Laid back, looking good

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2003, 12:00am

Working out is not what it used to be. Body building, once the chief activity in Hong Kong gyms, is slowly being replaced by a more holistic emphasis on health, flexibility and body toning.

The front line in the fitness evolution is evident at Seasons Sports Club, a fitness centre located in Citibank Plaza (a year ago the club took over premises previously occupied by Tom Turks).

Gone is the male-dominated atmosphere, the emphasis on muscle building, and the odour of sweat. With a HK$10 million renovation, the new club's architects have converted the ground floor squash courts into a ladies-only spa and a mixed-gender yoga studio.

The changing rooms have been refurbished with woody elegance, a juice and snack bar added near the entrance, the pool re-surfaced, and the work-out studios upgraded with a diverse programme of tai chi, spinning, Pilates, aerobics and dance classes.

The weight rooms are still there, but instead of kilo-crunching, the emphasis has shifted to strength and tone, a mood enhanced by the female-friendly environment.

'We do it slightly differently,' explains club general manager Conrad Chan, pointing to the intimate atmosphere inside the snack bar. 'We call this the community zone. People come here to chat, relax and be social.'

In the 14 months since opening, Seasons' membership has grown to 2,000. Great Eagle Holdings, owners of the twin tower Citibank Plaza, are financing the gym in part because they recognise the sports club as an essential service to tenants, Mr Chan says.

During a promotional period, the joining fee is waived, but a so-called administration fee of HK$350 applies. The monthly fee for an all-hours membership is HK$490, and for restricted hours HK$440.

Those who expect to find the latest fitness equipment may be disappointed. Many of the weight and exercise machines are inherited from the previous gym, and have a somewhat dated look. Mr Chan says the club will begin to upgrade the equipment over time.