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GYMS IN KOREA REVIEW – Star Kali Fitness

Star Kali Featured Image
Last updated:
An average gym with great location
Star Kali Fitness has the benefit of a premium location for Yonsei students. It has decent size and prices, but it lacks in heavy bodybuilding equipment. Perfect for students.
Open Hours & Days
5
Price
8.5
Squat & Power Racks
7
Dumbbells
5
Barbells
4.5
Accessories
1
Machines
8
Cardio Equipment
8
Equipment Age, Maintenance & Cleanliness
6
Locker Rooms & Showers
5
Size, Layout & Spacing
8
Author’s Opinion
8
Location
Price
Machines
Size
Accessories
Dumbbells
GX Classes
6.2

This is another entry in THE HAN GANG MAGAZINE GYM REVIEW SERIES. My goal is to bring you honest, straight-forward, and practical reviews of the best gyms in Korea.

In order to achieve your fitness goals, you need an affordable gym that meets your needs. Gym services such as personal training, fitness classes, pilates and yoga, and even walking distance are all considerations. I approach my gym reviews from a weightlifter’s perspective. None of my reviews are paid or sponsored.

When trying to answer the question “How to find a gym in Korea?”, I consider the following factors. Check them out below.

Contents

Star Kali Fitness

The second entry in this review series is Star Kali Fitness located in Sinchon. Star Kali is a part of a medium size chain of gyms in Seoul, Korea. I actually went to Star Kali’s predecessor in the same location, Eagle Fitness. So I definitely have some experience with gyms in Sinchon. Star Kali Fitness has been in business for around 5=6 years if I can recall when Eagle closed.

Star Kali Featured Image
Entrance after exiting elevator

Location

Star Kali Fitness is within walking distance to Yonsei

If you’re a foreign student or English teacher living in Seoul, there’s a high chance you’ll be living around Hongdae, Sinchon, or Ewha University. Hongdae is the area for Hongik University. Sinchon is home to Yonsei and Sogang Universities.

So naturally, you’ll be looking for the best gym near Sinchon. Fortunately, Star Kali fitness is located literally across from the main front gate of Yonsei University on the 6th and 7th floors.

Address: 서울 서대문구 연세로 36 독수리빌딩 6,7층

Address: Seoul, Seodaemun-gu, Changcheon-dong 31-4, Doksuri Building

Phone: 02-365-6999  




Open Hours & Days

What are the open hours for Star Kali Fitness?

Rating 5

  • What hours are the gym open?
  • How many days per month is the gym open?

For gyms in Korea, many close on Sundays or select Sundays. The best gyms in Seoul will only close one Sunday per month.

Daily hours of Star Kali Fitness:

  • Weekdays: 6:00 AM – 12:00 AM (Midnight)
  • Weekends: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Holidays: Closed
  • Closed 4th Sunday of every month

Star Kali fitness scores a straight average here. The main difference between with other gyms also located in Sinchon/Ewha such as Multigym Fitness Corea is that Star Kali is closed on holidays.

In Korea, mandatory holidays are known as “red days”, and most everyone except retail etc. gets those days off. Think Columbus Day or Veteran’s Day in the U.S. Unfortunately, many gyms in Korea use this as an excuse to close. The true marker of a gym in Seoul with good hours is whether or not they close on red day holidays.

When I visit a gym for our GYMS IN KOREA REVIEW SERIES, I always ask a very telling test question: “Are you closed one or all three days of Lunar New Year?”. This tells me immediately what their approach is for holidays off.

Unfortunately, Star Kali Fitness is one of these gyms. They are closed for three straight days for the big Korean holidays of Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and Seollal (Lunar New Year). They are also closed on red days such as Buddha’s birthday, Independence Day, Hangul Day, etc.

This is unacceptable in my book but may be okay for others. It is “average” in the sense that most gyms are at worst this, whereas at best gyms will only close one day out of three–can’t expect a gym never close.

Price

Rating 8.5

Finding cheap gyms in Seoul

Prices for Korean gyms are much higher than in the West. While things are changing, Western gyms in Korea and fitness in Korea are still seen as luxuries. That means gym membership fees in Seoul are going to be 1.5-2x as expensive.

On the other hand, preventative activity like hiking and biking are immensely popular in Korea. However, it’s still a pervasive attitude among Korean women that they shouldn’t lift “too heavy”, and many Korean girls will not workout so they “don’t get too big”.

