In Sheung Wan they seemed to speak English all right. Maybe try there.
In Sheung Wan they seemed to speak English all right. Maybe try there.
I don't remember paying for my course and the one I did was just a few hours on a Sunday afternoon - not the 12 session malarky. It was the "Briefing on Proper Ways to Use Fitness Equipment" course. I thought it was free but then again it's over 5 years since I did it, so things could've changed.
They try their best to make the system fair. Govt is strict because some people have died playing sports before. Compared to how things run in the states, I prefer a more safe approach.
I'm the person who posted this original query. Here's an update of my progress so far:
I went online to book a spot in the next "Briefing on Proper Ways to Use Fitness Equipment". As all the classes were full at every venue listed throughout HK -- and I didn't want to want until the 15th of the month when new openings apparently appear -- I decided to just show up at a class to see what happened.
I found a 2pm Sunday class at the Lockhart Road Sports Centre in Wan Chai. I had planned to arrive at 1:30pm and see if they were any cancellations so I could join. However, Google maps pointed me to the wrong location and then I got in the wrong lift in the building (you have to take the lift on the left, which goes to the 10th floor), so I didn't end up arriving until just a few minutes before 2pm.
The lady at the booking counter didn't speak a word of English, but a local person helped translate for me. There was an official waiting list for this particular class on a clipboard right on the counter. 8 people had already put their names down, so I was number 9 (and no one else came after me). They told me to wait, so I just stood there for around 15-20 minutes not really knowing what was going on but making sure the booking-counter lady didn't lose sight of me.
Finally, someone came in, said something in Chinese, and took a group of people out of the waiting area. I didn't know what was going on so I just stayed there and then finally someone (who I was to learn would be the instructor) came in and said in broken English that I could follow her.
She brought me to a classroom in the back with around 30-odd young people sitting down waiting for me and filing out forms attached to clipboards that they handed out. The instructor apologised because they had run out of English-language forms so were pleased to see that I had already filled them out and brought a copy with me. (They were the same two forms that were given to me when I asked about this at the Harbour Road Sports Centre booking office: "PAR-Q and You" and the enrolment form whose number I can't remember).
Then we watched a video in Cantonese with English subtitles, about a clever girl and clueless guy trying to start working out and using gym equipment incorrectly and then correctly. Then the instructor had us do around 20-30 minutes of stretches together. Everything was in Cantonese but every once in a while she would turn to me and say a few words in English. She was lovely and and doing her best to be inclusive even though I was clearly the unexpected extra person!
Then we went to the actual tiny gym there and she went through all the various machines one by one, starting with the cardio machines and then the weight-training machines. Again, everything was in Cantonese but she said things in English now and then and you could easily follow her body language.
Then they handed out the exam. She had been hinting that it was very easy but at the actual exam time they took it very seriously and said no talking was allowed and everyone had to put their bags away and sit apart. They gave us 10 minutes to complete it, which was more than enough time. I recall it was around 10 multiple choice questions, and you can miss up to 2. They are phrased like this: "Which of the following activities is NOT recommended for someone working out?" and then there will be 3 obviously smart things to do and one obviously stupid thing to do, e.g., "They should keep exercising even though they have a sudden, sharp pain in their neck" or "If they are unsure how to use a machine, they should not bother an instructor but just try to figure it out", etc.
They then collected the exams and asked us to wait 5-10 minutes while they went to grade them. They came back (apparently we all passed!) and handed out letters/certificates to everyone. (At that point I wished I had brought a bag or backpack with a study envelope to hold this very-valuable document on the rainy trip back home!)
From start to finish, it took pretty much the full 3 hours.
So to summarise: If you want to get this free course out of the way and are frustrated trying to book something online, just try showing up and if your experience is like mine, you'll very likely get accepted.
Now for my attempts at actually using the gym:
With my new certificate in hand, I went to the booking counter at Harbour Road Sports Centre in Wan Chai -- which is the gym I'm hoping to use. The lady there confirmed -- as did others in this post -- that if I buy a $180 monthly pass I'll be able to freely use the gym during opening hours, without restriction. Her English was pretty broken so I asked her a few times just to be 100% sure I was understanding her (she likely thought I was an idiot!). She also said I could book hourly right there at the window or online.
I've tried many times to book an hourly session online but so far I can't manage to do so, so I think I'll give up and just try to do it in person. (I will eventually get a monthly ticket but will be travelling a bit in the weeks ahead so it's not worth it just yet.)
