If you happen to be at Tamar Park on a Sunday morning, chances are you’ll see Hongkongers strolling or picnicking on the lawn or photography enthusiasts taking selfies in front of the art installations that pop up there every so often. You may also see a group of women exercising under the supervision of a trainer. That’s The G-Class, founded by former French footballer Walter Vaz, who conducts free fitness classes for foreign domestic helpers every Sunday.

Vaz first came to Hong Kong in 2016 to play for the Southern District FC, and was in the city on and off between then and 2021, which is when he returned and decided to stay. “When I came back, I started working as a personal trainer. While I was training my clients in a park, I could see helpers in the background doing the same exercises as me,” says Vaz, speaking to The HK HUB.

Then one day, he went up to them and asked them if they wanted to join his class. “They said they couldn’t afford me, as they don’t make a lot of money. That really touched me, so I gathered a couple of them for a free group class, and we called it The G-Class to make it more fun,” explains Vaz. He started a WhatsApp group with 6–7 members and told them to share the link with their friends, with only one condition: They must only be domestic helpers.

The group started small, with about 11 people in 2022 who’d meet at 10am every Sunday at Tamar Park. The WhatsApp group now has about 260 members, and the Facebook group recently hit 1,000 members. There’s no limit to the number of people who can join the weekly sessions says Vaz. “It could even be a class of 500. I’m the head coach and I occasionally ask other coach friends of mine to hold classes as charity. So The G-Class can have yoga, Zumba, and different types of fitness,” he says. They even have special events like a relay, which is fondly called The G-Class Olympics.

the g-class fitness events
The G-Class has fitness sessions and events like relays.

The G-Class isn’t only a place for its members to get a free workout — they can also make friends and form a community. Vaz hopes to expand his venture into an NGO. “The idea is to offer fitness to the helpers because they can’t afford it otherwise, which is sad because they really want to work on themselves. Fitness is a great way for them to relieve stress, and to focus on themselves. We want to give them more access, more space, more materials, and offer them things that we have that they don’t,” he says.

The G-Class is currently on a summer break, and will resume on September 29.

See also
Hong Kong Foreign Domestic Helpers Get HK$140 Increase In Monthly Minimum Pay

Image credits: Walter Vaz

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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