High rise fitness in Jakarta — gyms, gems, gyps

Month to month sucks. If you share a house you can go almost a year without paying bills. But what about the gym/fitness?

This is a classic hassle. In some countries you need five credit cards and a law degree to use free weights. Indo’s not there yet in terms of hassle, though you may find the monthlies steep.

However, unless you’re a golfer or religiously get out of town every weekend, you need a gym in Jakarta. The instant expat thing is fine. But IMO survival, revival and thrival in Jak depends on getting out regularly — in some way, shape or form. It’s so easy. There easily two dozen full sets of exercise equipment within easy walking distance, most of which offer new equipment, exotic scenery and yoga classes. 

Jakarta Fitness Centers Compete for Corner Office

  • Apartment fitness/gym – Pretty good idea (pictures). But where are the options for people who don’t want to live in an apartment? One is to use the facilities at your friend or boss’ apartment. You can even ask us.
  • Jakarta hotel fitness/gym – This works and here you can visualize it. Jakarta has tons of posh fitness centers (pool, sauna, steam, jacuzzi the works) and many offer semi-affordable pay-per use or monthly rates. Gran Melia used to offer non-weekend options. Mandarin and Nikko are popular. Hyatt has a great pool.
  • Jakarta fitness center chains – Ask first: Monthly membership? (assume 3 month min. but they routinely throw in an extra month)? Annual membership? (at least 13 months) Plus, how many fitness centers will I have access to? Fitness in Bali? Fitness in Singapore?

Cheapest fitness chain is Gold’s Gym. This McD approach may put independents out of business. Blogged prices at Gold’s (monthly plan) are around Rp 400,000 /month. And that’s exactly what they offered me the other day (access to two centers). Some people pay about the same even for the annual plan. However, for a “Gold’s Express” (small) gym or at a just-opened location using the right credit card (HBSC) / right package you’re closer to Rp 200,000/month for annual plan or Rp 335,000/month for monthly plan.

How does Gold’s Gym suck? In my experience at no less than four Jakarta locations (many of them no longer there), it adds up to an ass-pain chasing the fast-talkingsales reps and complex discount rates around town. On the other hand, as Tavina at Female Daily Indonesian-English blog suggests, you don’t want to be locked into anything:

For sure you can pay less if you go for a a full year. But, hey, I could lose interest anytime : )  . . . why risk it

Anyway, I highly recommend Andi (0852 6300 0556) at Fitness First (FF) in Central Jakarta.  I met him yesterday at the Grand Indonesia location, 10 minutes from the Sharehouse. It was just a complete relief to cut through the package-my-ass mumbo jumbo to the monthly plan price – Rp 500,000/month. Very different feeling from Gold’s. Facilities are also better in this case.

And that leaves only Celebrity Fitness (AKA CelFit), plus or minus, uh, the celebrity appeal which seems to appeal mostly to Indonesians. Maybe it’s a few extra bucks a month more than FF, even if you bargain hard. Any club costs more if you don’t take a good hour or more to bargain ’em down (not including driving time because you need to do it in person).

So in a city where the gym is the main way that foreigners unwind, the Celebrity Fitness and Fitness First chains cost about 40 Euros per month while Gold’s Gym is closer to 32 Euros per month.

Instant Expat -- Get in Get out

As always, you gotta read the fine print. Tavina raises one pertinent question as regards the month-to-month fitness lifestyle:

My sis has a Celfit (Celebrity Fitness) monthly plan and she pays with her debit (not credit). There’s an upfront and then it’s monthly. GG (Gold’s Gym) wouldn’t do that for me . . . so who knows what happens when my special promo months run out.

By the way, most Jak locals get massages, not gym passes. It doesn’t occur to them to pay a one-month salary to gather for a moment of communal, high-rise perspiration. Which means that Indonesian health clubs are totally Western and exotic, an escape from escape. You’ll meet unusually toned, health-conscious Indonesians and also a lot of bule types (like me) who don’t go to the gym back home. Your Jak exercise solution should add a bit of cool, clean, scenic, orderly and convenient color to your Jakarta day.


3 responses »

  1. Hi Sterling !

    Really nice blog about Jakarta

    My name is Alexandra and I’m managing a meta-blog about travel and activities in South East Asia: http://www.weekend.com.sg/

    I read some of your articles carefully and your content can be really useful for my readers looking for travel, tips and activities in Jakarta ! I really appreciate your articles, they give a good image of the real Jakarta.
    In consequence, I decided to select your blog !

    I would like to know if you would be interested to appear on our web portal? It will increase your visibility on internet, increase your visits, and provide good information for my users.

    Good job again !

  2. On second thought, why pay more for Fitness First, the biggest chain in the world. Isn’t that like paying a premium for McD? Here’s the problem with Grand Indonesia, besides the price. A few actually 1) closet smokers 2) towels 3) showers’ smell 4) music 5) the view north/east trashed with flat screens 6) pool area 7) too small and crowded

    What’s good about FF in Grand Indonesia (Plaza Semanggi is worse BTW) 1) the view south/west is cool 2) people are nice enough 3) equipment is all there for you 4) watch a movie as you pedal

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