I’ve been to a whole lot of gyms, all over the world, and Four C in the small city of Dumaguete in the Philippines is one of the most balanced gyms – but not without its warts.
First off, what does a typical gym look like in the Philippines or Asia? There are usually two kinds: local or western-style. Western-style gyms are the high-end fitness facilities catered to the upper class or Westerners. You often find these in luxury hotels or franchises like Gold’s Gym. They have far more equipment, far more spacious, are cleaner, and better amenities than local gyms, but you also pay for that, as they are usually ridiculously expensive, with $15 or $20 one-day drop in fees not uncommon.
The Four C Fitness Center
And then, there are local gyms. They are comically crowded with guys with no shirts and often no shoes, the equipment is ancient, mismatched between pounds and kilos, and half of it is broken or held together with Duct tape! They usually don’t have any AC, and if they have a fan, they don’t turn it on for some reason. These gyms are very cheap – maybe only $1 per visit or less or $10-$20 per month, but they’re also disgustingly dirty, as they literally never clean the equipment.
That’s why the Four C Fitness Center is so unique – and popular. Up until recently, it went by a different name (I think World Gym) and was located on the third floor of the Portal West Building right across the street. It was a good gym for Dumaguete, but I wouldn’t call it great, with a cramped space, AC that didn’t work well, and carpet for a floor. Only a few months ago, they moved across the street to the brand new Portal East Building and changed their name – and their image. They now have a glass front to display the treadmills and cardio equipment, the proper hard flooring you’d want in a gym, good lighting, high ceilings, floor to ceiling mirrors, and nicer locker rooms and bathrooms.
As far as I can tell, they have improved, which is serviceable, with a good cable machine (hard to find here), several movable weight benches and also bench presses, and plenty of high-end nautilus machines. They keep it clean, as well, and the staff is great and friendly.
The other great thing is that they have dumbells with plenty of weight for big boys, going up to about 120 pounds for the highest dumbbell.
However, the new, improved and modernized image is actually a little bit more cramped on floor space, even though it looks and feels bigger with high ceilings. So it can get REALLY crowded around 5 pm, and the guys here just don’t understand gym etiquette or how not to get in other people’s way. But everyone is friendly, and they’re happy to move or accommodate you. With the upgrade/floor space downgrade, they also have to turn their sizable fitness/yoga/boxing room at the old facility into a postage-stamp size area with one heavy bag.
But in all, this is still the best (at least the most comfortable) weight lifting gym in Dumaguete, and the price is a reasonable 1,200 Pesos – or $25 – per month for returning members. Considering their ideal location right near Silliman University and the Boulevard and the fact that they are open well into the evenings (although all gyms here are closed on Sundays!), Four C is my place for lifting!