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Sports and Fitness Clubs
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Expatriate Sports Community Clubs
Expats in Indonesia, like people the world over, are concerned about their health and fitness. Exercise and/or sports is an important part of many expats' lifestyle. Major urban centers in Indonesia have a variety of fitness centers that can satisfy most sports enthusiasts. In Jakarta alone, there are more than 150 facilities to choose from. These centers range from a very simple “ruko” down the street that has a daily aerobics class, to world-class fitness centers connected with 5-star hotels and office buildings.
5-Star Hotel and Office Building Fitness Facilities
Most five-star hotels have substantial fitness centers and sports facilities on the premises. Although the centers cater to hotel guests, most offer yearly memberships to residents as well. In Jakarta, most of these facilities are called 'executive fitness clubs', as their target market is executives. These centers are the nicest in Jakarta with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Some of these facilities are franchises of worldwide chains, which allow their members to use the facilities of sister/reciprocal clubs in other countries as well.
These fitness clubs offer good facilities including swimming pools, squash and tennis courts, basketball courts, weight and aerobics rooms as well as spa facilities such as sauna, steam room, whirlpool and massage services. Most clubs have a beauty salon on the facility or within close proximity for their members' convenience. Members may receive a discount in the salon.
Most club facilities have a casual type restaurant on-site and finer dining can often be found within the hotel or office in which the club is located. These restaurants allow members to sign for charges on account and the charges are included in the monthly bill.
Often, because the facility is operated in association with international hotels, the joining fees are quoted in US dollars. Yearly joining fees vary in price depending on how complete the facilities are and the state of the equipment.
Often companies choose to have a corporate membership entitling senior executives use of the facilities. For a fitness enthusiast this could be a very nice perk. Corporate membership entitles the designated members to the use of all the general equipment and swimming pools, with additional fees charged for use of tennis courts, private lessons and massage.
Membership in executive clubs is limited to those over 16 years of age. Some clubs will request that young children using the facilities use separate showers and changing areas as to not disturb their older members. Other clubs that open their membership to families may admit children on the weekends only and even then children are limited in which facilities they are allowed to use. Commonly the weight and fitness rooms are off limits to children to avoid the possibility of injury or accidents.
Jakarta Neighborhood Sports Clubs
Most of the newer housing complexes in Jakarta include a family-oriented Recreation Center or central clubhouse for residents' use. Membership or payment of daily usage fees are required. The requirement of a substantial joining fee as well as monthly or yearly fees restricts usage to middle or upper class families.
These recreation centers are usually well equipped and feature aerobics and weight rooms, swimming pools, indoor or outdoor tennis, badminton and squash courts. Many centers have clubs within the facilities for the different sports such as swimming clubs and badminton clubs.
These facilities tend to be very busy early in the morning from 6:00 am to about 8:30 am and then busy again from 3:00 p.m. onwards for student usage and lessons. Due to the hot temperatures at mid-day (27-33 degrees C), it is very uncomfortable to play any type of outdoor sports then. There is also the very serious danger of heat stroke and dehydration. So, most sports enthusiasts either play quite early in the morning or after 3:00 in the afternoon to avoid the intense heat.
Most recreation centers have an initial registration fee or “uang masuk”. On top of this there is usually an additional fee for use of the facilities that can be paid monthly, quarterly or yearly. There are different packages offered for memberships - singles, couples or families.
These clubs tend to be more family oriented than the executive clubs. Children make up a big part of their active membership as well as providing income through clubs and the coaches that these facilities employ. Extra charges will be incurred for use of tennis and badminton courts to cover the fees for ball boys and trainers.
CrossFit enthusiasts can continue their training in Indonesia. The high-intensity fitness program that combines various exercises such as weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardio can be practiced in numerous locations in Jakarta. It is designed to improve overall fitness and increase work capacity across multiple domains, including strength, endurance, speed, flexibility, and power. Often the classes are conducted in groups so some people use this as a way to network with people of similar interests.
