Last time I came to Taiwan I was incredibly lazy, and did not work out for two weeks. This may sound crazy to those uninitiated to obsessive working out, but for me it was very difficult. During that time I played with the idea of working out, then I thought about having to get warmed up, come back to the hostel and take a shower, it sounded like such a pain in the ass. So of course I did not work out of. However, during that time a friend of mine went to the gym on a regular basis. After hearing that he went to the gym nearly every day, I asked him how he was working out? In the states it is common for people to sign yearly contracts to go the gym, especially at big commercial gyms, but my friend had not signed any contract. In fact, he was paying by the hour. I thought about exploring this mythical pay-by-the-hour gym, but could not muster up the motivation to go.
This time in Taiwan I had to find a way to exercise, because there was no way I could go six months or longer without working out. Before I left for Taiwan this time, I decided to do some research about the best way to exercise while staying in Taiwan. While doing some investigation, I discovered there were public gyms scattered across Taiwan, and that you pay 50 yuan to work out for an hour, which is roughly $1.6 . This seemed like a great solution.
I can safely say that after two weeks of living in Taiwan, I have been to a couple of public gyms, and I quite like them. Of course they lack the breadth of equipment and free weights you will find at a contractual gym in the states, but they have most of the essentials for hitting a good work out. The one that I frequent is near Taipei Arena. Outside of the gym they have a nice track made of good material. In the center of the track is a well kept grassy area. This set up allows you to do many things. This is also free to access, which is critical when you pay by the hour. You can essentially get warmed up and warm down and stretch near the track without effecting your pay rate.
Inside, the gym has a squat rack, dumbbell rack, a few different types of bench presses, and and a padded area to do things like dead-lifts, my favorite. There is also some kettle bells which I was very happy to see, and I use them nearly every day. They also have an area just for personal training. The personal training equipment is pretty good, but unfortunately you are not allowed to use it, this is one of the bigger draw backs, it is only for the trainers, even when nobody is using it.
Overall, it is a decent set up. And because there are several of these public gyms around the city, I don’t see an issue with over crowding, though I see people in them all of the time. These gyms could use some extra squat racks and bench presses, but I cannot complain. They are easy to access, and very convenient for foreigners. Make sure to bring a towel before you go in to pay, and enjoy.