Shanghai's best gyms

The best fitness centres and places to workout in Shanghai

Better shape up
Time Out brings you the best places in Shanghai to get fit, from bells-and-whistles chains to budget community centres.

Shanghai's best gyms: The big names


Alexander Health


Alexanderhealth


The massive Hongqiao Lu branch of this Taiwanese chain spans four floors and is comprised of a gym, swimming pool, yoga studio and massage and beauty treatment area. While it’s fully-equipped with pretty much everything you’d ask for from a fitness centre (including longer opening hours than many other gyms in town), it does admittedly have the appearance of a once-smart club rather gone to seed, thanks to some slightly naff wallpaper and not-quite-up-to-scratch levels of cleanliness. 


The gym itself has extensive workout and resistance equipment, more than most of the gyms we visited, including a TRX suspension system. There’s an on-site spinning room too. 


The locker rooms, meanwhile, are spacious, and decked out with large hot tubs and cushy chillout areas (in case you fancy joining some of the other members in a spot of naked sofa lounging) equipped with tasty (and free) herbal tea. 


How much? 6,000RMB a year. 

Where? 600 Hongqiao Lu, near Panyu Lu, Xuhui district. Open 7am-11.15pm daily. See full venue details.


California Fitness


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An enormous chain gym which offers basically everything, California Fitness is a good choice for buff corporate types who travel between Asia’s business hubs, as membership includes all of the chain’s branches across the continent. The Huaihai Lu edition is a labyrinth snaking over two floors at the top of the slightly rundown Infinity Plaza mall, and is well-stocked with a yoga studio, a weights area, a boxing ring, spin studio, mat space and two main areas of cardio-focused machines, including treadmills and step machines. 


The changing rooms include a sauna and steam room, plus more than 20 showers and plenty of space for changing. Our reservation here is that the gym’s central location means it has potential to get extremely busy at prime times – when we stop by on a weekday afternoon it’s already fairly crowded. Fortunately the opening hours are impressively long, meaning there’s really no excuse not to pop by. 


How much? 3,880RMB for one year, off-peak; 4,880RMB full-time annual membership. A little negotiation also gets rid of the ‘joining fee’, and a bit more pushing gets us an additional month free.

Where? Fifth Floor, Infinity Plaza, 138 Huaihai Lu, near Longmen Lu, Huangpu district. Open 6am-midnight Mon-Fri; 8am-midnight Sat- Sun.  See full venue details.


Mr and Mrs Fitness


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The Xuhui branch of Mr and Mrs Fitness has provoked some pretty dire comments on our website from users bemoaning the gym as ‘filthy’ and the staff as ‘rude and dismissive.’ But it seems with its impressive new branch on Jinan Lu near Xintiandi, that they are determined to put these wrongs right. With excellent equipment, spa-esque locker rooms, and general mod cons, this was one of the poshest gyms we tried out, although if you’re going to fork out 16,000RMB per annum for a membership, you’d expect it to be – you probably wouldn’t be able to afford to go anywhere else if things go awry. 


Luckily, there’s a lot to keep you occupied, from the well-equipped free weights area (including chains and kettlebells), an extensive number of machines, and even a mini climbing wall. Find working out boring? Go make a tea or coffee in the sexy lounge and have a surf on the gym iMac, or book yourself in for an on-site beauty treatment. If you prefer to exercise in luxury, this is your mothership. 


How much? 16,000RMB a year. Steep. 

Where? There are gyms all over the city - we tried: Third Floor, 9 Jinan Lu, near Taicang Lu, Huangpu district. Open 10am-10pm daily. See full venue details.


Physical


With nine prominent branches across the city, Physical is one of Shanghai’s most ubiquitous gym chains. It’s also one of the most popular, meaning that you’ll find yourself in close quarters with lots of fellow exercisers if you visit at peak times. This is particularly the case with the Metro City branch that we tested; the convenient Xujiahui location means that the gym is packed out on weekday evenings. 