Gym Prices at Star Kali Fitness

Photo of Star Kali Fitness Prices
Star Kali Fitness Prices

This is where Star Kali really shines. Due to increased competition among gyms in Sinchon and the effects of COVID-19, you’re looking at some great prices here.

Period3 Months6 Months1 year
Price99,000 KRW
33,000 KRW / month
187,000 KRW
31,000 KRW / month
360,000 KRW
30,000 KRW / month
Gym clothes33,000 KRW total66,000 KRW total132,000 KRW total
Locker rental16,500 KRW33,000 KRW66,000 KRW
Suspension periodNo2 times (60 days)3 times (90 days)
Membership transferNo1 time1 time
Membership fee30,000 KRW30,000 KRW30,000 KRW

Cheap gym in Seoul?

I give this a disgruntled 8.5. Very good but with some massive caveats that stopped it from being a 9+ score.

Most gym bros like myself simply want the gym part and no frills. If that’s you, then rejoice because Star Kali Fitness is as cheap as you will get for a still very satisfactory gym. Less than 200,000 KRW for 6 months is SUPER good.

However, most gyms I have reviewed in our GYMS IN KOREA REVIEW SERIES include workout clothes. One of the great perks of gyms in Korea are that gym clothes were standard. No more carrying around dank, sweaty gym clothes in the summer. Unfortunately, if you want gym clothes at Star Kali Fitness, it’s going to cost you a bit.

Locker rental fees are standard, as are the suspension periods and membership transfer. Including those in the pricing page is a bit of a marketing ploy since they are included by all gyms in Korea.

The second drawback is the membership fee. This is a totally ridiculous addition in my opinion, but some gyms do this.

When you add up all the fees (rate + clothes + membership fee), 6 months then gets up to 276,000 KRW. This rate is now completely average, as most gyms in Sinchon, Korea charge a bit under 300,000 KRW for 6 months. So this isn’t necessarily bad. Just keep it in mind.

The reason I bumped this rating up is that if you are an educated consumer and go bare bones, you can have a really good gym membership in Seoul at a premium location (Yonsei University, Sinchon) at less than 200,000 KRW.

Squat & Power Racks

Rating 7

Star Kali stretch area
Star Kali official photo-1
Star Kali smith
General weight area of Star Kali Fitness

Gyms in Seoul with power squat racks

I counted a total of five squat/power/Smith rack combinations when I visited. Strangely, they were all over the place. Three of them were near the dumbbell area, as shown above. One other one was off by the stretching area. The last one was near the bench presses.

Overall, they were a mish-mash of quality and age. But they get the job done. If you’re looking for a powerlifting gym in Korea, then this is not it. But you shouldn’t have a problem with crowds or quality here.

Dumbbells

Rating 5

Finding a gym in Seoul with free weights can be a challenge, especially if you’re a heavy lifter. While most gyms will all have dumbbells, the vast majority of gyms only have dumbbells up to 30 or 40 kg.

Star Kali dumbbells 1
Star Kali dummbells 2
Star Kali dumbbells

How heavy are the dumbbells at Star Kali Fitness?

Although you cannot clearly see in the photos (my apologies), the top dumbbells at Star Kali Fitness is 40 kg. This is average. Most gyms will have 40 kg dumbbells, so that’s pretty disappointing to me. Also, no dual sets, extra low weights.

This is unfortunate compared to gyms like Multigym Fitness in Sinchon, which have dbs up to 50 kg.

Barbells

Rating 4.5

If you’re a powerlifter in Korea or looking for a powerlifting gym in Seoul, then you need barbells that are straight, have good grip/knurling, and have tight cuffs that don’t rotate like crazy.

Star Kali barbells
Star Kali barbell

While there were enough barbells for each station, the ones I saw weren’t great quality. They were old. The knurling was coming off, and there was even rust. Rust on a barbell is oxidation due to sweat. That means they don’t clean as much as they should.

This may seem like nitpicking, but hey that’s what I’m here for. I certainly wouldn’t not workout here due to this, but it may annoy some weightlifters in Korea.

Star Kali fixed barbells
Star Kali fixed barbells

Most gyms in Korea have these fixed barbells. Unfortunately, this set is pretty lackluster. Instead of getting a whole set that goes from 5 kg to 50 kg, they opted to get straight and EZ bar sets only up to 30 kg.

