If you’re familiar with the brand Virgin, you’ll probably know that this lifestyle, entertainment and travel conglomerate has a tendency to bombard you with flashes of neon and purple lights. The hipness and high-energy is ever present in all fields the empire touches — an airline, music festivals or soft drinks. Their fitness business is no different, as Virgin Active Fitness Club definitely also puts fun back into something that would entice even the worst of gym-phobics. This successful gym operator has more than 270 branches across the world and after its grand opening on Thursday in Bangkok, the city will officially be the second in Asia to house this leading-edge and lively workout destination.
After an induction session of 20 minutes, members can climb freely, as the five available slings fill in the role of the once-necessary human companion who lowered your rope.
A good dose of natural light greets you, from the first moment you step into Virgin Active entrance in Empire Tower on the second floor. With the club itself being situated from the seventh to the 10th floors, you also get a good view of the skyscrapers and CBD, which adds to not feeling like a gym rat in a dingy equipment room.
In fact, it feels like the clubbing spirit has even tried to squeeze its way in, as LED lights and neon illuminations decorate the place, giving it a very swish feel when night time comes. The soon-to-be most popular background for our selfie-producing nation — the climbing wall — is particularly hard to miss. Situated on the eighth floor, the lit up rocks on the wall change colors occasionally to give you a new challenge and route to follow. The best thing is you don’t even need a partner to enjoy this activity.
A 20-minute power nap in the sleep pod is the optimum recharging option.
Other traditional and less-energetic areas on this floor include user-friendly equipment from TechnoGym. From one gym noob to another, this couldn’t have been more useful, as there’s nothing quite like seeing a smiley face on the screen that’s telling you’re doing your squats right, if not a turtle that informs you’re going too slow. Being a CBD club, it’s also a given that all cardio equipment are attached with internet facilities, so you can browse Facebook, check stock markets or Google cat pictures while you jog or cycle.
If you fear working at your own pace will never get anywhere, the floor also offers state-of-the-art equipment, which kicks the training up a notch. You can opt for short group exercises in the High Altitude Studio, which simulates being high up with an altitude of 3,000m. Obviously being on top of a mountain means less oxygen, so your body has to use even more energy when working out. Another choice that requires less huff and puff is the Powerplate station. It’s basically a platform that vibrates very quickly, but not to the point where you get knocked off balance. Working out on this sort of vibration means every muscle fibre in your body gets triggered reflexively, while the exercise process itself doesn’t feel harder. But if you’re more of a yoga person, the Mind & Body Studio is also on the same floor and provides classes such as Pilates, Kinesis and anti-gravity yoga. With a total of six different workout studios at Virgin Active, over 200 classes are offered weekly so things don’t turn into a yawn fest.
When you’re ready to push harder, the ninth floor is where all the high energy classes are at. The Cycle Studio almost makes it feel like you’re cycling in a dance club, with digital graphics that immerse you in the rhythm and intensity of the music. The other space worth high-lighting is Thirty Hit, an area dedicated to high-intensity training within a time of 30 minutes — perfect for corporate workers with limited time. There’s also a reflex machine in this area that tests how many hits you can achieve across three targets within a specific amount of time. It’s even more fun if you compete with your friends and a lot more gratifying than tapping on a reflex game on your smartphone. On the seventh floor is the 20m swimming pool — one with rainbow LED lights, in fact — and Aqua Lounge, where you can enjoy sparkling clean wondrous water works. A sensory shower on this floor also alternates its water temperature and pressure, as well as emitting different aromas.
Doing push ups on a vibrating Powerplate triggers every muscle fibre.
It really is sense-packed with each step you take: one minute there’s lavender floating in the air, the next minute, perhaps mint or eucalyptus. As a floor dedicated to relaxation and recharging, the Himalayan Salt Room is also located here. Said to rejuvenate the skin and purify breathing, a short nap in this room is like a visit to the spa in itself.
If you want to ensure your muscles won’t be sore, alternate between the steam room and the ice room — where you sweat for a bit — then switch to take the flakes of ice produced and rub it all over your body before hitting the showers. Footballers don’t jump into ice baths after practice for no reason, as it’s done to flush out the lactid acids that cause you pain after your workout sessions. For the reason that Virgin Active offers such an uplifting chilling out space, it’s well worth your money because it’s also a destination for popping by to catch a quick snooze on the Sleep Pods or simply to just slump in the jacuzzi for a bit.
The place is practically making it impossible to say no to attending, as you just need your shoes to work out as towels, socks, tops and shorts are all provided. Lockers with mobile charging ports inside show that they’ve really kept the customer’s needs in mind, while grooming areas are equipped with hair dryers and hair straighteners so you can go out after in a seamless fashion.
The available Panpuri toiletries in the locker rooms give a nice, non-skimping touch and the café sells some quality packaged bites from Dean & Deluca.
It's all a whirl of bright lights and smiley staff at Richard Branson's gym, but one thing that you won't be getting from them is the pushy nag to hire personal trainers. Service has always been a driving force that differentiates Virgin from everyone else and the second hurrah is the fact that membership fees are paid by month, as opposed to years like in other gyms. You can easily quit, hassle free, but being such an awesome destination for both workout and down time, it's unlikely that day would ever come.
The grand opening of Virgin Active Fitness Club is on April 3 at Empire Tower, 2nd floor, South Sathon Road. Visit virginactive.co.th for more details.
Test your reflex by hitting the column when the light flashes.
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About the author
- Writer: Parisa Pichitmarn
Position: Life Writer