Singapore’s Fitness Culture: Where Does The Public Get Its Fitness Information From?

June 3, 2012

The fitness scene here in Singapore has certainly grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade.Image of people exercising.

More people ever than before are now involved in fitness pursuits and exercises, ranging from gym-based resistance training to outdoor fitness boot camps to even mixed martial arts fitness programs.

Unfortunately, the majority of the Singapore Public – in its keenness to devour all things fitness – may have gleaned its fitness information from entirely wrong or even unsuitable sources – as our contacts close to the ground and within the fitness trenches right here in Singapore (think: personal trainers, fitness coaches, strength-and-conditioning coaches and other fitness professionals etc) seem to indicate to us.

The following are some of the most common and popular sources of fitness information (or should we say, MIS-information) that many here in Singapore tend to turn to in their thirst for greater fitness and better bodies:

1) The Internet

The internet is indeed a goldmine of fitness information. Unfortunately much of it is also mixed with half-truths, myths, misinformation and even downright lies!

With the large boom in “muscle”, “health” and “fitness” blogs/sites found on the internet nowadays, many supposedly run by “gurus” or “experts” in the fitness field, many here in Singapore have inadvertently found themselves drawn to these sites by their attractive and enticing portrayal of fitness, nutrition and training advice.

Unfortunately, upon closer scrutiny and careful examination, many of these internet site are really featuring fitness information that is based on fads, popular culture, half-truths and founded on research with little, if any, scientific backing.

And since the large majority of Singaporeans do NOT have much formal academic foundations in exercise science, sports nutrition or even fitness studies, many are thus unable to distinguish fact from fiction on many of these sites; thus putting themselves at a great risk of being misled by the Internet.

2) Health/Fitness Magazines

Go to any bookshop and you’ll find row and rows of “fitness” and “health” magazines portraying buffed physiques of fitness models or professional athletes.

Much as these magazines may claim to represent “real” fitness information, the sad truth is that these magazines are often run on the basis of PROFIT and are often forced to churn out content after content in accordance to the wishes of their pay-masters ( the ADVERTISERS – such as supplement companies and exercise equipment manufacturers)

As such, much of the information are often highly biased, and skewed in nature, and are often geared towards highlighting certain brands of products/equipment/supplements (or even drugs!); and often portray drug-fueled athletes/models who are themselves financially backed by these very same companies!

Furthermore, ask any insider in the advertising or publishing industry, and you’ll be SHOCKED at how many of these so-called “buffed” physiques seen in the magazines are actually highly-processed images that have gone through countless rounds of photoshopping, airbrushing and computer-manipulation so that the end product (the published images) look 110% better than their real persons!

On top of that, a lot of the (mis)information emanating from these magazines also arise from the fact that the training and dietary routines portrayed in them are often relevant only to high-level professional athletes/experienced trainees who have years and years of training in their related sport, with superb genetics to boot, and who are more often than not on some kind of physique- or performancing-enhancing “juice”.

Precious little, if any of the information found in most off-the-rack fitness magazines are realisticpractical or even applicable to the average, on-the-street Singaporean guy or gal who simply needs to lose a few pounds, pack on a little size, or just seeking to tone up a few lagging areas of the body.

In fact, anyone who tries to follow the bulk of advice and routines found in these magazines – in an unthinking, blind and wholesale fashion – is simply foolhardy at best, and downright suicidal at worst!

3) Fellow Gym-Goers

Getting advice from other gym-goers also seems to be a popular way of obtaining fitness information here in Singapore.

In a typical “Monkey-See, Monkey-Do” scenario, the shy scrawny guy or the overweight gal with poor self-image – both desperate to transform their bodies – end up so blinded and enamoured with their respective gyms’ resident “Muscle Guy” or “Buffed Chick” that they decide – once and for all – that whatever their “Hero” or “Heroine” says, does or do in the gym, they would likewise follow – right down to the last dot.

Unfortunately, this concept simply does not work in real life.

As every individual responds to training differently, what works for one may not necessarily work for another! Add to the fact that “Mr Muscle Guy” and “Ms Buffed Chick” are usually individuals who are gifted with great genetics, so that even if their training programs are downright faulty, unbalanced or even grossly dangerous and unscientific, they would still get to see results – nevertheless! ( yes, life’s UNFAIR, we know) And not to mention that many of these Great Bods out there (though 99% of them would never admit to it) have previously, or are currently taking illegal aids such as steroids, growth hormones, diuretics and other drugs – to get them to where they are now!