As with most gyms in Seoul, you can pickup on telltale signs of what their target demographic is. These signs indicate whether the gym managers care about heavy lifters or are going for more lighter gym goers.

Accessories

Rating 1

If you’re a bodybuilder in Korea, then you will be doing all sorts of isolation exercises. That means some extra accessory equipment will come in handy. Changing the angle of any lift for any muscle can result in new growth and soreness.

Star Kali accessories
Star Kali accessories

Unfortunately, many gyms in Korea approach the accessory area as the “female area”. A now defunct gym (Arnold Hong Fitness) I used to go to even labeled the entire accessory/stretch area as “Women only”. There is a subtle sexism among gyms in Korea that women “belong” in this accessory area, and the result is many personal trainers design the accessory area solely for female clients.

Unfortunately, when I was using a day-pass at Star Kali Fitness, I was told that I should/could not workout in this area if a personal trainer had a female client, as it would make them “uncomfortable”. I find this pretty offensive, not only because it excludes me based on my gender and assumes I’m somehow dangerous, but because it also pigeonholes women into not having the agency or ability to handle a guy working out next to them.

On a more objective basis, the selection of weights and equipment here was just pitiful compared to Multigym Fitness, which takes a very functional approach to fitness and encourages people to use their weird stuff. Combined with my negative experience, I give a score of 1.

Machines

Rating 8

Star Kali machines 1

Gyms in Seoul with machines

This is definitely Star Kali Fitness’s strength. It has tons of machine stations. You now a gym has lots of machines when they have oblique, lower back, and calf machines. A huge plus is the deltoid raise machine.

I gave it a 8 rating is because they only had a few plate-loaded machines, which are the best for serious lifters. However, most serious weightlifters are going to spend most of their time in the free weight area anyway. Solid offering here.

Cardio Equipment

Rating 8

Star Kali Fitness Cardio

Gyms in Seoul with cardio equipment

I checked out the cardio fitness equipment area at Star Kali Fitness briefly and found it to be very good. Much better than Multigym Fitness. They had the standard treadmills with TVs built in as well. One thing I liked was the number of bikes and ellipitcal machines. You definitely won’t be waiting for a spot.

GX Classes, Room & Equipment

Rating N/A

There is no group exercise fitness classes room at Star Kali Fitness. I personally wouldn’t mind, but I think this would affect a lot of female gym goers’ choices.

Equipment Age, Maintenance & Cleanliness

Rating 6

Fitness centers in Korea are really improving nowadays. I have been impressed with the standard of equipment at many gyms in Seoul in university areas such as Hongdae, Sinchon, Sogang, and Ewha. Particularly, gyms such as TIPI Fitness and Able Gym blew me away with how nice and “fashionable” they are.

Locker Rooms & Showers

Rating 5

Star Kali Fitness Lockers 1
Star Kali Fitness Lockers 1

The locker rooms at Star Kali Fitness are perfectly adequate and average in every way. Gym clothes are provided, but they are not free. You must pay a monthly fee.

Size, Layout & Spacing

Rating 8

Finding a big gym in Seoul can be a challenge. After all, Seoul is a city of immense population density. So building UP instead of OUT is standard here.

Star Kali Fitness is one of these gyms, as it spans two floors. Cardio and lockers are on the first floor while all weights are on the second floor. It’s not American gym scale size but it was not crowded when I visited.

Author’s Opinion

Rating 7

Star Kali Fitness is a solid option if you’re looking for a gym in Seoul, Korea. You will likely see it talked about as one of the best gyms for foreigners in Korea since it is right across the street from Yonsei University in Sinchon. And I mean it’s literally across from the main gate. So if you’re brand new and maybe staying on Yonsei campus, this is probably the best option for you.

For a serious weightlifter, however, you likely want to look elsewhere, not because Star Kali is that bad but because there’s lots of “heavier” gyms out there like MultiGym Fitness.

Lastly, the price is low IF you don’t use additional services that other gyms usually include (but at a higher price). If you want to not use a locker and bring your own gym clothes, you’re looking at a really cheap gym. Sounds perfect for an international student at Yonsei staying in a dormitory. Just walk home and shower.

If you’re looking for other gyms in Seoul:

Be sure to check out HAN GANG MAGAZINE’S GYMS IN KOREA REVIEW SERIES

  • Bodystar Fitness – (multiple locations)
  • Multigym Fitness Corea – (Sinchon/Ewha)
  • Gym TIPI – (Hongdae) Coming soon

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