Yoga and Pilates Studios
There are a good selection of yoga and pilates studios in major cities. Different types of yoga as well as different sizes of classes are available. There are many studios that employ very qualified instructors so no matter what your level is, you can find a class that suits.
Things to Look for When Choosing a Sports or Fitness Club
When looking for a sports or fitness club, you may want to consider the following:
The distance and how convenient the facility is to your office or home should be one of the first things to consider. This will be a big factor in determining your access to the facilities and therefore how often you will use them. If the trip to the gym takes longer than the actual workout, enthusiasm may soon wear thin.
It is best to choose a club that is conveniently located to your work or home so that going to the gym can easily be worked into your daily routine and not be a traffic nightmare just to get to the club. Some people find it convenient to workout before or after work to avoid the morning or evening rush hour. Look at your schedule and daily routine to determine what facilities are ideally located for your lifestyle and your family's needs.
Depending on what kind of fitness program you are interested in, consider the equipment available to train on as well as the condition and age of the equipment. Most of the newer facilities offer new, state-of-the-art exercise machines. Brands such as Lifecycle, Flexmaster and Cybex adorn these clubs. Older clubs may not have modern machines, as these machines are very expensive and need to be imported. It would be a good idea to ask about the age and frequency of maintenance of the exercise equipment.
Although a gym might seem to be well equipped, it would be a good idea before you join to visit the facility at peak hours or during the times that you would most likely be working out. This will give you a good idea of how available the various machines are, and if you would have to wait long to use them. If half of your workout time has to be spent waiting to use machines, you might consider another facility that is not quite as busy.
The staff employed by the club play a vital role in setting the atmosphere and attitude of the club. They should be helpful, friendly and knowledgeable about fitness or the sports that they are there to assist with. You might want to ask about their qualifications before you start a very vigorous fitness program under their advice. See if they are trained and qualified and are aware of certain exercises that may be harmful and not helpful to their members.
At least one member of the staff should be trained in First Aid and CPR. While an enthusiastic trainer can be very motivating, the opposite is often true as well. Unconcerned staff that are inattentive to the members needs or goals can be a turn-off and lead to dissatisfied members.
As well as weight and training equipment, many clubs offer a variety of other facilities such as sauna, whirlpool, steam room, massage, and tennis, racquetball and squash courts, basketball courts, swimming pools with lap lanes, as well as aerobics fitness spinning and yoga classes. Some clubs offer simulated golf facilities as well as putting greens for golf enthusiasts. The list of facilities may be very impressive, but it is most important to consider the sports and activities that you are interested in and see if they are offered.
While viewing the facilities, it would a good idea to look at the locker facilities as well. Security and cleanliness are matters that you may want to consider when taking a tour of a club. Some of the better clubs provide toiletries for members, such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray and body lotion. Safety deposit boxes are often available.
While the better clubs in Jakarta adhere to international cleanliness standards, some of the less expensive neighborhood clubs tend to be less attentive to hygiene and cleanliness. Because of COVID many clubs have adopted additional cleaning and sterilization procedures. When considering a membership, you should question how and how often the equipment is cleaned. In many cases, a small maintenance budget or lack of attention to cleanliness and repairs cause the facilities to quickly fall into a state of disrepair. As a rule, you more or less get what you pay for!
As well as being a place to exercise, a fitness center often is a place to socialize. If you are new to Indonesia and trying to meet other people, you should ask about other activities hosted by the club such as members' parties. These parties are usually organized by the club in an effort to introduce members to each other or give older members a chance to meet new members. Most of these parties are complimentary with no additional fees.
If you are an avid tennis or squash player, you might ask about how often the club arranges tournaments within the club or against other clubs. Ask about the average number of participants in the tournaments. This is often an indicator of how active the tennis and squash players are. Some clubs periodically arrange to have tennis clinics with a guest tennis pro giving a half or full-day workshop to help members improve their game.
