For better or worse, Medellin is a city divided by economic classes (or stratas). Nowhere is that more apparent than at the gym.
Bodytech gym is a chain of high-end gyms located throughout Colombia’s major cities. They have the largest presence in Bogota, followed by Medellin. Within Medellin, there are currently 9 locations, half of which can be found in or around Poblado.
I first wrote about joining Bodytech gym in February 2009 after hearing reports from other backpackers at the hostel. I checked out the Vizcaya location, and bought a one week membership to start.
Soon after, I moved to Envigado and joined Dynamo gym, as it was only a few blocks away from my apartment, and much cheaper. While this gym was smaller, it was super friendly (perhaps due to the lack of space) and one of the trainers helped me regularly, at no extra charge.
Fast forward to 2010, and I’m back in Medellin, this time living for a month in Belen Malibu, which gave me easy access to Bodytech in Laureles. I signed up for a 6-month membership, which was valid at whichever location I used.
And that was important, because a month later, I’d moved to Ciudad del Rio, making the Bodytech gym at Premium Plaza shopping center the nearest one to me.
Every other day or two, I’d leave Ciudad del Rio and walk through Barrio Colombia to get to the mall. I liked the walk because it took me through a major nightlife area, and I could keep an eye on all the new discotecas being built. At last count, there were over a dozen within a few square blocks.
Bodytech is on the third floor of the Premium Plaza mall, and offers scenic views looking westward across the city toward Cerro Nutibarra, and Laureles.
The location within a mall makes it easy to run other errands on the same trip. After using the gym, I’ll usually stop in Carrefour to pick up groceries, for example.
Last week, I re-joined Bodytech at Premium Plaza. This year, I bought a 3-month membership, costing 540,000 pesos ($306). That equates to $100 per month, or double what I’d paid for access to a comparable Washington Sports Club in northern Virginia.
Despite the cost, which I still find to be too high, the gym does have a massive amount of modern equipment. Treadmills have HD televisions, and there’s a solid mix of free weights and machines. Membership also includes access to group classes, such as spinning, aerobics, and yoga.
The aerobics classes are popular with the women. Guys, you won’t want to miss the moment those classes let out.
Arguably the biggest benefit to joining Bodytech, besides the facilities and pretty girls (which, let’s face it, you’ll find at any gym in this city), is that you’ll be working out with Colombians in the upper economic levels. If you’re looking for friends in high places, or networking opportunities, this would be a good place to start.
One of the downsides I’ve found with Bodytech, versus the Dinamo gym I used in Envigado, is that it’s not the most social place. At least not for me, and not compared to a smaller gym where you’re in closer confines with people.
What do you think, are Bodytech gyms worth the high price?
The economic level of the people is the PRIMARY benefit to BodyTech, and could be stated in the lead. I could write a book on classism and snobbery in Latin America, but suffice to say that people with money generally don’t go to middle or lower class gyms. So BodyTech is their go-to resource.
Also noteworthy, if this should be the definitive web article on BodyTech in English, is that the BodyTechs in Chapinero and North Bogota are widely known as see-and-be-seen spots for gays. It’s widely known among expat gringos in Bogota that BodyTech is for gays.
I toured the one at 64 and Septima once, and noticed the smallest plates are 10 pounds. 2.5 is preferable for incremental increases, but 5 is industry standard. And 10? For places void of serious strength trainers or powerlifters.
Finally, I know a guy who was KICKED OUT of BodyTech for doing what gringos would consider macho exercises. But the straw that broke the camel’s back were handstand pushups against the wall.
I’m going to have to double check the smallest plates at Premium Plaza, but I’m fairly certain I’ve used at least 5, if not 2.5 in the past.
Great report, I was thinking about joining one for a month while in Medellin, primarily interested in the one in Vizcaya. From your experience, have you found that all the BodyTech gyms are the same as size, layout, equipment, programs offered, sheer facilities?
I’m sure I am a kittle spoiled here in Vancouver, but pay a hundred bucks a month, at the YMCA, for the men’s plus * membership. Brand new facility(2yo) 5 floors of everything you can imagine, including swimming, basketball squash, top floor is a nutrition centre, where they have a full on kitchen, and classes on nutrition, and with the pool, the have whirlpool and steam room. Plus* Membershp gives you a private whirlpool and steam room in the men’s Plus* private locker, and of course free towel service and toiletries for shaving and grooming, private lounge are with computer and flat screen, it’s really like a private spa. And super clean facilities . They have over 30 different programs that are included with membership , weight training, boot camps, several types of yoga, core programs, squash spinning,basketball, muscle pump, the list goes on, for small extra fee, karate, & Tai Kwon Do.
