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Upping the fitness game
UNFIT Singapore residents are fast running out of excuses not to exercise as fitness centres up their game with new services to cater to almost every need. From aerial yoga to muay thai, Cross-fit to gyrotonics, fitness providers see a growing demand for niche services beyond the basic weights and elliptical trainers set-up.
Based on a 2011 National Sports Survey, 42 per cent of Singaporeans engage in exercise at least once a week, which adds up to a growing demand for gym memberships and bespoke services.
Those who want personalised attention and an integrated health programme in a six-star environment can now tap their membership cards at Gravity, Fitness First's first upmarket fitness-focused private club concept. Seniors who are 55 years old and above can now also find centres with equipment catering specially to their capabilities.
As Simon Flint, CEO of Fitness First Asia, points out, Singapore is a regional hub for innovation. "The market expects it, and is used to it," he says, explaining why the fitness company chose Singapore to launch Gravity, where members are charged a one-time fee of S$3,000 and pay S$600 a month.
"We wanted our first venture here because Singapore has a concentration of senior executives. We've got a good footprint here, and the market was asking for it," he adds, noting also that given the proliferation of other fitness choices in Singapore - some of which are very specialised - people are constantly looking for innovation.
After fine-tuning the concept in Singapore, the company will target a similar demographic in other cities such as Hong Kong and London.
Gravity hopes to provide a variety of niche experiences all under one roof but its key differentiating points are how the two-storey space on the 38th and 39th floors of CapitaGreen Building integrate private club facilities like a meeting room with video-conferencing capability with the gym, and also integrate physical fitness with holistic wellness solutions.
"We need to stay relevant and current," says Mr Flint about Gravity's standards and quality of experience.
Staying relevant is also what gyms like Innervate and Active Hive are doing. While Innervate is broadening their client base by designing Cross-fit activities for children and seniors, boutique outfits like Active Hive are targeting a very specific market with just one machine, but providing a holistic way to health.
"We've a big emphasis on family, which is why we have a kids programme and the Silver programme," says Innervate co-founder Moses James. Participants go through a range of activities and work out in groups, once they go through the basic course. "Cross-fit is about functional movement, which is why it's very good for both age groups," he adds.
Active Hive meanwhile is banking on technology to speed up weight loss and help clients take their first step towards higher impact activity once they reduce their weight. "What our machine does is to burn 500 calories in half an hour, instead of spending hours at the gym for the same result," says co-founder Agnes Tay. Minus Calories is a 30-minute programme where participants exercise on an elliptical which is kitted out with infrared light and ionised air, to enhance the workout for the individual. "Besides the programme for members, Active Hive also offers super food and juices at its centre because the whole idea is healthy living and losing weight healthily," says Ms Tay.
The best fitness proposition that Singapore is seeing this year though are the active centres for seniors above 55 years old. One of them is the S$2.2 million Gym Tonic project launched by the Lien Foundation involving 13 centres with more than 2,000 senior citizens. Pacific Healthcare has also launched five senior activity centres - some with gyms - and another seven more this year.
The Gym Tonic project uses HUR strength training equipment from Finland - pneumatic gym machines that provide customised health training - and are also equipped with smart IT systems that capture data. Gym Tonic is led by local aged-care IT & technology company, Pulsesync, and backed by research by Finnish university Kokkola and interRAI, an international healthcare assessment system.
"With the data we've captured in our pilot programme last year, we can do a bit of benchmarking," explains Ken Tan, founder and managing director of Pulsesync. "Then we have an idea of the potential of the elderly and what kind of intervention we need for them to reach it."
Gym Tonic's approach is to use exercise as "medicine" - which is a sound philosophy as prevention is definitely better than cure.
Exercise and fitness continue to be a healthy proposition, with rosy economic prospects as well. "In Singapore, the gym membership penetration is at 6 per cent compared to the 16 per cent in Europe - so there's still room to grow," concludes Gravity's Mr Flint.