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 …….

Challenges Facing The Singapore Fitness Industry And Profession

October 19, 2010

Image of female personal trainer with clientThe Singapore Fitness Industry and Wellness Profession has seen remarkable changes in the past ten years or so.

From a state of infancy and initial growth, the industry has since morphed into a vibrant sector of the Singapore economy, providing job openings for personal trainers, fitness coaches, group exercise instructors etc, as well as providing crucial services to the Public Consumer.

At the same time, this unprecedented expansion of the fitness sector has also given rise to a number of challenges facing the industry today:

1. Explosion In Trainer Numbers

The explosion and influx of personnel into the Singapore Fitness and Wellness Industry in recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal.

From the viewpoint of the Public Consumer, this may a good thing in terms of price competitiveness and market choices, but to the Private Fitness Facility Owner or even the Freelance Fitness Instructor/Coach, the perception is that the size of his/her pie has dramatically reduced.

Although one can argue that the huge increase in demand for fitness and wellness services across the nation can more than offset the increase in trainer population, the truth is in fact more insidious: the exponential rise in the number of trainers and instructors across all vocations has simply outstripped the current demand!

As a result, internal competition within the industry has intensified, leading to a situation where only those who are able to add value to their services, optimize their market exposure, and stand out from the crowd – are thereby poised to capture the lion’s share of the market. 

2. Change In Employment Profile Of Trainers

Where – once upon a time – trainers and instructors in the Singapore Fitness/Wellness Industry were mostly salaried employees of fitness and health chains, today, the Successful Fitness/Wellness Professional is usually one who has ditched his/her employee status in favour of a being a Private, Independent or Self-Employed Coach.

In a way, it makes absolute sense to many fitness/wellness professionals to be their own BOSS as the benefits far exceed that of being a mere employee. From increased social status, to higher paychecks, to greater personal and professional freedom, the lure of self-employment has resulted in a massive outflow of many otherwise capable and talented individuals from the commercial establishments to private enterprises.

Correspondingly, and worryingly, many commercial fitness facilities are now left with the ‘dregs’ – trainers and instructors of a lower calibre and lesser talent – as unsurprisingly, the better, more capable  and more ambitious ones have all but ‘jumped ship’ to run their very own private fitness enterprises!

The fitness landscape in Singapore is thus being rapidly transformed into one where it might actually make more sense for a client to engage the services of a Private/Independent Trainer or Instructor – for the sake of trainer quality and coaching excellence – instead of joining a commercial facility and be trained by second- or even third-tier trainers. 

3. Increase In Client Sophistication

With higher education, wider media exposure, and increased fitness knowledge and savviness, consumers and clients nowadays are more sophisticated and particular in their fitness demands and expectations.

Unlike the past, where most people would have no qualms engaging a trainer or coach with just a ‘General’ fitness educational background, clients are now more likely to seek out someone who is trained in a specialised fitness field or vocation to meet their needs. These specialty fields could involve anything from corrective exercise to post-injury rehabilitation to older adults fitness to functional therapy and more. 

As such, to continue staying on top of things,  fitness/wellness professionals should make it a point to specialize in certain specialty fields, as well as keep their ears continually to the ground in order to keep tabs on other emerging trends in the fitness realm.

4. The Internet Conundrum

With the meteoric rise of the Internet, and the number of users relying solely on the World Wide Web for information and data, it takes a foolhardy fitness/wellness professional to ignore the impact of this technological phenomenon.

However, to date, many fitness professionals have yet  to take full advantage of this tool to enhance their business; and the few who have tried, simply lack the technical expertise and relevant knowledge to position themselves optimally on the Web.

With no signs of the Internet Wave abating, savvy fitness/wellness professionals who wish to dominate the industry would do well to educate themselves as much as possible on this Public Platform in order to be connected to the large majority of consumers who are currently plugged into the Internet.

As such, picking up specialized internet marketing strategies and techniques, and collaborating with Local Online Fitness Directories & Guides, is no longer an option but a necessity for business success in the fitness industry.

With all these challenges facing the Singapore Fitness Profession, success seems destined only for those who are able to take positive action to adapt themselves to the challenges, rise above them, and ultimately, ride them out to their advantage.