Just wondering what the Vizcaya location has to offer. Do they have a program similar to boot camps? A lounge area to socialize in after a workout? What are shower facilities like? Steam or sauna or whirlpool? What is the Vizcaya area like? Restaurants or cafe’s near by? Thanks again for your post and giving me an inside look at body tech in Medellin.
Hi Marty, while Bodytech does offer some kinds of sports medicine support, and apparently spa services at one ore more of their Bogota locations, you won’t find anything like your facilities in Vancouver.
There are some terrific pool facilities near Estadio (the soccer stadium), but they’re not associated with any gyms, to my knowledge.
The Bodytech gyms due feature saunas, I believe, but I never use them so I can’t comment on how nice they are. I don’t even change my clothes or shower there, I just go back to the apartment.
The Vizcaya location is the one I visited 4 years ago, and remember the least, but having been to three now, I’d say they’re all comparable in terms of facilities, space, and equipment.
One thing I forgot to mention about Premium Plaza is that you’ve got great views across the western part of the city, including Pueblito Paisa. The Laureles location had no views.
Thanks for the feedback Dave,.. appreciated, I seen this on the web, wonder if you have ever checked it out,.. it’s in Laureles… http://www.gimnasioelmolino.com/site/
Nope, never been there.
100$ a month is crazy, you’re essentially paying to see the girls. If you can make that work for you, cool. I’m not a powerlifter, but to be kicking people out of gyms for the stuff they do is a bit nuts. If you don’t want people to use chalk or throw weights, put up signs, then if they do it, kick em out sure. Doesn’t sound like the guy was doing that.
I assume you paid $100 a month because 3-months is the short term membership but like a full year would be more like $60 a month (which is high, but acceptable if you get classes and all that). I pay about $40 a month and that’s 24/7 at any club worldwide of which there are like 2500. Unfortunately none in Colombia.
If you’re serious about working out then it won’t matter what the gym looks like inside, just so long as it has the gear you need. There’s an outdoor gym just outside Estadio that’s just flat metal with crappy bars and concrete flower pot molds on the ends of em. I’ve seen some jacked dudes working out hard with those pots.
I went to Orus (next to CC Obelisco) it was a bit outdated as far as the heavy weight room goes, but the other one was pretty nice. I found it a bit expensive on a day-to-day single entry basis but (I think it was like $10,000 COP) the hours on the place kinda sucked though, I think they closed some parts if not all of the gym during the day for the mid-day siesta which seems ridiculous when people can leave work but they can’t hit the gym.
I’m rambling a bit but I think ultimately it comes down to the fact the gym culture isn’t the same in Colombia, people are in generally way better shape to begin with and don’t need them so the people who want to be a member are willing to pay more for the fancy stuff and they are the ones with all the money anyway so kudos to Bodytech for marketing to a clientele who are accepting of high prices.
Good point toward the end, Brett, about the difference in gym culture. Here, I get the impression (especially by the way the girl’s dress), that it’s about being seen.
At the same time, I’ve been using gyms here since 2009, and some of the girls put in a lot of time and hard work in those group classes, and even lifting weights.
I agree about the size of the gym not mattering. If I were still in Envigado, I’d be going to the little Dinamo gym over Bodytech or Forma.
You should check out ALPHA Fitness & Lifestyle in Parque Lleras. A lot of foreigners have told us that they love our gym culture. For people that want to workout and connect to people.
Although I have seen 5 lb plates they definitely don’t have 2.5 (at mine) and they only have one squat rack and two benches. To reiterate Bretts point, in my opinion you really are just paying to look at the girls. Fortunately I got this month for free as a gift from a friend…
It is crazy expensive! Bodytech. My novia and I just joined the one in Cartagena for 3 months. Personally, I find the Bodytech in Cartagena to be more of a social metting place….place to be SEEN, than a REAL GYM. The first time we went their, my novia spoke to 9 of her friends….loco
Can I just ask, of that cost you stated, how much was joining cost?
