From women’s self defence to no-sweat aquabiking, these unconventional workouts will challenge your cardio, tone up your muscles and help you out of your exercise rut.

1. Self-defence at SHBJJ

Hong Kong is probably one of the safest cities on the planet, and when it comes to needing to protect yourself on the day to day, well, that need is close to zero. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to equip yourself with practical skills of self defence — and break a sweat at the same time. SHBJJ, a double-storey martial arts gym tucked away in Sheung Wan, specialises in teaching Brazilian Jiujitsu for all ages, but it also offers a unique monthly Women’s Programme, which covers movement, self-defence, no-gi jiujitsu and introductory jiujitsu in a gi.

At Lifestyle Asia’s trial of the class, we practised tactics to escape potential altercations along with an intimate group of fellow ladies, while challenging our core and balance at the same time. Working throughout the hour, we easily broke a sweat even while giggling through partner-based contact workouts — it’s certainly a fun and easy way to burn some calories without noticing! SHBJJ also offers antigravity yoga classes and kids’ programmes.

SHBJJ, 1-3 Ping On Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2666 0233

2. Dance Cardio at Flye Fitness

Sure, Hong Kong has its fair number of dance studios specialising in everything from pole dance to hip hop, salsa to ballet. But not many like Flye Fitness specialise in energetic dance cardio, especially with a live DJ on the decks. Without any prior knowledge of choreography (or coordination for that matter), Flye aims to offer high octane, sweaty dance-based workouts that are easy to follow and make ladies feel confident in their everyday movement. Classes are held at Minh Space, and among several Flye offers a seven-day unlimited class trial package at just HK$250.

Flye Fitness, 4/F, Fung Woo Centre, 279-281 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 5984 5737

3. Fuze at Pure Fitness

Unconventional workouts in Hong Kong - Fuze

If you’ve grown weary of your fill of Les Mills Bodypump classes or your regular scheduled programming of weights and treadmill work at Pure’s gyms across town, you may want to check out a slew of its newest boutique training classes aimed at breaking through the mundane, made for hardworking gymrats who mean business. 

Launched in December 2019 starting exclusively at Pure’s Kinwick Centre location, there are three new high-energy workouts on offer: Blaze was developed as a double whammy of targeted strength and HIIT workouts that test your agility while also pushing the limits of your strength. With equipment such as battle ropes and a pull-up bar, you’ll be torching fat and building up your core in no time. Les Mills Ceremony is a world-first exclusive at Fuze, a 45-minute circuit that works your agility, mobility, cardio and more to improve functional strength. Finally, Les Mills Conquer is a three-in-one, 45-minute boxing circuit, which combines treadmill running, aquabag punching and resistance-based cardio exercises — structured like a boxing match of three minutes of work and a minute of recovery. (You can register for your complimentary Fuze trial class here.)

Pure Fitness, 3/F, Kinwick Centre, 32 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong

4. SUP Yoga at Aqua Terra Performance

Looking to sculpt those mermaid abs ahead of summer? Opened by two fitness and ocean enthusiasts, Esther Bland and Niall Westley, this Stanley studio launched late last year with predominantly a programme of intimate yoga sessions — a maximum of five students per class, and also offers Stand-up Paddle Board Yoga on the water. Both founders are specialised in where fitness meets the water: Bland is a registered personal trainer specialising in pre- and post-natal fitness, a swimming instructor and keen competitive rower. Westley is the resident yoga instructor and paddlesports coach. If you’re looking for an extra challenge off the mat and onto a floating board at sea, you’ll want to check out their SUP classes, available once the weather warms up.

Aqua Terra Performance, 14 & 14A, Stanley Main Street, Stanley, Hong Kong, +852 6774 5883

5. Lagree Method Fitness at H-Kore

You’ve probably tried pilates on a megaformer — the ultimate fitness machine that offers endless variations for resistance, cardio and strength, but while pilates typically works one muscle group at a time, the Lagree method uses the megaformer to challenge multiple muscle groups — even full body workouts at the same time. Try the challenging and sweaty full-body sessions at H-Kore, with classes dedicated to yoga, circuit training and kettlebell focused workouts, as well as the signature Megakore series taught on a megaformer.

H-Kore: 3/F, Emperor Commercial Centre, 39 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2441 9000; Suite 1201, Dorset House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, +852 3107 1144

6. Black Light Boxing at Lights Out Hong Kong

If the thought of formal boxing gyms or sparring close contact make you dubious, the black light boxing classes at Lights Out Hong Kong might change your mind about boxing. Split into two alternating sections of boxing and HIIT workouts in one session, the rapid adrenaline-pumping workout takes all the coordination, strength, agility and stamina of boxing and injects it onto a dance club-like environment, with dimmed lights, energetic tunes and plenty of encouragement. A class is sure to get the heart pumping and fat burning in no time.

Lights Out Hong Kong, 11/F, The Pemberton, 22-26 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2392 1428

7. Aquabiking at Velocity Studio

Claiming to aid with blood circulation, improve the appearance of cellulite, tone the lower body, and most importantly, cut more calories than conventional biking, aquabiking is an increasingly popular workout in Hong Kong, especially for those who want a workout without feeling like they’re breaking a sweat. At Velocity, the city’s first solo aquabiking studio, guests climb into their own bike tub and control the intensity of their workout as they pedal away to the comfort of a jacuzzi jet massage. You’ll want to follow it up with a 30-minute rest in their Japanese infrared sauna bed to lock in all those slimming and toning benefits.

Velocity Studio, 14/F, Oliv, 15-21 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2110 4460

8. Dancing in the Dark at No Lights No Lycra

Love the idea of dance as a form of cardio but feeling self conscious? Head to a regular session by No Lights No Lycra, a global dance community that regularly hosts dance-in-the-dark events so you can truly let loose and dance like nobody’s watching. There are no instructors, no steps to follow, no lights, no lycra, no electronics, just a dark, safe, drugs and alcohol-free environment to feel the music and let all the stressors of the day go.

Learn more at No Lights No Lycra Hong Kong

9. Eclectic Workouts at XP Fitness Hub

If you’re the type who can’t handle cardio unless it’s disguised as a fun activity, you’ll want to book in for one of the eclectic classes offered at XP Fitness Hub. Strap on a pair of Kangoo bounding boots for a low-impact, high-calorie-burning workout, or punch your cares away with a pair of weighted gloves for Piloxing. There’s also 4D Bungee Fitness, rhythmic Pound Fit (done with weighted drumsticks of course), Surfset core and stabiliser muscle workouts and more.

XP Fitness Hub, 4/F Li Dong Building, 9 Li Yuen Street East, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2951 9178 

10. Hula Hoop Dance with Turning Circles

Think you’ve mastered ‘warrior two’ in yoga? How about tacking on an extra challenge by balancing and swirling a hula hoop around at the same time? Learn from Turning Circles’ Emma Brown, a certified yoga instructor who grew a passion for hula hoop dancing after experiencing it at music festivals around the globe. Brown offers classes for all levels that help hone balance, coordination, core strength and skilful movement with hula hoop dance. At the moment, you can book private one-on-one or group sessions with her.

Learn more at Turning Circles

Evelyn Lok
Deputy Editor
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. At Lifestyle Asia she covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.