than the first and still convenient, being not too far from the tram station. It’s popular, though, as the only classes at the moment which are free are spinning at 6am or 6pm, most days. But, if classes are what you’re after then UTime may not be the right fit for you. But, as a gym, it has everything you need without any annoying sales people hovering over you trying to sell personal sessions. You work out on your own time, whichever way you like. And we like that. Membership begins at $499 a month. Wah Po Bldg, 1 New Praya, Kennedy Town, 3956 5266; utimefitness.com.
The verdict: One of the brains behind restaurants Yardbird and Ronin, yoga guru Lindsay Jang, has just branched out into the fitness game with Topfit, a pocket-sized gym located between Central and Sheung Wan. Clients sign up for either personal training, which starts at $1,400 a session, with discounts based on the amount purchased, or group classes, starting at $350, with discounts offered for packages. Classes include the ‘Quick HIIT’, ‘Curves Ahead’ and ‘Make Me An Athlete’. We try out Curves Ahead because it is specifically designed for ladies, honing and toning all the right areas for that hour glass figure. Your heart rate gets going and your glutes get pushed to their limits. While we definitely feel the burn here, the session falls a little flat as the all-round silence is no match for the blaring beats (and, sorry to say, our trainer lacked a little motivating charisma). Despite this, Topfit makes up for any shortfalls with its top-of-the-range equipment that has its own logos stamped on. A solid start, but this brand concept needs some tuning. 3/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington St, Central, 2776 7298; top-fit.com.
Fancy being able to move around the city – or even the region – with your workouts? Then check out these all-access gym passes that are now available...
If you’re travelling around the Asia region and want to keep in shape by taking part in different classes, then check out these guys. They’ve come up with an elite list of classes in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Dubai – and are shortly partnering up with gyms in four other cities. The platform offers up suggestions based on your location and interests, and you can just ‘reserve classes with a click’. Membership starts at $899 a month. guavapass.com
The only homegrown class pass, these guys are focused on keeping Hong Kong’s gyms full. Having partnered with more than 60 studios in the city, you can keep in shape with everything from barre to crossfit. There are no commitments and you can cancel any time. Membership starts at $899 a month. classcruiser.com
These guys have partnerships with more than 3,000 gyms and studios across the region, giving you no excuse not to keep fit. They’re also the cheapest option, with the first month starting at $240. If the gym isn’t your thing, though, but you fancy trying something new, you can get free access to a number of classes just once a month. Membership starts at $499.kfit.com