Still, the facilities are all clean and well maintained and though there are some small gripes, such as not enough water fountains and slightly pokey changing rooms, it’s about what you’d expect from a mass appeal chain gym experience. The numbers-controlled spinning, yoga and belly dancing classes are less cramped, there’s a boxing ring that you can book and the reception area is reasonably comfortable – overall it’s good value if you get a multi-club membership. A quick check of some of their newer branches – at Crystal Galleria, Huaihai Plaza and Bund Square – revealed fewer people and nicer facilities, so you may want to opt for one of these as your regular work out spot. 


How much? 3,300RMB for one year, multiclub (in Shanghai) membership. Trials are available for 100RMB, which they’ll knock off the membership fee if you sign up; you can also negotatiate a three-day trial and take in other branches. 

Where? Third Floor, Metro City, 1111 Zhaojiabang Lu, near Tianyaoqiao Lu, Xuhui district. Open 7am-10pm daily. See full venue details.


Tera Wellness


Tera Wellness gyms are ten-a-penny around Shanghai; this is one of the most frequently chosen gym options here in Shanghai due to branches being so close to home/work/your favourite bar. We visit the Zhangyang Lu edition of the Terra Wellness chain given its proximity to the Time Out office. It’s small, basic and largely unremarkable – except for the price of its annual membership which earns its inclusion in our round-up, an extremely reasonable 2,700RMB. It’s also clean, in good condition, and generally does the job for its clientele, most of whom work nearby. 


Along with the standard gym equipment and machines, there are kettlebells and ropes, a boxing ring, and a studio space which hosts a variety of classes including lunch-time yoga sessions. Changing rooms, meanwhile, are equipped with mini saunas, and that’s pretty much your lot extras-wise. Staff and personal trainers seem to be in abundance, although most don’t speak English. 


How much? 2,700RMB a year for single-club membership; 3,000RMB for multi-club in selected in Pudong gyms. 

Where? Tons of locations. We tried: Eighth Floor, Times Square, 501 Zhangyang Lu, near Pudong Nan Lu, Pudong district. Open 10am-10pm daily. See full venue details.


Will's


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Another prominent chain, Will’s has 20 branches around town. The contents of the branch beside Xintiandi are in answer to its central location: it’s a smart but basic gym that accommodates the busy worker seeking a quick bout of exercise. Its prime spot also means it fills up quickly, but with its stylish, contemporary vibe it’s still an appealing choice. 


Along with up-to-date equipment, there’s also a boxing ring, a spinning room stuffed to the nines with bikes, a Power Plate, and a wide range of classes including Zumba, basic yoga, and Les Mills-branded workouts including Body Pump and True Grit. All in all, Will’s is a slick place to get your sweat on. 


How much? 3,788RMB for membership, or 4,988RMB for a multi-club membership. 

Where? 220 Madang Lu, near Xingye Lu, Huangpu district. Open 10am-10pm daily. See full venue details.

Shanghai's best gyms: The budget choices


Jingan Community Centre

Jingan Community Centre
















Home to some of the cheapest gym sessions in town – housed in the basic surroundings of the Jingan Community Centre. The gym is a single room with eight large machines including two running machines, an exercise bike with a screen plus various weights machines. The gear, largely Technogym and imported from Italy, is more modern than you’d expect. There’s a rack of dumbbells plus two table tennis tables and a friendly lady running the place who’ll give you a good game of ping pong. There are no proper changing room beyond the basic bathroom and you’ll have to be quick at the 5-7pm peak hours to nab a machine, but at these prices you can’t complain.

Member: machine ratio Around 20 people use the eight machines daily.

Cleanliness The main gym room is perfectly clean, if hardly the most modern environment. You wouldn’t spend more than the time it takes for a quick clothes change in the bathroom, but with a lack of proper changing rooms and showers that’s all you’d do anyway.

Classes Yoga and dance classes are offered in Mandarin, both separated into age groups and staggered throughout the week.

How much? 100RMB for a ten-hour pass, 10RMB for each dance or yoga class.

Jingan Community Centre is at Room 308, 1855 Xinzha Lu, near Yanping Lu. See full venue details.

