What’s in a (gym class) name?

I get it—Hong Kong gyms need to stand out in order to succeed, whether it’s with killer views, KOL trainers or novelty features like black light and bungee cords. But one Hong Kong gym has recently caught my eye with their—shall we say, interesting choice of class names.


First off, I’ve not personally been to Pherform yet, but I’ve heard a lot of great things about it from the people who do train there. The gym is founded by Alex de Fina (who founded BikiniFit) and is targeted at women only, as evidenced by the generous use of the word ‘her’ in everything.

Don’t get me wrong—I love puns just as much as the next person, but something about their class names just didn’t sit right with me. Here is a screenshot from their Summer Shredder program:


SHRED-her? BLAST-her? SCULPT-her? 

I’m sorry, but if there’s gonna be any shredding going on, shouldn’t it be “self-inflicted” rather than being done to ‘her’? Like, could it be any more obvious that this female-only gym was created by a man?

And what’s up with the pronunciation (like, shouldn’t Pherform technically be pronounced “Fer-form’ and ‘Ignither’ with the actual ‘th’)—again, that’s just the editor in me speaking.

Perhaps I’m being a bit sensitive but I just wanted to share my thoughts. If Pherform is reading, sorry to stir sh*t up but I think in this day and age, we just need to be especially careful about these things.

Words like ‘herstory’ and ‘strongher‘ are uplifting and positive, but I just can’t see myself going to a class called Shred-her and Blast-her.

The good news is, there are a ton more words out there that contain the word ‘her’, so if Pherform does feel like changing their class names, they can start here: FreeDictionary – Words Containing ‘Her’

Or, if everyone disagrees with me, just don’t bother… 😉


(Featured image: @pherformhk/Instagram)

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  1. I like the interesting thought you raise – never really thought of it myself. Very good point indeed!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. Hi Erica. As the Founder & Owner of Pherform – thank you for sharing your perspective. You didn’t “stir shit up” at all 🙂

    Our class names are connected to the modality of training. As an editor, I am sure you understand the nuance and context of a branding exercise. To run a poll “Are Pherform class names offensive” is only offensive to the several hundred women who comprise our dynamic community and have never once considered our class names to be some kind of politicial/gender issue.

    I am somewhat confused about your statement “Can it be any more obvious that Pherform was created by a guy?”. Are males excluded from a pursuit of female liberation and empowerment? Or am I guilty of an assumed gender bias by default of being a male?

    As you seem quite passionate on both gender & fitness, I would love to welcome you to volunteer at Pherform Dream Team training – which is a free training service we provide several times per week for domestic helpers in Hong Kong. This service has been running for almost 4 years, and if you don’t find the “Dream Team” name as offensive as you do our classes, we can channel that passion and energy into sharing the gift of health & fitness with other women in Hong Kong who might not have the same resources as more fortunate folk like us.

    Would love to discuss further with you – my personal email is: alex@pherform.com

    Thank you

    • Erica

      31 May

      Hi Alex, thanks for the message. I totally understand the attempt at branding by way of the word ‘her’ but there are definitely better ways to do so, in my opinion. If you need help with new class names, I’d be happy to suggest some!

      I’m not sure how the poll could be considered offensive as it’s just a way to see what everyone else thinks. It could even be a good tool for you to see what other people—in and out of the Pherform community—feel, as it would be a huge oversight to assume otherwise.

      I’m glad that you support female empowerment, a movement which by no means excludes males, but as a man, that means trying to see things from a woman’s point of view. The words ‘Shred-her’ or ‘Blast-her’ sound particularly violent—especially when coming from a man.

      I also feel that someone who is truly in support of empowering women should be a little more open to critique about any potentially offensive or derogatory terms to women, and take the necessary steps to change this.

      Lastly, thank you for the invitation to the Dream Team classes. I have nothing against the name, obviously—but thanks for trying to undermine my opinion by implying that I get offended over everything. As a business owner, I really think you should be more careful with what you say in the public space.

      I’m glad that you have this great initiative for helpers (and I’m not sure how you want me to ‘volunteer’), but perhaps instead of Dream Team, you might want to call the class “Help-her”…

      You’re welcome.

  3. Alexander

    31 May

    Thanks for the response Erica.
    With respect, and a genuine attempt to avoid being condecending: The class names are quite clearly adverbs (we are a gym, and we cater to females) using “sensationalist spelling”.
    Your repeated attempts to attach “violence” to class names and my gender, is biased, derogatory, disrespectful, sexist, and utterly counterintuitive to the very vision and misson of Pherform.
    After many years of relentless devotion to female empowerment, I won’t lose any sleep over your assumptions. I wish you health and happiness, but I won’t engage further on this.
    All the best.

  4. Eloise

    1 June

    I think the writer is absolutely correct. And the tone-deaf snowflake response from the gym owner above is astounding. This is just a badly disguised marketing plug about his so-called philanthropic nature.

  5. Vanessa

    1 June

    Alex I think you should be a bit more open to feedback, especially from women. In my opinion some of these class names do sound very violent… “Shredher” (?) Ouch. This makes me feel a bit sick. The combination implies inflicting violence to her…. I think you could come up with better class names!

  6. Dee

    1 June

    Hey Alex maybe take that massive chip off your shoulder for a moment and pay attention?

    There is simply no need to name gym classes in a way that can be (easily) interpreted as promoting violence against women. There is no justification. When there is so much violence against women, a so called pro-active women’s gym should be aiming to promote women’s rights, not create some smart pun which does the opposite. What’s wrong with gender neutrality in your class names? Would us women not “get it” without the stupid names?

    Simply no need for this.

  7. Maddy

    1 June

    I agree with the writer here that insinuation of violence towards women just for the sake of a pun isn’t necessary or funny.

  8. Hermione

    1 June

    I find the class names just sound stupid and gimmicky. I get that the Founder and Owner is trying to create a brand, but the names are neither nuanced nor empowering. He should hire a decent marketing consultant for advice. Also, maybe consult a grammar book because those names are NOT adverbs.