Saddle Row. Photograph from @saddlerowph on Instagram
Drive Sports and Fitness

8 of Manila’s upscale gyms and the extra perks that make them worth your money

You go to a gym to get fit and lose weight—but these days we go for more than that.
Bam Abellon | Jul 29 2019

There is always some form of quandary that arises when the topic of working out comes up—whether it’s from a fitness pundit, a workout tyro, or the occasional after-Christmas, before-beach-party gym visitor. It just causes a debate—mostly with oneself and one’s will power. The most basic question being: Do I go or do I not go? Then the second question: Where do I go? Sometimes, the answer to the latter can make it easier to answer the former. But maybe not that easy, if we’re talking about these pricey gyms, some of which has just recently sprouted in the city. The joining fees can be steep, which is enough reason to make all the sweat count. Speaking to their reps, however, and a few insiders who’ve spent working out hours in the following fitness establishments, one might be convinced they are worth the monthly dues.

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The hotel gym: Makati Shangri-la Health Club

Greg Findlay, Makati Shangri-La’s general manager, shares they have members who have been with the club since the hotel opened in 1993—so they are treated like family. “We know their preferences,” he says.

The gym was renovated in 2015 to have a new, more modern, and more functional set up. From having just the traditional treadmills and dumbbells, the hotel is now equipped with a more “functional space,” and more top of the line machines and equipment. Their cardio machines may be synced with smartphones, for those who want to monitor and log in their heart rate.

Photograph courtesy of Makati Shangri-la

Walking into the health club is like walking into, well, the five-star hotel attached to it. The wooden floors, the natural light coming from the floor-to-ceiling windows, the cove lighting are more than enough to boost one’s mood. And those white marble tops at the reception and beverage area give the gym an elegant vibe.

Members can attend various classes, such as yoga, spinning, boot camp, and circuit training programs. For those who need a more personalized program, the health club has a well-rounded team of coaches and trainers, all of whom are certified.

The club offers exclusivity to members, which means access to their 24-hour health club, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, and plunge pool. After work out, members can book a massage at their spa which is open 24 hours a day.

INSIDER TALK: “People like the location. It’s convenient for people who work around the area. A lot of senior executives and ladies who lunch swear by it. The club is supposed to have a good set of trainers on retainer, or that Shang keeps renewing. The changing facilities are top notch, maybe because it’s a hotel. Nice towels and fine amenities are a hallmark of hotel gyms.”

WHAT’S NEW: Not to be left behind on the latest fitness trends, they continuously add more classes to their list. Recently, they’ve partnered with, Aquanimous Yoga for their exclusive stand-up paddle yoga class, which is exactly how it sounds like: yoga done on a paddle board.  

EXTRA PERKS: Members who are non-hotel guests are given free hotel parking for six hours. After an hour—or two—of hard work, members can take their macro and micro nutrients at any of the food and beverage outlets in the hotel—at a discounted rate, of course.   

 

RATES:

Individual Rate (annual): Php 101,000

6 months: Php 63,000

3 months: Php 36,000

They also offer corporate membership, which depends on the number of people who will join.

 

Aquanimous Yoga

Trial Bundle: Php 2,000 (2 classes)

Other packages: starts at Php 750 (one class pass)

LOCATION: Makati Avenue, corner Ayala Avenue, Makati City



The ultra gym: Kerry Sports

Over at Shangri-la at the Fort, however, Kerry Sports Manila is the official fitness, lifestyle, and leisure club. Perhaps the pinnacle of upscale gyms in the city—or maybe in the country—it opened March 2016 and already has over 1,700 members. The industrial interiors replete with bricks, wood, and metal make the gym feel like a health buff’s luxurious bachelor’s pad.

Members of this spacious facility—over 8,000 square meters in total area—can attend the following classes for an unlimited number of sessions: Zumba, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), circuit training, Pilates, and yoga.

