5 offbeat fitness workouts to try

Wall rope yoga allows participants to do a headstand easily with the help of ropes attached to a wall.
Wall rope yoga allows participants to do a headstand easily with the help of ropes attached to a wall.PHOTO: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The Straits Times gives some novel workouts a try, from drumming, jumping to singing in class

A slew of new-fangled workouts has sprung up to whet the appetite of people looking for something fun and fresh.

These include Boogie Bounce Xtreme, Kararobics, Kin-Ball, Pound and wall rope yoga, which will see you bounce, dance, sing or even drum as you get your heart pumping.

Pound, a full-body workout using weighted drumsticks, has taken the fitness world by storm since it was introduced in the United States in 2011. So far, only one studio here has been offering classes since May.

Then there is Boogie Bounce Xtreme, an aerobic workout on mini trampolines that made its way here last October. There are currently 28 classes held at ActiveSG centres and community clubs.

Enthusiastic warblers can shed a few pounds while showing off their vocal chops in Kararobics, which was created in Singapore.

Some of these workouts have been around for decades but are gaining traction in Singapore only now.

Take wall rope yoga for instance, which is practised with the aid of ropes hung from a wall and was created by Indian yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar in the early 20th century.

Yoga chain Pure Yoga introduced classes here in May last year.

If you prefer team sports, there is Kin-Ball. Invented in Quebec, Canada, in the late 1980s, it is played with a large, 1kg ball. The sport made its debut here in 2014 and the Kin-Ball Association of Singapore was set up in August the same year.

The group actively reaches out to schools and communities to promote the ball game in which three teams of four compete.

While these activities put a fun spin on exercise, experts say they might not offer a complete workout.

Mr Justin Tan, 28, personal training manager of local fitness company Gymm Boxx, notes that many of these workouts are heavy on cardio exercises, which raise the heart rate, but lack weight training, a key part of getting fit.

"If you want to build muscle and change your body composition, a weight training regimen and healthy diet need to be included," he adds.

Fitness enthusiasts are lapping up the novel exercises, though.

Ms Kelly Chan, 45, recently attended a Pound class and enjoyed it."I felt like a rock star holding on to the drumsticks," says the inventory manager, who plans to attend more sessions.

Besides hitting the gym regularly, Ms Chan also does piloxing (a combination of pilates, boxing and dance) and dance-fitness exercises zumba and bokwa.

She says: "It can get boring doing the same workout after a while. That's why I like trying different workouts so things don't get stale."


Hanging around

Workout: Wall rope yoga

What: In a wall rope yoga class, even a beginner can do a headstand - hanging from ropes attached to a wall.

Wall rope yoga, a style that involves the use of ropes, was pioneered by the late Indian yoga master B.K.S Iyengar in the early 20th century. But it gained popularity here only recently.

Only about three yoga studios here teach wall rope yoga because of the equipment and larger space needed for it.

The biggest studio to hold wall rope yoga classes is Pure Yoga in Ngee Ann City, which introduced the yoga form in May last year. The chain also plans to offer the classes at its new studio at Asia Square later this month.

Wall rope yoga is also taught at boutique yoga studios Masters' Yoga Sadhan in Tanjong Pagar and Samasthah in Amoy Street.

In a studio at Pure Yoga's Ngee Ann City outlet, ropes, which look like car seat belts, are hooked onto metal plates that are fixed to the walls.

A pelvic swing, blanket and chair make up the other equipment that may be used during a class.

Mr Bhanu Pratap Singh, 29, a yoga instructor at Pure Yoga, notes that such props help students who are not able to execute certain poses on a mat.

He says: "Using the ropes gives students the mental courage and physical support to do the poses."

Besides inversions, students can also deepen their stretches in more common poses such as downward dog and a back bend with the props.

This is because the ropes allow them to "take note of the fine movements in the muscles and tissues", adds Mr Singh.

At Pure Yoga, each class is 75 minutes long and is open to beginners, although it is preferable that participants have some yoga experience.

Yay or nay: It has been three years since my last hot yoga class, so I was apprehensive at the start of the class. But Mr Singh eased me into the small class of seven, giving clear step-by-step instructions on how to execute each pose.

The ropes enabled me to engage specific muscles more effectively.

I felt my back open and joints lengthen, as the ropes allowed me to go deeper in a pose than I normally would.

It might just be my imagination, but I even felt taller after doing a downward dog pose in which a pelvic swing was used to pull against my thighs.

The fear returned when we were instructed to do a shirshasana, or headstand, using the ropes and pelvic swing.

