Not too long ago, there were reports in the media that there has been a marked rise in the number of people in Singapore engaging in some form of recreational exercise or fitness activity compared to a decade ago.
A quick glance at the rising membership in commercial gyms and public fitness centers, as well as the large morning and evening crowds at outdoor stadiums and neighbourhood parks tend to lead one to an affirmative conclusion as well.
However, on closer scrutiny, there is more to it than meets the eye.
Though the absolute number of people engaging in fitness and exercise programs in Singapore may have gone up over the years, the actual QUALITY of the activities and programs themselves seem to have yield little change over time.
And when we say QUALITY of an exercise/fitness program, we are inherently talking about the following aspects:
1. the proper EXECUTION of an exercise or fitness activity,
2. the PROGRAM DESIGN behind any physical activity,
3. the ADHERENCE to basic scientific exercise/fitness principles.
Looking at point (1), most trained Singapore Fitness Professionals would unanimously agree and lament at the deplorable state of exercise execution found among most gym participants and recreational exercise enthusiasts.
From basic movements like lifting a barbell off the ground, to the running gait of a jogger, to the execution of a simple body-weight push-up, most trained Singapore fitness trainers and exercise coaches would winch in horror, or even stifle a giggle – depending on their mood on that day – at the sight of amateur recreational fitness enthusiasts executing any such a move through its entire kinetic chain.
Poor technique, improper body posturing, inadequate range of movement and ballistic (bouncy) bodily motions are just some of the more common execution problems encountered island-wide in ANY gym, fitness corner or outdoor park.
And if we take into account point (2), things seem even bleaker.
Most Singapore enthusiasts seem to have no, or at best, little idea of what constitutes a proper program design. Their exercise choices and activities are often a haphazard mix-match of movements plucked from their own unscientific observations of what others are doing around them – a phenomenon the Fitness Profession candidly call “Monkey See, Monkey Do”, or adapted from unreliable sources such as off-the-rack glossy fitness tabloids and magazines.
The sad, but true state of affairs is such that the majority of fitness and exercise participants in Singapore has very little knowledge of, or even completely no idea what muscle groups a particular exercise is targeting at, or what fitness component they are training with any given movement, or how to properly string a series or sequence of movements together for maximum synergistic effect!!!
And when we put point (3) together, the current state of affairs worsens considerably.
Exercise is a SCIENCE, and that’s why they are academic disciplines such as Exercise Science, Sports Science, Human Movement, Biomechanics etc. Unfortunately, the underlying principles behind these fields of study are often thrown out of the window by most recreational fitness enthusiasts in their fitness pursuits – very often to their own detriment.
A point to note: one does NOT have to be an Olympic Athlete or engage in serious Competitive Sports in order to apply these principles or benefit from them. Most standard exercise and fitness principles such as those pertaining to Exercise Intensity, Exercise Frequency and even the Concept of Specificity – should form the backbone of ANY exercise or fitness program – even those of a recreational value.
But, unfortunately, as far as the Singapore Fitness Culture is concerned, this is sorely lacking.
What then is the panacea to these ailments affecting the QUALITY of the fitness or physical programs of our recreational athletes?
We think the answer is EDUCATION.
Education in the sense of ownership and responsibility on the part of the athletes and exercisers concerned to read up and educate themselves on the whats and hows of exercising. Frankly, what’s the point of working-out at all – when quality is ABSENT in any fitness program – as one is only further reinforcing bad exercise habits, putting one at risk of injuries, and getting further away from one’s original fitness goals?
Alternatively, if self-education is too much to ask of our recreational athletes and fitness enthusiasts, then they should seriously consider the services of professionals: like personal trainers, fitness coaches or sports performance specialists to help them improve the QUALITY of their workouts.
Only if, and when, such steps are taken to improve the QUALITY of physical activities among our population, then can Singapore truly say that its citizens are benefitting from the exercises and physical activities that they are engaged in.
Otherwise, the increase in participation numbers is merely a facade and a false dawn.
Regardless of the type of home fitness services that you’re looking for – whether it’s Pilates, Yoga, Personal Fitness Training or one of the myriad of fitness services available here in Singapore – the following holds true when it comes to selecting an appropriate fitness service provider that meets your needs:
Your home fitness service provider should be someone passionately in love with the vocation that he/she is involved in. You want somebody who gets excited and enthused just talking about what he/she does for a living. On the other hand, you definitely do NOT need someone who is jaded and cynical about his/her profession, the industry and anything else related to it.
As you converse with your potential service provider, try to gauge the level of enthusiasm, devotion and passion that this person exudes in relation to his/her cause. The HIGHER these levels, the BETTER!
Your in-home service provider should not only have an intimate and extensive knowledge of the fitness service that he/she is rendering, but also everything else related to it. This includes : knowing the best way to go about customizing the workout according to your environment, to your personal likes/dislikes as well as other constraints that you – as a consumer – may have.
It is always a good idea to do some homework on the service you require – prior to meeting up with your in-home fitness provider for the first time – so that you have a ready list of questions, queries and scenarios to present to the provider.
And based on the provider’s replies to you, you would have a much better understanding of his/her level of knowledge, professionalism and competence.
Your in-home fitness service provider MUST be suitably qualified to coach you in that particular fitness discipline – no two ways about it. In other words, if what you’re looking for is Pilates coaching, then you provider MUST be a trained and qualified Pilates Teacher – no question about that. Similarly, if what you require is a regular program of deep-tissue sports massage, then your provider MUST be a certified Sports Massage Therapist – again, no exceptions allowed.
As a consumer, you have every right to ask for PROOF that your home fitness provider is who he/she claims to be. Don’t feel bad asking your provider to provide physical copies of certifications and qualifications for you to peruse.
The following List Of Fitness Certifications And Qualifications would give you a good idea on what to look out for when assessing the qualifications of your fitness provider.
Besides having passion for his/her vocation, your in-home fitness service provider should also be someone who is able to Teach, Communicate and Motivate. As a paying consumer, you are entitled to a professional who is able to teach you the right fundamentals related to your particular fitness field – clearly and patiently, communicate with you effectively, and most of all, inspire and motivate you to reach your fitness goals.
Once you have found a service provider with these positive personality traits, together with all the above requirements met, the you have greatly increased your own chances of success in your fitness pursuit.