Gym's, Health Spa's and Exercise in Panama City

Wednesday, October 06 2004 @ 09:05 am EDT

Contributed by: Don Winner

No matter what your age or physical condition, there are lot's of excellent facilities in Panama City to help you reach your goals and stay healthy and active. There are several excellent gyms in and around Panama City, and it seems that every neighborhood can support one gym, so there seems to be even small "lite" gyms almost in every residential neighborhood. The costs seem to be pretty standard as well, at least among the larger and full service gyms. They all charge about $50 per month for membership, but that price goes down somewhat if you are willing to pay in advance for 3 months, 6 months, or a year.

I'll lead off with my personal favoirite and what I consider to be the best gym in town right now -- The Spork Tek gym, located on Via Brazil (extension) almost where it connects with Via Transitmica (near the McDonalds, across the street from AATC were my mechanic Alvaro works.)

Sport Tek is a relatively new gym and has been open for over a year now. It's an excellent, large and modern facility will all the equipment you could ever need to workout. The gym has two floors, with weights and machines on the first floor, and cardio machines (treadmills, bikes, stair steppers, etc.) on the second floor. Also upstairs is a large exercise room for aerobics classes, step classes, yoga, and others. To be honest, I don't participate in those classes but they are all included in the membership price and the "menu" is full and varied. There is also a dedicated spinning room and a half-court basketball gym upstairs.

The downstairs area is dominated by the large space dedicated to weights and machines. There is about a quarter of this space dedicated to free weights, and the rest to several types of machines grouped by function (legs, back, chest, etc.) There are trainers roaming the floor to instruct you on how to use a particular machine, spot you on a heavy lift, and to suggest machines or movements for specific functions. Most are bilingial.

The gym also has a fresh fruit sqeeze bar where you can get a protien shake after your workout, large and clean changing rooms and shower facilities, and there is even a full service spa and beauty salon on the premisis. The downside is parking. The gym has a parking garage but it was apparently designed by a blind guy. Most people park on the street that runs nest to the gym and walk back. The gym has guards out front to watch over their clients as they walk to and from their cars to ensure their safetly.

There are lots of other smaller gyms in town, and I've checked out most of them when I was "shopping around" for a gym. I selected the Spork Tek gym because it's convienient to where I live, has all the facilities and machines I need and then some, it although there are a lot of members, the facility is large enough to absorb them all on even the busiest day, and you don't end up wasting all your time wating for a machine or something.

The only other gym that can come close to Sport Tek is the Power House gym, which is located in El Cangrejo on Calle Guatemala (next to Siete Mares.) This is another large facility with lots of space, machines, and a faithful following of clients. Powerhouse has been there for awhile, and they seem to be thriving. The prices and facilities are comparable to the Sport Tek. It's another excellent gym that would be a great choice for anyone living in that area.

Another excellent gym is Kelly's Fitness, which is owned by famed Panamanian baseball player Roberto Kelly. When this gym opened it was on the top of the heap for awhile, and everyone flocked to it because (at the time) it was the best gym in town. It's considerably smaller than Sport Tek, but it is a complete and full service gym with all the machines, spinning, cardio area, and even a raquetball court. I toured Kelly's as a persepctive client a couple of months ago, and it seems to be getting just a little "worn out" as in the equipment now looks well used and not new, and some things could use a little maintenance to get them back in shape.

Kelly's, located on Tumba Muerto at the enterance to Dos Mares would be an excellent choice for anyone living in the El Dorado, Dos Mares, or La Alameda areas. It's a smaller facility that would hit it's maximum load quicker than a bigger facility. It seems to be settling down into it's niche of being a good gym choice for people it's closest to.

The Steps gym is located in San Francisco, and to be honest I've driven out in front of this place but have never been inside. It seems to be another "lite" gym, and dedicated to aerobics and step classes (hence the name) and they also teach dancing there. If you live in San Francisco, it might be a good choice for you.

There are little "lite" gyms all over the place. It's relatively common for anyone to buy a house in a residential district, throw in some exercise equipment and open a gym. These can be hard to find and you might have to ask around a little, but chances are no matter where you live, there's a little gym near you...

America's Gym on Via Espana? Another gym I've never been in, so I can't really say anything either good or bad about it. The Power Zone Gym (they have four locations...) again, just don't know...

Many apartment buildings have some kind of gym facility in the building. If there are people in the building that regularly use them and keep them up, then they can be all you need. Mostly, they just make great selling points when the builders are selling apartments, then they tend to be unused and neglected. Just my personal observation.

All of the major hotels (The Miramar, Ceasars Park, Continental) have gym and spa facilites, and will sell you a membership to use their facilities. But, for the most part they exist to take care of travellers, which also means their staffs tend to be more bilingual (or, speak more English) than some of the others.

Near where I live there's a small city park that's about one square block in size, maybe a little larger. There's a nice little old lady that throws on her sweats and walkers and heads down there to do laps with her little while poodle every morning. I talked to her the other day, and she proudly told be that she is now up to doing 18 laps per trip, and when she first started she could barely make it to the park and back. The poodle looked pretty buff, too...

Lot's of people head out to the causeway on weekends to walk, run, ride bikes, and skate. There are a couple of larger parks in the city, like the Parque Omar in San Francisco. There is alost a huge park on Ft Clayton where people play softball, football (and soccer), and even cricket.

Want to get "serious?" Go down to Curundu to the boxing gym and hire a personal trainer to teach you how to box. A few years ago a good friend of mine had a shot at a world title (Santiago Samaniego) and he was working out at the gym in Curundu. I would go down there to hang out and workout, and learned a little about the reality of Panamanian boxing. There was one guy who came in there totally out of shape and at about 350 pounds or so, and he hired boxing trainers to whip him into shape. He's now down to a slim and trim 220 or so, and you would not want to tick this guy off... But hey, he lost the weight and is in great shape.

In summary, there really is no limit to your options. If you really want to, you can stay in shape and have fun, meet people, socialize, all while improving your overall health. You'll have lots of options to choose from. The rest is up to you.

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