Some of the better clubs have reciprocal agreements with golf courses so that their members can use the golf courses. Although golf in Indonesia is quite reasonably priced when compared to other parts of the world, having golf included in your sports club membership is a nice plus.
Expat Community Sports Facilities
There are some expat-oriented family sports clubs, mostly located in South Jakarta. The American Club is very accessible from the most popular expat residential areas. As well as having very complete fitness facilities they also offer tennis, swimming and special classes for children. Other than fitness, families can also enjoy seasonal events such as Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Christmas celebrations.
Sports Facilities at Schools
Unlike schools in most developed countries, most Indonesian schools do not have any competitive sports programs, and it is extremely unusual for schools to have any sport facilities. The limited physical education classes are taught in a small cemented courtyard outside of the school. As space for schools is very limited in highly populated cities, valuable land is used to build classrooms rather than open spaces to accommodate sports.
International schools and the Indonesian national & SPK plus schools, however, are very different. Most of the international schools in Jakarta have large campuses with areas developed for sports. These include indoor gymnasiums, football fields, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, swimming pools and track and field facilities. Some even have stables so they can offer their students. equestrian training.
Expatriate community groups can often make special arrangements with the school administration to use the facilities during evenings, weekends, or holidays when they are not used by students. Some schools rent these facilities to groups, and others may open them free of charge. Contact the activities office or the principal's office to inquire about access.
Sports leagues for children are organized by the international schools as well as community groups using school facilities during the late afternoon and on weekends.
Popular Outdoor Exercise Areas
Due to the very high demand and price of land for commercial and residential purposes within the city, the Jakarta government has developed very few recreational areas. One of the few areas surrounds the national monument Monas located near the center of Jakarta. Early each morning, and particularly on Sundays, thousands of people congregate for walking, exercising, jogging, cycling, aerobics and even Ti Chi. Many of the government offices located nearby also use the open areas near Monas for their Monday morning ceremonies.
Another area in Jakarta that is specifically designated for sports is Senayan. This area received an extensive renovation prior to hosting the 2018 Asean Games. On the Senayan grounds is a soccer stadium, diving and swimming pools and a badminton hall that are used for national and international sporting events. Other facilities in the area include tennis courts, baseball fields, rifle range and a driving range and golf course. Many organized community sports clubs utilize these facilities. They range from children's softball leagues and swimming clubs to very competitive adult inter-city soccer leagues. The public can use these facilities. However, playing times and fees must by scheduled through the with the management. You are supposed to be able to book times through the website however it is difficult to navigate.
Another popular early morning and weekend exercise area is Ancol. Located on the very northern edge of the city Ancol lies along the shoreline of the Java Sea. Because of the cool breeze that comes off the sea, it is a very pleasant area to exercise in the morning.
Formerly an undeveloped swamp area, Ancol has been developed over the last few decades. Recreation facilities now include the Dunia Fantasi amusement park, Sea World Aquarium, and a hotel.
An extensive water park, Ocean Dream Samudera, is also a very popular place to cool off on a hot day. Ancol also offers recreational beachfront facilities. They are used by joggers and cyclists in the morning and on Sundays. A small entrance fee is charged to visitors and their vehicles to enter this area. Each attraction within the grounds has its own entrance fee.
Serious or recreational joggers may be interested in Jakarta Free Spirt, or Hash House Harriers/Harriettes. These social running group organizes runs at various locations around Jakarta. The venues change each week. Find more information about running clubs in Jakarta.
Whatever your fitness level or whatever sports you enjoy, Jakarta sports facilities offer a wide range of choices with something for everyone. With many household tasks being taken care of by household staff, most expats have more free time than they do in their home country. But, not having to do common household chores can quickly lead to weight gain! This is all the more reason to use your free time constructively and get into a fitness or sports program. With facilities available for every budget and lifestyle there's no reason not to. Have fun exercising!
See also Yoga in Indonesia, Private Business Clubs
Photo credits: The American Club
Last Updated February 9, 2023