About jackthomas

Jack Thomas is the founder and CEO of BASE - Asia's Gym of the Year - and the host of the Fitness Business Asia Podcast.

List of gyms and boutique fitness studios in KL

A lot has happened in the last few years in South East Asia’s fitness industry and it has been a joy to watch.

More and more people are taking their fitness seriously and working out is becoming something that is now enjoyed; looked forward to.

Shockwaves from the fitness industry explosion have been felt throughout Kuala Lumpur, with new offerings springing up in each corner of the city.

Singapore and Bangkok has a fitness scene that’s easy to access by the skytrain, MRT or walking. KL is more spaced out with few options walking distance apart, so if you’re on a gym-hopping trip make sure you’ve got your Uber or Grab app at the ready!

Here is my guide to the best boutique fitness options in KL, Malaysia.


A new kid on the block, The Playground is a beautiful fitness space in the Bangsar area of KL, spanning 4,500 square feet and offering both group classes and personal training.

A slick and sexy vibe is backed up by solid training programs and inspiring, movitating coaches at the top of their game.

Tons of natural light and a wide range of top quality fitness kit makes this one of the premier training choices in KL.

The Playground Website

The Playground. A boutique training studio in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur


Dark room, pumping music, motivating coaches and on-screen heart rate monitoring – this is what you can expect at HIIT2FIT.

Situated in the Publika building, their workout is a mix of strength training using TRX, medicine balls and dumbbells, combined with water rowing and treadmill work.

Their two offerings are Mean HIIT which is their functional training offeirng and Lean HIIT, which is cycling. Both offering heart rate monitoring as standard.

HIIT2FIT Website

Offers strength, cardio and biking options


I love training at Firestation – the trainers are pumped, the music is good, the workout is tough and well-structured and they add in all the little touches like cold towels and lighting to complete the workout experience.

Firestation – or FIRE as it’s come to be known for many – is an adidas-sponsored gym offering STRIKE, which is water bag boxing, RIDE which is cycling and STRIDE which is alternating treadmill and floorwark in a similar style to Barry’s Bootcamp.

If you can get a spot, be sure to try their Saturday morning 30-30 concept which involves 30 minutes of STRIKE, RIDE and STRIDE with a shot of juice between each session.

Firestation KL Website

Firestations STRIDE class offers alternating strength and running


If we had to live in a gym, it would be Babel.

It is quite simply one of the most stunning and well-equipped gyms I have ever been to. State-of-the-art Rogue and Technogym equipment throughout, high-end bathrooms, a beautiful cafe and hang out area and very helpful and friendly staff.

Your Instagram feed will glow radiantly after each visit to this place and we really love the vibe.

They have a lot of niche gear that looks unused and fresh out the box but are great if you know what you’re doing – peg boards, curved treadmills, the new TRX, Concept SkiErgs and Rip Trainer. If none of that means anything to you, trust me when I tell you these are cool pieces of kit in the right hands.

If you’re looking for the complete training experience we would rank The Playground and Firestation higher, but if you like to spend the day at the gym feeling like royalty, this is the place.

Babel Fit Website

Top notch training rig at Babel Fit


Anyone that promotes the message of strong women gets a big thumbs up from us, or in this case a BangkokFitness Top Choice trophy.

Dubbed a ‘playground for women’ KOA fitness is a female-only gym that are serious about what they do. The gym is well-equipped with tons of strength gear like barbells, cables, sleds (always nice to see) and kettlebells, sprinkled with cardio and HIIT tools like treadmills, battle ropes and bikes.

Offering open gym, personal training and group classes, if you’re in KL and you’re a women, a visit should be on your list.

KOA Fitness Website


An open gym that specializes in raw strength – we have lifting platforms, a sled, all kinds of barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells. There’s also some cardio equipment in their to round off your session.

Union Strength is based on the 1st floor of the Hartamas Shopping centre.

Union Strength Website


Ministry of Burn – or MOB – runs 3 fitness concepts: MOVE is full body HIIT, RIDE is their cycle class and ROW is their new rowing concept class.

When we dropped by to check it out in the afternoon it was closed, so make sure you visit during training hours.

Ministry of Burn Website


After the success of Rumble in New York, Aqua boxing – using punch bags filled with water – has really taken off worldwide.

These offerings have undoubtedly made boxing more accessible to the masses, and Liquid Cage have jumped on the trend with a nightclub style training environment and three boxing concepts – 45-minute options with Liquid Wave and Liquid Surge, and a 60-minute Liquid Heat class focusing on endurance.

Liquid Cage Website


Another New York concept, rhythm cycling, finds its way to KL with Flycycle.

Cycle to the beat of the music with motivating trainers/performers who guide you through a tempo cycling workout coupled with upper body hand-weight exercises.

Their Flylab yoga concept and Flyfight boxing classes complete the project.

Flyproject Website


Grit Nation is one of many Crossfit offerings in KL, but the only one we’ve had a chance to try.

