Fitness First @Oakwood (S. Jakarta) Costs Rp 500,000/ month

The reason I mention it, is because I just signed up for another four months and I’m looking at the receipt. Also, fitness is serious business here in new Jak city and FF is a no-nonsense outfit. Folks are nice and they don’t fast talk you. You can let your membership expire and sign up again at the same rate and they won’t even pretend that you can’t. They accept your cash at — you know — cash value. No card games.

The views aren’t quite as good as Grand Indonesia but they’re less cluttered, too.

As for Plan B, would you rather be surfing, sailing, jogging in Jak?  A shame really that Jakarta isn’t located in British Colombia, New South Wales or California. It would be a perfect fit as people in Jakarta are relaxed and even mildly outdoorsy.

Fact is, Jabotabek (ugly name but Jakarta/Bogor/Tangerang/Bekasi’s all jammed together crazy like that) is sandwiched between a volcano and the port of Sunda Kelapa.  And as we approach 30 million souls, we’ll be catching up with Canada.

So you can say that you’re going surfing — and you might. But in Jakarta, even the likes of Timothy Ferris (4-Hour Work Week/4-Hour Body) may find his/herself logistically weak-kneed having to rely on anything that tricky as a primary source of exercise. (Mountain biking, on the other hand, is fairly practical in Jak as long as its not too hot.)

Jak just isn’t your in-and-out type of place. As such, even “going out for some fresh air” or “taking a walk” may or may not be feasible. First go downstairs and check out the weather.  (Today it was lovely. Jakarta can be a real charmer — for example , when the smog blows out to sea and you notice all the brand-new shiny buildings that have gone up since the last clear-weather day.)

Keep your walking shoes handy, learn the roads and study maps, traffic and weather. Then work it baby (an article by a journalist formerly in residence @Sharehouse), cuz you’re gonna get some looks.  (Honestly, there’s almost nothing I find as exhilarating as mountain biking Jak and it has something to do with the people contact.) On the other hand, you could end up like one Sharehouse woman (yep, the one who went for a swim in the big ol’ fountain at the Plaza Indonesia roundabout on her last day in town) who got a large pointy piece of metal stuck in her foot on one of her very first freestyle Jak-abouts. Extra points for bravery, ’cause she was actually jogging down the railroad tracks. But she got a terribly nasty infection, too, that had her on crutches for a week or so and in a lot of pain.

So what does that leave . . . Yoga and the gym, pretty much. Use the free gym at your apartment? Yep, that’s always convenient. Conveniently located near your frig, your couch, and your wifi. So you may as well be hunting for activity partners on the Internet.  Or, better yet, at the bar! Drinking has been the official expat sport in this city since day 1.

I mean, if you want to spend all week (except for those 4 working hours) at Red Square or BATS, I think that’s fair.  But what I don’t get (I used to) is reasoning like “I just hate gyms” and “I just can’t see paying 60 dollars a month for the gym.”  That’s nothing if it keeps you healthy.

Because the Susan Waine fitness joint at Bellagio, across the street from Oakwood, is less than Rp 100,000/month. (A bit grotty and best for the heat-resistant types as they can’t be bothered to keep the AC very cold. I was cool and the gang with it, but my wife got a bit itchy and so we worked that membership on out, and let ‘er expire natural-like, easing across the street to join the in-crowd upstairs from the ever-popular Loewy and the ever-happening Bux.)  But we’ve also done a couple of Gold’s, Elite, Fit by Beat, pretty much every gym around. At a place like FF you’ll find brand-new equipment, hyper-convenient locations, awesome views of Jakarta, a pool (the one at Grand Indo, even though it was too small and somehow more uptight last time we tried it).

The money is the least of it. You’ll have tons of it left over after you quit all your dirty Indonesian bad habits, like smoking, dodgy street food, carousing, etc.

Complaints? Sauna’s really small and the music used to be really anemic; but it’s gotten better lately.


2 responses »

  1. besides having to arm wrestle over prizes and the fact they might sell your phone number to their biz partners, the main reason *not* to sign up for Gold’s Gym at Citiwalk is the size of the dressing room. FF Oakwood is easily 3 times the size. Gold’s @ Citiwalk is ridiculously crowded. which isn’t a fun way to get dressed and undressed. they’re short of space in general, but if you knew and loved all the machines then you prolly woulnd’t care, cuz they have a lot.

    and the music can be loud and annoying (whereas FF can be silly, anemic and annoying). other than that, people are perfectly friendly at Gold’s. a bit groupier, though.

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