Level 5 TRX Gym

The yoga classes are done in a room with heated lamps to warm up the muscles faster. No, it’s not hot yoga; maybe call it deluxe yoga. For its cycling classes, Kerry Sports also recently partnered with the popular indoor cycling company Ride Revolution, which in itself is also one of the more upscale gyms in Metro Manila. The gym also houses a tennis court and a squash court which members can rent for a fee.

According to Michael Montes, the director of Kerry Sports Manila, the Kerry brand is part of the Shangri-La properties. The hotel in Taguig City, he says, was supposed to be a Kerry Hotel, the more modern and contemporary sibling of the Shangri-La Hotels. The hotel chain just decided to retain the Kerry Sports area because it was already “built and fitted out to be a health club.” Michael says their biggest rental request is for the basketball court, which has the same flooring size as the ones used for the NBA. In fact, professional basketball player Steph Curry shot some hoops there during his last visit to the Philippines.

Basketball court

EXTRA PERKS: Parents can bring their kids to Adventurezone, a membership-based play area within the facility. The area alone takes up 1,000 square meters of the property. Kerry Sprouts, one of the gym’s food and beverage stores, is a cozy hang out place for members, and even guests. Here, members can have a smoothie, fresh juice, a cup of third-wave coffee, a salad, and a protein shake—in case they forgot to make baon. For those lethargic days, Kerry is a nice place to unwind. Aside from the 25-meter lap pool, it also has a Jacuzzi and a restaurant called The Upper Deck, which offers beer and grub options that are a little “less healthy” than what Kerry Sprouts cooks up. 

Level 6 Gym

RATES:

Individual Rate (annual): Php 96,000

Couple Rate (any pair): Php 73,000 each

Two-month Trial Rate (used by a lot of expats): Php 28,000

Personal Training: starts at Php 1,600 per session

They also offer corporate memberships.

 

Ride Revolution (For non-members)

First-Timer Package: Php 1,100 for three days (expires in 30 days)

Single Class: Php 1,100 (expires in 30 days)

5 Class Package: Php 5,000 (expires in 45 days)

Check out their website for other packages.

LOCATION: Levels 5 and 6, Shangri-La at the Fort Manila, 30th Street, corner 5th Avenue, Taguig City 

 

The niche gym: Pinnacle Performance Manila

Pinnacle Performance Manila is more of a strength and conditioning facility rather than a regular gym. Although they do cater to people on different fitness levels, don’t be surprised to find many professional athletes do their training sessions here. In fact, their senior strength and conditioning coach, Diego Lozano, is also the strength and conditioning coach for Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) team Meralco Bolts. The coaches also train, among others, the Premiere Volleyball League team Motolite Power Builders.

Photograph from the Official Website

According to operations and marketing manager Jackie Arceo, the gym’s vision is to “deliver the highest level of athletic physical development to sporting and recreational gym enthusiasts alike.” Which translates to: their facilities include a 15-meter track, five Olympic lifting platforms, four full racks, free weights, conditioning equipment, three rowers, three Keiser bikes, and battling ropes.

Pinnacle, which was founded in Hong Kong, also has facility activities for the coaches, like the Coaches Continuous Professional Development program. It aims to develop coaching styles and techniques, and also helps the coaches improve and build better relationships among themselves, the athletes, the other members of the gym, and the entire team.

INSIDER TIP: Pinnacle retains the quality of their training sessions by putting a cap on their number of members.

EXTRA PERKS: Unlimited coach-led sessions (Group Development Sessions); coach assignment (the coach will be responsible for creating the programs for each client); individualized programs; and constant reviews from the lead coach to discuss progress.

 

RATES:

Monthly: Php 6,995 (12-month membership)

Flash Sale (for upfront membership): Php 25,000 for a 3-month membership

They also offer a 3-day free trial.

