Shanghaiist chose an apartment based on the location of the original Megafit gym on Huaihai Lu. Not that the gym was anything spectacular. It was fine. We had a membership there. And we needed to be walking distance from where we worked out — the last thing we needed was another excuse not to go. It was a three-story gym with nice big windows and if you used an elliptical machine on the third floor you overlooked an old neighborhood with tile roofs and you could see the Jinmao Tower. Now, Megafit has moved to the third floor basement of the building next door, one floor beneath the Huangpi Nan Lu subway station.
According to a commenter on Shanghaiist’s previous post about Megafit, the gym moved for financial reasons. And that would seem to be the case. Because, based on our early walkthroughs — the new Megafit just opened August 6 — nothing about the new Megafit is better than the old Megafit. In fact, much is worse, and it goes beyond the obvious lack of windows. Locker rooms (the men’s one, at least) appear to be much smaller, with far fewer shower stalls and toilets. This could be a nightmare during peak gym time (or perhaps the owners assume so many people will cancel their memberships upon seeing the new gym that it won’t make a difference). The gym itself looks smaller, too, with cardio machines packed tightly together. Some machines actually face each, meaning you could be forced to spend your workout staring at another face just three feet away. What some may see as a great hook-up opportunity, Shanghaiist sees as awkward … and ugly. Have you seen the faces you make on the Stairmaster? No pretty. Trust us.
But at least on those machines you’d have something to look at. Many machines at the new Megafit point toward nothing, or maybe just face a pillar. Perhaps they’re not finished hanging all the TVs yet. That would make sense. The place does have a we’re-not-completely-done-yet-and-the-parts-that-are-done-were-thrown-together-quickly kind of feel to it. Some of the equipment is new, but much of the old broken stuff made the trip, as well. Some of the flooring looks old, and there are a few odd vault-like doors scattered throughout the place that are a little eerie. Kind of like “the hatch” in Lost. Other annoyances: The only water fountains right now are in the locker rooms and the cold water is tepid at best; and Megafit has no photocopies of its fitness class calendar available, and said they had no plans to make any, thus Shanghaiist had to copy down the schedule for all the yoga and pilates classes by hand.
What we like least about the new Megafit, however, is likely the part of the gym that the designers like best — the centerpiece. It’s a stage of cardio equipment facing a wall of 48 TV screens … screens that are only visible if you happen to be in one of the first two rows of cardio equipment. Above this stage is a huge U-shaped opening in the ceiling, and a balcony from which shoppers, commuters and passers-by can look down and watch as you go through your workout. And people do watch. They gawk. They take photos. They giggle and laugh. We’ve noticed the kitchen workers at a nearby restaurant now like to spend their breaks staring down into the gym. We don’t blame them — it’s probably quite a spectacle — but this isn’t what Shanghaiist signed up for.
Only problem, the other gym within walking distance of the apartment — Physical — isn’t great, either. It’s dark and stuffy and feels more like a dance club than a fitness center. So, we’ll stick with Megafit for now. There’s a new boxing ring there that looks promising — now if we could just find an elliptical machine that faces it. We’d finally have something worth staring at.
Megafit, Basement 3, Hong Kong Plaza, South Block, 300 Huaihai Zhong Lu (淮海中路300号，香港广场南区，地下3层). Tel: 5383-6633.