A Visit to Crossfit SAP in Seoul, South Korea

by Mike on November 29, 2010

Seoul Tower, Seoul, South KoreaI was able to find sometime for myself to visit Crossfit SAP, a crossfit affiliate located in Seoul, South Korea on my recent trip to South Korea.

Like with finding anything in South Korea, don’t rely solely on the address, instead call them and ask for directions and landmarks relative to where they’re located.  This will save you a bit of time and some frustration.

With that being said, I choose to visit Crosffit SAP over Crossfit Hankook because I was able to talk to someone over the phone and obtain directions.

THE SAME FIRST STEPThe Same First Step

Now, I’ve been to several different Crossfit affiliates in the U.S.  Despite the difference in location and layouts, they all make you do one common thing – sign a waiver.  When I stepped foot in Crossfit SAP expressing to hit a WOD, I was expecting to sign a similar wavier like I’ve done in the States.  With the affiliate located in a foreign country, the question that begs to be answered is: will the waiver be in English or Korean?  Or will they have two versions?

It turns out, the wavier was neither in English or Korean.   I didn’t sign nor read any wavier because there wasn’t one!  In fact, the owner didn’t know what a “wavier” was.   In all fairness, I didn’t know what the Korean word for waiver was so I couldn’t really ask why there wasn’t a need to sign a waiver.

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

With this being a Crossfit affiliate located overseas, there are going to be some cultural differences.  And of course, I committed the first mistake by wearing my work out sneakers to the box.  Huh? How could that be a mistake?

Schools and some work offices in South Korea require you to change out of your street shoes and into slippers when you enter the aforementioned buildings.  The Crossfit SAP box was no exception to the rule, thus this was the mistake I made.  I didn’t realize a gym, a place where it’s filled with weights and sweaty people would abide by the custom of taking of your shoes.

Nevertheless, when you first enter Crossfit SAP, there is area to take off your street shoes and change into slippers.  You then walk into the locker room with slippers and change into your workout cloths including your work out sneakers.  I took a video of the little area in front where you take off your street shoes and into slippers.

The thing I don’t get is, what happens when during a WOD, you have to run outside and come back inside and do a movement with bar or pull up bar.   They must still keep their work out shoes and still come and go as they please until the WOD is finished.

Despite the fact I didn’t have a separate pair of work out shoes, they let me slide this time and let me work out with my sneakers I wore to the box.  So, if you’re ever going to hit up this box, bring a pair of slippers and carry your sneakers to the box in you gym bag.

OVERVIEW OF THE BOX

The owner of Crossfit SAP was kind enough to take some time to show us a little around his box.

The video is in Korean because it was easier for him to talk.  When I asked a question in English, he responded in English.  If anyone wants to know, the translation for the Korean part when he first started talking is as follows:

In Korea, there aren’t a lot of gyms like this.  In this gym, you can do weightlifting or crossfit.  Other gyms just have weights or machine.

The equipment was pretty standard to what you would find in a crossfit box State side.  The notable variation was the dumb bell weights are in kilograms versus lbs.  This was kind of odd because I’ve worked out in a gym in Thailand before the dumb bells there were all in lbs.

I didn’t have time to hit another WOD during my stay in Seoul, but I wouldn’t hesitate to return with my own slippers.

UPDATE 5/31/12
According to a comment below, this box has moved to the Hongik University area and changed their name.  From the name, one can assume it’s a college like area, and I can confirm that it is.  There’s a lot of cheap eats in the area and always bustling with people even late on a sunday night.  There’s also plenty of budget accommodations around this area.  As far as Western Chain hotels, the Westin Chosun is only a few metro stops away at City Hall.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike March 28, 2011 at 2:12 am

Hello.

I am moving to Korea and looking for a good gym to train at. Where is the address of the SAP crossfit gym? Or could you recommend other gyms around Seoul where I would have access to heavy weights? Preferably a gym that has a bodybuilding/ serious feel to it.

Thanks

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Mike March 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Oh, and also if you know the address/location of the Crossfit Hankook gym, that’d be great :)

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Mike April 5, 2011 at 2:45 am

Thanks for the comment, My apologizes for the long response. I’ve been trekking in the everest Region and had not access to the internet. I’ll get you more information on crossfit SAP on how to get there by subway. Finding something by addresses in Seoul are not very reliable.

