Pledge pull-ups for food donations to the needy

Rabobank will hold this charity challenge at South Beach Tower on Saturday

Rabobank will donate 1kg of food to needy families in the Boon Lay area for every pull-up, chin-up and inclined pull-up done.
Rabobank will donate 1kg of food to needy families in the Boon Lay area for every pull-up, chin-up and inclined pull-up done. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN
Rabobank will donate 1kg of food to needy families in the Boon Lay area for every pull-up, chin-up and inclined pull-up done.
Timothy Goh

From lunchtime yoga sessions to mass runs in the park, many companies in Singapore are taking steps to bring healthy living into the corporate environment.

One company is going one step further to benefit not only staff through exercise, but also the needy.

To mark its 30th anniverary here, Rabobank is holding a charity challenge on Saturday, where staff and the public can gather food donations through an unusual method - by doing pull-ups.

Chin-ups and inclined pull-ups are also included in the challenge.

For every pull-up, chin-up and inclined pull-up done, the bank will raise 1kg of food to needy families in the Boon Lay area.

Mr Marcel van Doremaele, chief executive officer of Rabobank Singapore, said the company chose pull-ups to get donations as they are a form of exercise that is not commonly seen in charity events.

Leading by example, he has pledged to do 100 pull-ups, with breaks in between, in the challenge.


The idea that every pull-up you do brings 1 kg of food to someone in need makes the effort all the more meaningful.

MR WONG TAUR-JIUN, the company's head of legal and chairman of the organising committee for the challenge.

When he started out in April this year, Mr van Doremaele could do only three pull -ups in a row.

Since then, he has been training hard, taking pointers from staff members on how to improve his form and increase the number of pull-ups he can do. He can now do 10 pull-ups in a row.

Doing pull-ups, chin-ups and inclined pull-ups activates and strengthens multiple muscle groups in the body.

The Rabobank challenge is part of the larger theme of health and fitness, which the bank has adopted for all staff recreational activities.

"Creating this kind of working environment helps our employees feel more energetic and happy, which in turn positively impacts the bank as a whole," said Mr van Doremaele.

The company has a number of ongoing healthy living initiatives, including free health screenings, serving fruit at staff gatherings, introducing staff to new sports like dragon boat racing, freeletics and Thai kick boxing, and holding weekly runs.

In the build-up to the event, thrice-weekly lunchtime training sessions have been organised for staff.

Interested staff have also been offered free portable pull-up bars and free one-month gym memberships.

Mr Wong Taur-Jiun, 50, head of legal and chairman of the organising committee for the challenge, has been leading his colleagues during lunchtime training sessions.

Pull-up bars have been installed in the pantry of Rabobank's Singapore office, where about 10 to 20 staff gather thrice a week to train.

Inspired by their Singaporean counterparts, the challenge was also adopted throughout the company.

TV screens in the pantry show videos of Rabobank staff in the bank's Frankfurt office also doing pull-ups, chin-ups and inclined pull-ups.

Most people are daunted by doing pull-ups, said Mr Wong.

30,000kg of food for families

Push-ups or sit-ups are fine, but pull-ups tend to be more difficult for many.

"It's heartwarming to see a colleague give it a try and realise it could be done after all. You are stronger than you think," he added.

Director of trade and commodity finance at the bank, Mr Artem Azovtsev, 34, agreed.

He said: "I didn't know I was able to do more than 150 pull-ups in an hour. The challenge has spurred me to train for it and to push my limit."

He started training in January this year. At the time, he could do only a few pull-ups. However, thanks to his personal trainer, he was able to increase that number.

He has pledged to do 100 pull-ups on the day of the challenge, but said he will do more, given that his training has progressed.

Women are also taking part.

Ms Lim Tai Djoe, who is in her 40s and works in communications at the bank, said the challenge has spurred her to join a gym - after years of no exercise.

Having trained for three months at the gym with a trainer, Ms Lim can now do five pull-ups at one go. She aims to do 20 on the day itself.

In all, about 230 staff from the bank account for 11,000 of the 34,870 pull-ups, chin-ups and inclined pull-ups that have been pledged as of last Friday.

The rest of the pledges are from members of the public. The company is hoping for 40,000 pledges to make allowance for attrition on the day itself.

The bank aims to donate 30,000kg of food to 1,500 families living in one-room rental flats in Boon Lay, who are under the care of Boon Lay grassroots organisations.

Each family will receive a 20kg food pack, which will include a mix of food items, including rice, milk, oats, noodles, flour, pineapple juice, biscuits, canned sardines, baked beans and other canned food products.

There will be 20 pull-up stations at the event, which will also feature activities including a mass aerobic fitness session by True Fitness instructors, balloon sculpting, mini-golf as well as a bouncy castle.

The Rabobank 30K Challenge will be held on Saturday from 9am to 2pm at the ground level of South Beach Tower, where its office is located.

Those interested in taking part can pledge pull-ups. Go to http://

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'Pledge pull-ups for food donations to the needy'. Print Edition | Subscribe