It’s no surprise that in a country where even the oldest in society are encouraged to get up and active, here in Singapore the health and fitness industry is huge.
Leading a healthier lifestyle is pretty much something most people want. But actually doing something about it is what 90% of us struggle with right? We know we should – and could – be eating a clean diet, detoxing, juicing, drinking 3 litres of water and cutting out the junk. We have heard all about choosing a paleo diet, going gluten-free or dairy free, eating vegetarian or vegan. You may also have heard about drinking activated charcoal, matcha tea, bone broth and the so last year – coconut water.
You can’t turn a corner in Singers without bumping in to a nutritionist who can help you on your path to food righteousness. Whether it’s learning how to combine foods better, or working out food labels, or even helping you navigate the supermarkets. There is someone who can help you achieve your healthier eating plan (NO ONE calls them diets anymore).
Alongside the nutritionists and dieticians you will also find a truck load of personal trainers and group classes – and I mean a truck load. Whether you want to sweat it out in the blistering heat running up hills at Fort Canning or chill to the sound of waves crashing at Sentosa beach. Singapore has it.
HITT (high intensity interval training) and body weight training are two of the biggest trends with classes popping up all over the place. Then you’ve got good old Zumba still paving the way for dance based fitness. Along with belly dancing, salsa, Kpop, Bokwa to name but a few.
Or what about boot camps? Boot camps seem to be to new mums what parent and toddler groups used to be. The difference being rather than drinking tea and eating biscuits whilst watching your little one play, you now get down and sweaty to get the perfect yummy mummy figure whilst your child drinks juice, eats biscuits and is thoroughly entertained by said yummy mummies sweating their butts off. (By the way, the perfect YM figure does NOT mean being stick thin; rather it’s all about getting strong)
Other classes to look out for include Piloxing, Power Pump, Step, Boxercise, Core, Body Jam, Body Combat, Body Attack, Cycling (in and out of water!), Stability Ball – I could go on. There is literally a class to pound every part of your body and then some. Then there are the slightly less obvious ones like pole dancing, aerial hoop, Sh’bam, Hot Slim, MovNat and even Indoor Surfing. Yes, these are all real classes.
And when you’ve hit your high energy peak or your cardio limit you can turn to the core of it all – literally – and hit the mat with yoga or pilates. Some say this is THE best type of exercise you can do, or at least something you should do as well as everything else.
Yoga is an ancient practice which most of us know about. There are various misconceptions about yoga, not least that it makes you pass wind. Yeah, we’ve all thought it, haven’t we? Lying there in that oh so comfy happy baby pose hoping we don’t let rip. You’ll be pleased to know, if you’ve never tried it, it’s not a given so don’t let it put you off. Just be prepared to hold that position and a straight face.
Oh wait. Yoga you say? It’s not that simple is it? There’s Hot Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Sivananada Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Dynamic Yoga, Flexi Yoga, Power Yoga, Yoga Flow… you get my point? If you think yoga isn’t for you, perhaps you just need to try a different type? Just think how bendy you could be!
Pilates is the newer kid on the block but gaining in popularity as it again works on your core, building a stronger, more flexible you. I’ve only tried it once and it’s tough. But can see the benefits if you keep it up. I’ll add it to my list – along with Aerial hoop!
If you want to start moving a bit more, from my experience here in Singapore, the best thing to do is GO. It sounds easy enough right? Sometimes just the actual going is hard. But it’s the only way.
Find out where there’s a class you like the sound of – and go.
Yes, you might well be the only one who can’t do one full sit up, let alone 20. You may well feel a bit of an idiot grinding your (very creaky) hips like some teenager at a club. You might even be asked if you’ve ever exercised before (after spending the past six months diligently trying your best at Zumba and in the gym). But you will also – at some point – have fun throwing your body around a room to the sound of Ricky, will probably laugh at the fact that rather than a push up you managed a grunt up and feel slightly giggly trying to body roll. You will also feel great afterwards from the rush of exercising.
Don’t be put off that you don’t know anyone. I’ve found going it alone strangely liberating. Rocking up to a class where no-one knows how fit (or unfit) you are and just getting on with it means you have no one to please, or let down, but yourself. No giggles of embarrassment when you properly try the body ripple.
The fact that here in Singapore you’ve got a whole bunch of women (and men if you choose) from all around the world makes for a different dynamic I find. Being British means I am, of course, cursed with the ‘please don’t get too excited or enjoy yourself too much’ gene. Those of you from the US have no such inhibitions (ok, I’m generalising, but you know what I mean!) You guys throw yourself in to every class with whoops and shouts of encouragement that, once you get your head around the randomness of it, is actually quite encouraging and makes it all the more fun. When an American friend first said “great job Jo, you’re doing amazing” I thought she was being sarcastic. But she wasn’t, she was genuinely happy for me and expressed it. Wow! So not British.
So, whatever country you’re from you’ll find a class, trainer, group you fit with. It may even be the one you think you’ll hate. I now love the class that I very nearly left mortified at the ‘have you ever exercised?’ comment. But the trainer wasn’t being mean, she just needed to know so she could watch out for me. After all, I was slightly less athletic than the rest of the group (still am!). She actually sent me an email the next day to congratulate me on finishing ‘what was a really tough class’. I literally glowed all day from that one little email. So, don’t give up.
A friend in the UK put it brilliantly recently when I asked her what new stuff was happening back home. “I’m doing that class when just at the point where you think you might puke, it’s over” Can’t wait to try it when I’m back. I’ll even surprise them all with a few whoops and cheers as we work out.
So, tell me, what is your favourite way to keep fit? We could make a great list to share around.
I’ll start – Ben’s Zumba class and Pippa’s fat burning class at Singapore Polo Club, the amazing Melanie Richards who gave myself and my friend 3 months of fabulous yoga before heading back to Oz. I’m still looking for a great replacement if anyone knows of someone? Then there’s Aaron and his gang at ifcPT. For great, honest nutritional advice try Karin at Nutritious n Delicious. Finally, I love the vibe at Body Temple and am currently ‘enjoying’ the boxing class there.
Oh, one more thing. There’s a great Facebook page dedicated to fitness called Singapore Slim. Don’t be put off by its name – it’s full of motivation for women to get fit and strong (rather than slim) and has some great tips and suggestions.
I’d also like to hear your best tracks to work out too. This one just reminds of a the fabulous Delphine and her squats. Ouch!
Over to you…