Thus, for the average fitness enthusiast out there who hopes to bank on his/her fellow gym-goers for fitness information and guidance, is simply setting himself/herself out for a lifetime of misery, frustration, and heartache.

Not only is he/she NOT going to end up looking like his/her ‘HERO(INE)” in all probability after all, the chances of being MISinformed and MISled with a slew of pseudo-jumbo fitness information is much HIGHER than the non-gym goer!

Conclusion

So, where then should Singaporeans turn to for authentic, scientific and research-based fitness information? Stay tuned for the answer in our next blog issue!

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Obsession With Fitness Tools : A Singapore Perspective

March 14, 2012

Image of a fitness tool in use.In recent years, a disturbing phenomenon has emerged within the Singapore fitness scene – that of groups of exercise enthusiasts, or even fitness trainers/coaches – who go around advocating fitness training centred around a single, particular choice/type of fitness equipment.

Whether this tool is a Kettlebell, a Suspension Strap, a PVC Tube or a type of elastic Band, the message is inherently the same: “Use this one piece of equipment for ALL your fitness needs” !!!

These “fitness cults” often go about preaching and propagating their “One-Tool” message to the public, their followers and trainees, strongly advocating that their particular piece of equipment is the “Be All and End All” of fitness.

The more extreme ones would even convince their ‘tribe‘ to forego ALL other forms of training that require the use of other tools, equipment or approaches, and just rely on that ONE tool for every fitness workout!

On top of that, followers are also often goaded into “investing” in their very own personal “new-fangled” tool – not only for themselves, but also one for every family member, relative, colleague etc ….

And unfortunately, many ignorant consumers (and even some trainers) have been sucked into this scam, feverishly centering ALL their workouts around that one piece of tool, and falsely believing that ALL their fitness goals and dreams are going to be realized with that one piece of equipment!!!

To put things right, once and for all, we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – would like to advise all fitness consumers and fitness professionals in Singapore that:

Regardless of what you read/hear out there, there is absolutely NO – NOT ONE – single piece of equipment in the Entire Universe – that can scientifically develop ALL the fitness components of the Human Body, or meet EVERY fitness need/goal of a person – solely by itself. 

As any certified strength coach or bona-fide personal fitness trainer – worth his/her salt – would tell you, your BEST BET for building optimum fitness, health and a great body – is to use a combination of fitness approaches, together with a VARIETY of fitness tools and equipment (preferably of the functional-kind) to hone your physique.

Anyone else (even if he/she professes to be a professional, expert or “guru”)who suggests otherwise, is simply ignorant, misguided or has hidden agendas of his/her own.

Much as we know that every piece of fitness equipment has its own merits, NONE can provide your body with absolutely ALL the moves, resistance, angles and planes of movement that your body requires for All-Rounded Balanced Development.

So the next time, if you chance upon anyone trying to sell you the idea that all you need to get that Dream Body of yours is to get their latest single piece of fitness “wonder-kit”, please check their fitness credentials or pedigree, and tell them off politely: “Thanks, but NO thanks!”


Singapore Fitness Trends For 2012

December 26, 2011

Image of a group exercise classNot too long ago, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) came out with its annual report on the fitness trends that are expected to make headlines around the world in year 2012.

Much as we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – agree to most of the information published in the report, we can’t help but feel that the report may not be doing justice to the actual trends that we – who are based here in Singapore – are witnessing and experiencing for ourselves in this part of the world.

As such, we decided to come up with our very own compilation of fitness trends that we feel are more realistic and have greater chances of happening in our local context here in Singapore.

Though nowhere as exhaustive or comprehensive compared to the original report from ACSM,  the following represents our gut feeling of what the Singapore Fitness Industry (SFI) would register in the coming year ahead.

Fitness enthusiasts who wish to know what’s in store for them in year 2012, and more importantly, Singapore Fitness Professionals – who wish to position themselves to profit from future predicted market movements – may do well to read the following report in detail:

2012 Fitness Trends For Singapore

1. Increase In Numbers Of Certified And Educated Fitness Professionals

Now, more than ever before, the fitness profession seems to have hit a new high in popularity in Singapore. More and more people have either joined the industry, or are seriously contemplating a fitness career in the near future – either as a personal trainer, a group exercise instructor, Yoga/Pilates teacher or any of the many fitness professions widely available here. Aided by strong market forces, a blooming fitness scene, and the availability of a wide array of fitness certifications, we expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of professional fitness trainers and coaches here in Singapore in the coming new year and beyond.

