8 alternative workouts and wellness classes to try in Shanghai

From gravity-defying workouts to calming practices, the city boasts an array of experiences to satisfy every exercise enthusiast's craving for the extraordinary

Photo courtesy of The Hangover Games
By Gabrielle Keepfer

Chinese New Year, a time known for indulgence and relaxation, is behind us now. Hopefully, most of us are feeling well-rested, rejuvenated, and filled with a renewed sense of determination. Draw strength from the symbol of the Dragon this year, and seize each day by prioritising your health and fitness goals.

There's no excuse not to pursue the path of fitness, especially now that the era of mundane treadmill sessions is over. Shanghai's fitness ventures are revolutionising the conventional gym atmosphere and reinventing the ways in which we work up a sweat or find our centre.

From gravity-defying workouts to calming practices, the city boasts an array of experiences to satisfy every exercise enthusiast's craving for the extraordinary...

1) FlowCycle


FlowCycle's studio transforms the typical spin class into a nightclub-inspired event, featuring neon lights, industrial-chic aesthetics, and pulsating beats that propel participants through an invigorating workout.

The spin studio regularly hosts master classes led by master instructors, and is commendable for its efforts at maintaining a sense of community.

📍 Jing'an: 3F, Crystal Galleria Mall, 68 Yuyuan Road
📍 Huangpu: 5F, Shanghai Times Square, 99 Huaihai Zhong Road
📍 Pudong: 5F, 168 Lujiazui W Road, Lujiazui
✳️ WeChat ID: FlowCycle

2) Zero Gravity


At Zero Gravity pole dance studio, it's not just about mastering the pole — it's about embracing confidence, celebrating individuality, and soaring to new heights.

Johanna Spee, the studio's founder and a pioneer in the city's fitness scene, emphasises the importance of challenging oneself in non-traditional settings. She advices the following:

"Instead of counting reps and repeating the same movements, always challenge your body and mind with different kinds of skill sets. Our studio is a safe space where you can be whoever you are without judgment."

📍 3F, 368 Shaanxi Nan Road, Huangpu
✳️ WeChat ID: ZeroGravityPoleSH

3) Capoeira Maloca


Half-dance, half-combat, capoeira is a captivating fusion of combat, dance, acrobatics and music rooted in Afro-Brazilian culture.

In this exhilarating practice, participants, known as capoeiristas, engage in a rhythmic exchange of movements set to the pulsating beat of traditional instruments.

📍 Yongxing Business Building, 168 Zhenning Road
✳️ WeChat ID:上海巴西战舞 CapoeiraShanghai

4) Handstand and Movement


Also hosted by Capoeira Maloca, this fitness class turns your workout upside down — literally.

Here, you'll develop strength and coordination in a playful way while perfecting the art of the handstand. Over time, you'll be able to flex your new skills, especially when the weather gets warmer and everyone heads outdoors to Shanghai's wealth of parks.

📍 Flex Space, 168 Zhenning Road
✳️ Contact Danny at wagamamaman

5) MYbarre


At MYbarre studios, tradition meets modernity in specially designed fitness spaces equipped with ballet bars and mirrored walls.

These dynamic sessions blend ballet's grace with pilates' core-strengthening and yoga's mindfulness to sculpt bodies and refine balance and posture.

📍 Xuhui: Room 406, Level 3A, 291 Fumin Road
📍 Jing'an: CITIC Square, 1168, Nanjing West Road
✳️ WeChat ID: MYBarre

6) ŌRA Wellness Collective


Another alternative wellness experience that's gaining traction the world over is breathwork. This meditative practice is used as a means to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

The face of ŌRA Wellness Collective, Julie Brument is a wellness coach for business executives, corporate teams and private students, and teaches individuals how to consciously control and manipulate the breath to relax or energise the body.

📍 56F, UP Clinic K11, 300 Huaihai Middle Road, Huangpu
✳️ Contact Julie at julie_brument


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Shanghai also welcomes a wide range of sports and activities from around the globe, including AFLX, a new variant of Australian Football combining elements of soccer, rugby, and basketball.

Removing the contact aspect of the traditional game evens the playing field for both male and female athletes, who can enjoy the competitive nature of the sport together.

Danny M, an AFLX coach in Shanghai, says: "What sets Shanghai apart is that it’s such an international city. There are many people with different cultural and training backgrounds that have exciting ways to teach and new ways of seeing things."

📍 Gravity Star Park, Raffles City The Bund, 1089 Dongdaming Road, Hongkou
✳️ Contact Danny at wagamamaman

8) The Hungover Games


Another form of 'fusion fitness,' The Hungover Games introduces a novel concept: picture the vigor of dodgeball coupled with the precision of archery.

Teams spar using bows, foam-tipped arrows, and inflatable shields, so the whole experience feels like some modern-day, non-lethal version of classical warfare.

📍Cages Jingan, 3F, 428 Jiangning Road, Jing'an
✳️ Contact Danny at wagamamaman