The original circuit breaker measure has ended now, and there is still more than a month more to go for its extension. In the recent few weeks, the laws on exercising outdoors get updated every couple of days, and they get stricter each time. At the point of writing, the basic rule is to stay at home and exercise indoors. Should you need to exercise outdoors, please do so alone - not even with members of the same household - and within your neighborhood. You may remove your mask during a strenuous exercise but you need to put it on after.
If you are the type that trains outdoors for your upcoming races or if you’re a gym freak or a faithful studio goer, it is likely that you cannot wait for the circuit breaker to end on 1 June, and return to your previous exercise routine. But what are the chances that your favourite gyms or studios or postponed events going back to what they were anytime soon?
Well, there has been no word from the authorities here. However, let us look at how other countries handle their easing of restrictions. In Germany, fitness studios remain shut, and gatherings of more than two persons are disallowed. France is reopening itself in waves, and large public gatherings - now still banned - would be the last to be lifted. China requires its citizens to update their health status on a phone app and then subsequently applies surveillance. Malaysia has hinted that it will not allow large public gatherings of up to six to twelve months upon lifting of its current movement order.
In our local context, we are usually being dropped with hints prior to any major decisions. For example, students had a trial day of home based learning the week before it became a full-on scheme for now, the road payment gantries were switched off before the circuit breaker is being extended, and cloth masks were provided to all residents before making them mandatory when we are out. SportSG recently introduced a new ActiveSG Circle web portal to keep us all active while we stay at home.
Feeling overwhelmed? Yes, that would be natural. But let us focus on the positive takeaways. Whatever the terminology - circuit breaker, emergency, movement control order, lockdown - that is being used in Singapore as well as other countries, brands in the health and fitness industry are aggressively going digital in this period.
Specifically, many brands now offer limited-time virtual or online classes to engage their existing customers and to woo new ones - for free! It is currently the consumers’ market; you can e-attend these trial classes from home. Furthermore, country borders have become irrelevant; you are not restricted to choosing classes or trainers from Singapore only. For example, you may choose a certain yoga lesson from an Indian studio that is not available locally, or a pilates class from a gym in Thailand because of a popular trainer. Or if you usually do your workouts at odd hours, then you now have the liberty to choose classes from Europe or USA too.
There are three types of virtual classes on offer today and their formats are still evolving. First up is a recorded session that typically lives on Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels; you can access them on-demand. Next would be live streaming sessions - similar output to a recorded session - but done real-time to have some sense of community. On Facebook or Instagram live sessions, you would be able to check how many others are watching them at the same time as you. Finally, we have the virtual private sessions. These are done using applications such as Zoom or Google Meet, and there are real-time interactions between trainers and students.
Free online fitness classes available for you:
ActiveSG Circle by SportSG is your starting point to get acquainted with your online fitness journey. Within this site, you can consider their GetActive TV Live sessions or recorded ones. And if you want to sign up for free virtual classes on Zoom, you may want to register for their upcoming classes. There is so much content in here to keep you occupied throughout the circuit breaker period and beyond. Fitness First Singapore conducts Facebook live sessions about thrice a week including their renowned Les Mills programs.
Thanyapura Sports and Health Resort, the famous sports training centre in Phuket, offers free online sessions on anything from HIIT to running drills to isometric strength workout twice a day on weekdays. Absolute You focuses on yoga and pilates. Both these channels conduct their workout in English language. Fitness First Thailand and Jetts Thailand offer up to four classes each on a daily basis. Classes are conducted in Thai language but fret not, they are fun and you will enjoy them.
Sports personalities dominate the online fitness classes. On Instagram, you can find classes conducted by national triathlete Sue Teoh and adidas Runners captain Awan Run. Facebook live sessions include daily yoga sessions by Sue Kay and The Running Plan.
If you have affinity to specific brands, Nike offers its Nike Training Club app premium version for free. Adidas too offers it Runtastic premium membership free for 90 days. You may check on Google Play and Apple App stores.
The list above is not exhaustive. You may already have in mind a gym or class that you like prior to the circuit breaker but was not willing to commit to. Now is the time to search for those classes again, but on a virtual platform.
When our circuit breaker measures end, things will change. Social distancing may stick around for a while, so in-person training classes may be limited. We need to get used to the new norms; the quicker we adapt, the easier it would be for us. Virtual free classes will not be here forever. Brands and businesses need to monetise and sustain. Well, while these classes are free for now, why not give them a try out and see which ones work for you?