Gyms in Sapa, Vietnam
Looking for gyms in Sapa, I could only find one. Neither Google nor the tourist information centre I visited could tell me of any others, so I think this is your lot for now! Here you go…
Xuân Trường Gym
010 Bế Văn Đà, Sapa
Opening Hours: 5:30 – 9:00 and 14:00 – 21:00, 7 days a week.
Cost: 50k a go.
Xuân Trường Gym is located about ten minutes walk from the centre of Sapa, very close to the main bus station, just east of the lake. When I arrived, the gym was actually shut, and I feared, abandoned. It was only the fact that there were recent reviews on Google which made me return later. Looking at the state of the building outside, I actually thought it might have shut down permanently.
Ok, I won’t mince my words. This is very much a no frills gym. The floor is falling in – there are numerous cracks and breaks in it. There are gaps in the walls. The roof is leaking at the back, so the floor there is wet. The staircase is, well, interesting, and if you’re brave enough to climb it and do your freeweights then it’ll be a bit of an experience. This building won’t be passing any surveys any time soon. It sure has character though!
As Sapa is naturally cool since it’s 1500m up, the absence of aircon won’t be a problem. There are a few fans around, but when I attended it was below 20 degrees outside anyway, and if you’re used to the usual Vietnamese tropical heat, you’ll find the temperature here to be a dream to train in. That’s probably the last time I’ll use the word ‘dream’ in this post.
Xuân Trường Gym is broadly divided into cardio and resistance machines on the ground floor and free weights upstairs. You’ll find a couple more machines up here too.
Take your own water and towel – like I say, no frills here. There are lockers with keyholes but no keys, so take a padlock or don’t take anything valuable. I didn’t see any showers here, but I’d go with the one at your accommodation, wherever you’re staying.
On the ground floor you’ll find a cable crossover station and pull ups bars. Bear in mind the bars are only inches from the ceiling, so go slow, or risk knocking yourself out. Don’t be alarmed if they feel a bit wobbly – I didn’t manage to bring the building down anyway.
The handful of resistance machines includes a leg extension, leg curl, lat pulldown (go upstairs for a cable one), shoulder press, row, adductor and abductor machine and and abs cruncher. You’ll also see a torso rotation machine and an inclined abs bench, along with a hip extension machine.
Head upstairs (with caution, the staircase is a little unsturdy!) and the whole floor is dedicated to weights.
You’ll find dumbbells up to 45kg, and if you’re lucky, a couple of pairs might even be on the rack. Not many were when I went, with users seemingly preferring to put them on the floor next to it. The good news is that they are clearly labelled with weights, so it’s not too hard to find what you want.
This is where the fun starts – using them…
As there are mirrors on both sides of the fairly narrow building, you could actually face either way. But whichever way you choose, don’t be alarmed if you feel slightly off balance. Unless you had a drink before you arrived, it’s probably not you. I am convinced the floor here is at a slight angle, giving the effect of you perhaps feeling slightly drunk as you do your reps. Add to that the fact that the building is far from structurally sound, and it’s certainly a workout with a difference. See it as a bonus challenge in proprioception.
In addition to dumbbells, you’ll find a few adjustable barbells, around five bench press stations and three benches for general free weights work. There’s also a preacher curl station and a Smith machine.
You’ll see a couple of resistance machines here too, including a pec fly / rear delt, an inclined leg press and a lat pulldown.
The ground floor contains around five treadmills, three Spin bikes and a cross trainer. Whilst not especially modern, they’re all in pretty good condition and from the current century (not always the case in budget gyms in Vietnam). Plenty of people were using the treadmills, which operated well and I used a Spin bike. It felt of reasonable quality and I could raise the seat up to the correct height (again, not always the case in Vietnam!). I am 5’10” / 178cm for the record.
Not a lot to offer here, but I found several kettlebells dotted around the gym on both floors. There is no dedicated floorspace area but most of upstairs is fully matted, so lie on it at your own risk. There are further mats at the back of the gym, although these are the same as what the floor is made of, ie not soft comfy mats, but they’d do!
As the only gym in Sapa, it was fairly busy when I attended at around 16:00 on a Sunday afternoon. It’s not an unreasonable price considering the equipment, and to be fair, they probably need the investment to put back into maintaining the building if it’s going to last much longer. Without any other gyms in Sapa, they could of course charge what they wanted.
The owner and other members were friendly and welcoming, and I have to admit I liked the place despite its downfalls, so to speak. I’d definitely return based on its range of equipment, cost and friendly people.
Want another form of exercise?
As there are no other gyms in Sapa, the obvious thing to do here is hike. (And if you’ve spent more than five minutes here, you may have already been targeted by locals!) I did a two day / one night hike to local villages in treacherous conditions, but in good weather, it would have been awesome! I also recommend a short walk to Cat Cat village, southwest of town, for amazing views!
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