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All Fitted Out

by Tom

Xtreme Fitness is muscling into the fitness space with a new gym where every design aspect has been worked out.

By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales

When I walk into the relatively new Xtreme Fitness gym in Charansanitwong road, even I, gym neophyte that I am, notice that the atmosphere is considerably more convivial than other gyms I’ve visited. To the left of the entrance is a cosy lounge area done up in white and red, on a soothing carpet of faux grass to allow for mental relaxation while contemplating physical exertion. A sofa, bar, and stools allow guests to look out into the sprawling space filled with cutting-edge equipment from Europe and the U.S.

As I admire the clever zoning that prevents the gym’s array of equipment from overwhelming the uninitiated, the gym’s founder and co-owner, Arvinder ‘Vicky’ Singh Sachdev, welcomes us with enthusiasm. “We opened this place back in September,” he tells us, “but prior to this, we had a smaller location about 2-3 km away from here. I started small because I had no experience in setting up a gym, although I’ve been serious about fitness for about 20 years.”

“He’s always been passionate about exercising,” Rungrath ‘Jyot’ Singhrakthai, Vicky’s wife and gym co-owner, chimes in. “So I wasn’t really surprised when two years ago he told me that he wanted to start his own gym. I thought, why not?” She laughs and quips, “At least if we have our own, I’ll get to see him more instead of having him spend 2-3 hours every day in somebody else’s gym!”

“It’s good for me too – with our own gym, Jyot can’t give any excuse not to come and exercise!” Vicky jokingly ripostes, and it’s clear that the couple are proud of this passion project of theirs which has brought not only them but the community together. Their partner and third co-owner, Chakrin ‘Dev’ Chawla, known in wider circles as ‘DJ Dev’, expounds on this: “everyone here pretty much knows each other – the way Vicky is, he connects people. Your first time coming to the gym, you might feel self-conscious and not know what to do, but he’s happy to approach you, grab a trainer and start you off. Every single customer here knows Vicky and he’s very easy to speak to. When he shifted from the old gym to here, not one single customer didn’t re-join us.”

“I was shocked! But I think the atmosphere is what makes us unique,” Vicky agrees. “Nowadays life is very stressful. I want people to come to this gym for an hour or two and have a good time, and we’ve made sure the design reflects that.” Indeed, the expansive layout, the glut of natural light from the wall of windows, the easily-understandable zones, and the cheery pops of red lend themselves to an agreeable atmosphere with plenty of energy. “We’ve had a lot of connections because of this space, Vicky reveals. “The girls who go to the classes we offer often go for a beer after class, and we’ve even had two or three couples who’ve met in the gym and have gotten married!”

A businessman in the textile industry by day, Vicky was born and raised in Thailand, attending Assumption University (ABAC) and beginning his career with a business in Hallmark cards, and then eventually Baskin-Robbins. However, his passion for fitness, which began after he was chosen to play for Thailand’s National Cricket Team in 1999 but found himself unable to play in the last match because of a lack of physical fitness, is what eventually led him to this space. “I used to have a personal trainer, P’Poo,” Vicky recalls, “and I would joke to him about eventually owning my own sports club with a gym for him. One day, he told me, ‘why not open a gym first?’ And the rest is history. He was my consultant in the gym that Jyot and I first opened in our soi. He helped me on the design of the space, on what machines to get, and where to place them. I couldn’t have started that first gym without him, and Jyot, who was instrumental in helping me set up.”

As for his partnership with Dev, it started when Dev became a regular member of the previous gym: “my fitness journey started in uni – I used to be a 100kg kid that rolled around instead of walking! In university, I wanted to look good because at that age, health usually comes later. I joined California Gym at the time, and then when it closed, I was lucky that Vicky opened his first gym five minutes away from my place. I became a partner because I saw the way he worked, and I was really impressed,” Dev tells me.

“He offered to partner with me since the beginning and that meant a lot to me,” Vicky opines. “So when I needed a partner, he was the first one I thought of. He’s also an account manager on top of being a DJ, so I told him to take the accounts. It was difficult for me to manage this gym alone. Dev joining me as partner gave me a lot of motivation and I couldn’t have done it without him.”

Although it’s hard to tell with how perfectly suited the space now is for its current designation, the gym started life out as a Tops Supermarket, then a retail space, before Vicky saw it was for rent and called the owner. “What attracted me to this area is that firstly, it’s near my house, secondly, the BTS line here is going to be done soon, and thirdly, there’s a university just next door and that gives us a lot of potential clientele, and we even offer a great student discount,” Vicky shares. “And the best thing is that you can park nearly 100 cars here, and it’s all part of the space!”

However, the careful consideration of the place goes beyond simply the location and the exterior – it’s clearly seen in the design concept, spearheaded by Vicky himself; in the zones of different types of equipment that the trainers navigate with expertise, a deft touch, and easy camaraderie; in the vast studio space with wall-to-wall mirrors, perfect for the wealth of classes they offer; and in the pièce de résistance, a colourfully done up zone dedicated to CrossFit and bodyweight training.

Benjamin Garth Austin, one of Dev and Vicky’s prized personal trainers, explains that part of what makes their gym fighting fit is its dedication to being fully-equipped.: “here we’ve got calisthenics, body weight, and CrossFit. It’s probably the future of gymming – it’s working smarter, not harder. You’re doing body weight exercises where you’re not at risk of injuring yourself, you’re doing more intense work for a lot less time because you end up tricking your metabolism, and it forms a connection between the different parts of your body,” he enthuses as he indicates the array of equipment, from Muay Thai heavy bags to pull-up bars. “You’ll find not a lot of gyms have this. You may be able to do some of this stuff at home, but you can come here and take it to a whole new level. We’ve got all the equipment to really amplify your workout. It’s awesome!”

At the end of the day, despite his dedication to his own gym, Vicky tells us that his priority is getting people healthy. “Please take care of your health,” he makes a general appeal. “I’m not saying, come to my gym, but wherever you live, your health is the most important thing. Don’t say you have no time – everyone has 24 hours.” Dev agrees: “ultimately, our goal here is to spread good vibes and good health for everyone.”

XTREME FITNESS

45 43 Charan Sanitwong Rd., Wat Tha Phra,
Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600
Open weekdays from 7am to 11.55pm
Open weekends from 8am to 10pm
Tel: 083 021 9001
Facebook: @extremefitness32

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