Editor’s note: Please welcome our newest contributor, Cal! A self-proclaimed gym junkie from Australia, Cal used to write for Action Asia, has his own blog and can be found at @callyflakes on Instagram.
After the recent California Fitness bankruptcy fiasco, I was left with no other option than to find another gym. There were a number of options, all of which were significantly costlier than my old gym membership – which was approximately $300 per month for four years, but with the year and a bit that I will never get back, it is probably something closer to $400 per month.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a gym junkie (#TheGymLifeChoseMe ok?), but ultimately I settled with a clean and well-appointed gym that is, more importantly, a five minute roll down the road from my place in North Point.
The Kiu Fai Mansion branch in North Point is a brand spanking new gym. Spread out over three floors, it is one of Fitness First’s newer branches at the time of writing, having opened only for a few months. This gym was a significant upgrade to the rusty California Fitness equipment I had grown accustomed to. The focus here is a little different too.
‘A gym is a gym’ I hear you say. But let me stop you there. Yes, there is a multi-purpose group exercise studio, the wall lined with treadmills, a cycling studio, the regular weight machines, and also the regular heavy weights and bench area too (all weights are measured in kilograms by the way); all fairly standard fare, but there is also a lot of other stuff that I had not seen in my time with Cali or Physical.
For starters, they provide you with workout clothing and a large and small towel. Wearing used workout clothes seemed weird and a little unhygienic to me at first, but laziness or maybe it was convenience, won out in the end. I still sniff the clothes before I put them on though, with only one mishap so far (it was gross).
This gym has been designed for functional training. Perhaps it is a wider fitness trend, but there is an element of CrossFit box design here. For example, on the first floor there is an open area paved with rubber mats with painted ladders and grids for you to work on your agility and foot work, it also serves as a place to go crazy with the kettlebells and sandbags.
Metals bars are attached to the roof so that a set of Olympic rings, TRX, and something akin to adult monkey bars hang from. There is also a plethora of wooden and foam boxes available for use; these are useful for such things as box jumps, but also great for stretching and working muscles beyond the standard range of motion.
The most exciting thing for me though was seeing the 16-metre stretch of synthetic grass on the second floor. Sitting on this the greenery is a weighted sled. If you have no idea what that is, then imagine a very short sled made of very heavy metal that you push or pull along the fake grass. It is a killer posterior chain workout, and definitely gets the heart rate pumping.
What I like most about this place:
- Functional training focus
- Well-appointed weights area
- 2 x squat racks
- Olympic rings!
- No one has tried to upsell me anything!
On a side note, for the first time I have started regularly attending yoga classes at a gym. They have the usual selection of other classes too, and the instructors seem fairly professional.
All in all, I am pretty happy with my choice in gyms. The Kiu Fai Mansion location is not as overcrowded as other branches such as Wan Chai and Sheung Wan, and I’m not locked into an upfront payment. My HK$7xx per month membership allows me to use most gyms in Hong Kong, and also features a passport system, so that I can also use other Fitness First gyms around the world.