Gym training under the Saigon moonlight

By Ngoc Ngan   March 18, 2024 | 05:55 am PT
Gym training under the Saigon moonlight
Gym-goers in Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City, captured at 10:45 P.M. of March 11, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Ngan
At 11:30 P.M., after his nightly coffee rendezvous with friends, Huy Hau sets off for the gym in Go Vap District, embarking on a ritual he's faithfully upheld for the past four months.

With headphones snugly in place, the 28-year-old begins his two-hour workout routine, enveloped in solitude amidst the hum of late-night Saigon.

As Hau hits the treadmill for a brisk warm-up, his fellow nocturnal fitness enthusiasts engage in their own solitary pursuits.

In the hushed expanse of the gym, devoid of daytime clamor, equipment is readily available, and interruptions from well-meaning strangers are blissfully absent, a sanctuary from the distractions of the day.

"For me, the late hours offer a serene sanctuary, untainted by the chatter of daytime crowds," shares Hau, his voice a whisper amid the late-night stillness. "It's a chance to focus solely on my workout, undisturbed."

In the media industry, where schedules often defy convention, finding time for self-care can be a challenge.

For Hau, the evening hours provide a rare window of opportunity for physical exertion, sandwiched between work obligations and cherished moments with loved ones.

And with a 24/7 gym conveniently nestled in Go Vap District, guilt over missed workouts has become a thing of the past.

Pham Thanh Luong, a 32-year-old automobile engineer, echoes Hau's sentiment, his affinity for the nocturnal gym borne of necessity rather than preference.

With unpredictable work hours and an insatiable hunger for fitness honed over seven years, Luong finds solace in the after-hours embrace of iron and steel.

"The flexible schedule suits me well," Luong says. There was an instance when I got home from work at 1 A.M. and found myself unable to sleep because I hadn't exercised."

A cursory survey reveals a burgeoning trend across Saigon's urban landscape, with approximately 15 gyms now offering round-the-clock access to fitness enthusiasts. From District 3 to Go Vap, these nocturnal sanctuaries cater to the varied needs of a city that never sleeps.

A representative from a gym in Go Vap district noted that while peak hours typically occur between 5 pm and 9 pm, they adopted a 24-hour operation starting in 2021 to cater to growing customer demand. Post-midnight patrons, making up 5-10% of their clientele, are predominantly introverts or individuals with hectic schedules.

Similarly, a gym in District 10 observed a rise in nighttime attendees since July 2023, with an average of 20-30 customers each night. This group mainly consists of office workers and celebrities seeking to fit exercise into their busy lives.

According to Nguyen The Thanh Tung, a member of the Ho Chi Minh City Weightlifting and Fitness Federation and CEO of the gym management service provider CyberFit, the surge in late-night gym-goers can be traced back to 2018. Faced with hectic schedules and early gym closures, urban dwellers sought refuge in the quietude of midnight workouts, prompting the rise of 24/7 fitness centers.

A man at a gym in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City, taken at 11 pm on the evening of March 12, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Ngan

A man at a gym in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City, taken at 11 pm on the evening of March 12, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Ngan

The expert pointed out that typically, the human body is active during daylight hours and should rest at night for both physical and mental recovery. However, if circumstances don't allow for daytime workouts, individuals can adjust their exercise schedules to align with their biological clocks. "Those who are active or work at night can also exercise at night," Tung explained.

For nighttime workouts, Tung recommends opting for milder activities such as yoga, stretching, swimming, cycling, and moderate weight lifting, ensuring the heart rate does not exceed 60% of its maximum. He cautioned that vigorous exercises before bedtime could lead to restlessness and sleep disturbances.

"Exercise is beneficial, but it must be approached with caution," Tung advised. "Participants should thoroughly educate themselves and seek guidance from experienced professionals and coaches."

Nam Phuong, a 27-year-old with a passion for gym workouts for the past five years, prefers exercising around noon and in the afternoon. Nonetheless, his demanding job as a content creator for social media, which occupies him from 7 am to 5 pm daily, compels him to exercise at night in a District 10 gym a few times each week.

Initially, he struggled with sleepiness but gradually adapted and now enjoys the tranquility of a less crowded gym, avoiding the need to wait for equipment as is common during peak hours.

"At least I'm keeping disciplined with myself and making an effort not to skip any sessions," Phuong shared.

go to top