Macau and Hong Kong’s gym scenes are catching up with the West, with an exciting range of boutique services

Boutique studios in Macau and Hong Kong are replacing traditional gyms and taking the fitness world by storm

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 3:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 3:54pm

Madonna wowed Macau on her Rebel Heart Tour this year. Not only with her avant-garde costumes and catchy songs, but also her rock-hard abs. Many Macau fans might have wondered how the superstar toned her amazing body.

Online research reveals Madonna’s personal trainer is a fan of Surfset Fitness, a type of exercise that mimics the movements of surfing but on land, and specifically on top of a specially-designed board surfboard. Its base consists of three large balls that re-create the destabilising movement of the waves.

If that’s Madonna’s secret, then many fans might be sold. Some lucky fans can try out the workout in boutique gyms in New York, London, Toronto and Hong Kong.

The exercise also embodies the fitness revolution that has taken place in recent years.

Traditional gyms, with a factory-like set up of treadmills, rowing machines and weights, have been replaced by boutique studios that focus on only one or two types of exercises with specialised classes. These are often offered with luxury amenities such as a health bar decked with vegan juices and nutritional snacks; and fashionable gymwear for sale.

These boutique studios have taken the fitness world by storm with specialist exercises, such as Surfset, spinning, rebounding and CrossFit. There are also more independent studios now, but they have a downside in that fitness fans sometimes face the hefty expense of maintaining memberships at several gyms.

So, the fitness sector’s latest trend is a contract-free “membership” that offers access to a community of fitness studios and healthy living experts. Classes can also be booked through online apps, enabling a fitness fan to attend a Barre class or a boxing session as easily as reserving tables at a restaurant.

Classpass is available in the United States, Britain and Australia, and dominates the West, as it offers a wide range of boutique studios across many zip codes. Guavapass is one of several companies offering a similar service in Hong Kong, and raises awareness and booking opportunities for boutique operations such as Surfset Hong Kong. BounceLimit is  Asia’s first rebounding studio, whose workouts promise to burn up to 1,000 calories on a trampoline.

There is also Hydro 1.0, Hong Kong’s first aqua-fitness gym located in Kennedy Town, where fitness fans can enrol in spinning, CrossFit and fitness classes while submerged in water. The gym also offers dragon-boating classes.

The passion and drive of these studios’ owners and instructors make these gyms stand out, says Antonia De Cruz, general manager of Guavapass Hong Kong.

“Studios run their business based on word-of-mouth, and their reputation is on the line for how good and specialised their classes are, hence the need to attract the best instructors,” she says.

Cherilyn Chow, head instructor at Surfset Hong Kong, was a fan of the exercise before she decided to introduce the exercise to Hong Kong. Similarly, Lucia Tam, the co-founder and senior instructor at BounceLimit, and Hydro 1.0’s CEO Simon Cheung both say they found a need for their respective exercises and a passion for their their rehabilitative benefits.

De Cruz says Hong Kong will continue to import new and exciting exercise opportunities. “Most of the fitness trends stem from the West, and [Asia] is catching up,” she says.

Macau’s fitness scene is catching up with the West and Hong Kong.

Boutique studios are taking the fitness world by storm

Inception Health and Fitness is well-known, and its founder and trainer Corinne Mackay runs everything, from outdoor boot camps and boxing fitness classes, for people who want to keep fit while staying social; to personal training and fitness nutrition for clients wishing to sculpt their lifestyle.

“Macau has a lot of transient residents, and with the weather being so hot in the summer, the demands and popularity for training does change over the year,” says Mackay, who first started Inception Health & Fitness in 2002 in Australia. For this reason, the trainer adjusts her timetable and classes throughout the year to meet customers’ demands.

Mackay is also the Macau Ambassador for “Global Wellness Day”, a 50-nation world initiative that she says began in Turkey in June 2012  “to pause from our busy schedules and reflect on the value we put on our lives”.

This year’s event took place on June 11 at official sponsor the St. Regis Macao hotel, and included high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Zumba, Pilates, yoga, meditation and even Bollywood and swing dance classes.

Simon Grunwell, manager of The St. Regis Macao Athletic Club, strives to promote a healthy lifestyle for clients throughout the year. “We combine fitness training and luxury, and the exercise room stands out because of its equipment and training programmes,” he says.

Weekly classes available at the hotel include HIIT, functional cardio training, and bollyjam classes. The hotel also recently introduced yoga classes. Members can also check their BMI regularly and relax post-work in the hotel’s sauna, jacuzzi and steam room, Grunwell says.

Elsewhere in Macau, Banyan Tree Macau offers six-month or 12-month “Befit Lifestyle Memberships”. Limited to only 31 memberships annually, the exclusive packages include access to all Banyan Tree Macau recreational facilities, and perks such as a complimentary 60-minute body massage, and a Moet & Chandon Champagne brunch. Packages can be purchased for individuals, couples or families.

At Conrad Macao, memberships can be purchased on a monthly, half-yearly or yearly basis and can be bought for individuals, couples, or for children. Exclusive benefits for longer-term memberships include body assessments and 60-minute personal training sessions.

Whether you join a hotel gym membership, take part in Mackay’s classes – which start as early as 5.45am – or cross over to Hong Kong to sample the abundance of new and unique fitness sessions, there’s no excuse not to work towards achieving Madonna’s abs.