LOCATION: Unit 3, 28th floor, Centuria Medical Makati, Century City, Kalayaan Avenue, corner Salamanca Street, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City

 

The one at Rockwell: Rockwell Atletica

The brand Rockwell has always been associated with a certain type of class and prestige, so it’s not surprising to have them bring this reputation to their gyms. In the early days of the 2000s, Rockwell started building and managing fitness centers. However, these are only accessible to the Rockwell Club shareholders and Rockwell Center residents. But with the fast-rising business of fitness in the country, Rockwell decided to build a fitness center that would cater to more people—which means it now welcomes people outside the Rockwell Club circle.

Thus, Rockwell Atletica was born. 

Photograph from @rockwellatleticaph on Facebook

Manol Ereneta, club manager for Rockwell Atletica, says the first branch opened on February 2, 2018. The company is now planning to open other branches around the country. A 600-square-meter facility, Rockwell Atletica is equipped with cardio and strength equipment by Technogym, one of the world’s leading fitness and wellness companies. The club also has two multi-purpose studios for group classes, an open free-weight area, a turfed functional area, a physiotherapy room, and locker rooms. There’s also a café operated by internationally renowned coffee company, Illy.

Members can comfortably hang out in lounge area by the front desk. They also offer coaching services.

Manol says that Rockwell Atletica stands out among other gyms because of their “lounge vibe,” as opposed to the “typical gym vibe.” He adds, “Rockwell Atletica doesn’t look like any other gym currently in operation, locally.”

INSIDER OBSERVATION: The membership is picking up, even residents that have outgrown the community or club gyms are joining. The trainers are more disciplined. The club gym coaches due to their tenure are like everyone’s friends. The club provides more services that competitive or multi-sport people look for, like blading and myofascial treatments which help release the tightness in the muscles.  

EXTRA PERKS: For members, the club hosts monthly pocket events, and come up with seasonal promos. Last June, for instance, a pocket event featured a celebrity trainer from the United States. Rockwell Atletica is located in a private, secured building in the middle of Rockwell town. The best part is, it’s a block or two away from the Power Plant Mall, which means it’s easy to find a good restaurant to dine in after your workout—or you could go straight to the cinemas to catch a movie and cool down.

 

RATES:

Solo Package: starts at Php 800 per session (for 6 sessions)

Duo Package: starts at Php 700 per session (for 12 sessions)

Crew Package: starts at Php 500 per session (for 12 sessions)

LOCATION:  2F, 38 Rockwell, Rockwell Center, 38 Rockwell Drive, Makati City

 

The rowing gym: Saddle Row

Rowing, one of the oldest sports in the Olympics, has gained a following in the Philippines in the past decades—and our country is already popular for the sport. In 2018, for instance, our Philippine dragon boat team won medals at the ICF Dragon Boat World Championships in Georgia, U.S.A. But for those who want the full-body workout one gets from rowing—without the need to wake up before sunrise to join the rowing teams—indoor rowing is the next best thing.
Saddle Row is the first indoor rowing studio in the entire country. They also use the water rowing machine, which has a more recent design than that of the more-common air rowing machine. Plus, the polished wooden exterior of the rower, and the sound of water, are enough to make the fitness buff feel like they’re actually rowing a real boat.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The end of the month only means one thing— who knows? It begins on May 31 for 72 hours only 😎

A post shared by SADDLE ROW (@saddlerowph) on

The classes have three categories: Row, for rowing; Realign, for yoga and wellness; and Ride, for cycling classes. Under the Row category are these classes: Finesse (for basic rowing, perfecting the form, and building strength off the rower), Crew (their signature class, where members can row together, as if they’re on one boat); and Circuit (a full-body workout that involves drills, which are performed off the machine).

The Saddle Row gyms have a happy vibe, too, which is always a good thing to have. Upon entering the facility, one would hear dance music and/or one of the spirited coaches pushing their class to raise their game a notch higher.