Hi, I don’t understand your question. It cost $306 for a 3-month membership.
Hello my name is kelvin . I am a professional natural bodybuilder. I don’t compete anymore. I would like to find a good gym in Medellion end of February and the first week of match. Any advice? Also how is the personal training business in Medellion ?
Hi Dave, cheers for the quick reply.
What I mean is when they break down the cost, was there an extra “admin” fee on top of you monthly.
Pet peeve if mine. Funny how it is always negotiable.
No, to my knowledge there wasn’t an extra admin fee, but I didn’t get into the details with them.
I paid 160.000 COP Admin Fee. It is a one time fee on the 3 and 6 month membership. You do not have to pay the admin fee on the 12 month membership. My novia and I joined the Cartagena Bodytech. It could be different in Medellin.
Oh! The admin fee was 160.000 COP for each membership, as my novia and I joined together, we paid 320.000 COP in Admin fees.
Actually, now that you mention it, I remember paying an admin fee the first time I bought a 6-month membership to Bodytech in 2010. I was told it’s a one time payment, and I think they may have given me a 50% discount.
Thank you Dave and Nico, really is much appreciated.
Looks like I am going to have to haggle hard and suck up. At least it is only one time.
In line with prices I pay in the uk. Vancouverites have got it spoiled rotten.
“…..it took me through a major night-life area, and I could keep an eye on all the new discotecas being built. At last count, there were over a dozen within a few square blocks.”
Woah> 10 discotecas!!
And you say it so innocuously like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Talk about doing nothing to dispel the idea of how Paisa’s love to party.
Quite the opposite, for a city that doesn’t have a lot of tourist attractions, the nightlife is one of Medellin’s biggest draws.
Hey, Dave. great site.
I am thinking about spending a few weeks in Medellin this summer. You seemed to like the Dinamo Gym in Envigado. Maybe I missed it, but what did you pay to go there?
Also, how crowded are these gyms? I frequent a gym here in L.A., but I am definitely NOT a “be seen” kind of guy. I go to get my work in, nothing more (though I do appreciate available eye candy, but it’s not a selling point to me).
Yes, I’d much rather go to a place like Dinamo which is smaller but more personable. They’ve renovated it since I went in 2009. Finding gyms like that take a little looking around.
I think Dinamo cost around $40/month back in 2009, but with the stronger peso today, it’s probably more like $50/month now. Still, that’s half the cost of Bodytech.
Also, cross fit has become very popular here, and there are gyms catering to it.
Obviously the smaller gyms like Dinamo can get very crowded during peak times. Even the Bodytech I go to, which is like the size of a Gold’s Gym in the US, gets full at peak times (8-10am, 5-7pm) before and after work.
I actually prefer to go in the late morning, when it’s still a little busy. I’ve found going in mid-afternoon, when it’s empty, is depressing, though it’s nice not to have to wait for any equipment.
In my experience of going to the gym in Medellin a small local gym = friendly staff and customers and a large central gym = unfriendly staff and and in most cases unfriendly customers.
I went to two smaller gyms in Laureles where I was living before and they were so welcoming and friendly (both the staff and customers). Now I go to a large gym in centro (forma) and I can’t believe how unfriendly it is. I’ve been there a month and don ‘t think I’ve had so much as a hello from any staff member!
One other observation I have is that normally in London the gym staff really look the part (like they are following their own advise). I can’t believe how out of shape most of the instructors look in Medellin.
To give some balance I would say the classes at forma are excellent.
I agree with your observations. The staff I encountered at Dinamo gym in Envigado in 2009 was much more personable than anyone at Bodytech. One instructor took a liking to me and acted as my own personal trainer. It was great, and at no extra cost.
If you had it to do again, do you reckon you would join? How have you found the networking opportunities you alluded to?
Is there a swimming pool and sauna facilities.
I have a voucher giving free joining cost, but by all accounts seems like a “classist a” gym
I initially joined Bodytech back in 2010 for 6 months, and then re-joined at the start of 2013 for 3 months. I also have a Forma gym close to where I live, so if I may check out their prices, which I expect to be a little lower.
I never talked to anyone at Bodytech, so I can’t comment on the networking aspect. I can be shy like that, but I’m also not trying to find a job or anything.
No, none of the gyms have swimming pools that I’m aware of, but they do have saunas.
Having just joined Bodytech in envigado coming from Dynamo…I can easily say Bodytech is worth joining.
