Updated: Jul 4
Part of our #welcometotheneighborhood series
For many people when moving to a new area (or new country!) finding a gym to meet their needs is on the list of things to do as part of settling in! It certainly was for STAR co-owner Gemma when she moved from the UK to Hanoi in 2018.
Although being physically active is an important part of Vietnamese life and culture, the fitness industry itself is relatively new in Hanoi, with the first commercial chain gym opening in 2010.
Despite it being a relatively new industry it is certainly a booming one, with more than 450 gyms registered on Google Maps in Hanoi at the time of writing this, there is a huge range of choices! So here is Gemma's breakdown of the types of gym options in Hanoi and what to look out for.
1. Commercial Gyms
So there are couple of big brand commercial gyms in Hanoi (and across Vietnam), in terms of equipment and facilities they are very similar to what you would see in a large commercial chain of gyms in the USA, UK etc.
But one thing that may surprise you is the prices are either on par with the UK, USA markets or more expensive in some cases!
One challenge in Vietnam is that it is quite difficult to set up a monthly payment for a gym, the general practice here is to pay the full contract up front and often to get a good monthly rate for the large commercial gyms you will need to sign up to a big contract, sometimes as long as 4 years! This is something than many expats especially can find a bit offputting.
2. Local Independent Gyms
In most neighborhoods there will be a very local gym, usually small, not your polished insta-friendly kind of place, but in terms of budget friendly/zero-contract options these places are ideal.
Generally they do not require long term contracts, literally pay the cash for a month and go!
If you like just going to the gym and doing your workout on your own, these are a really viable option, just be prepared for potential language barriers.
3. Boutique / Private Fitness Studios
A growing trend in the last 2-3 years, spurred on especially by the need for social distancing is the small boutique/private fitness studios. Expect to train with a personal trainer alone or in some cases with a very small group. Generally memberships are sold as packages of sessions rather than a typical gym membership.
This option is great if you are looking for detailed guidance and support, or are perhaps not too motivated to train alone in a typical gym environment.
4. Martial Arts - Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Boxing, BJJ, MMA, Traditional Martial Arts...
Of course we might be a little biased here... but there is a long tradition and historic culture of martial arts in Vietnam, and perhaps with our close proximity to places like Thailand it is no surprise that there are 100's of martial arts based fitness centres in Hanoi!
On our last count there were 22 centres in Tay Ho alone!
That being said it is important to note that prices and quality of training vary dramatically, nearly all of the centres will operate free trials and we strongly recommend shopping around and taking advantage of the trials to find a centre to suits you as they all have their own character and style of service.
Most of these centres operate group classes and personal training, generally packages of sessions are sold with some offerings included added benefits such as sparring sessions, interclub fights, socials and use of a small gym facility.
This type of training offers many benefits, but as a newcomer to Hanoi, one thing that really stands out from other options is the community you find within these training centres. They are great place to meet and expand your social circle in the city.
A notable mention to some more specialist options...
There is a great range of specialist gym options centred around specific sports in Hanoi, for example you will find CrossFit, powerlifting clubs, calisthenics, bootcamps, rugby, soccer clubs, watersports on the West Lake, rock climbing and much more...
Did we miss any? Let us know your thoughts?