Singapore gyms, fitness studios stay cautious despite relaxed Covid-19 measures

Indoor, mask-off sports and exercise activities are now allowed to take place in groups of five. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - While Covid-19 measures have been eased for gyms and fitness studios from Monday (July 12), it is business as usual as a number of them have adopted a more cautious approach to the relaxed restrictions.

Indoor, mask-off sports and exercise activities are now allowed to take place in groups of five - up from two previously - and the cap for indoor and outdoor classes has increased from 30 to 50 people.

Over at the 42,000 sq ft TFX Millenia Walk, the aerobics and cycling studios will continue to operate on reduced capacities of 20 and 15 people respectively to ensure the safety of its members, said fitness brand True Group.

Mr Nicholas Kraal, its head of operations and facilities, said that no changes were made as "the rule of 3m between each member still applies for high-intensity and high-movement classes".

Only its yoga studio has seen an increase in capacity from 10 to 15 people, a move that was welcomed by healthcare worker Klion Chung.

Ms Chung, who usually visits the Millenia Walk branch twice a week, said: "Previously, I wasn't able to book a slot because it is always in such hot demand. You really had to book on the dot... Even if you were only one minute late, there won't be any slots left."

Likewise, demand for the Sh'bam dance class remains high, and a queue of around 20 people had formed outside the studio when The Straits Times visited on Monday evening.

Ms Jasmine Lim, who attends the class three to four times a week, is hoping for a further easing of restrictions.

The 56-year-old, who is self-employed, said: "There are so many members who are unable to come for classes because they are always fully booked, so that is really sad. Especially for those of us who love to dance and exercise."

True fitness patrons attending a SH'Bam class at Millenia Walk on July 12, 2021. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The F45 Tanjong Rhu gym in Kallang Wave mall has also opted for status quo for now, and classes are capped at 18 people, owing to space constraints at its 2,500 sq ft outlet.

Co-owner Barbora Hogan said that it continues to "run to 50 per cent capacity" until measures are relaxed further.

Senior television producer Mousumi Dutt, an F45 member who visits the gym five times a week, said: "It is still great to be able to have physical sessions to keep me motivated, especially since I had been stuck at home during the lockdown."

Other fitness outfits like Actualize Crossfit in Jalan Besar said it is focused on instilling a culture of safety among its users and staff.

Despite the relaxed measures, the gym has closed its second-storey space to reduce traffic coming through its doors and has cut class duration from an hour to 45 minutes, to prevent users from intermingling between sessions.

Users must leave the premises within 10 minutes after a class ends, and those attending the next session are allowed to enter the gym only five minutes before class, to discourage loitering.

People using the gym at True Fitness, Millenia Walk, on July 12, 2021. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Actualize co-owner and coach Cassandra Lau, 28, said: "Keeping our classes at a small and manageable scale for the time being gives us time to adjust to meet the Government's standards while keeping us flexible should we see another tightening of measures."

Actor Nicholas Bloodworth, 36, is happy to see the caution taken by the gym. He said: "This gym has been very responsible, going above and beyond the safety requirements. They have done more than anywhere else I've seen."

Like many gymgoers, he is hoping for a return to normality, adding: "It's great to be able to work out with more people. We're all social creatures, and it's much more motivating when working out in a larger group."

As restrictions ease amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the fitness industry is abuzz with collective relief, and optimism.

Ms Jasmine Chong, co-founder of yoga and barre outfit Lab Studios, said: "It feels like we're finally getting to this new normal. It's encouraging to see that we now have a clear directive for the economy, and as more people get vaccinated, hopefully we'll remain open and invite more students back soon.

"The easing of measures is just the first step and we're excited to see what's next."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.