Location: California fitness, Queen Ann Building, 28-30-32 Lê Lai, P. Q. 1, Bến Thành, Hồ Chí Minh, Bến Thành
Google maps: Google Maps
Website: Click here
Tel: (08) 6291 5999
Opening hours: Mon to Fri 6:00 to 23:00
Sat – Sun 8:00 – 22:00
Price: Free day pass on their website
Like the look of this gym? If you want to stay nearby then you can check out the links to hotels within walking distance at the end of this article.
Review: One of the things that you first notice when walking around Ho Chi Minh city is the style of the architecture. Alongside the shiny new sky-scrappers and malls, sit many of the old style buildings. Traditional Vietnamese buildings are build in a form called “nhà ống” which a rough translation is “tube house.” These houses are usually very thin, but usually go back a decent way. Legend has it that this style of housing originated from a time where taxes were paid based on the width of your property, rather than the height or the depth. This has led to a very individual architectural style which is easily identifiable as Vietnamese and can be seen all over the country. It looks like this:
Queen Ann Building, where the branch of California Fitness that I visited is based, is one such building built in the tube house style. The gym is spread over 9 floors, with each floor housing a different section of the gym. The resistance and cardio equipment is found on the 7th 8th and 9th floor, with the remainder being taken up by yoga studios, spin studios, changing rooms and an internet lounge and juice bar. As such, the view out over the city is pretty good from the higher floors.
California fitness is a chain gym with 22 branches in Vietnam and found in almost every major city. Like many of the other gym chains, they do not really offer day passes, rather they try to sell you a months membership, but there is a way around this if you want to check this place out. See the tips section below for how to train in this gym for free.
California fitness has all of the modern western training equipment that you would expect to find in any modern western standard gym, including olympic bars, benches and a squat rack. Due to the tube house style, there isn’t really very much space here, and it was a little cramped when I went at about 6pm. However, if you are training on a budget, and don’t mind shrugging off the standard sales pitch from the sales staff, then this is a pretty good place to get a workout in.
The gym has:
- Dumbbells up-to 75 lbs (approx 32kg)
- Adjustable benches
- Squat rack
- Olympic bars
- Smith machine
- Flat barbell bench
- Easy bar
- Flat fixed weight bars up to 100 lbs
- Shoulder press machine
- Chest press machine
- Incline chest press machine
- Lat pulldown
- Leg extension machine
- Leg curl machine
- Leg press machine
- Various ab machines
- Olympic rings
- Kettle bells
- Medicine balls
- Bosu balls
- Yoga mats
- Static bikes
- Spin Studio
- Yoga studio
- Snack bar
- Internet lounge
- Juice bar
There is also a well stocked little shop at reception selling drinks, gym gear and supplements. The shop sells everything from trainers, to gym bags, foam rollers and even knee and elbow supports. This was one of the biggest collections of gym specific training accessories that I saw in HCMC. Also sold supplements such as whey protein, BCAAs, creatine and pre-workout. Good place to stock up.
The gym its-self is air conditioned and free water fountains have been places on every level. There is also free wifi throughout the gym. The equipment is pretty new, especially the cardio equipment, most of which has its own individual screens to watch TV whilst you train.
Whilst the gym was clean, I much prefer to train in more individual gyms. California fitness could be any gym chain in the UK, and whilst the clientele is mainly Vietnamese due to the membership policies, there was nothing about training here that gave you a sense of being in Vietnam.
Who is this gym for? The gym is in the centre of town and felt like a professional and safe place to train. Whilst I was here, I saw a real mix of people training here with an equal number of men and women. The fact the dumbbells only go up to 32kg means that it probably is not the best place for strength athletes to train and there isn’t really space to perform lifts like cleans or other olympic lifts. Overall, the gym will do in a pinch, butI would suggest you try Mach’s gym, or T&V Fitness first
Tips: It is possible to sign up for a free day pass online on the companies website. You need to do this in advance and wait for them to contact you to make an appointment. If you want to avoid this, you can use the “Chat live” box on the website. Tell them you want to train at the branch closest to you and they will tell you to just go in. Screen shot this conversation and then show them this at the front desk when they ask for your email confirming your day pass. It confuses them a little, but they will let you train then and there. This is great if you don’t have a day or two to wait for them to contact you to book an appointment.