With all posts we’ve written about the tasty and cheap food here, you are probably wondering how you are going to stay in shape!
Well, the good news is that if you want to work out there are lots of great ways to exercise in Taiwan.
In this post, I cover and link to some of the popular places and activities people do to stay in shape in Taipei and all over Taiwan.
Gyms in Taipei and other parts of Taiwan
There are certainly far fewer gyms per person in Taiwan than in the US and most of the Western world. This is basically because far fewer Taiwanese people want to exercise at them than people in the West. However, there are still plenty of gyms here, and if you are in a major city (i.e. Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung) you can definitely find one.
At most gyms here you’ll be expected to sign a one year contract, so be prepared to commit to a place for a long period of time before you sign the contract. World Gym is the biggest chain in Taiwan with multiple branches across the island, but other gym chains have recently gained popularity and have multiple branches like Fitness Factory.
Basketball is probably the most popular every day sport people play in Taiwan. There are numerous basketball courts in every city and you will find many people on the courts during evenings and weekends. If you are interested in playing basketball, you will have no problems finding places to play — just ask around when you get here. Playing basketball is also a great way to become friends with Taiwanese people.
Badminton is very popular amongst Taiwanese and there are badminton courts all over. They are usually inside buildings though, so you will need to ask people about where to play if you are interested. Renting a court to play with friends is usually very easy and cheap. Badminton is another great way to meet local people.
Yoga is similar to the gym situation here in that there aren’t as many studios as there are in the West; however, every city still has many different places to go. Some of the more well known yoga studios in Taipei are Pure Yoga, Space Yoga and True Yoga. The big gyms also have yoga classes and there are lots of other smaller studios as well. The instructors will teach in Chinese; however, many of the teachers also speak English very well. It’s best to go check out a studio and ask about this if you don’t speak Chinese. All the other major cities also have plenty of studios, so don’t worry if you won’t be in Taipei.
Martial arts are popular in Taiwan and there are places for all the major disciplines here. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is popular amongst both foreigners and Taiwanese and Taiwan Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Academy is probably the best known place to go if you are interested.
Hiking in Taiwan
If you’ve read my posts, you know I like hiking a lot. In previous posts I’ve discussed how much I like Taipei because of easy accessibility to myriad hiking trails here. There is also great hiking in many other places throughout Taiwan, and even if you live in a city like Tainan, which isn’t surrounded by mountains, you can still do day trips to nearby places to hike.
Lots of people use hiking for exercise in Taiwan, and you’ll see many people out on the trails on weekends and in the early evenings during the week. Two hikes you should do when you first get to Taipei are Elephant Mountain at sunset (for the stunning view of the 101) and Yangminshan (for the hike and views).
Biking in Taiwan
Taipei and other cities can be great for biking. It’s easy to get outside the city and there are lots of quiet mountain roads. In Taipei, there are several great trails that run along the rivers throughout the city. Biking is a really popular activity and the river trails can be very busy on the weekends and at night (after it’s cooled down). On the rivers you can find bike renting stations and renting a bike is a cheap and fun way to spend the afternoon.
There is also Taipei’s bike rental service, which makes renting a bike for a few hours fast, efficient and cheap. You can read more about the Taipei’s bike rental service here. If you want to buy a bike, you’ll have lots of options and can probably find a decent used bike for around $100-200 USD.