I have never been able to do a headstand, but there I was, hanging upside down while holding on to the ropes for dear life.

It was frightening and thrilling at the same time, and I would not mind having another go at wall rope yoga.

Where: Pure Yoga, 391A Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City, Tower A, Level 18 When: Monday at 4.30pm, Thursday at 1.30pm and Friday at 3pm Cost: Membership at Pure Yoga starts from $164 a month for a 12-month contract Info: sg.pure-yoga.com


Get a jumpstart


Get high jumping at Boogie Bounce Xtreme classes. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Workout: Boogie Bounce Xtreme

What: Get a full body workout bouncing on a mini trampoline to the beat of the latest hits.

Unlike what most people do at trampoline parks, the aim here is not to bounce as high as you can, but to jump with controlled movements.

These moves include bouncing from side to side, front to back and eventually progressing to doing frog leaps (lifting one's knees high up) or air splits.

Ms Felicia Kaw, 35, who brought the workout from Britain to Singapore last October, says the trampolines absorb the impact from landing so the workout is easy on the joints.

She adds that the core muscles are activated too as you are working out on an "unstable surface".

Ms Kaw trained for 11 months here after being taught by the founder of Boogie Bounce Xtreme early last year.

Everyone is assigned a trampoline with a safety T-bar attached to the front.

Jumping is only part of the workout. Pilates and balancing exercises are also done at the end of each session.

Each class lasts up to 55 minutes and is open to anyone aged 13 and above. There are separate classes for kids aged seven to 12.

Yay or nay: I get to unleash my inner child and burn some calories at the same time - what is there not to love?

I attended a class surrounded by women mostly in their 20s to 50s. There was a sprightly 67-year-old retiree too. Though we were sweating buckets 10 minutes into the session, the smiles never left our faces.

I am convinced this is the magic of the trampoline. Just bouncing on it takes the toil out of an intensive workout.

I went from a cautious grown-up clinging on to the T-bar in the first five minutes to a wild child willing myself to leap for the sky, or ceiling in this case.

My only complaint? I wish the session was longer.

Where: Various locations, including ActiveSG centres, Bukit Batok Civil Service Club, Ci Yuan Community Club and Raffles Town Club When: Various times Cost: From $18 to $23 a class. A bundle of eight sessions costs $144 under ActiveSG. ActiveSG members can use their free $100 ActiveSG credit to offset 30 per cent of the fees. Info: www.facebook.com/boogiebouncesingapore


Have a ball of a time


Playing a game of Kin-Ball takes a lot of teamwork. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Workout: Kin-Ball

What: You can spot a game of Kin-Ball a mile away from the gigantic nylon ball which measures 1.2m in diameter and weighs 1kg.

To play this game, three teams, each with its own colour and comprising four people, play on a court that measures 20m by 20m. The aim is to be the first team to either score the most number of points within a time limit or to hit 13 points.

The golden rule: Do not let the ball land on the ground.

During every round, all members from a team must be in contact with the ball, and one person will shout "Omnikin" and another team's colour, then hit the ball.

The team whose colour is called has to catch the ball before it touches the ground. If the team fails to do so, the other two teams get a point each and the losing team takes the ball and serves it to one of the two teams.

If the team catches the ball, no points are awarded.

Mr Yong Tze Woon, president of the Kin-Ball Association of Singapore, has been promoting the game to schools and communities since 2014.

But he admits the group has reached out to only a "very small percentage" of Singaporeans.

The 39-year-old physical education teacher says: "It might take us another 10 years to educate people on Kin-Ball, but we are committed as we hope for it to be a mainstream sport one day."

The strong emphasis on teamwork is Kin-Ball's biggest selling point, he notes. "Every person has a part to play and you feel a sense of responsibility to the team," he says.

Plus, it can be played by anyone regardless of age and fitness level.

Yay or nay: I found Kin-Ball silly when I first watched a video on it.

But after playing one game, I realised it was not as easy as it looks.

I was training with a team of 20 people, ranging from teenagers to those in their 50s. Most of them were seasoned players and working to compete in regional tournaments.

Before I could even touch the ridiculously large ball, I had to run a few rounds around the court and do lunges as a warm-up. It reminded me of painful PE lessons during my school days.

I then learnt how to properly kick, catch and whack the ball - which was easier said than done.

Finally, it was time to play. The game moved quickly and I was always two steps behind as my teammates patiently waited for me to catch up.

They were on a whole other level, using sneaky strategies to fool the other teams into believing that a particular player was going to hit the ball when another would do so suddenly.

