Thailand – Fitness First Sathorn Square, Bangkok

Location: Fitness First Sathorn Square, 98 North Sathorn Road, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok
Opening times: Monday to Friday 6:00AM – 10:00PM
Weekend 8:00AM – 9:00PM

Review: Over the years, I have been a member of most of the large gym chains in the UK. For example, when I first moved to London used to live in a shared flat in South Kensington and I joined the nearest gym, which happened to be LA Fitness. This gym was huge and as I didn’t have a job, I would often train here when I woke up at around 11am. It was at this time that I used to witness a bizarre natural phenomenon, known as the ‘training of the trophy wives’. Swarms of wealthy, beautiful women whose sole purpose in the life it seemed was to train everyday so they could look beautiful and dazzle at dinner parties. Every now and then, I would see one of their sweating, overweight and usually aged husbands training with them. Rather then working out, they would always be scanning the gym, as if to try and work out which of the younger, fitter men were planning to seduce their prize. It was like watching some absurd and surreal play and generally helped kill the time between sets.

Eventually, I left LA Fitness and joined Fitness First. We were together for about 8 years and had some really wonderful times together. We still have an on-again-off-again relationship,, as my membership if currently on hold. Oh, those were the days.

Anywho. 

Long story short, this Fitness First is exactly the same as every other large branch of Fitness First I trained at in London. Except with more Thais. There are free soft drinks and coffee provided in the reception area. You can get a free towel and they have all of the latest equipment, group classes and offer short HIT classes on the central matted area. There are a couple of subtle differences however, to reflect common practice here in Asia. The first is that the gym also provides shorts and t-shirts for men and women to train in so no need to bring any kit. As such, all you need to bring with you is your shoes and your gloves. Yes, I use gloves. And yes, I do have soft hands. 

Another difference is that they also have a little food counter which seems to sell healthy snacks, light meals and smoothies. The reception area is large and seems to encompass a chill out area, where people meet to relax and socialise. The gym appears to be a social activity in Bangkok and the membership costs mean that places such as this only appeal to professionals, making it essentially a private members club. This is very much the other end of the spectrum to the Outdoor Lumpini Park Gym, which you can read about here

As you would expect, this gym has pretty much everything you could ever want, and includes:
  • Dumbbells unto 50kg. (But they do jump from 40kg to 45kg and then 50kg)
  • Adjustable benches 
  • Barbell flat bench
  • Incline barbell bench 
  • Decline barbell bench 
  • Olympic bars 
  • Smith machine 
  • Cables 
  • Assisted dips / pull ups bar
  • Lat pulldown 
  • Fixed weight bars up to 50kg
  • Easy bars 
  • Pec dec 
  • Leg press
  • Leg extension 
  • Leg curl 
  • Lat pulldown machine 
  • Chest press machine 
  • Shoulder press machine
  • Seated low row machine  
  • Thigh abductor machine 
  • Function strength frame 
  • Treadmills
  • Cross-trainers 
  • Cycles 
  • Rowing machines 
  • Power plate machines 
  • Swiss balls 
  • Medicines balls 
  • TRX
  • Yoga mats 
  • Kettle bells
  • Sand bags 
  • Resistance bands
  • Wobble boards 
  • Rubber weight tubes (if you know the name then drop it in the comments)
  • Punch bag 
  • Gloves and focus mits
  • Foam rollers 
  • Plyo soft boxes
  • Stretching stools
  • Spin class studio 
I am sure that I have missed off a few things from this list, but I started losing the will to live typing it, so that is all you are getting. Class timetables can be found on the Fitness First website here, so have a look here if you are interested. From memory, the gym offered classes such as Yoga, Zumba, Kickboxing, Spin and Body Pump classes. As you would expect, this gym is air conditioned and has good Wifi though out. 

The gym also had a pretty decent little supplement and accessories shop, so long as you don’t mind having to stump up the extra cost of buying them at the gym. The shop is stocked things like, t-shirts, tops, gym gloves, MMA gloves, gym bags, headphones and shakers as well as protein, glutamine, BCAAs and weight gainer. However, there are plenty of places that sell protein in Bangkok, so unless you are in a rush, you can save some money by heading elsewhere.

The membership structure is a little suspect, as the minimum period you can join for is 5 months. They quoted me 2000 bhat (Approx £42) in joining fees and then 2885 bhat (Approx £50) a month in membership fees. A one day gym pass was quoted at  a ridiculous 1000 bhat (approx £21). 

Who is this gym for? The price structure, and general ethos of Fitness First, means that this gym is not really suited to anyone travelling through Bangkok, but rather it is aimed at professionals based in the city. I suppose it ultimately depends on what you want from your gym. Places like this are great for beginners, as they support you, help you build programmes to reach your goals and have people on hand to help with technique or motivation. Things like group classes are a great way to make working out fun and social and help to keep you coming back. 

That being said, there is a way that you can get a free 7 day guest pass as a tourist or backpacker. But it is going to involve some lying and a little acting…..

Tips: Like Fitness First in the UK, you can sign up for a free guest pass to come and check out the gym and its facilities. Fitness First in Thailand actually offer a free 7 day guest pass if you play your cards right  and tell them the right things but be careful. If they suspect you are a tourist trying it on then they will tell you that they can only offer you a single day pass. If you want to be able to take advantage of the 7 day pass, you need to tell them that you will be in Bangkok for work for more than 6 months. Be ready with a fake address and company name too. I made the silly mistake of developing a back story that saw me in Bangkok for 3 months and I only managed to get a single day pass. Still, one day for free is better than none I suppose. Also, if you have time, maybe go along in a Polo shirt and smart shorts if you can. I turned up in my gym kit and I think they saw through my not so cunning ruse pretty quickly.  

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