Think inside the box to get fit and get a date

Shanghai residents now have a new and cheaper option for getting fitter – a 24-hour-operating small gym chain.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Gao Sheng lifts weights in the 24-hour-operating shared gym on Jinyan Road in Pudong. 

A mini 24-hour-operating shared gym called Park Box, and run by a company of the same name, might be the answer for those seeking a cheaper and more accessible way to boost their fitness.

In the orange-cube gyms, bodybuilders are able to use basic fitness equipment such as running and weightlifting machines and dumb-bells for 10 yuan (US$1.50) per hour after buying a 99-yuan annual card.

The gym's app offers a friend service called "He Yue" (box dating) that allows users to choose the same exercise time as someone they want to make friends with.

The map on the app shows that so far there are 10 such mini gyms in Shanghai's residential communities. The gym boxes come in three sizes — 8, 18 and 28 square meters — for two, four and five people. 

A Shanghai Daily reporter and photographer arrived at the Park Box on Jinyan Road in Pudong on Wednesday, attracted by the offer of an initial free exercise session.

The tiny gym squeezes in a dressing room, fitness equipment, and has a screen that people can connect their phones to, allowing them to play music or fitness videos.

We received our first "fitness friend" while we exercising — an office worker Gao Sheng. Gao, who lives and works nearby, said he is a frequent Park Box user and comes most days. "It's very convenient for me to carry a fitness suit to office and do some exercise here after work."

"It's less noisy in the Park Box and unlike the other gyms and you can enjoy a quiet, relaxing gym time." But he added that as space is tight, the choice of equipment is limited.

The first capsule gym was put up last March. Huang Xiaolei, chief executive of Park Box, is confident about its future. "China has a huge potential fitness market but there are not enough good products to feed users' needs," she said.

Park Box said it has about 10,000 users and is planning to expand to other cities, aiming for 1,000 mini gyms in total.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The exterior of the Park Box facility.

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