I was impressed by their level of dedication and skill. Kin-Ball is definitely a sport no less demanding than, say, basketball or football.

Where: Ministry of Education 21, Evans Road, indoor hall or outdoor court 2 When: Every Saturday, 9am to noon Cost: Free Info: www.kinball.sg


Sing, move, get fit


Kararobics gets you singing to the lyrics flashed on the screen while you move your way to a good workout. ST PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Workout: Kararobics

What: The concept is simple - at Kararobics classes, a new workout created in Singapore, you sing while doing moves from body waves to twists to sumo squats.

The brains behind the workout, dance instructor Deniece Foo and choir conductor John Khoo, have even trademarked the word.

They are the founders of John & Deniece Glee Studios and the Singapore Show Choir Academy, which offer classes in singing and dancing.

Says Ms Foo, 29: "For people who like to sing and dance but might not want an intensive cardio workout, kararobics is the perfect exercise."

With their background in singing and dancing, they choreographed hip-hop moves that incorporate aerobic exercise elements and set them to songs of different genres such as pop and retro. Each class features 15 to 20 songs and their lyrics are shown on a projector screen. Classes began in March and songs change every month.

Singing while exercising doubles the benefits, says Ms Foo.

"It's also a form of stress relief."

Each class is an hour long and is open to those aged seven and older. Yay or nay: If you, like me, do not fancy karaoke and have two left feet, kararobics is probably not your cup of tea.

Throughout the class, I found myself muttering the lyrics as I struggled to keep up with the instructor as she switched quickly from move to move.

How does Beyonce sing and dance at the same time?

I was not the only one struggling either. In a class of about 10 people, the loudest singer was the instructor. I could hear some faint warbling, but most of us were either too breathless to sing or too busy concentrating on the aerobic moves.

When I asked the instructor about this, she said the class was "an exception" as most of us were first-timers.

Working out to contemporary pop hits such as Taylor Swift's Shake It Off and Ariana Grande's Problem did help to pump up the mood, though, and I pushed myself harder to keep in sync with the beats.

At least now I know what Iggy Azalea was rapping about in Problem.

Where: *Scape, MADDspace, 2 Orchard Link, 05-01 When: Every Friday, 7 to 8pm Cost: $15 for walk-ins or $120 for 10 sessions. A trial class costs $10 Info: maddspace.com.sg


Drum like a rock star


In the Pound workout, participants hold weighted drumsticks while working out. PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Workout: Pound What: Who knew drumming could also be a full-fledged workout?

In a Pound class, each participant holds a pair of Ripstix - lightly weighted drumsticks designed for exercising.

The high-octane session combines cardio and pilates with constant simulated drumming action. Think lots of squats, jumps, lunges and crunches as your arms are kept busy with the drumsticks.

Moves are synchronised to fast tempo music, which adds to the rock concert-like vibe.

Pound was created in 2011 by two female American drummers who are also fitness enthusiasts. It was only in the past year, however, that the workout caught on.

Ms Grace Sagaya, 40, currently the only certified Pound instructor in Singapore, emphasises that the workout is not your average dance fitness class. She went to Australia in April to train under a master trainer.

"Pound is more than cardio. It strengthens and tones your muscles as a lot of pilates-based movements are used."

Ms Sagaya runs Rhythm In Me, a music and movement studio for children, but she also offers zumba classes for adults.

She launched Pound for adults in May after noticing that her regular zumba students were getting "too good".

She says: "I wanted to offer them a different workout."

Each class lasts 45 minutes and is suitable for everyone. Yay or nay: Initially, Pound reminded me of dandiya, a traditional Gujarati performance in which people dance with two sticks in their hands.

I am guessing that the Gujaratis have been reaping the physical benefits way before Pound was created.

This workout might look like a cool, new thing to try, but it is gruelling. The drumming action forces you to use your whole body. If you cannot tap the floor with the drumstick during a squat, it means you are not doing the squat right.

Somehow, holding on to the drumsticks distracts me from the searing pain in my arms and thighs.

The head-banging music helps too. There were times during the workout when I almost believed I was a rock star.

A day after the class, my arms, thighs and butt were sore. But that, to me, is a sign of a successful workout.

Where: Depot Heights Shopping Centre, 108 Depot Road, 02-01 When: Tuesday at 7.30pm; Wednesday at 6.30pm and Saturday at 11am Cost: $20 a class for walk-ins or $140 for eight classes Info: www.gracesagaya.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2016, with the headline 'Fun and fit'. Print Edition | Subscribe