2. Increase In The Numbers Of Independent/Private Trainers And Specialty Boutique Gyms

As large, commercial “mega-gyms” gradually lose their appeal and attraction, we foresee an increase in the number of small-sized, highly specialized boutique gyms and private/independent trainers flourishing side-by-side. This trend perhaps best epitomizes what the Singapore Consumer wants nowadays – specialization, personalization, privacy and convenience – factors which are all so glaringly missing in the highly commercialized “one-size-fits-all” approach found in most fitness chains’ business models.

3. Rise In Demand For Non-Traditional Fitness Training Modes

Forget about machines, barbells and dumbbells – the savvy and educated fitness consumer in Singapore is now more daring than ever before, and more likely than ever before to experiment with non-traditional training approaches.  Think: kettlebells, sandbagsropes, clubs, over-sized tyres, sledgehammers, body-weight training and even Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) – all these and more seem to be THE choice for yuppies and the Generation Y cohort.

4. Greater Popularity Of Outdoor-Based Fitness Sessions

In 2012, we also expect to see more and more fitness consumers ditching the gym for outdoor-based workouts in the form of fitness boot camps or small group personal training. This trend seems to arise from the recognition and appreciation of more ‘natural’ forms of training – such as utilizing one’s own body weight through the use of highly portable outdoor fitness equipment (eg. TRX Suspension Trainer) – as opposed to the old era of depending solely on cumbersome indoor gym machines. At the same time, the expanding Outdoor Exercise Movement which advocates exercising in natural outdoor surroundings and environment (think: fresh air, sunshine and greenery) also plays a large role in bringing about this trend.

5. Increase In Popularity Of Sport-Specific Training

The number of people in Singapore playing recreational and competitive sports have been steadily increasing over the years. In fact, participation in popular sports like golf, running, tennis, bowling, martial arts etc have hit an all-time high in recent years. This phenomenon has also given rise to a greater demand for behind-the-scenes sports science support – especially in the form of sport-specific conditioning programs and sports nutrition programs – which are both seen as paramount to helping an athlete achieve optimal performance in his/her sport of choice. As such, we expect to see a continual rise in the demand for sport-specific conditioning services and sport-specific nutritional programs in the coming years ahead.

6. Rise Of Corrective and Rehabilitative Exercise Programs

Following the increase in participation in sports and fitness here in Singapore, there will also be a corresponding increase in awareness of the various muscular dysfunctions and movement imbalances that may result from faulty training patterns; as well as a higher incidence of sporting injuries arising from overuse and/or sporting trauma. As a result, there will be a corresponding rise in demand for more corrective and rehabilitative exercise programs to help these exercisers and athletes correct, rehabilitate and regain proper and full function of their bodies.

This report on the 2012 Singapore Fitness Trends is by no means exhaustive nor definitive.

We have merely hoped to represent – as accurately as we can – what we have observed and feel is the pattern that will most likely emerge in the coming year ahead.

Although none of us can really predict what the future holds for us, we sincerely wish that this survey will be useful to all fitness professionals – especially those based here in Singapore – who need to make important decisions with regards to the direction and focus of their fitness businesses for year 2012.


The Evolution Of Fitness Training In Singapore

November 27, 2011

Photo of an old school weight-lifter. Fitness training in Singapore – as we know it – has come a long way since its humble beginnings.

Way back in the sixties and seventies, when fitness first made its headway into the lives of Singaporeans, the majority of serious fitness followers were mainly men, who were predominantly into Weight-Training, Olympic Lifting and Body-Building. In those days, the Everbright Gym and the Evergreen Gym ranked among the top gyms in Singapore in terms of sheer membership numbers and popularity – and were hugely responsible for churning out the various local and regional champions in body-building and weight-lifting for our little republic.

Into the eighties, women started to enter the fitness scene, aided greatly by the world-wide Dance Aerobics Craze which swept across the world like a wild-fire, sparing none including Singapore, and converting hordes of followers (especially women) with its razzmatazz dance movements performed to loud disco music. Aerobics classes were the rave then, from community centres (as they were known then) to public dance halls and even right into people’s private living-rooms – transforming adult women (and even some men) and adolescent girls into leotard-clad energizer bunnies bouncing away to pounding music in the background .