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mbannon86@hotmail.com June 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Cheers Mike!

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Alix April 27, 2011 at 3:51 am

SAP is off of Line 2 and 7 from the Konguk University station. Leave the station via Exit 5. You’ll then go right. You’ll see a Cafe Bene and a wedding hall. Keep walking until you get to the traffic light. There will be an LG store on that corner. Go right. You’ll walk a bit and on the right you’ll see a KB Bank. The SAP gym is located in the basement of the KB Bank building. The sign says norebang, but in Korean. The owner, Kim Kyoung Ha, is really awesome and speaks good English.

I’m not sure where Hankook is. It’s near Jamsil, I think. Never went after I started at SAP.

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mbannon86@hotmail.com June 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Thanks a million Alix for that info. I’ll check it out asap!

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Grá July 1, 2011 at 9:13 am

Hi Mike

I’m hoping to train in SAP when I arrive in Korea in a few weeks. As a female powerlifter, I’m wondering if there are many other women training there? I’ve heard that women generally don’t do much free weight training over in Korea. It’d just be nice to have a few like minded chicks to train with, although I’m cool with training with guys too! My gym in Ireland is 90% male as it is!

Thanks :)

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roger October 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm

thanks for the info going there in Dec I’ll cary my shoes

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Jenn November 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Thanks for this info, I am heading to Seoul at the end of the month. Do you happen to remember how much a drop-in WOD costs?

Thanks!

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Ricardo March 27, 2012 at 7:01 am

Thanks for posting this, Mike. I came across this video while living in the States and now that I have an Alien Registration Card here in Seoul, I’ll be checking this place out today. Kudos to Alix for posting the directions. Turns out I live just 2 stops away on the train. Hope it’s close enough to walk home once the weather gets nicer! I’ll post a follow-up comment with an update later on.

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Ricardo May 20, 2012 at 3:23 am

Just wanted to give an update. The people at SAP are AMAZING. I truly love the staff and the members as well as the facilities. Many of the staff speak English, although my trainers tend to have very limited English. That’s not to worry, though. I’ve almost never been in a class without at least one participant who spoke English and was willing to help me out and make sure I knew what was going on. I recently paid for 3 months up front in order to get 10 days free as well as to show my gratitude and support.
I just saw the recent post about Crossfit Gangnam. It looks nice. A guy I know is at Crossfit Sentinel here in Seoul, too. Looks like Crossfit is gaining traction here in South Korea.
I highly recommend anyone to check out Crossfit SAP.

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Mike May 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm

@Ricardo, let me know how Crossfit Sentinel is, where is it located in Seoul?

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Ricardo May 30, 2012 at 4:34 am

According to their Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reebok-CrossFit-Sentinel/162246000551743?ref=ts

the address is:

635-1, Basement 1, Hannam Dong, Yongsan Gu, Seoul, South Korea

The facilities look really nice and from what my friend says it has like 500 members. From the facebook traffic it seems like it has a very active community. Pictures and tons of English on there make me think it has a higher percentage of foreigners in the gym than I’m use to at SAP.

Here’s the location of the new Crossfit SAP gym that opened on May 4th. The name is Reebok Crossfit Super Strength and it’s close to Hongik University (more commonly referred to as Hongdae). From the pictures and videos it looks like SAP’s new gym is a bit nicer than the older facilities, but can’t tell about the size. It looks like it might be a little smaller than the original SAP location.

According to the Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/RCSSH

the address is:
121-842 Seoul, South Korea 마포구 서교동 466-2 창평빌딩 지하 (that’s in Mapo-gu for illiterates of Hangul)
Phone number: 02-3141-1118

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Brett_nyc June 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Hey everyone. I just got back form the original SAP. It’s still there. Super Strength is a new sister branch I guess you could call it. Eddie is still at the old SAP. I’m going to check out Super Strength tomorrow and maybe drop by Sentinel afterwards to see how they are.