While working out, members can bring their phones in the studio, since the machines have a space for gadgets. However, with all the rowing, circuit training, and breathing that one has to do, there won’t be any time to check one’s messages. One can also leave belongings inside the gym’s electronic lockers.

Saddle Row launched in 2015, and they now have two branches, both located inside malls (Power Plant and Central Square)—which means members have easy access to other shopping and dining establishments—and to a parking space.

INSIDER OBSERVATION: “The SR at Rockwell is a mix of ladies who lunch and the Lululemon crowd, plus the younger office groups from the new office environment in the community. SR becomes their get-together spot. It’s a social nexus.”

EXTRA PERKS: After an hour-long session, members can cool down at Saddle Row’s homey lobby, or even in their stylish bathrooms that has an assortment of personal and skin care products and gadgets—Dyson hair dryer included.  

 

RATES:

First Timer Card: Php 2,000 for any 5 classes, valid for 15 days

Drop-in Rate: Php 900

Flash Pass: Php 6,000 for 15 classes, valid for use on the same month

LOCATIONS: R3 Level, Power Plant Mall, Makati City
2nd Floor, Central Square, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City

 

The CrossFit central: Central Ground

CrossFit—with all the running, the guttural sounds, the dumbbells and barbells, the pulling and pushing of heavy equipment—is synonymous to hard-core athleticism and competition. It’s only fair that a sport that requires careful calculation (to avoid injuries) and an almost scary human energy from coaches (they do shout a lot, a la military drill sergeants) — gets the high end treatment. A majority of CrossFit gyms offer rates within the Php 4,000 to Php 5,500 range.

Photograph from the Official Website

Central Ground, being on the more upscale side of town, prides themselves for being the “first premium CrossFit gym inside Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.” Does that mean anything to you? In 2016, they partnered with Evolve Yoga, to introduce yoga as a complement to their CrossFit training regimen. They’ve also added air rowing machines to their roster of equipment.

INSIDER INSIGHT: “The crowd is composed of professionals, mid-20s and upwards. The coaches are pros working in different fields but are very much into the training. Also its very inclusive here. There is a large LGBT community that competes in the various events. We call it our safe space.”

EXTRA PERKS: For the post-gym break, the 440-square-meter box has its own coffee shop and pantry. But if that’s not enough, there’s so many other restaurants in the Bonifacio High Street area. There’s even a spa on the next street for those sore muscles.

 

RATES

Drop-in Rate: Php 1,000

Unlimited Classes (Monthly): Php 7,000

4 Class Pass: Php 3,500

LOCATION: Ground Floor, One Parkade Building, Lane-O, 7th Avenue corner 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

 

The other niche gyms: Elev8 and Ultra Lagree

The Lagree Fitness is a licensed workout method that many followers say is like “pilates on steroids.” There are only a few licensed gyms in the entire Southeast Asia, and in 2018, the method made its way to the Philippines through a studio called ELEV8 in BGC. In early 2019, citizens who reside or work in the “northern” side of Metro Manila, can have access to Lagree Fitness via the newly opened Ultra Lagree. The Lagree Fitness is centered on a machine called the Megareformer, which is a mean-looking contrivance that is said to help you attain those six-pack abs in a month or two. One session will take you through cardio, strength training, and weight training in a span of 45 minutes. According to Ultra Lagree’s website, one session can let you burn 800 calories.

Photograph from @elev8studioph on Instagram

RATES:

Elev8

For First Timers: Php 2,000 for 3 sessions

Drop-in Rate: Php 1,500

Packages: starts at Php 6,250 for 5 sessions

Photograph from the Official Website

Ultra Lagree

Trial Package: Php 1,400 for 2 sessions

Drop-in Rate: Php 1,400

Packages: starts at Php 6,000 for 5 sessions (valid for 50 days)

LOCATION:
Elev8: 9th Floor, Unit 1, Ore Central, 9th Avenue, corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Ultra Lagree: Level 2 Estancia Mall, Capitol Commons, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City