One other tip: the LCSD website seems to be constantly unavailable or down for whatever reason, but if I access it from my work computer, which is linked to servers in Europe, I can get on just fine. I've tested this out on several computers and all those with HK-based servers won't work but the overseas one will...
Note also that a few days before my class, I had registered online at the LCSD website for a link patron ID. It took around 3 working days to process (you have to upload a copy of your HKID or presumably passport if you don't have an HKID). I'm not sure if this is needed to book an hourly slot online but I figured it couldn't help. I still can't get the site to work though so I'll probably just book in person until I eventually get a monthly pass.
Thanks for those details! Maybe this should be a sticky because it seems like it might not be very easy to figure this out on one's own...
We have some sort of gym on Peng Chau but I never got up enough courage to go inside and see what's there (I see a basketball court from the outside)...seems like a huge hassle that you went through but in the end it seems worth it for the low prices...
Smart move just turning up. With regards to booking an hour online - I have never done this and just turn up and pay my $13 (or $14). Each gym I have used has a quota system - e.g my current one allows up to 5 hourly tickets and 22 monthly tickets at once.
I have only ever bought the hourly ticket and never had a problem getting in but I understand the advantages of the monthly ticket are (other than more flexible quota) that you can turn up at any time and stay for as long as you want. Plus no need to queue at the main desk to buy a ticket. With the hourly ticket you have a 1 hour slot, starting on the hour, and there isn't much flexibility for staying beyond that (other than the time it takes the attendants to come in and check you have gone). The monthly ticket is worthwhile if you can't turn up on the hour and your workouts take longer than an hour. I've honed mine down to 60-65 minutes because...I'm a cheapskate LOL
Don't forget to take your pass paper/cert with you for a few weeks because it takes several weeks for the LCSD to enter your details into the system. Once done though you can just turn up with your ID card.
I still don't quite understand how the quota system works... So for example, in the gym of the person at the post above, there are 5 hourly and 22 monthly slots available at once.
Does this mean that only 27 people can use the gym at any one time?
If more than 27 people happen to be in there, what sort of membership do they have that puts the extra people outside the weekly/monthly ticket scheme?
I keep hearing that if I get a monthly ticket I can use the gym "freely" during opening hours, but does this mean I'll be turned away if all the monthly ticket slots have been used up on the particular day/time I go? I wonder if there's a way to book one of the monthly slots online -- before I pack my gym bag and trek to the gym only to find out they're all taken.
Hopefully this is all just speculation and gyms rarely run out of these slots, especially for the monthly users. Would be interested to get others' thoughts and experiences!
In my 5 years of using the gyms I’ve never been turned away so I can only assume that if the quota is met you just have to wait the same way when a car park is full - 1 out 1 in. But to be honest, even if the gym is even half as full as that quota then it makes for a rather unsatisfactory session...waiting for equipment etc. I would rather just try my luck at another one nearby (I have two others within a 10 minute walk of my local.
However, I train early morning and always have done, so it has never been an issue for me.
A 2019 update.
I signed up up online for the safety class lottery for several location and was accepted at two. I got my ticket and showed up at appointed time at a gym near Prince Edward.
I completely the the paperwork provided, which was essentially the PAR-Q and waiver already done online. Upon entering the gym the instructor asked me if I spoke Chinese as the class would be in Chinese. I replied I was only there for the exam. He said they would get me an English exam.
There was a subtitles video on the doâ€™s and donâ€™tâ€™s of gym use followed by a short lecture by the instructor. I am a certified personal trainer although the Leisure Services department didnâ€™t accept my accreditation. I spent most of the class playing on my phone while paying half-hearted attention.
The instructor then took the group around to each machine explaining how to safely use them.
The easy ten question multiple choice â€œexamâ€ followed. While these were being marked the instructor continued explained various machines.
The certificates saying you passed were were distributed and I left. A boring three hours unless you speak Canto or are a complete noob.
All in all, very easy. Now I have access to all government fitness rooms. A bargain, considering what the commercial gyms want i term of money and commitment.
I have ave yet to try out my local gym. I am interested to see whatâ€™s available. The gym I was in had nothing but machines and dumbbells, for the sake of safety, Iâ€™m guessing.
The price canâ€™t be beat. As to congestion, I canâ€™t say. With the uncertain political climate Iâ€™ll start using when my current Physical membership expires. Iâ€™m not dropping several K for another commercial gym membership with the spectre of being ordered home should the political situation drastically deteriorate.
Hope this helps anyone looking for current info.
1. Book a class, any class
2. Take it and write the exam.
3. Enjoy a cheaper alternative, less the access to barbells.