Causes

Social enterprise empowers youth with exercise

PushPullGive, founded in February, runs paid fitness sessions for the public, like a calisthenics session at Tiong Bahru Park (above), and for corporates, like bootcamp sessions (top), then pumps the proceeds into free sessions for marginalised young
Two of PushPullGive's co-founders, Mr Herzy Hosini (left) and Mr Mohamed Razif Mohamed Yusoff, at their gym in Tiong Bahru. The social enterprise is looking for a larger space to hold fitness sessions for the public.PHOTOS: PUSHPULLGIVE, ARIFFIN JAMAR ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
PushPullGive, founded in February, runs paid fitness sessions for the public, like a calisthenics session at Tiong Bahru Park (above), and for corporates, like bootcamp sessions (top), then pumps the proceeds into free sessions for marginalised young
PushPullGive, founded in February, runs paid fitness sessions for the public, like a calisthenics session at Tiong Bahru Park (above), and for corporates, like bootcamp sessions, then pumps the proceeds into free sessions for marginalised young people. PHOTOS: PUSHPULLGIVE, ARIFFIN JAMAR ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
PushPullGive, founded in February, runs paid fitness sessions for the public, like a calisthenics session at Tiong Bahru Park (above), and for corporates, like bootcamp sessions (top), then pumps the proceeds into free sessions for marginalised young
PushPullGive, founded in February, runs paid fitness sessions for the public, like a calisthenics session at Tiong Bahru Park, and for corporates, like bootcamp sessions (above), then pumps the proceeds into free sessions for marginalised young people.PHOTOS: PUSHPULLGIVE, ARIFFIN JAMAR ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

In fast-paced Singapore, there are those in need - and those who go out of their way to meet those needs. This is the latest in a series on noteworthy causes that The Straits Times is spotlighting.

Exercising can seem like a chore. But it can also be a powerful force for social good, according to the founders of a new social enterprise here.

PushPullGive, founded in February, runs paid fitness sessions for the public and pumps the proceeds into free sessions for marginalised young people - such as at-risk youth and teenage mums.

"We are trying to nurture future generations," said co-founder Herzy Hosini. "We want to provide a safe and inclusive space where they can be themselves."

The sessions, usually held outdoors in places such as Tiong Bahru Park and MacRitchie Reservoir, include pilates, yoga, strength and mobility exercises, bootcamps, and calisthenics, a type of body-weight training that requires little to no equipment.

The social enterprise is the brainchild of three friends: gym logistics officer Herzy, 32; freelance personal trainer Mohamed Razif Mohamed Yusoff, 30; and travel professional Konrad Haedicke, 33.

Keen to use fitness to help others in the community, the trio embarked on a one-off fundraising project for Cambodian non-profit organisation Tiny Toones last year.

They raised about US$5,000 (S$6,760) for the organisation which provides shelter and education for Phnom Penh's street kids.

Spurred on to do more for the wider community, the trio went on to found PushPullGive.

FUELLED BY YOUTH

I think what drives us is how eager the youth are - their thirst to learn more and improve themselves.

GYM LOGISTICS OFFICER HERZY HOSINI

One challenge they faced, Mr Herzy said, was finding their niche in a fitness industry that is already "very saturated".

This is where the group's social mission comes in, he said.

The social enterprise started offering pro bono fitness sessions for marginalised youth in March.

Some of the groups it has supported so far are Empowering Youth in Cambodia, One Singapore, Muhammadiyah Welfare Home, Babes, and HCSA Dayspring.

All the money it receives from corporates and individuals who pay for the sessions is used to fund pro bono classes, sustain the social enterprise, and run awareness campaigns to spotlight their beneficiaries' causes. It also runs fundraising projects - such as a recent public bootcamp to raise money for teen pregnancy crisis service Babes - whose proceeds go solely to the group they are helping.

CONFIDENCE BOOST

I had low self-esteem. That's why I decided to improve my fitness and build myself up into shape.

FREELANCE PERSONAL TRAINER MOHAMED RAZIF MOHAMED YUSOFF

The founders have experienced first-hand the life-changing magic of fitness.

"Fitness gives you that foundation for you to start being confident in yourself," said Mr Herzy, who works as a logistics officer at Dennis Gym.

"I was very introverted in school," he added. "The idea (of becoming more fit) was to prove that I could achieve that sense of confidence, that it was okay to be different, to be myself."

Mr Razif added: "I had low self-esteem. That's why I decided to improve my fitness and build myself up into shape."

PushPullGive has a 905 sq ft gym in Tiong Bahru which it uses for private workout sessions with clients. It is also looking for a larger space to hold fitness sessions for the public.

From next month onwards, they will hire marginalised young adults and ex-offenders as fitness instructors. It is partnering with fitness training centre Fit Singapore to train these new hires.

Mr Tee Chuan Sia, 30, was one of some 10 people who attended a calisthenics class at a fitness corner in Tiong Bahru Park on Sunday.

"It's cool to be able to do all the fancy moves on the bar," said Mr Tee, who works as a regulatory publisher and paid about $200 for a package of 10 fitness sessions.

Said Mr Herzy: "What drives us is how eager the youth are - their thirst to learn more and improve themselves."

Since July, PushPullGive has raised about $600 for Babes. It has also held free fitness classes for Babes' staff and the teens they support.

The co-founders have also tapped their personal networks to link the women to potential employers.

Babes' executive director Christina Vejan, 38, said: "They have been very proactive and helpful. They've helped spread the word about what we do within their own network. It's very heartening to see that young people like them are doing their part for charity as well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2017, with the headline 'Social enterprise empowers youth with exercise'. Print Edition | Subscribe