Shanghai's best gyms: The boutique options


Curves


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This US-brand, women-only boutique gym has had a slightly bumpy journey in Shanghai, shuttering all their gyms bar one during the last few years, but its fortunes seem to be on the rise again with a new centre opening in Xuhui a few months ago. 


Unlike your average gym, Curves doesn’t have any treadmills, or rows of identical equipment. What it does offer is a special workout where members spend 30 seconds on each item of fitness before moving on to the next. It takes 30 minutes to track your way round, and every member has a unique card that records their fitness and health levels. It’s somewhere between standard gym and personal training session, with trainers on-hand to help you with the machines as needed, and a personalised health report tracking your fat levels and BMI. The 13 machines are designed to work every part of your body, so you know you’re getting a fast, effective workout. But be warned – it will probably hurt the next day.


Changing rooms are small but adequate and clean, and the staff are friendly (although a majority seem to be men). 


If you have a short attention span, welcome quick workouts and would like to track your progress in a very targeted way (oh, and are a woman), then this is for you. Stop by the Fuxing Lu branch while everything is still shiny and new. 


How much? One year’s membership is 4,776RMB; six months is 3,108RMB. No joining fee, but no negotiation on price either, alas. 

Where? Unit 310, Mingyuan Plaza, 1199 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Jiashan Lu, Xuhui district. Open 10am-10pm daily. See full venue details.


One Wellness


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One Wellness is not the cheapest gym in town (though to be fair, neither is it the most expensive), but it’s genuinely one of the nicest we’ve been to. The main gym is in a sweeping attic-style room, with wooden beams and just the right amount of mirrors (i.e. hardly any). There’s a limit on membership of several hundred, which should mean you’re not elbowing people out of the way for one of the nine treadmills too often. The venue, which uses Technogym equipment, is also used as the brand’s showroom in China, and consequently gets the latest machines fairly early. The dark wood and brightly coloured walls and windows give the gym an open, unintimidating feel. 


Classes include body sculpt, spinning and yoga, a boxing and weights area, and even an outside terrace where classes are held when the weather allows. The changing rooms also live up to the high standards set by the rest of the gym, with plenty of showers, hairdryers, decentsized lockers and space. 


How much? The initial joining fee is 575RMB, and a six-month contract totals 988RMB per month (dropping to 788RMB per month for a 12-month contract and 588RMB for 18 months). You also have to pay an initial 88RMB a month if you want to attend classes. A little light bargaining though, and we manage to get one month offered free on the six month contract, plus a waiving of the joining fee and monthly classes costs. 

Where? Second Floor, Block C, 98 Yanping Lu, near Xinzha Lu, Jingan district. Open 6am-11pm Mon-Thu; 6am-10pm Fri; 7am-10pm Sat-Sun. See full venue details.


Prime Fitness


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Established in 2012, Prime Fitness pushes the use of ‘natural movement patterns’ – i.e. pushing, pulling, jumping, throwing, lifting – they’ll help you improve both your fitness and physique. 


Their small space on Fenyang Lu has everything you’ll need in terms of weights, balls and kettlebells to work out in the primal way. There are no treadmills here, but you’ll sweat heavily regardless. 


How much? 30 minutes solo personal training sessions are 350RMB with a senior trainer or 500RMB with a master trainer. For partner training, you can get 30 minutes from 450RMB; group training for 45 minutes is 150RMB per person. Discounts are available for bulk bookings. 

Where? Room 102, Bldg 1, 3 Fenyang Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu, Xuhui district. Open 6am-10pm Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm Sat-Sun. See full venue details. 


TrainingFit


Located in a dull office tower beside Hanzhong Lu metro station on Line 1, TrainingFit is only slightly larger than the average Shanghai apartment – there’s just about enough room for five people to work out here at one time, including two on the pair of running machines. The selling point is that it’s all one-on-one. You’re assigned a friendly personal trainer (all buff Chinese males) and after a brief consultation you set some fitness goals and they help you work toward them using the weights, ropes, mats and machines on offer. 


The personal touch extends to the changing rooms and showers too – there’s one each for women and men. It can be a bit tricky to find (take the lifts nearest C-Store and look for the Dermagram sign) and it’s worth specifying that you want an English-speaking trainer if you don’t have basic Mandarin skills, but if you’re after a private work out with structured support, TrainingFit is a great choice. 