Now is it worth $100/month? If you’re comparing it to the states or other countries, for sure no. But is it worth paying the extra $50/month to go to bodytech instead of dynamo? My opinion, hell yes. But it’s more worth it for me personally, and may not be for others.
First, the bench press seats in Dynamo had “smaller” sized barbells than the regular ones used on a squat machine. That made absolutely no sense to me, and I couldn’t do proper bench press workout unless I physically walked upstairs, took the regular sized barbell, placed it on the rack and place the smaller one some place else. Pretty much guaranteed my chest workout routine was broken.
Then the quicklee collars (the little things used to hold weights in place on barbells), didn’t even fit the barbells properly (strange). So again, no proper bench press machines.
The freeweights area was a mess. There were weights all over the place, each seat was within about a foot of each other, and it was hard to look for weights, and do a regular workout without someone standing or walking inches away from you. If you’re trying to focus on lifting some heavier weights, that gets distracting and sometimes dangerous. Not to mention how hard it was to find certain weights because they were laying around everywhere.
The weights themselves were older as well, and while that’s not terrible, it definitely helps with your grip to use those newer rubber weights.
Then onto the squat rack…(for those of you that use those), the plates you put on there are all metal plates (not rubber). It’s not awful, but definitely hurts, especially if you’re trying to do deadlifts.
So once you add up the weird bench press barbells, the quicklee collars not fitting, free weights area a mess, all the seats way too close to each other to do a proper workout, and the old, metal plates on the barbell…it made me look at bodytech a second time. Surprisingly the first time I visited bodytech, they didn’t even have a squat rack (very strange), but when I came back a month later…they had one.
Once I started going there, it was a world of difference. All the space in the world, all brand new rubber weights with handles that makes it much easier to do your workouts. All my workouts felt so much smoother and less frustrating than being cramped in a tiny space trying to get a workout in.
Was it for the extra $50/month? It’s definitely pricey…but for those doing anything more than regular machines, I think it’s worth it.
In Denmark were I am from we have centers just as good as Bodytech for 15 dollars a month – should I bring it to Columbia?
In Sweden we have for $25 per month. Prices are cartel crazy shit in Colombia
How much is the gym at The Charlee every month?
How much does a personla trainer charge per hour in Medellín today?
Anyone knows a good one?
Hello Mario i hope youre doing good. My name is Jeffrey Medina and I am a personal trainer from the states currently living in medellin. If you are interested in my services shoot me a text or call me so we can discuss it
My partner just moved to Bogota for a one year work assignment and is looking for a personal trainer and gym. Do you happen to know of a personal trainer in Bogota that speaks English?
Sounds like Bodytech is the place to be for a gym but any help with an English speaking personal trainer would be appreciated.
Hello everyone . My name is Diego Osorio , I am a personal trainer in the city of Medellin . I would like to offer my services as a personal traner. I will be happy to answer any questions or concerns. Currently I do personal training in a gym in El Poblado and home . You can contact me at +57 302 444 93 95 or email me to email@example.com
Thanks for posting. I’m planning to move to Medellin in a few months for an initial 6 month stay. If I like it, I may stay permanently. I want to live very close to a nice gym, but I also want to be close to stuff to do during the day & nightlife.
Which neighborhoods should I be looking at apartments in based on these preferences?
Also, is there a pretty tight-knit english speaking community in Medellin?
I don’t know Spanish yet, but plan to study intensely those first 6 months. But I’d still like to hang out with english speakers while I’m learning. 🙂
Wow, $100 a month is double what I pay in Seattle WA for what looks to be a comparable gym. I’m going to be in Medellin for 3 weeks in April 2017 and would like to find a place for strength training and or Yoga 3-4 times a week. Might need to seek out a lower level gym $$ wise.
what about action fitness. i was at the bodytech in llaures and it had like 3 benches was annoying . the one in pobaldo was better wth like 8.. but llaures i was dissapointed in. gonna give action a try now… also slightly off topic but any advice on finding an apartment is apprecited…. airbnb is gringo prices. paying $650 usd for a studio with no air condition in laures now… but the girl i am seeing pays $270 usd for a 3 bedroom in llaures…. (unfurnished) any websites?
hope this makes sense. english is my second language… learning spanish now for my third language 🙂 italian born and raised! cheers