Some great sports are free

Kickboxing is one of several programmes offered free to the public at the Sports Hub.

JOSEPHINE LIM

THE BEST things in life are free, as the Ray Henderson song goes. The American songwriter tells us about the moon, sunbeam, flowers and all things from nature that don’t cost anything for anyone to enjoy.

And Singaporeans have a keen eye for the good things in life and, yes, especially the ones that are free. Jean Goh and Pauline Goh are no different and they have stumbled upon something at the Sports Hub that has kept them going for more.

It all started when the two women, who are not related, wanted to get back into shape. The fitness buddies had not been exercising for 12 years as they were raising their respective families and only decided a few months ago they needed to get some serious regular workout again.

That’s when an ActiveSG mobile phone app tipped Jean off in April about free Experience Sports fitness sessions at the Sports Hub. It got her attention. She alerted her pal of close to 15 years and they made a beeline for the Sports Hub straight away. After considering the seven different workouts on offer they opted for kickboxing.

Every Thursday since then, they have been faithfully making late morning trips — Jean from Ang Mo Kio and Pauline, Woodlands — to the Sports Hub. The distance, say the women, is not a bother.

“Of course, lah, it’s free, what!” Pauline lets out a big laugh. “But, really, if you want to exercise, you’ll be motivated to go anywhere. No matter how far it is, you will travel to do so. And the Sports Hub is convenient because the Stadium MRT is next to it.”

As a mother of a 12-year-old girl and a boy, 10, she has time for herself only when they are at school and adds: “I would have taken up other exercises but they are scheduled in the evenings, which is family time for me. So I’ll be on the lookout for more afternoon sessions at the Sports Hub.”

Shedding unwanted fat

Pauline, 45, says the free weekly workouts there and weight management, along with piloxing (mix of pilates, kickboxing and dance) at Bishan Stadium that costs $96 for 10 classes, have helped her shed 12kg in the last four months.

For Jean, kickboxing at the Sports Hub has helped trimmed off 6cm from her waistline. The 39-year-old also managed to bring her weight down by 2kg. She goes to the gym at SAFRA that costs $5 for each visit as well and says: “I think in the last four months I’ve build up my muscles.

“But I like the Sports Hub kickboxing workout because the instructor there makes the sessions very enjoyable.”

Jean says they are shown the moves and don’t spar with anyone, and the man she talks about is Ahmad Yunus, a former Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) physical training instructor.

He is among seven trainers who instruct the weekday sessions that are mostly conducted in the evenings and in the mornings during the weekends.

Just having fun and a good time

Ahmad has been running fitness programmes for the past 15 years after leaving the SAF and says: “In the army the exercises are serious business. When I do this for civilians, my aim is to make it fun for them although the objective to help them shape up and get fit is the same as in the SAF. So I make funny faces and moves during the exercises and people laugh and have fun.”

The free fitness workouts that include pilates, boot camp, fit-stepper, zumba, cardio blast and yoga exercises were launched for the general public when the Sports Hub opened its doors two years ago. Attendances have since spiked.

The largest group Ahmad has conducted was 470. Attendances during the weekends are close to 300. A total of 4,600 participants, from five to 70, came for all the workouts in July.

Recalls the fitness instructor: “When we started two years ago no one turned up in the first week. We really panicked. Then, five people came the following week and from then on the numbers kept on rising. The five are still with us today. A lady who used to live close by at Fort Road has been coming for our sessions at the Sports Hub several times each week, even though she has moved to Bukit Timah.”

Many attend the daily workouts because Yunus and his fellow trainers have made the experience interesting and fun for participants. But others get much-needed exercises because it cost nothing for them.

“I used to pay $100 a month for my fitness programme at a spa,” says Pauline. “That was before I had my kids. With a family, I now have to watch my budget and these free sessions at the Sports Hub are a big help.”

As the saying goes, the best things in life are indeed free.

For more information on the free workouts at Experience Sports, visit: Experience Sports@ Sports Hub