How much? Prices vary depending on the intensity of your workout programme, but we were quoted 2,000RMB a month for two hour-long sessions a week. 

Where? Room 810, Eighth Floor, 218 Hengfeng Lu, near Hanzhong Lu, Zhabei district (6031 9805). Open 10am-10pm daily. See full venue details.

Shanghai's best gyms: The hotel gyms


Hilton Shanghai Fitness Centre 


If you ever wished your gym could be a little more like a luxurious hotel, then it might make sense to go to a gym inside a luxurious hotel. Everything in the Hilton’s on-site fitness centre is to an uber high standard, with a work out area and spa taking over the Huashan Lu hotel’s fourth floor, together with a large swimming pool, relaxing chill out areas (with excellent tea) and huge changing rooms. 


It’s almost worth joining this gym for the changing rooms alone; each locker comes equipped with drinking water, towels, slippers and white fluffy robe, and there are huge, steaming baths plus a sauna and fabulous waterfall showers.


Luckily, the gym lives up to these high standards too. It’s small but immaculately kept, with fresh towels on every machine and ayis rigorously cleaning and delivering water to gym-goers. Each treadmill has personalised screens and a range of TV channels, including HBO and BBC. You can also roll out of the gym into the fabulous Escape spa, offering a range of massages and therapies. 


All this comes at a price, however, and even though the hotel offers a series of offers for members, including free personal training sessions, this is definitely the very high-end price bracket. 


How much? 4,600RMB for one month; 17,600RMB for one year’s membership. 

Where? Fourth Floor, 250 Huashan Lu, near Changshu Lu, Jingan district. Open 6am-11pm daily. See full venue details,


Kerry Sports 


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Kerry Sports has consistently been one of our favourite places in town to go for a workout. It’s a gym of vast proportions, including a long row of treadmills and cardio equipment that faces out over Century Park, plus weights space and fitness studios. The 6,000 sqm gym feels spacious throughout, unlike some of the cramped cheaper options around town. 


It’s also extremely well-equipped, and open 24 hours. In addition, members can take advantage of basketball and tennis courts, a running track, indoor swimming pool and table tennis facilities, plus a sauna, jacuzzi and steam room in calming changing rooms, which are packed with bath robes, towels, and beauty products. 


It’s simply a delight to be here, with the machines connected to TV screens offering international channels such as the BBC, plus charging docks and USB ports. There is a large Adventure Zone for kids, including a ball pool and brightly-coloured slides. This is, in short, a perfect gym for the whole family, and a great place to while away some healthy hours. 


How much? 15,250RMB for one person for six months, 22,000RMB for a year; 39,760RMB for a family for one year. 

Where? Fourth Floor, 1388 Huamu Lu, near Fangdian Lu, Pudong. Open 24 hours. See full venue details. 


Mandarin Oriental 


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The gym at Pudong’s Mandarin Oriental is everything you’d expect from this luxury hotel. The 24-hour fitness centre offers an extensive range of cardio and weights, along with regular classes in yoga, dance, martial arts and boxing. The slick studio is also fitted out with a virtual personal trainer to give you that extra motivation on the treadmill. 


The real jewel in the crown at the MO, however, is the hotel’s cutting-edge technology, especially the ‘Biospace Body Analyzer’. This is a bit like a fancy weighing machine which maps out your body in terms of overall healthiness, allowing you to accurately draw up a suitable programme of fitness routines. Human fitness experts can also advise you on the type of workout you need based on these results, meaning that you can exercise smarter for your body type. 


All in all, the MO is not a cheap option, but its commitment to high standards and superior technology make it worth a mention. Our main regret, however, is that the pool remains for hotel guests only; meaning we can only gaze longingly at the impressive swimming space (or book a room for the night). 


How much? 12,000RMB quarterly; 36,000RMB per year. 

Where? 111 Pudong Nan Lu, near Yincheng Lu, Pudong. Open 24 hours daily. See full venue details.

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