If 2020 was the year everyone decided to put their health first, then 2021 is about maintaining these newfound healthy habits for a lifetime. The traditional gym can be a scary place for the uninitiated, but many new boutique gyms today offer a much more holistic approach, tailored to each individual’s physique and fitness goals.
From female-specific training and body-building to pre- and post-natal training and rehabilitation, these gyms are geared towards helping us achieve our unique goals and to understand there’s no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to effective training.
We’re all guilty of trying to find quick fixes — 30-day transformations, two-week weight-loss programmes, we’ve seen them and tried them all. But Osmond Chiu, gym manager at Joint Dynamics, gives us a stern reminder: “Staying fit and healthy is a marathon, not a sprint.”
“Hong Kong is indisputably a commercially driven city and so is its fitness scene,” says Chiu. “A lot of trainers in Hong Kong are too caught up with the idea of getting their clients visible results in the shortest time possible.” While you may get pleasant results at first, it’s unsustainable for the long term and puts people in danger of injuries and subsequent weight gain.
His gym, Joint Dynamics, focuses on intelligent movement to get results in a sustainable and scientific manner, where training is highly personalised to fit individual needs and goals, physically, mentally and physiologically. “Our clients see us as a one-stop-shop to achieve their goals, for losing weight for a wedding or to run their fastest marathon, or simply to be healthier. Our clinicians and trainers work hand in hand to help them achieve their goals while keeping an eye on all aspects of the client,” says Chiu.
Personal training is only a fifth of what Joint Dynamics offers. Other services include physiotherapy, women’s health, osteopathy and sports therapy. Injury prevention and rehabilitation are extremely important, but commonly neglected — we don’t tend to think about treating ourselves until we’ve hurt ourselves. But at Joint Dynamics, integrated and holistic programmes are key.
Says Chiu, “It goes without saying that our bodies only attain their fullest potential when we move well, pain free.”
Established in 2016, Pherform is one of the few gyms in Hong Kong that caters specifically to women, offering female-specific training in a small-group format. The programme is designed for women to train on a daily basis, while targeting different systems in the body, structured around metabolic conditioning and improving strength and power.
“We’re on the cusp of changing the mindset of women from training for aesthetic outcomes to utilising our bodies to reach their full capacity,” says managing director Stephanie Poelman. “Women’s bodies can be strong mentally and physically, and it takes a few early adapters to pave the way for more women to appreciate what we’re capable of.”
Poelman comes from a fitness background of team sports and says she thrives best when surrounded by a community of like-minded people. “Being around others always made me more excited for the sport than being on my own. That’s why I believe in and love group training so much.”
At Pherform, she strives to create the same for her clients. Classes are kept small, so coaches can supervise and give feedback to each member. And to keep the community strong, there are always fun challenges and special events on Pherform’s social calendar.
Along with a community of staff and members to motivate you and keep you accountable throughout your journey, newcomers to Pherform undergo the Kickstart 30 programme. For 30 days, the team will work with each participant to define their goals and, more importantly, remove obstacles to see their potential. You’re not blindly turning up to class just for training, but the team will push you towards understanding how your body works, as well as educate you on topics such as nutrition, sleep, recovery and mindset.
Diana Purdy, founder of Ozone Fitness, was in her early forties when she first set foot in a gym, and felt much as any of us did when we first started out — completely intimidated and clueless about what we needed to do to get best results. She had no choice but to pay for hundreds of hours of personal training to ensure her workouts were effective, and becoming a certified personal trainer herself along the way so she could better educate herself about her workouts.
When starting her own gym, Purdy offered clients what she couldn’t have in the beginning: a friendly environment where personal trainers teach clients how to use equipment without the need to pay for costly personal training. Ozone also provides free fitness assessments, body-composition analyses and personalised workouts, regardless of whether you have a personal trainer.
Personalised training matters because everyone has different genetics, limitations and training needs. Ozone’s personalised training is tailored to an individual’s specific fitness level, lifestyle, objectives and schedule.
“Add to that one-on-one personal training — someone who cares, who can keep you motivated, hold you accountable and ensure you’re using correct form with every repetition — and you have a winning formula!”
Ozone also houses a beautiful, heated Himalayan pink-salt floor next to a live jellyfish aquarium. The warmth of the salt and the negative ions it produces helps boost your mood, calm the nervous system and aids muscle recovery. Purdy calls it absolute bliss to stretch out on the floor after a workout, and adds, “For some clients, it’s their favourite part of the gym.”
Stephanie Cuvelier played rugby and netball professionally for many years, and it was only when she retired that she had a huge wake-up call. “I realised that sport doesn’t equal health. And that the sacrifices you make will eventually take a toll one way or another,” she says.
There was a gap in Hong Kong for establishments that combined exercise physiology, which Cuvelier studied in Australia, with personal training. “What I found lacking was somewhere or someone who could really connect the dots — physical, mental and emotional health — and apply it to everyday lives,” says Cuvelier. Calibrate Studios is her vision of the perfect space, bringing together education backed by evidence-based research with the practical component of training.
Personal training is at the core of Calibrate Studios, with group classes from six to eight members per session to ensure quality supervision. “No two individuals are the same. We may tell similar stories, but each person’s body is unique,” Cuvelier says.
Pre- and post-natal training is another speciality of Calibrate Studios. Proper rehabilitation post-partum is an aspect that many new mothers neglect.
“This type of training is a speciality not just of mine, but most all of our trainers,” says Cuvelier. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about training during and after pregnancy and we believe it’s crucial for women to understand the importance of training safely through pregnancy. Potential damage can easily be prevented with education, along with pelvic floor work and core strengthening. This is what you’ll learn at our Calibrate classes.”