Friday, 19 October 2012

Gyms in Penang - New Options

Readers will see from my previous (and recently updated) post that the gym I am currently a member of, Fitness First (Island Plaza, Tg Tokong), will cease trading as of 30 November.  At the moment it's unclear what will happen to the gym and staff.  Will it close completely, or will another buyer take it over?  I hope for the sake of all the members who want to remain with Fitness First that a suitable buyer can be found.  There are rumours of course, and rumours of revised deals and membership rates but we have still to hear anything official.

Aside from its facilities, three things that attracted me to Fitness First were:

1) It being within walking distance of my apartment.
2) It being in the same block as 'Cold Storage', allowing me to top-up with provisions
3) There being a wider social scene there, with Starbucks and the like on site at Island Plaza

But, times change.  While major renovation took place Starbucks packed up and moved on - strike one.   In fact in many ways Island Plaza has become a bit of a ghost town with little foot traffic.  Additionally, I'm also now all set to my new (and permanent) apartment which will mean no more walking to a gym for me - strike two.  Given that whatever my choice of gym is for the future will entail driving, I figure it's time to look for one that maybe ticks more boxes for me.

Previously I looked at 'Celebrity Fitness' in Gurney Plaza now also, and as per yet another amended post, closed down.  I also looked more recently at 'Absolute Fitness' at the 'Heritage Club'.  This place is OK but I dislike the layout where cardio/ machines and weights are on separate levels requiring hikes up and down stairs depending upon your routine, which at times cannot always be carved up on the basis of convenience to equipment placement.  There are also fitness centres at the G Hotel and also at Gurney Hotel but for me, these lack the range of equipment and the style I like.  So, where to go???

Xtreme Fitness - Level 3, Straits Quay Convention Centre
Luckily there are two new gyms in Penang, one open already and the other coming soon.  First up is Xtreme Fitness at Straits Quay.  Their site can be found here.  It's a brand new gym with some excellent modern equipment and is open 24 hours!  A range of membership options exists at around about RM 120-140 per month, possibly less depending on promotions.  It's a nice facility that also offers a range of classes and is well placed for those that also run at Straits Quay, as I do, allowing you to shower and change in gym facilities on non-training days (or of course on training days if you like to combine outdoor runs with in-gym training).  Car parking is also readily available and costs just RM1 per visit.  The only problem for me is that the gym is ALL there is here.  The gym.  There is no one-stop shop for me at Straits Quay, allowing me to do other things at the same time, except maybe lunch or dinner.  It's still an option but at the moment I'm more struck on the final contender.

Jatomi Fitness - Level 7, Gurney Plaza
Enter 'Jatomi Fitness'.  Now this DOES look appealing.  A brand new gym which will be opening at the old 'Celebrity Fitness' location in Gurney Plaza.  The old gym has been completely gutted so the new one will have a new layout and all new machines and weights.  Previously I was put off 'Celebrity' because of having to drive there but now I will HAVE to drive, that is no deterrent.  What appeals to me about Jatomi is the one-stop shop nature of the Gurney Plaza location.  Indeed, on the occasions that everything coincides, I'd be able to hit the gym, grab some lunch, take in a movie at GSC, do some shopping and top up with provisions at Cold Storage, all under one roof.  Parking is also readily available at Gurney Plaza and is not expensive on the upper floors on weekdays at RM 1 for first 3 hours.  Given that I go to the gym on weekdays, that's just fine.

I've yet to check out Jatomi in full and they will be having a number of promotional events, starting from October 22 at which more information, together with some early bird rates and upgrade offers, will be available.  Once there is more information available I'll post further, together with some pictures of the establishment once open.  The Jatomi main site can also be found here.  So, at the moment, it looks like Jatomi it will be, a decision which, I have to say, has also been partly influenced by my delightful new training buddies ;-)  More to follow........

An update regarding the Jatomi gym can be found here.

NB: On 22 January 2013 Jatomi issued a communiqué following much rumour and speculation about the opening of the gym.  It states that, in light of a company re-structuring, there have been some delays and the gym is now scheduled to open in June 2013!  There are those who will feel this has not been well handled and whilst I agree to a point, it seems Jatomi are now trying to put things right.  I contacted Jatomi to try and confirm that the size, layout, equipment and facilities would be the same or better than that which formed the basis of the contract that members signed up to. I also raised the issue of compensation for founder members.

To his credit, James Balfour (one of the original founders of Jatomi) and who has now taken over with personal responsibility for this region sent a very prompt and courteous reply in which he makes the following points:  The club is being re-designed, all of the facilities that were advertised will remain, there will also be some new and more innovative work out solutions. Currently the sale of memberships is on hold until the contractors begin building the club in March and the club will open in June. All founding members will have an additional 6 months membership added to their term as compensation. If members would like a refund,  James will personally sign the cheques.  He also apologised for the recent developments and uncertainty and asked all founder members to be patient, accepting that this was not easy to do.

Hopefully this will now be the end of a period of uncertainty and indeed anxiety for some who were clearly worried about the money they have paid over to Jatomi.  Time will will tell.  It's now up to Jatomi to deliver on the promises.


  1. Very good post. Like you I enjoyed the convenience of FF, where i could go to Cold Storage after the gym and I could walk there.. I am hoping that Absolute Fitness will take over FF at Island Plaza as rumored. I do not relish having to take the bus to Gurney, or any place else for that matter, to go to a gym. I hope everything works out for all members and potential members. If only beer drinking was considered as exercise!

  2. Thanks. I agree that being able to walk to a gym is a great bonus and a significant incentive and I may not have changed had I not moved. Once travelling to a gym becomes essential though it's clearly worth looking at all the options. For me it's a case of drive to a gym that offers the gym and Cold Storage or a gym that offers a lot more. The former is also somewhat 'tired' in my view and in need of some maintenance and investment and its unclear whether that will be forthcoming. The latter also offers a 30% saving on membership fees which is also not to be sniffed at :-)

  3. My Morning Membership at Fitness Studio in Gurney Hotel is only RM70 per month, limited by my having to use the gym before 1:30 p.m. I pay 3 months at a time. However, the machines and free weight area at Fitness Studio leaves a lot to be desired. It's so cramped that I feel like I need to wedge myself in a corner just to do pushups. I've been considering Straits Quay and should now look at Jatomi. Too bad I can't do a trial week before signing up for the Early Bird Special. Also, I don't get why all the gyms here do the Les Mills. Coming from a nice gym in America, I am more accustomed to insructors having the ability to customize a class to the clientele instead of following the same choreagraphy for a few months. It gets too boring for me. The down side of a gym located at Straits Quay or Gurney Plaza is that I would probably consume more calories afterwards than I burned exercising.

  4. A few of my training buddies use Fitness Studio at the moment, joined temporarily after 'Celebrity' closed and while they wait for Jatomi to open. They voice the same concerns regarding facilities there. Straits Quay is OK but for me would be a number 2 choice because of the 'one-stop' nature of Gurney and what looks like will be a better layout. Check out the Jatomi update recently posted.

    I know what you mean about the temptations calorie wise at Gurney, for me at Straits Quay that's less of a problem as I find the food from many of the outlets there bland and WAAAAY overpriced.

    Nice blog by the way, will add it to my links.

  5. Hi, is there any gym in penang with weightlifting platform? I'm curious to know as most gyms i search on the net are all providing step board classes etc..


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