Gyms in Beijing have long realised that to match every member's dream of toned bodies and flexed muscles, variety is the key. When choosing the perfect sweat arena you should be aware of the choices too. In the wake of a number of high-profile chains in Beijing suddenly shutting their doors without forewarning, leaving behind an angry mob of customers, we’ve decided to compile a list of five things to keep in mind before committing yourself to a long term gym contract.
Imagine you find the gym of your dreams, decide to settle for a lifetime membership, and pay up to 100,000 RMB to secure endless access and the promise to look like Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Still immersed in your Hollywood scenario, you head to the gym one day, and find it locked. No explanation given, the gym manager on the run with yours and others' money in their pocket. A dream turned sour, this is what happened not so long ago with hundreds of members of the now infamous Noble Club of Green Lake International Apartments.
The message here is clear. If you are about to make an investment that equals or exceeds the money you would need to buy a car, just be careful. Getting informed on the reputation and history of the gym is a must. Also potentially lifesaving is to read the fine prints, and ask about the refund policy. Needless to say you need to be able to get the money back should the service be disrupted, so make sure this self evident detail is confirmed in writing. Settle for no less. Do also remember, that quite often gym membership prices in Beijing are negotiable so with a little persuasion and back-and-forth haggling, you may be able to settle for a cheaper membership or a short-term one which can be renewed.
2) People, People, People
In most cases you will get to the gym at the end of your workday. Worn out by a day of hard labour, and/or intense intellectual stress, you deserve to be surrounded by polite fellow members and helpful staff. You can hardly predict the first, but can definitely imagine the latter. On your first day of visit make sure to sense the attitude of the staff, and ask about their background and education. Most personal trainers have years of study on their backs, and are certified to teach you. As a general rule they all require an extra fee to follow and direct your fitness achievements. Make sure to ask how much a one-on-one lesson costs, because it might be worth being taught for a few sessions before becoming your own master. Personal trainers come with the package in some places, and that will definitely be advertised by the salesperson when you are discussing your membership. All that said, instructions on how to use machines, or advice on how to stretch need to be free and forthcoming, no matter what facility or how much you are paying.
Though I believe in the existence of the hard core heavy weight lifter, who is only interested in a stick of metal with intimidating kilos loaded on both sides? There has to be more than that in any gym worth its name. You can start asking about classes, and you absolutely need to be allowed to try out some of them. This is the segment of choice that completely depends on your tastes. After a quick scan of the biggest fitness providers out there, spin wins for spread and popularity. Spin aside, most gyms offer all time favourites such as yoga, pilates and various and worldly dance classes. The best is to pick the class and time you most see fit, and then sit in a lesson. Ask around your fellow classmates/workmates to make sure classes are always on, and on time. Sauna, steam room and whirlpool are also good pluses. Make sure they are big enough, or you will end up wasting precious relaxation time plastered to other members' sweat.
There is no way you can overestimate the importance of a clean and sterile environment – though in Beijing that often seems to be the issue with most of the budget gym options. To strike the perfect balance between what you pay and what you get, I am afraid you will need to overlook some minor hygiene matters. While tireless cleaners will attempt to polish the gym's equipment while you are on and using it, lockers are the first areas to lag behind. Due to the constant stream of people taking showers and getting ready for their work out, it is undoubtedly difficult to keep all areas shiny. Remember to use slippers at all times, and follow the general rule hanging on so many public toilets to never leave the area you have used in a way you would not wish yourself to find.
5) Location and opening time
What makes gyms convenient is the fact that everything you need is confined to a room. But imagine for a moment that this magic room is located an hour away from your home or workplace, or only opens while you are in the office; would you still think it is magic? After you have checked all of the above, settle on one that is relatively close by and open till late. Never underestimate your intrinsic laziness.
Popular Gyms in Beijing:
Powerhouse Gym 宝力豪健身 View In Map
Add: Floor C, Dongzhimen Wai, Kenzo Center, Chaoyang District, Beijing (above the subway exit C)
Tel: 010 51396208
Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 07:00 - 22:00; Sat-Sun, 10:00 - 22:00
Price: 4,200 RMB for a one year membership
Add: Yonganli add: 3/F, West Tower, LG Twin Towers, Twin Towers, 12B Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District
Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 07:00-22:00; Sat-Sun, 10:00-22:00
Tel: 010 58287718
Fusion Fitness Center 凝酷健身中心View In Map
Add: 2/F, Yifu Fitness Bldg, inside Beijing Language and Culture University, 15 Xueyuan Lu, Haidian District, Beijing
Opening hours: 08:30 - 22:30.
Price: Annual membership 1,300 RMB; monthly membership 400 RMB.
Tel: 010 82300591
Kerry Sports 嘉里健身 View In Map
Add: Kerry Centre Hotel, 1 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Opening hours: 06:00 - 23:00
Price: annual membership 21,000 RMB, 6 months membership 13,500 RMB
Contact: 010 65618833 ext 6465
St. Regis Spa and Club 北京国际俱乐部温泉健身中心View In Map
Add: 1/F St. Regis Hotel, 21 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Opening hours: 24 hours
Price: annual membership 22,000 RMB; six months membership 12,000 RMB
Tel: 010 64606688, ext 2759
Hosa Fitness Centre 浩沙健身中心View In Map
Add: B1/F, East Gate Plaza, 9 Dongzhong Jie, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Opening hours: 09:00 - 21:30
Tel: 010 64181088
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