Getting fit is expensive. It doesn’t have to be, but it often is. What to do if you can’t, or don’t want to, shell out on that expensive gym membership?
There’s the home workout option but that’s for people with solo willpower. Hard to find. Still, working out in Shanghai doesn’t have to be an expensive affair. Here’s how to jump-start 2020 and get into shape at little to no cost.
Join a Running Club
Racking up miles is good for the body, mind and soul. There are a bunch of running clubs in town that will get your legs out the door without costing you a single penny. Charlie’s, for example, hosts free runs on Tuesdays to burn off those burgers and fries. To join, stop in at the Changshu Lu store and ask the staff about details; their WeChat group is already at maximum capacity.
For those training for their first race, Urbantigers does track sessions at Jiaotong University track every Friday and Saturdays starting at 8am. You can find their weekly schedules for 2020 here.
RunnersHai does a 5k Mini Friday Series around Century Park, with races kicking off at Shanghai Science and Technology Museum at 8pm on the first Friday of the month. It’s 30rmb for one race and 50rmb for two. Alternatively, Yiqipao (Running Together) hosts 5k run around Century Park every Tuesday at 7pm. Follow their official WeChat account "Yiqipao" for more details. Or Puxi Run, a girls-only running club and part of Fitfam that gathers at Adidas RunBase at 7.30pm on Mondays and 6am on Wednesdays for a free, one-hour easy jog.
Get a Deal on a Gym Membership
Don’t pay full price. Taobao’s second-hand marketplace Xianyu (闲鱼) (available as a website but really better in its standalone app version, downloadable from their website) is full of deals, if you can navigate the written Chinese. At the time of writing, we found a 10-month membership to T-Fit for 1,000rmb, a one-year membership to a major local gym chain for 1,500rmb, and a Tera Wellness membership valid till January 2022 for 2,200rmb.
Liking buying anything else online, tread carefully. In most cases both you and the person transferring their membership will have to show up at the gym to get it done on paper. If not, better to call up the gym to double check the membership status and that the membership is actually transferrable. Also, keep in mind that there may be a transfer fee.
Pay Monthly, Not Yearly
If you want to retain the option to go to the gym but don’t want to commit to a full year, an increasing number of gyms offer monthly passes on Meituan and Dianping. Young Plus offer monthly passes 400rmb or three-month passes for 899rmb. Better Fitness’s monthly passes cost 300mb. If you’re looking to spend less, M13 Fitness Club charges 128rmb for a weekly pass.
There’s also a number of 24-hour gyms that do monthly passes. For example, Lefit offers monthly packages for 239rmb per month (which works out to three rmb for every potential hour you could be at the gym). You can get it via their official app Leke Yundong (乐刻运动). Once you’ve got the membership, log into the app and scan the QR code at the door. There are more than 60 Lefit gyms in Shanghai.
Alternatively, Joyfit 24 offers day passes for 78rmb for access to the gym from 10am to 9.30pm.
Pay Daily, Not Monthly
There’s a whole class of classes just on WeChat. Did you know that? Supermonkey, for example, is a popular self-service gym that has its own mini program. Search it by name on WeChat to access their upcoming sessions, from boxing and spinning, to yoga and Zumba. Prices range from 69rmb to 159rmb and there’s a discount for first timers.
Sweat Co is another gym that’s got a wide range of fitness classes on offer on the mini program. Most classes, including Body Pump, yoga, and Pilates, start at 68rmb and the first class is free.
If full-body, high-intensity fitness training is what you’re looking for, Stud CrossFit offers an hour-long CrossFit class for 89rmb, and a free trial if you register on their mini program. Z&B Fitness has four studios in downtown, offering more than 360 group exercise classes every week, from boxing, Body Combat, to boot camp and Zumba. They’re all 88rmb. Justin&Julie offer a full range of classes for both fitness newbies and seasoned pros, including dance workout classes like Body Jam and Zumba, as well as yoga and yoga swing. Prices range from 49rmb to 129rmb, and 39rmb for first timers.
Don’t Pay at All
Fitfam’s thing is making fitness available at everyone’s favorite price: FREEEEEE. They are a community-based organization found in 2015, that saw 4,000 people join their workouts in 2019. They currently operate at 34 locations across the city and counting. For 2020, they’ve added bodyweight HIIT workouts, Circuit, Balance and Band workouts to their usual running and group exercise, plus time slots for after-work and on the weekend. To join a Fitfam workout, look up FitfamChina on Wechat and sign up for a session via the mini program.
Go Swimming with the Masses
Shanghai is not short on fancy swimming pools but not everyone can afford the hefty price tag. There are a couple of inexpensive public pools in town that are available to everyone looking to make a splash.
Jing’an New Sports Center, for example, has a 50x21m swimming pool that’s open from 1pm to 9pm daily — 90 minutes per session for 45rmb. A 90-minute session at Pudong Swimming Center’s 50x25m pool costs 35rmb Monday to Friday from 3.30pm to 9pm, and 40rmb for weekends from 9am to 9pm.
The 50x25m Sanlin indoor pool at the Sanlin Sports Center is 35rmb for a 90-minute session from Monday to Thursday; 40rmb for the rest of the week. It opens to the public from 4pm to 9pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 9pm during weekends. Xuhui Swimming Center opens its 50x25m swimming pool from 1pm to 7.30pm daily. Entry costs 35rmb for a 90-minute session. It’s currently under renovation and is set to reopen on February 14.
Shanghai Oriental Sports Center has a 50x25m indoor pool that opens every day from 1pm to 8pm. An-hour-and-a-half session at 40rmb for adults and 30rmb for children. Yuanshen Sports Center’s 50x25m pool opens to the public from 3.30pm to 9pm from Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm on weekends. Admission costs 35rmb for a 90-minute session from Monday to Thursday, and 40rmb for a 90-minute session for the rest of the week.
Keep in mind that to use these public pools in Shanghai, you first need a "Shanghai Swimming Pools Heath Commitment Card" or "上海市游泳场所泳客健康承诺卡". If you don’t have one already, look up "上海游泳健身小程序" on WeChat and register with your passport number for a digital card via the official mini program. And always remember to bring your swimming cap if you don’t want to get turned away at the door.