Technology can make us lazy, or open new avenues for fitness
With all the new advances in technology, and with robots and automated machines increasingly taking over from the physical efforts of the human workforce, people are finding themselves with a lot more free time on their hands. In turn, many are looking for ways to use this free time to get fit. Fact is, we are all becoming lazy and sedentary in this smartphone era, and even in the developing countries of Southeast Asia obesity is a growing problem.
Thankfully, gyms and fitness centres provide a fun and enjoyable way in which to workout, whether you prefer barbells, kettle bells, yoga sessions, or Zumba high energy dance classes. These exercise spots have also become social meeting places for young professionals—and sometimes their parents too—and nowadays membership to a fitness centre has becoming a sign of prestige. However, these gym-goers are not fanatics trying to turn themselves into muscle-bound superheroes, but rather people just like you and me, who have realized that it was about time they did something to counteract their lazy lifestyle. And to a man (and woman) they look and feel better about themselves.
In Bangkok, and other urban centres in Thailand, international chains such as Fitness First, CrossFit, WE Fitness Society, True Fitness, and Virgin Active—which has six top-notch outlets located across the city—have all staked their claim. These high-end fitness centres, as well as the city’s many private health and sports clubs, tend to be bright, welcoming, and very tech savvy. They all have differing programmes on offer, and if you just want to check any of them out to see if they will be good for what you are looking for, most will give you a free trial visit. If they don’t, ask for one; more than likely they will agree. Another source for sophisticated fitness centres is in most 4 and 5-star hotels, where they are free for guests to use.
The equipment in these fitness centres varies from place to place, but apart from the ubiquitous weights found everywhere, exercise machines can include treadmills, rowing machines, and stationary bicycles, many of which are electronically metered. On a fitness centre bicycle you can choose to pedal along a flat road, or struggle to climb up a mountain track—monitoring your speed and distance travelled on a digital readout in front of you.
In 2017 one of the most popular fitness regimes was HIIT (high-intensity interval training), which helps you to burn calories quickly by alternating rapid bursts of powered-up exercise with short rest periods. You give all-out, one hundred percent effort through speedy, intense bursts of exercise, followed by a short, sometimes active, recovery time. This type of cardio training gets your heart rate up, and keeps it there, burning more fat in less time. It is the current darling of people who want to change their lifestyle and get fit fast.
But when it comes to modern trends in personal fitness these days, nothing beats the popularity of wearable tech. Fitness trackers and smart-watches have become sought after accessories over the past few years, and this trend continued to increase throughout 2017—with “healthy” sales figures from the industry leaders like Garmin, Apple, and Fitbit, which continues to post a high growth rate in sales. These trackers will monitor your heartbeat, keep track of the steps you take over the course of the day (as well as distance travelled), and will store a log of your achievements, as well as help you stick to a healthy diet by keeping a count of your calories. Thus proving, in the end, that not all tech makes us sedentary!
We Can Work It Out
O2 FITNESS: The aim at O2 Fitness is to provide fitness access for everyone, every day. The gym is equipped throughout with top-of-the-range Cybex brand premium exercise equipment, and the specialist programmes on offer include cardio theatre, resistance weight training, and free weight training. Group classes include power music boot, rip training, yoga, gym ball, aerobics, Zumba, HIIT, SGT (small group training), and more.
All three of their locations—Park Village on Rama II, Tree on 3 at Rama III, and the All Seasons Place on Wittayu Road—include changing facilities with lockers and showers, and on Rama 2 there is also a sauna and steam room. If you are interested in joining, they offer two free sessions of one hour each (with your own personal trainer who has studied sport science).
SAMMAKORN FITNESS: Alongside the gym chains that some people find a little too businesslike, there are also several independent gyms and fitness centres around Bangkok, where the service is often more personal and friendly. At Sammakorn Fitness in the Ramkamhaeng district—Sammakorn Village on Baan Sammakorn—the owner is an expat named James O’Callaghan, a fitness professional and personal trainer.
“We have everything that the corporate gyms have when you look at the quality and range of our equipment, and the programmes we put on,” explains James. “But it’s all at a lower price. And we give our members something more; we are a part of the community, and the people who come here become part of a family.”
When I visited the gym I saw this community spirit for myself, first hand. At 10:30 on a Tuesday morning there were 25 people lining up for a circuit training session, both from the local area and further afield. In the gym I also found weight machines, free weights, stationary bicycles, cross-training equipment, rowing machines, and treadmills. In addition, there is boxing and Muay Thai training, yoga classes, Zumba dance classes, HIIT, body weight training, and even table tennis. And those over 60 years of age get to attend the yoga classes for free. This is a fitness centre that can compete with the best the corporates offer, no doubt about it.
By Robin Westley Martin