Fitness First in Bangkok
In Bangkok, there is no lack of exercise clubs and gyms. One chain dominates the exercise market : Fitness First. There was a competitor (California Wow) before, but it apparently went broke.
We are presently a member of Fitness First.
Fitness First operates at present in Southeast Asia, India, Australia and some European countries.
Since the disappearance of California Wow a few years ago, and the recent demise of True Fitness, Fitness First is in a way the only large operating fitness center in Bangkok and Thailand. The newly arrived Virgin Active has plans to open many outlets in the near future.
Fitness First offers large gyms sometimes on different floor levels and located mostly in large shopping centers. Their expansion seems to be limited to different areas in Bangkok. 'Platinum' gyms are located at Landmark Hotel (Sukhumvit road), Sukhumvit Soi 39, and Q House Lumpini Tower (Sathorn road), and on Sathorn Road. Besides these probably best equipped gyms, there are about 20 different locations around Bangkok, at various The Mall and Central Department Stores, at Siam Paragon, Terminal 21 , Mega Bangna, Seacon Square. Fitness First also has branches in Chonburi, Khon Kaen, and Korat.
The gyms often are well sized, with areas with stationary exercise machines, free weights, group classes, yoga and pilates, sauna, and offering personal trainers. They also feature a rest area with free coffee (not always optimal quality though), magazines and newspapers. Wifi is available.
Personal trainers are abundant and quite eager to provide their services. However, the prices charged for training sessions, are actually very high, and make me often ponder : who are these people (about half Thai, half foreign) that can afford these services?
A good reason to recommend Fitness First are the excellent and multiple group exercise sessions. If your aim is to tone your body or loose a bit of weight, this is the way to go. Two comments about the group exercises :
1) Often the music (in many cases 'noise') level is too high. So while promoting healthy activities, even weight loss, damage to hearing is neglected. We accept that individual teachers somehow lack knowledge regarding this issue. However, management should possibly install decibel meters, or a system whereby sound levels are maximised at a certain level. At present, it is best to have some earplugs ready.
2) Very few introductory sessions, or sessions with low level exercises. You kind of have to be already in good shape, to enjoy most of the activities. (No separate classes for 'seniors' either)
We checked their latest membership fees recently at their new branch at Terminal 21, Sukhumvit Road. Payments are monthly with cash or credit card. Contract is for one year. Standard program at most fitness centers costs 2,185 baht. 'Platinum' locations (Landmark Hotel, Biohouse Sukhumvit 39, House Lumpini Tower) costs 2,595 baht. These Platinum outlets are often bigger or have additional facilities, like a basic swimming pool at Biohouse.
Once you are a member you can check out any of the many outlets (Platinum locations only for Platinum members). This is interesting, since branches and equipment may differ. As a matter of fact, some outlets operate equipment, that can be called dated, and ready for replacement.
Just want to reiterate that yoga and pilates classes are included in this deal.
You can rent a small locker for around 300 baht a month.
Always check out the gym you select, when they are most busy. For example, the Fitness First at Terminal 21, though just opened recently, is already very crowded in the evening hours, and that includes the locker room.
Fitness First does not provide towels for its members (except at the Platinum branches, which may be enough of a reason to join them). So you always have to haul along a big bag with your towel, if you need to shower after your exercise. Since there are no towels provided, most people do not carry anything with them using the exercise equipment : so whatever messages are posted around the gym, the equipment is hardly ever wiped down in between users. Towels were provided standard in the past, this goes just to show that not all 'progress' ends up being beneficial for customers. Lately, Fitness First also provides exercise clothing at its Platinum fitness clubs.
Locker rooms and showers can be crowded, check out different locations! Showers do not allow for any clothes, eyeglasses, watch or so, it will all get wet inside the small cubicle. A small shelf (where you can put your membership card?), should be located higher up.
One last comment : Fitness First offers a lot. A drawback is that it is a high-intensity gym, and a bit hectic at times. The group classes are kind of necessary for good workouts. Private gyms with less members, are more relaxing and have there own advantages. As a matter of fact, if you can afford it, be a member of both types of fitness centers.
Website : Fitness First