ActiveSG: How I Am Getting My Parents To Exercise

I know of ActiveSG. They are in the gyms that are found all over Singapore. What I don’t know is that they are more than just public gyms.

Over the weekend, my mother complained of back pain and I made a passing comment that she doesn’t exercise enough. She probably thinks she does but our perception of what is enough is probably world’s apart.

In the same afternoon, I signed both my parents up for personal training sessions with my neighbour (who is a fitness coach. He talked to be about signing up for an ActiveSG membership.

As per instructed, I downloaded the ActiveSG app for both of them. This is when things got interesting.

You get to use public gym and swimming complexes for free!

Okay, not exactly free.

With the SingPass login, both my parents received $100 credits each. The credits can be used for gym and swimming pool entry, badminton court bookings, and even sports program. How good is this?

For perspective, ActiveGYM (previously known as ClubFITT) rates are $2.50 for adults and only $1.50 for students and senior citizens. That works out to almost a year of gym entry for free.

I have been back in Singapore for over two years and I have never heard of this program. When I dug further into it, I found out that the ActiveSG$100 is part of an initiative launched in 2004.

If you are looking to get started with exercising but don’t really want to pay $245/month for a fancy gym membership or be locked in into a gym contract, this is a pretty good start.

The whole signup process took less than five minutes. You’ll need your SingPass login to receive the credits. This is available to all Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents!

For those who love to eat, you can BBQ by the pool!

This is absolutely mind-blowing. Did you know some public pools in Singapore used to come with BBQ facilities you can use?

According to the ActiveSG website, these are the venues with a BBQ pit facility:

  • Jurong West Sport Centre
  • Woodlands Sport Centre
  • Yio Chu Kang Sport Centre

I called up Jurong West Sport Centre and they informed me the program ended over three years ago. I tried to reach out to Woodlands and Yio Chu Kang but their phones were unattended.

Looks like we may have just missed out the opportunity. Regardless, I think it was a super cool idea.

Zumba, Piloxing, Yoga, Pilates, Kickboxing …

These are some of the classes you can sign up for under the ActiveSG program. Honestly, I am impressed because I haven’t tried most of these workouts myself and there are some which I have never heard of before.

They even have water-based classes at swimming complexes. They include paddling an inflatable boat, aqua tabata, aqua Zumba, etc. I didn’t even realise aqua Zumba was a thing.

Part of the ActiveSG program is to be inclusive to everybody regardless of fitness levels and physical abilities. I do genuinely think they are walking their talk.

Finding a personal trainer in Singapore

I opted for personal training for my parents because one-on-one sessions can offer a more customised, holistic approach to health. I personally benefited a lot from a personal training program when I was studying in Australia and I wanted them to have the same positive experience.

Of course I wasn’t looking for the best of the best trainers and weight loss or fat loss isn’t exactly a priority. So I didn’t consider personal training gyms such as Ultimate Performance.

What I was looking for is someone who can help my parents achieve their fitness goals and maybe provide a generic diet plan to make sure they are consuming enough nutrients.

Coaching is also important as well. Beginners can benefit from learning when to keep their knees bent or even trying to figure out what exactly is “shoulder width”. In a group situation, my parents may not receive as much attention and their fitness outcomes from attending these classes may be sub-optimal.

We were very lucky that our next door neighbour is one of the fitness trainers at the gym near our place. We already had a relationship so it was easy for me to communicate the fitness goals I was after for my parents to him. Furthermore, my parents are familiar with him so that certain makes working together a lot more comfortable.

ActiveSG – find a coach

This was a bit of a bummer. I was looking through ActiveSG’s website for a list of personal trainers and there didn’t seem to be any. I could be wrong – it’s a massive site.

What I found instead was a coach directory. There wasn’t a personal training option but they do have a weightlifting category.

This is a bit of a bummer. Some beginners may find going to a gym or even a group class intimidating and may prefer working with a trainer one-on-one. It doesn’t seem like ActiveSG has such options available.

A quick search on Google did bring up a few profiles of trainers who work out of ActiveSG though.

ageing, muscle mass loss, sarcopenia

Strength is really, really important

You lose up to 8% of your muscle every decade!

There are so many tangible benefits that are associated with weight or resistance training. Besides making us stronger, it also helps with maintaining muscle mass and bone mineral density – both of which are particularly important in older adults. Strength training effectively prevents muscle atrophy or sarcopenia.

Maintaining muscle strength will allow older adults to be able to carry out their activities of daily living. Poor muscle strength is also known to be a fall risk.

stand4strength, sit to stand, ageing, singapore
Can you stand up from a chair one one leg? Without using your hands! This is the Stand For Strength campaign by Abbott Singapore.

Abbott Singapore and the Society of Geriatric medicine, Singapore (SGMS) also recently launched #Stand4Strength. It is a national campaign to highlight muscle loss.

The campaign involved getting Singaporeans to perform a one leg sit-to-stand. Surprisingly, many participants were not confident of performing the task and a fair few of them actually couldn’t. You can check out YouTube video.

There is so much attention on ageing well in Singapore. The government has invested into developing facilities and programs to encourage physical activity. There are incentives in place to reduce the barrier to exercising.

Other organisations have also launched campaigns to educate Singaporeans on the importance of physical fitness and muscle strength.

It is fair to say that it is now in your hands to decide what you want to do to prepare yourself for your own golden years. There is no better time to start.

If you are working to get an older Singaporean to engage in physical activity but do not know how to begin, drop me a message via the form below. I will be happy to discuss the unique circumstances you are in and hopefully develop some strategies you can use to help your loved ones.