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Fun with fitness
Barre it all
IF you enjoyed the sheer gracefulness of the ballerinas in Black Swan but aren't prepared to commit to the intensity of their training, Singapore's first boutique barre studio WeBarre is for you.
Barre workouts, which have been steadily gaining in popularity globally, go back as far as 10 years in countries such as the UK, Australia and the US, where WeBarre co-founder Anabel Chew first got hooked.
"I was in New York for six weeks, and being a fitness nut, tried out a variety of different exercise programmes. Barre was recommended to me by a friend, and my first class really felt like coming home," she says.
Using a combination of ballet and pilates techniques, WeBarre classes promise a high-intensity, low-impact workout that relies less on choreography and more on toning up the body.
Ms Chew says: "Barre is founded in ballet, which has been around for hundreds of years. Here in Singapore, women especially are taken with the idea of having lean physiques, and that's exactly what a barre workout will give you."
The 1,600 square foot studio set in a conservation shophouse had its official launch in February this year, and has already amassed more than 320 active members.
Ms Chew, 29, says: "Starting a niche programme is a huge challenge because though you love it, you don't know if anyone else will. It took a few months of focus group research and trial classes before my business partner and I felt it was a good idea."
WeBarre offers three types of classes, all designed by Melbourne-based Master Trainer Rachael Fraser, and plans to introduce a few more by the end of this year. A monthly membership costs S$288.
Ms Chew, who is also a classically- trained flautist, says: "We're all about making the workout a lifestyle and building a community of like-minded people who want a welcoming and supportive environment, so our members' opinions really matter to us."
And if the studio keeps growing at its current pace, she hasn't ruled out the possibility of opening in a second location. "I think we'll have to, really!" she laughs.
WeBarre is at 86B Tanjong Pagar Road. For more information, visit www.webarre.com
Bouncing off the walls
DID you know that 10 minutes of jumping on a trampoline is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging?
Bounce Singapore, which touts itself as an indoor adrenaline arena, has an entire zone dedicated to trampolines of different shapes, sizes and types. But that's not all it has.
Founder Simon Ogilvie says: "We also have the X-park, which is an indoor adventure obstacle course that combines elements of parkour, free-running, climbing and a zip line. We also have the Leap of Faith, where a person jumps off a five-metre-high platform and tries to catch hold of a grab bag suspended in the air in front of them."
Bounce Singapore, which will open on June 3, occupies 24,300 square feet of space on the top floor of Cineleisure Orchard.
After a laborious search that took some 18 months, Mr Ogilvie knew it was the place for him. "Space is a limited resource in Singapore, and the zoning laws can be quite strict, which means we couldn't just take an old warehouse and repurpose it. This venue is in the Orchard youth precinct and it fits our requirements, so it was a very pleasing result."
The concept of Bounce originated in Melbourne in 2012, and has since expanded to more than seven markets including Hong Kong, Thailand and Dubai.
"People everywhere, but especially in Singapore, are drawn to more experiential consumption, so it was the perfect place to bring in something that taps into the drivers of health and fitness, but in a different way," the Melbourne native says.
Although jumping up and down on the various trampolines and navigating the timed obstacle course will set even the toughest of hearts beating faster, Bounce Singapore is planning to introduce BounceFit, classes specially aimed at the fitness buff, in September.
Mr Ogilvie, 44, says: "These classes will be conducted on individual trampolines with 12 to 15 people per class, and they'll put you through a high-intensity but low-impact workout that will target each and every muscle in your body."
An hour at Bounce Singapore costs S$19. For more information, visit www.bounceinc.com.sg
Yoga classes that pop up around the island
MANY people think that yoga is just about stretching the body, but what they might not realise is that it stretches the mind, too.
The founder of Pop Up Yoga, Kathy Gabriel, says: "In Singapore, yoga is represented as a physical exercise, and coming from Sri Lanka, where it's more of a spiritual discipline, I didn't really understand that."
The 24-year-old started offering free "community yoga classes" when she was studying in Paris. She recalls: "People used to think it was so strange because free yoga classes are unheard of in France. During the summer, I would hold them in parks, but when it got colder, I'd rearrange all the furniture in my home and invite complete strangers back for classes."
When she returned to Singapore a couple of years ago, she decided to continue her free classes at the Botanic Gardens while working full-time in IT. "But after a year of growing the community, I decided to open it up to other teachers to get involved, and to make it sustainable for them, started charging a nominal fee of S$5," says Ms Gabriel.
Instead of having a dedicated studio for her classes, she decided to launch Pop Up Yoga about a month ago, with weekly classes at different locations such as Marina Barrage and Fort Canning Park.
Ms Gabriel explains: "Because Singapore is so small, we need to find ways of making it interesting. Doing the same activity in different spaces gives you different perspectives, and it also makes it more accessible to a wider range of people."
The first such event started with a group of 15 people, but that's already grown to about 50 per class, which, she says, is the maximum capacity. "I've had to get microphones for my teachers already!" she laughs.
She plans to introduce a socially responsible initiative where participants give an additional "donation" not exceeding S$10 towards a local charity of their choice. Ms Gabriel says: "People give without having a personal connection with the donation; they don't always know where the money is going."
To support her belief in transparency, participants have to make their payment in advance to community marketplace Funzing instead of paying cash to their instructors, "so there's a proper system and it's clear where their money is going".
By the end of this year, she hopes to build an online platform using her IT background to connect yoga instructors with students but with an underlying social cause.
She says: "It's not a new idea, but I'm trying to bring the fun back into the idea of giving back."
The next Pop Up Yoga event is on May 28 at Hong Lim Park. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/urbanyogissg
Packing a punch
FOR Nazar Musa, taking up boxing was a matter of life and death. The founder of Spartans Boxing Club on Joo Chiat Road was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes while living in Dubai and was told in no uncertain terms that he had to do something about his weight.
After checking out various gyms and exercises classes, he was encouraged to try boxing. He recalls: "The difference between boxing and every other form of exercise is that boxing requires 100 per cent of your concentration. If you lose focus, you're going to get hit."
Four months into his new fitness regime and Mr Musa had lost about 30 kilograms. So when he moved back to Singapore four years ago, he continued with boxing, but felt his options were very limited.
"There are two types of gyms - fighting gyms with sweaty smells and blood everywhere; and Box fit, which you find in boot camps and with personal trainers. What I wanted was a community boxing gym that focuses on the fitness aspect of boxing, but supports the one per cent of people who actually want to get in the ring," says the 45-year-old.
Owing to the dearth of boxing clubs in Singapore's east, Mr Musa opened his six months ago on Joo Chiat Road. It has already amassed 160 members, most of whom subscribe to a three-monthly plan at S$300 per month.
At Spartans Boxing Club, around 45 per cent of the members are female. The youngest member is four years old and the oldest is 70.
"Boxing is really for everyone. The workout targets every part of your body, and because you have to focus, your mind gets sharpened as well. You don't have to throw a punch at someone or get your nose broken to be a boxer; it's just a fantastic form of exercise," he says.
Because of its location, Mr Musa also holds a beach boxing class every Saturday, which usually has about 10 members.
He explains: "I found myself doing a warm-up run to East Coast Parkway, and that's about a kilometre away. I realised if we held a class on the beach and ran there and back, it would be almost the perfect workout. It's also a good change of scenery."
Spartans Boxing Club is at 393 Joo Chiat Road. For more information, visit spartansboxing.com