There are dozens of different types of workout places in Bangkok now, much different than it was when I arrived here back in 1995, and there’s probably one to suit anyone’s preference, whatever it may be. If, for example, you want some luxury thrown in with your basic utilitarian workout equipment then the gym that’s part of the spa complex at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel might be for you.
This place is rather luxurious, with a beautiful stone carving hanging over the men’s Jacuzzi, for example, and plenty of gorgeous wood and marble everywhere along with individual grooming stations in the men’s locker room. But in the workout room it’s back to basics as you won’t find any of the hi-tech equipment that is the rage at many of the upscale expensive hotel gyms in town and other workout chains. There are just a lot of Cybex machines along with some treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair machines and exercise bikes. There’s an aerobics room with mats too, which made an excellent place to do my abs crunches before I started lifting.
But everything that you need for a good workout is here and as I was scheduled for a chest and shoulders session the day I was there I located the bench press and then three machines that would provide me with the exercises that I would need. The free weights here are the nice rubber coated, brightly-colored wheel types that are easy to carry and quiet and after loading four 10-kilo weights onto the 16-kilo bar with the help of Khun Anan, the vigilant assistant working that day, I proceeded to plug my way through a good workout.
In addition to the bench press I also used a pec-deck machine, a shoulder press and a chest press machine. I could have added a lot more to the session by using the dumbbells and the open bench that were there but since I was also going to do 35 minutes on the elliptical trainer I decided that this routine would be enough. I was there during the after-work period – 5:30 to 6:30 but there weren’t too many people there, certainly not enough to slow down my workout so it seems like they haven’t oversold memberships like so many places do.
And if I had been there to do a back and biceps session there were plenty of machines for that as well including a lat pull-down and a good back press machine. I didn’t notice a roman bench for lower back but there may have been one there as well. There’s a seated bicep bench for curls too, which I think is the best for this muscle group. Also, they have a very good selection of leg machines including two different leg presses and even a seated calf machine which is a rarity in this city.
And after my 35–minute jaunt on the elliptical trainer I felt a bit tired but the Jacuzzi did a good job of reviving me, the hot-water Jacuzzi I should add since almost every other Jacuzzi in this country has room temperature water which is basically worthless. They also have both a sauna and a steam room and somebody smart put the steam room together. First, it wasn’t too hot, another common problem, and in regard to the intelligence of the design, it was fitted with cheap, white plastic benches instead of the more expensive stone seating almost every other steam room has. That means if it does get a little too hot inside, which can be okay, then you don’t end up trying to sit on an overheated stone bench, burning your buns in the process. The plastic doesn’t absorb the heat and stays nice and, relatively, cool. That’s why the designers were smart.
Overall, I really liked this place and would definitely work out here again. The combination of elegance and back to basics worked for me and when a place gets the basics right – the plastic steam room seats, lots of hair dryers, the right machines, among others – you know that whoever designed the place must have been in a lot of gyms before, like me for 32 years, and knew what was important to serious gym users.