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Ricardo October 9, 2012 at 6:56 am

I’ve been at SAP gym now for over 6 months and I love it more as time goes by. Just came back here to check to see if there were more comments. Had it not been for this blog I might never have found the place, so I’m eternally grateful for this post. After 4 months of Crossfit I’ve moved on to olympic lifting classes under no pressure whatsoever. They also have gymnastics classes.
Looking back at the video posted a while back, the gym is now much, much improved. There is now an olympic lifting platform, more, newer dumbbells, lots of kettlebells, more racks, more weights, a lot of medicine balls, and a bunch of things I’m failing to mention. Plenty of chalk for anyone to use, you can work out without a shirt on if that’s your thing, and some nice-looking girls will sometimes wear just shorts and a sports bra, which I think is very rare in Korea.
The vibe here is still awesome despite losing some great trainers to the new sister location. There’s a nice mix of friendly foreigners and natives as well as guys and girls all serious about getting in great shape while having fun doing it.
I’ve convinced two of my friends to join and they are happy with the place. I’d encourage anyone to come by and check it out. Feel free to post any questions. On here or my personal blog (I’m not looking for traffic, just to help someone out).

Not sure why the directions were crossed out. They work fine. I cut and pasted them below (with a little extra info from me):

SAP is off of Line 2 and 7 from the Konguk University station. Leave the station via Exit 5. You’ll then go right. You’ll see a Cafe Bene, walk past it with it on your right side. Soon you’ll see a wedding hall. Keep walking until you get to the traffic light. There will be a small LG store on that corner. Turn right. You’ll walk a bit and on the right you’ll see a large KB Bank. The SAP gym is located in the basement of the KB Bank building. The sign says norebang, but in Korean. If you hit a street market with a roof on your right side, you’ve gone too far. The owner, Kim Kyoung Ha, is really awesome and speaks good English.

By the way, I finally had a chance to check out Reebok Crossfit Super Strength (the sister gym) and it is much cleaner, newer, and just plain nicer…but it’s also smaller and has less resources. Chances are location will be the bigger deciding factor, but if I had a choice I’d personally prefer to go to SAP because of the space and equipment.

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Mike October 9, 2012 at 11:05 am

Ricardo, I thought the gym moved and the directions were no longer valid. I’ll updated the post to reflect that it indeed is correct.

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Harng October 15, 2012 at 6:45 am

I just wanted to say thank you guys for the helpful posts. I just moved to Korea a few months back and resources/info on gyms are hard to come by. After reading these comments, I’m 95% sure that I’m signing up at SAP after work today.

Mike, quick question. What did you think of SAP compared to Crossfit Gangnam? They’re both on the way home from work for me but I noticed Crossfit Gangnam may be a bit closer to the subway station than SAP is. I don’t know how cold Seoul winters are but people are telling me it’s a little colder than a NY winter. So, overall in terms of the facilities and overall vibe, did you have a strong preference of one over the other?

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sean October 19, 2012 at 10:53 am

Hi

i am at a gym now but it is too small and limited in equipment. Reading these posts, i feel i want to try SAP. Can i go there for a normal workout or do i HAVE TO sign up for classes?

Im not into crossfit or anything- just regular lifting.

Also, there seems to be some confusion above. Is it still near konkuk uni?

thanks guys :)

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BC October 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm

You do not have to sign up for classes; I never do. It’s still near Konkuk University station. If you just want to try it out, I think a day pass is 10,000 won on weekdays and 15,000 won on Saturdays. Unfortunately, like a lot of gyms in Korea, it’s closed on Sundays.

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Michael K. April 25, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Hello,

I actually came across your page through a Google search for gyms in Seoul. I’m planning a month long trip to Korea this June to visit family. I would like to continue my workout regiments during my month long stay there, but I’ve been told that finding a gym that will let you workout for a month is pretty difficult (if not impossible).

This looks like an awesome gym, but I was wondering do I have to sign up for classes here? Will I be able to workout here for simply a month?

My Korean is not fluent and at a conversational level. Given that, I don’t think I would be able to work out something at some of the other gyms possibly.

If I can’t workout something here, are you aware of any other gyms with some English speaking staff and that would possibly workout a deal for a month?

I would really appreciate your feedback!

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