As Singapore moved into the nineties, there emerged a greater interest and appreciation in the actual science and methodology behind fitness training. As a result, it led to a whole school of fitness followers experimenting and swearing by various training modalities, including: High Intensity Training Superset Training, Circuit Training, Cross-Training etc… Incidentally, fitness training also became more widespread than ever, with its practitioners evenly shared out among both men and women. It was also during this period that we saw the emergence of “mega” commercial gyms in Singapore.

As we enter the 21st century, the popularity of fitness training took off like a freight train, greatly aided by the government’s constant championing of a ‘healthy lifestyle’ and its role in society. An unprecendented variety of fitness disciplines also started to appear during this period – from Kickboxing to Pilates, from Aqua Aerobics to Yoga, as well as numerous other integrated forms of exercises, leaving the Singapore Consumer with a delectable spread of fitness activities to choose from.

Today, the sheer variety of fitness training options available to the public is simply nothing short of mind-boggling. From MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) conditioning classes to Functional Movement Training to Group Fitness Boot Campsto Kettlebell Lifting etc, the consumer is simply spoilt for choice. On top of that, fitness training is now taken as a serious and respectable field of study, with numerous fitness courses and certifications available for those who wish to learn more about the science behind fitness training, and for those who wish to pursue a career in the fitness industry. And every where we see, large commercial gyms, middle-sized fitness centres, small specialized boutique gyms and even mobile personal trainers are now the norm and the mainstay in the local Singapore Fitness Industry.

Moving forwards, we can only wait with bated breath and see what the future holds for the fitness consumer in Singapore.

And looking at our past history, it certainly looks VERY interesting and VERY promising indeed going forwards – especially for those of us who continue to share the same passion and love for fitness as our predecessors before us …….


2011’s Top Fitness Trends In Singapore

December 12, 2010

Image for female boxingAs 2010 comes to an end, the Singapore Fitness Industry braces itself yet again for a brand new year of challenges and changes in year 2011.

Top most on the minds of most people – both in and out of the Singapore Fitness Industry – would be the type of fitness trends that will emerge in year 2011.

After doing our own little research, we at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network have come up with a couple of trends that we believe will dominate the local Singapore fitness landscape for the coming year.

In no particular order, these are the top fitness trends that we have identified for 2011 :

Group-Based Training

As the Singapore economy continues its remarkable recovery post-recession, group-based training will continue to be the “in-thing” for most fitness enthusiasts. Many will rely on group training to stay fit and keep motivated, while socializing with others and saving on costs.

Martial-Arts Type Workouts

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), Kickboxing, Body Combat, Tai-Chi and other integrated forms of martial-arts fitness workouts will continue their rise in prominence as more people come to embrace them as part and parcel of their fitness routine. 

Wellness Approach

The wellness fever will continue to grip Singaporeans in year 2011 and we expect to see a rise in demand for wellness services like lifestyle management, nutritional counselling, physical therapy and even meditation classes.  

Outdoors Fitness Sessions

More and more people are beginning to appreciate both Singapore’s all-year-round tropical climate and the benefits of the Great Outdoors, such that many are now actively bringing their fitness workouts outdoors. Coupled with the rise in popularity in outdoor fitness boot camps, we expect to see a rise – in both group and individual training – in outdoor fitness workouts throughout the parks, beaches and nature reserves of Singapore.   

Exotic Fitness Dance Classes 

Think Pole Dancing, Belly Dancing, Aerial Hoop/Silk Classes and Zumba, and you’ll get the idea. With increasing participation in these exotic forms of fitness pursuits, Singaporeans are shedding their prudish image to show the world that they are all set to embrace new and exotic branches of fitness wholeheartedly!

Technology-Based Workouts

With the proliferation of iPhones, iPads, iPods, Wii Fit etc…. it comes as no surprise that more and more Singaporeans will be using these technological gadgets to help them plan their workouts, track their progress and even personalise their fitness routines via the countless applications offered by these high-tech devices.

Well, there you have it, our take on the fitness trends that we believe will take Singapore by storm in 2011.

Whether you agree with us, or feel otherwise, please don’t hesitate to send in your comments.

We look forward to hearing from each and every one of you!