Gyms, fitness studios in S'pore come to life again as businesses adopt extra Covid-19 measures

People exercising at TFX Millenia Walk, on June 21, 2021. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
People exercising at TFX Millenia Walk, on June 21, 2021. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Gyms and studios were again bustling with fitness enthusiasts on Monday (June 21) as these businesses welcomed clients for the first time since stricter Covid-19 measures led to the suspension of indoor, mask-off activities on May 8.

At TFX Millenia Walk, almost 300 members had checked into its 41,700 sq ft branch by 1pm, with about 30 people working out there when The Straits Times visited.

Some equipment was sealed off to ensure safe distancing but that did not deter auditor Jonathan Ting, who visited the Millenia Walk branch four to five times weekly before gyms were closed.

He had tried jogging and bodyweight workouts to maintain his fitness, but found it hard to stay motivated.

Ting, 26, said: "Of course you can work out at home, but the environment is different so it somehow affects your mood to work out. I need the right environment and the right place to work out."

True Group area business manager Andrew Lan, 44, also noted that its personal trainers were fully booked. He said: "The biggest thing we've missed is the energy. When you're in here, you feel good because you're next to like-minded people who come in to train and exercise."

To prepare for the reopening, True Group did several rounds of deep cleaning for its outlets and staff training to ensure everyone was familiar with the necessary safe management measures. They also used disinfecting coating agent SDST on the equipment and demarcated zones for classes to make sure that they were conducted in groups of two, with a 3m distance between these areas for groups of two.

Lan added that it has applied for the Fast and Easy Tests (FET) training for staff and hopes to roll them out as soon as it becomes mandatory from mid-July.

Financial adviser Ivan Ku, 25, was glad to be back at the gym, but also took his own precautions by donning a mask while he worked out, pointing out that users should follow the rules as "otherwise the situation may get worse".

Over at Hygieia Strength & Conditioning gym, operations resumed with about seven private and group sessions in the day, but under very different circumstances.

Each person had his or her own workout station as compared to before phase two (heightened alert), when they could move around the Haig Road outlet freely. Personal belongings had to go on a chair next to each station instead of a common area.

Owner Shaun Pang, 35, said: "We wanted to make sure that everything was okay and work out any kinks before we ramp it up."

Strategy manager Eline De Buyser, 28, who used to visit the gym twice a week, was glad to be back as she was worried about losing the progress she had made since she started training in January.

She took care to wash her hands after the session and lowered her mask only when she was lifting weights.

There was also joy and relief - particularly for some parents - as indoor sports and physical activities for youths aged 18 and below were allowed to resume, just six days before the end of the school holidays.

Homemaker Nur Ashikeen had looked up different ways to keep her daughters, aged three and four, occupied after the gymnasium Gymkraft at Kallang Wave Mall - which they frequented once a week - was closed from May 19.

While her children enjoyed occasional visits to the beach and the arts and crafts activities she did with them, they often asked about when they would be able to go out again.

The 35-year-old said: "It's really nice because I get to have a cup of coffee while I see my children exercise (at Gymkraft) and get rid of their pent up energy."

Children doing gymnastics at Gymkraft at Kallang Wave Mall on June 21, 2021. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

To assure parents that it was safe, Gymkraft's full-time staff took self-administered Covid-19 tests. Director Willie Goh was relieved to be able to reopen and hopes for measures to be eased as he noted that it will be tough to continue operating his Kallang and Tampines branches at current capacity.

His 7,000 sq ft Kallang branch can take up to 50 people, but can only have 30 now owing to safe management measures. The takeup rate for off peak hours outside of weekday evenings and weekend mornings is lower, he added.

Goh, 42, said: "I'm quite encouraged and really thankful that the parents are bringing their kids back. So hopefully things will start getting better."

Some sports competitions have also resumed this week, with the CarTimes Singapore Junior Development Tour Championship taking place at Laguna National from June 21-22, while the Ajinomoto/aminovital 16th Singapore National Swimming Championships Invitational, which also serves as an Olympic qualifier, takes place from June 23-27 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

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