With the insects awakening and forest animals coming out of hibernation, we humans, too, are left with fewer and fewer excuses to stay indoors, spoiling ourselves like supersized couch potatoes. And that goes double now that Beijing has implemented a new "7-day cooldown period" policy, which requires gyms to offer a full refund for anyone who, within the first week of owning their membership, comes to terms with the fact that they will not actually become a gym rat. Here, we provide you with a few options if you happen to live on the east side of the capital. Feel free to share your own recommendations in the comment section below!
肌肉狗 Muscle Dog
This weight lifting gym is located in the Gongxiao International Plaza, between Beijing's Parkview Green shopping mall and Chaowai SOHO. This neighborhood allegedly has the highest density of fitness centers in all of China, so don't be surprised if you see two gyms facing each other. However, Muscle Dog still stands out thanks to its complete Hammer Strength equipment, grunge vibe, and trendy athletic swag all under one roof.
The founders of this unique training center are Zhang Jianyi and Lin Jianpeng, manga artist and entrepreneur respectively, both of whom share a passion for working out – and for dogs. They decided to cultivate a local fitness brand that represents genuine bodybuilding culture and can contend with larger commercial gyms. Needless to say, their logo – a barking bulldog – demonstrates that spirit well, and many fitness influencers and hardcore trainers have given the space their seal of approval. Meanwhile, Muscle Dog's apparel line has also received praise on e-commerce platforms for its eye-catching designs that are suitable in and out of the gym.
能量空间 Energy Space
Compared to Muscle Dog, Energy Space is a much more low-key gym with a clean, sleek design. Moreover, its diverse facilities make it a one-stop fitness center. From orthodox dumbbell and weight lifting machines to a boxing ring and CrossFit area, as well as an indoor virtual golfing room and tanning beds, it is hard to imagine what else you could want in your daily workout routine. Even though it is an underground gym, the powerful air ventilation system keeps the space smelling fresh and ensures that you can breathe easily, even on the most polluted day.
You don’t need to live in the gym to stay fit – after all, the size of your biceps isn't everything. Sometimes, however, exercising can even be integrated into your social life. For people who want to feel the team spirit in their routine, CrossFit can be a good option. You get to experience an intense afterburn when practicing CrossFit and may notice a significant improvement in your cardio-pulmonary function and metabolism. Training in a group will not only ensure your safety but can also prevent you from slacking off. Worry not if you are still new to this concept, as there are two groups at Crossfit MET, depending on experience.
二七健身俱乐部 Erqi Gym
Sometimes what makes a gym unique and much-loved is not its state-of-the-art equipment nor the celebrity trainers who work there but a true, unparalleled athletic spirit. This humble gym located in the 二七机车厂 èrqī jīchē chǎng Erqi Locomotive Factory compound is not a place for your daily post-workout Instagram selfies, but a hub for a bunch of older guys who have been living that swoll life for decades. When it was founded in the 80s, gyms were a relatively novel idea for most folks in Beijing, and it served as more of a gathering place for devout fitness aficionados. At the time, they never could've predicted that their seemingly stable positions in government-owned factories would slip away when the capital regained control of the market. Nevertheless, they were able to seek refuge in Erqi Gym. Today, they continue to pump that reliable iron, and the gym has even become a place to maintain their social network outside of the family. What's more, it also happens to be one of the cheapest gyms in the city, with a year membership running RMB 300, or completely free for students, unemployed factory workers, and anyone over 80 years old.
Not into dumbbells and treadmills or simply looking for a sport to ignite your competitive instinct? Give the volleyball club a try. What began last year as a loose gathering of friends gradually attracted a sizable following, which prompted the founders to rent a venue near the Communication University of China. Their first tournament actually took place yesterday, however, they intend to hold more in the future. Add organizer, Francesca (WeChat ID: franfeng 0208) to find out more.
Read: [UPDATE] Foreigners Now Able to Register for Beijing's Half-Marathon Return, Apr 24
Images Courtesy of corresponding venues, Dianping, Francesca, Unsplash