In Shenyang, the spring, summer and early autumn are great for exercising outdoors. Many of the parks have work out benches and pull up bars, and in the warm, plentiful days of summer, it’s great to go jogging in the early morning down by the river or in the city’s many parks. That said, when winter starts to bite things are very different. It would be insane to exercise outside when the temperature has dropped to -30°C. This means that your work out regime needs to move indoors. But finding a gym in a middle-sized Chinese city like Shenyang can be daunting for new arrivals. The Chinese idea of a gym can be very different from what you’re used to at home. Do an internet search on ‘Shenyang gyms’ and you will mainly be presented with a list of badminton halls and hotels that have fitness facilities for residents use only. But of course there are options for those looking for somewhere to work out on the treadmill or lift some weights, and you will find that both price and facilities vary greatly.
1) Bally Total Fitness
Bally Total Fitness is exactly what you would expect from the largest health club chain in the world. The gym itself is ultra-modern and feels spacious. They haven’t tried to cram as many machines in as they can like some gyms do, rather each has some space around it, giving members some distance from whoever is sweating on the next machine. The Technogym equipment is top of the range with sleek lines like a sports car and TVs incorporated into the control panels. Some of the weight machines are even built into the walls themselves so that all of the supporting structures are hidden behind wood panelling. You can tell that some thought has gone into the design of this gym.
The staff on the front desk don’t speak much English but we were shown around by a charming personal trainer named Tony whose English was excellent. There are 13 in-house personal trainers with varying rates, Tony will work with you for 230 RMB per hour, but some of his colleagues charge more. Training sessions are carried out in a dedicated training room for just you and your trainer, so no one can overhear your own concerns about your body, or your trainer’s suggestions on how to improve it. Also, the showers are individual, so if you don’t yet have the perfect physique, you don’t need to feel self-conscious about showering next to someone who does.
Bally also has a group exercise room, a yoga studio and a spinning studio. Classes are offered in yoga, Pilates, aerobics, step aerobics, Bosu, Tai Chi and Tai Kwando. Latin, salsa and belly dancing are also available, as well as traditional Chinese dancing, hip-hop and even Bollywood dancing. If dancing isn’t your thing, there is also a boxing room with padded walls, punching bags and speed balls for you to take your post-work angst out on.
Bally Total FitnessView In Map
Add: 55 Qingnianda Jie, Shenhe, Shenyang
Tel: 24 8270 7878
Opening hours: 09:30-21:00
Price: one year from 5399 RMB
Getting there: Subway: Take metro line 1 to Qingnianda Jie
2) D-House Gym
D-House is a middle of the range gym just down from the main shopping street at Zhong Jie. The first thing that needs to be said about this gym is that it’s actually really difficult to find. From the street, don’t go in the door just below the D-House sign, this will take you into the shopping mall next door. You must enter through Joy City, one door down. The gym itself is set over two floors: the reception is on the 4th, the weights and machines on the 5th. The staff don’t speak any English, but some of the members do. This fitness centre has only been open a few years so everything is still pretty new and in good condition. The Klaus exercise equipment isn’t quite as hi-tech as Bally’s Technogym, but are still of a high spec. In fact, given that this is a rather nice gym, the price is good value for money.
If you want to work with a personal trainer fees start at 100 RMB per hour. There is one spin studio and two group exercise rooms. D-House offers classes in yoga, Pilates, Latin aerobics, step, Tai Chi and body combat. They also offer hip-hop, ballet, classical, belly and folk dancing.
D-House GymView In Map
Add: 4F, Joy City, 6 Xiaodong Lu, near Dashizi Jie, Dadong District, Shenyang
Tel: 024 2435 7466
Opening hours: 10:00-21:00
Price: one year from 1980 RMB
Getting there: Subway: Take metro line 1 to Dongzhong Jie
3) Aix Fitness Club
All of the Westerners who are members at Aix refer to the club as XXX (triple-X), but don’t let this put you off, it seems the gym operates under both names. This is the cheapest gym in downtown Shenyang and to a certain extent the facilities do reflect the price. There is no air conditioning so working out in high summer can be an uncomfortable, sweaty slog. The gym has only one exercise bike and one cross trainer, however there are plenty of treadmills, free weights and weighted exercise machines. Some of the equipment is a little old and worn in places, but at a gym this cheap this is to be expected. XXX has a core membership of amateur Chinese bodybuilders and this can make the free weights area a little intimidating at first, but everyone is generally friendly. If you’re new to gyms, have no idea how to use the equipment and end up sitting on something backwards, one of the regulars will most likely set you right.
There are three personal trainers on the staff and unfortunately they don’t seem to speak any English, but some of the other staff do, so there should be an English-speaker available to show you around. The showers are open rather than individual, a bit like high school, and many of the regulars go to the changing room when they want to have a cigarette break from their workout. Amazingly, some members even smoke in the showers, while showering.
XXX has one dedicated spin room and two group exercise studios. They offer classes in yoga, aerobics, ballet, belly, ballroom, Latin and traditional Chinese dancing, all of which seem to be popular. There are also some snooker and ping pong tables if you’re looking for some lighter exercise after a tough workout.
Aix Fitness ClubView In Map
Add: 7F Waihuishangpin Building, 126 Zhonghua Lu, near Nanjingbei Jie, Heping District, Shenyang
Tel: 24 2327 1139, 24 2327 1980
Opening hours: 09:00-21:00
Price: one year from 680 RMB, currently offering 18 months for the price of 12
Getting there: Subway: take metro line 1 to Taiyuan Jie
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