Healthy Travel

Gold’s Gym, Grand Canal Mall, Taguig, Manila

Traveling as much as I do, I have a certain checklist of things I want to get set when I arrive in a place, just so I can feel comfortable. Touching down on a new island, in a new city, or, sometimes, even in a brand new country, I know I’ll have plenty to do and see as a tourist. But, I still need to work everywhere I go (I literally never have a day off – which is fine with me!), have a charity to maintain (Lifted International), and also want to get a workout in as much as I can. In fact, I probably need to work less and work OUT more, but I find a balance if I can do at least SOMETHING active for exercise every day.

Gold’s Gym, Grand Canal Mall, Taguig, Manila

Many times, that means doing some pushups, situps and squats in the hotel room, or even walking up stairs and hiking steep hills on my way to explore some temple or waterfall. But, there’s still no replacement for hitting a good gym and getting a crazy workout in.

However, good gyms are hard to find as you travel and in the developing world. Many times, they’re just not worth it, and you’d be better off working out outdoors, in a park, or even in your room. In the Philipines where I now live, there are a smattering of local gyms, but they’re not anywhere near up to western standard, with filthy, unbearably hot, and cramped conditions, and equipment that’s so outdated it’s comical. (Like the first treadmill ever made.)

But, to be clear, that’s perfectly fine because you can get an amazing workout at the most Spartan gym, and many of the locals that train there are in incredible shape, but, sometimes, you want a clean, modern, and nice facility.

That’s exactly what you’ll find at a Gold’s Gym, the same fitness franchise that you’ll find in America. However, Gold’s got smart in the Philippines and decided to insert their locations in upscale shopping malls, usually close to a luxury hotel. That way, they get the foreigner/business traveler traffic and make an absolute killing on one-day passes. Seriously, it costs something like $150 or $20 USD just to work out one time at a Gold’s Gym (for comparison, a “local” gym might charge $1).

Recently, I spent ten days staying at the Stamford Executive Suites in Manila (specifically, the McKinley Hill area of Taguig) which is right next to the Grand Canal Mall. Located on the third floor a not-so-easy-to-navigate walk up several staircases, escalators, and hallways, I located Gold’s Gym. And while that one-day price is ridiculous, they did have a great package for 2,700 Pesos for ten days, which comes to about $5 per day.

The gym is large and well spaced, with an area for dumbells and free weights, a lot ofNautilus and cable machines, a big center area for cross-fit type exercises, a lineup of treadmills and cardio machines, and a large yoga or exercise room where they have dance fitness and spin classes. I also enjoyed that they had a locker room (but no soap at the sinks? Nasty!), but you have to bring your own lock for the lockers.

The best part of the gym is that one whole side is floor to ceiling windows that bring in lots of natural light and also give you a view of the shoppers and mall patrons below, including the canal that’s supposed to look like Venice, Italy.

To improve the gym, there are a few things they could do. They can expand the space for the dumbbells and benches since this is where most people work out. Also, they only have one cable crossover machine and it’s a nautilus version, not the good full setup with cables. They also only have one lat pulldown machine, which is one or two too few for a gym this size.

A heavy punching bag would be super appreciated, too!

But, in all, Gold’s Gym at the Grand Canal Mall in Manila is a great gym and at a fair price as long as you sign up for longer than a day.

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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