Get fit for free!
When I moved to Hong Kong one of the very first things I did was to look for a gym. And quite frankly, I was bowled over by the extortionate prices. Hong Kong is expensive, we all get that; rents are high, cocktails can be ridiculous and you all but need a mortgage to buy groceries in some of the supermarkets. But fitness shouldn’t be a luxury item for the well-paid elite. So I made it my mission to scope out the best in FREE fitness throughout our money hungry city. And I wasn’t disappointed. Yes that’s right you CAN work out for free here and some of the workouts are just as good, (if not better) than the paid gyms.
Ok there’s a small chance that I’m a teeny bit biased here (if you read my bio you’ll know why) but November Project really is pretty awesome. So first of all, let’s clear one thing up – this group of fitness fanatics don’t just work out in November, the group meets all year round! In fact they pride themselves on being completely weatherproof and the workouts are NEVER cancelled. Originating in Boston one winter, it now has free workouts in 33 cities throughout the world and the number is rapidly growing. They pride themselves on providing a sense of community (they organise social events too) and making the workouts fun and friendly. High fives all around!
What: A full body boot camp for all levels of fitness, mixing cardio and strength exercises. Workouts last 45 minutes
When: Every Wednesday, 7am in Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park and every Friday, 7am at Blake Garden, Sheung Wan. For more info check the Hong Kong group out on Facebook.
Running is known to be a solo pastime and yet research has shown that running with a group can improve your stamina, increase your pace and boost your motivation. Harbour Runners mantra is ‘The city is our playground,’ and they know that the streets of Hong Kong are there to be pounded. They love exploring the city and have even been known to race the trams. Whether you run for fun or training for an event, this community group will give you the extra push you need to get fitter and faster.
What: Harbour Running (the clue is definitely in the name!). Meeting at North Point Ferry Pier
When: Every Wednesday evening at 7:45pm. Click here for more details!
If rushing out of the flat leaves you out of breath (let’s face it – with the air pollution in HK that’s pretty much everyone) then you probably haven’t considered trail running. Hong Kong Trail Runners has a range of different events taking places on various trails throughout the city and the outlying islands. However, one of my favourite workouts from the group is ‘The Monday Night Sprint Series’ hosted by Scott Christiansen. A series of interval training sessions that are aimed specifically at improving your running ability, this group strives to give plenty of opportunity for runners of all levels to maximise their potential.
What: A different training session each week with sprints, hill runs and FIFA 11+ warm-up exercises that proven to improve resilience and reduce running injuries.
When: Happy Valley Infield every Monday 7:15pm. Meet in the changing rooms. Click here for more details!
With a reputation for being somewhat intimidating, many may be loathed to fork out for studio yoga prices. These classes, run by American yogi, Janae Hagen, are designed to aid both body and mind and are a great way to relax away from the bustle of City life. Janae prides herself on giving back to the community through free classes and has seen firsthand how friendships form in her sessions.
What: One-hour Vinyasa style classes
When: Two Sundays each month In Tamar Park, Admiralty. Check out Facebook for the dates.
Those looking for a free workout away from the Island, this TABATA training takes places in Kowloon Park. TABATA training is a HIIT workout featuring four-minute stints of one exercise broken up into 20 second bursts (repeat eight times). Discovered in Japan, this high intensity training is proven to improve both aerobic and anaerobic output by encouraging participants to work out to their maximum for a short period of time. A sure fire way to improve your fitness and earn your next happy hour.
What: One-hour TABATA training and core classes.
When: Every Thursday, 7:30pm in Kowloon Park. More details here!
If the thought of running or HIIT strikes fear into your very being then why not exercise without realising that you’re doing so? That’s exactly what you encounter at a dance class. It’s so fun and energetic that you’ll barely notice the calories you’ve burnt until you feel the sweat building on your forehead (or running down the back of your partner eek… ignore, ignore!). Dance with Style offer free classes on the proviso that you support the bar by purchasing a drink (I mean if you insist…) and after the class has finished the social dancing will ensure you’re tearing up the dance floor and spinning circles around your friends for hours to come.
What: Beginners Salsa classes and social dancing for all levels.
When: Mondays from 8:30pm at Rula Bula on D’Aguillar Street and Fridays 8:30pm at Morrison Café in Sheung Wan. More details here!
Janae isn’t the only Yogi in town who loves to run classes under the open skies. Adam Weirick of Yoga Union also aims to open yoga up to a wider audience, and so he gets out of the studio once a month to offer free classes under the bright city lights. As you may have guessed the classes happen on Friday evenings and during summer he aims to have them going once a month. Bring your own mat, a smile and a donation if you’d like to give back to SPCA Hong Kong.
What: Alignment-based Vinyasa, mixed level with beginner-friendly options. Classes last for 90- minutes and take place in Tamar Park.
When: One Friday evening a month. Dates can be found here!
If you’re looking to try some new trails or your friends are just too lazy or hungover to join you then Hong Kong Hiking Meetup is a great group to get involved with. Organising about 1,700 hikes a year there really is something for everyone. Night, day, short and long, hiking is fantastic way to get fitter whilst taking in some of Hong Kong’s stunning scenery. The hikes are graded according to pace, ascent, distance and surface, so it’s easy to see whether a hike is for you when signing up.
What: Hikes, hikes and more hikes!
When: Hikes are organised regularly and throughout Hong Kong. Check out the Meetup page for more details!
Read more: Top 5 Hikes in Hong Kong
Take advantage of free trials! If you still haven’t found a workout for you, know that most gyms offer free trial classes. Some will even give you a pass for a week or longer!
Featured image credited to Cynthia Wong, all other images credited to respective Facebook pages