Expect encouraging and passionate coaches, your typical Crossfit garage vibe, a giant rig and a bunch of heavy weights – exactly what you’d expect from any self-respecting Crossfit!

We were impressed with the cleanliness of the gym and the warm welcome and thorough introduction from the coaches.

Girt Nation Website


Asia’s favourite gym pass has recently launched in KL, offering fitness classes all over the city.

You can only visit each studio 4 times per month, but if you like to dip into different studios then this is a great option.

Guavapass Website

Guavapass KL – photo taken at BASE Bangkok ūüėČ


With F45 you know what you’re going to get – each of their 1,000+ locations around the world does the exact same workout with screens around the studio to keep you on track and remind you of what’s next.

The 45-minute session will incorporate functional strength and a range of tools in a class setting of up to 36 people. There are currently 3 locations in KL – Publika Mall, KLCC and Mont Ciara.


The recent explosion of choice has left the fitness consumer spoiled in KL. We predict big things for the industry here over the next few years and look forward to seeing what happens.

If there are any studios we’ve missed out, please let us know and we’ll make sure we visit next time!

Men’s Health Thailand November 2015 Ask The Trainer

Here is a translation for my monthly column in Men’s Health Thailand.

11012063_10153042306887142_3281844784604478776_oI have heard many people are trying the Paleo Diet. What is it and will it help me to get in good shape?
The idea behind the¬†Paleo¬†Diet¬†is that you only eat foods that occur naturally, and that you could have eaten 10,000 or more years ago. This means eating organic meat, wild-caught fish, fresh vegetables (organic if possible) and fruits in season and nuts. Cooking oils should derive from natural unprocessed sources such as coconut oil or avocado oil. Grains like bread, rice and pasta and dairy like milk and cheese are not permitted in this way of eating as the idea is that we haven’t fully adapted to these foods and so our bodies often do not respond very well to them.
I first heard of the¬†Paleo¬†Diet, or ‘caveman¬†diet‘ as it was called then, about 10 years ago and it’s been gaining in popularity ever since. Unlike many¬†dietary¬†trends, the¬†paleo¬†diet¬†isn’t going to die anytime soon as many people have adopted the¬†diet¬†as their full time, permanent way of eating, rather than a method for losing weight quickly. There are even food delivery services now that only send food that complies with the ‘paleo‘ way of eating.
paleoI personally am a big advocate of the Paleo Diet and it works fantastically well for me and many of my clients. Like many people, my body responds better to a lower carbohydrate diet which this approach naturally promotes. You can still get carbohydrates from sweet potatoes and fruits, but there is strictly no added sugar. Whatever your body type, you will certainly gain many benefits from eliminating processed food and sugar and consuming more natural foods full of nutrients. It also naturally provides high protein and lots of healthy fats which helps to keep you satiated and feeling full, and helps you maintain and build muscle.
Some people get obsessive over this way of eating, and desperately avoid eating anything not considered ‘paleo‘. I aim to eat¬†paleo¬†about 80% of the time but I do add in some dairy such as greek yoghurt and milk. The truth is, we can’t be sure of exactly what we ate 10,000 years ago and our eating habits and lifestyles have undoubtably changed a lot since then. However, as a guideline way of eating for optimal health, low body fat and maintaining and building muscle, you can’t go far wrong with this¬†diet.
I’m Jack Thomas, Founder of BASE. More information on our approach to nutrition.

Men‚Äôs Health July 2014 ‚ÄėAsk The Trainer‚Äô Q&A Column

mens health julyAn English translation for my monthly column in Men’s Health Thailand.

I want to reduce abdominal fat and have been told I should drop my carbohydrate intake. What’s your view on this?

For years fat was the enemy, but in recent years views have shifted and now it‚Äôs commonly thought that¬†carbs¬†should be reduced or avoided to lose weight. This view is largely correct, most people consume far too many carbohydrates for their activity levels and many find it easier to overeat¬†carbs¬†as opposed to foods higher in protein and fat. To put it another way, many people feel more full and satisfied when consuming lower carbohydrate diets. Excessive¬†carb¬†consumption can also promote high levels of a hormone called insulin which often leads to fat gain, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. However, nutrition is a very unique thing ‚Äď what works for me may not work for you, and you should experiment with your carbohydrate and fat levels to find out what works best for you.

image (2)Diet is crucial in reducing abdominal fat, but rather than focusing too much on the protein, fat and carbohydrate percentages you should first make sure that you’re eating high quality food. This means eating as little processed food as possible, preparing your own meals as opposed to eating in restaurants and consuming whole, natural foods such as organic meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts wherever possible. If you get this right you will often hit your goals, look great and start showing your abdominal and core muscles without the need for tracking calories or macronutrient (carb, protein and fat) amounts.

If you’ve got that right and are still not hitting your goals, you should then try tracking and recording your food intake, make some adjustments, try some new things and monitor the results. If you are unsure how to do this you can seek the help of a personal trainer or nutritionist to guide you.


Interval training at one of our group classes at BASE is a great way to burn fat. We recommend our signature class for this, BASECAMP.