Hong Kong is packed with gyms and fitness studios, all of which claim to offer something different. It’s hard to know which one is right for you. Sifting through all the options and listening to lots of different pieces of advice can be hard work, not to mention confusing. I always advise my male and female clients to keep their fitness routines fresh and to try new things. The body is very efficient and quickly gets used to the same regime and you’ll quickly start to get less bang for your buck in terms of performance gains or weight loss as you start to do one kind of workout too regularly. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to shock your body by changing things up often, and finding new physical challenges constantly if you want to continue see results.
Below are my gym and fitness picks across Hong Kong. Each and every one plays a role in my overall fitness plan.
Training Ground – Gymmin’ It
When I go to the gym I want to sweat a lot. I want to switch off from daily stress, dig deep and push my body to new limits in a safe environment. Ursus Fitness in Sai Ying Pun is a fun fitness playground for just this purpose. My favourite class is Bear Camp. The beauty of the Ursus Bear Camp is the unique combination of high intensity training, functional strength building and getting to work with some really cool toys! Both men and women alike can benefit hugely from this type of varied training. Women are gradually (finally!) starting to realize that strength and weight training is extremely beneficial when it comes to achieving effective fat reduction. Many women and men are stuck in a ‘cardio trap, ‘ focusing too much on burning calories through cardio, and ignoring resistance training. I am not suggesting you need to become a weightlifter, massively bulk up or do Crossfit workouts all the time, but the more lean muscle you have the more calories and fat you will burn.
Flipping tyres, pulling weighted boats in on ropes, dragging/pushing sleds and prowlers… all of these challenge every muscle in your body at once through these big complex and compound movements, creating a workout unlike anything else. And don’t be intimidated- the bear camp participants have all levels of ability and all types of goals and the sessions always provide a friendly atmosphere.
I need targets and goals when I work out, and Ursus Fitness is always giving you new ways to challenge yourself. The gym also offers pure Strongman classes which focus on lifting heavy, Get Lean classes for more circuit/body weight training with intervals, as well as another one of my absolute faves when it comes to conditioning: boxing and Muay Thai kickboxing. Ursus is also flexible: you can do drop in classes, or membership packages are available.
Stretch It Up – Yoga Love
I always plan to do more yoga and kick myself when I don’t go because when I do, I always feel fantastic afterwards and I am reminded about just how beneficial it is for you. Yoga keeps us supple, improves our posture, works on our balance and core strength and last but not least, is brilliant for the mind. There are lots of yoga studios and lots of instructors, each with their own styles. All are brilliant. My two favourite yoga teachers are at Pure Yoga (multiple locations), namely Lisa Mak and Andy Willner. Both are wise and wonderful yogis that will challenge your body and mind through yoga.
That being said, I think yoga is about trial and error. It’s important to find the right practice and the right teacher for you personally. For those who don’t want to commit to a membership, I strongly recommend Yoga BamBam in Poho. No need to sign up, just pay per class and try different styles and teachers. They do everything from Hatha to AcroYoga (aspects of acrobatics) to FlyYoga (using a hammock for new levels of stretching and relaxation).
Boxing Banter – Punches & Jabs
I have now been doing martial arts for over fifteen years and have yet to find the training boring or dull. I teach my clients boxing and Muay Thai at Ursus fitness and train there myself as I love the dynamic teaching methods, facilities, skilful instructors and lack of ego amongst the group. Martial arts are a great addition to a workout routine- when you are learning something new and concentrating on form and technique, you will find that your workout session goes by very quickly. Boxing and kicking martial arts enable you to get your sweat on, ache in new places, enjoy some de-stressing and offer an outlet to disperse of life’s daily annoyances by smacking a bag!
I have always focused more on standing martial arts but with The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) becoming ever more popular across global media, there is now more interest in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). If you want to learn, I suggest you head over to JAB MMA in Central. They have world class instructors and BJJ champions such as Rodrigo Caporal. Another awesome option? Spark Fight & Fitness over in Central. They also offer a great environment to learn MMA.
Cycle City – Wheel Speak
I am a competitive person. I like to be amongst others to push myself that extra bit. Torq Cycle in Central is the only cycle studio in Hong Kong to offer a full breakdown of your ride performance whilst giving you the option to compete against others in the class by displaying your numbers on a board at the front. A lot of people don’t want their scores to be shown publicly but still love Torq for the workout and the personal email you receive after, both of which help you track your progress (when you register at Torq, you confidentially input your personal details into their system and they use those to calculate calorie counts, performance goals, etc). I find that having ways to measure your workouts and improvements is really helpful. It’s very addictive to continually try to best your highest power and energy scores! I find that having ways to measure your workouts and improvements is really helpful.
Torq offers a variety of classes but my three favorite are: Torq de HK: a full 50 min ride which destroys me, Torq Hit: 25 mins on the bike with intervals followed by 25 mins of high intensity on the mats; and finally, Torq RX: a split between the bike and the TRX. I’m a huge fan of a TRX and I use it every week. The variety of exercises are endless and you need to engage your core with every movement!
The bottom line: every week, try to find time to lift weights, do at least one longer cardio session (45mins +) and do some hardcore, high-intensity interval training. And don’t forget about rest days! If you are training properly you will need your downtime. They are vital for physical and muscular recovery, as well as to stop cortisol levels getting too high.
My advice in a nutshell: keep it fresh and keep it fun. Always make sure you are enjoying yourself!
Christiana Lewis is an accomplished kick-boxer, a certified personal trainer, a cycling instructor and the co-founder of Asia’s first grass-fed whey protein ice cream company Ice ‘N’ Lean.
Photos credit: Torq Cycle, Ursus Fitness, Spark Fight & Fitness and Yoga BamBam.