LIGHTSABER, CHECK. SWASHBUCKLING MOVES, CHECK. SWEAT, ACHES, WOBBLY KNEES? CHECK, CHECK, AND CHECK. TRUST US, BEING A JEDI IS A LOT HARDER THAN IT LOOKS. CLARA HOW TRIES THIS AND FOUR OTHER WORKOUTS THAT LOOK FUN BUT WILL TEST YOUR METTLE.
<b>HAIR</b> KENNETH ONG, USING KEVIN MURPHY <b>MAKEUP</b> RIE MIURA, USING BOBBI BROWN <b>OUTFIT</b> COS
Be A Jedi
“Do they wear robes? Are they all geeky men? Is there Star Wars music?”
Those were my first questions when I discovered Saberfit, a cardio and toning workout that involves, yes, lightsabers. (The answer to all three questions is no, by the way.)
But if you’re just in it for a novel Skywalker experience, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Saberfit is not aﬃliated with film and TV production company Lucasfilm, and what you wield in class is called a combat saber rather than a lightsaber.
In this hour-long workout, you can expect to burn 600 calories through a combination of cardio, plyometrics ( jump training) and core exercises. As if that’s not enough, you’ll also be slashing your saber around while you do this – 1,000 times, to be exact.
“We wanted to create an interesting exercise to get people going, because for some, working out is a chore and it’s hard to find the discipline,” says Natasha Toh, 27, one of the co-founders of Saberfit.
The idea was born when she and her partner Ryan Ho were playfully sparring with sabers, only to realise that within minutes, their heart rates were up and their muscles were feeling the burn.
The pair realised they were on to something, and in 2016, Saberfit was born.
Working with a certified trainer, they devised sequences that work out all areas of the body. Classes take place at The Meeting Point at One-North, and at Midland House.
THE ROAD TEST
I knew it was going to be fun. After all, there’s nothing more theatrical than standing in a dark room wielding a glowing saber. But what I didn’t count on was how exhausting it would be.
One big reason: the saber weighs 1.5kg. Now imagine repeatedly making slashing motions with it for an hour while jumping around. If you’re used to cardio-heavy workouts, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re a little more sedentary, you might want to take things slow, and jump or slash less vigorously.
Contrary to my earlier assumption that most of the class participants would be male, when I turned up for my Tuesday session I saw that more than half my 15 Saberfit mates were women. Everyone was at diﬀerent fitness levels, and Ryan and Natasha took this into consideration, oﬀering alternative moves for those with prior injuries or who were simply fatigued. I was secretly relieved to observe that by the end of the session, a fair number of classmates were also opting for the easier moves.
Saberfit is similar to interval training, where you’re encouraged to do as many repetitions as possible in 30-second bursts. It’s not as bad as it sounds, because between segments, you get a minute’s rest to catch your breath and drink some water. It helps that the sequences change with every class, keeping the workout fresh for regulars.
The most exciting part was duelling with a partner, where you both clash sabers using the simple choreographed moves taught earlier in the class. Think: clash left, kick left, clash right and repeat.
Saberfit might not sound like a “serious” workout, but I was completely exhausted after that.
Visit http://www.saber.fit for more information.
<b>HAIR</b> SANDY YEO/EVOLVE SALON <b>MAKEUP</b> ZOEL TEE, USING M.A.C <b>LEFT: TULLE LONG SKIRT & LEGGINGS</b> H&M <b>RIGHT: TANK TOP & HEADBAND</b> H&M <b>SHORTS</b> ADIDAS BY STELLA MCCARTNEY
Be A Ballerina
Victoria’s Secret Angel Lily Aldridge says this ballet-inspired workout keeps her figure “on pointe”. The popularity of barre classes exploded in the US a couple of years ago, when it was revealed as the go-to fitness regime of many a Victoria’s Secret model.
For the uninitiated, barre classes are not quite Swan Lake. Rather, they incorporate basic ballet moves (like a plie, which involves bending your knees while your feet are turned out sideways) into a fitness regime that sculpts the body and trains stamina and strength.
“We do sequences of very small, controlled movements. It’s about completing repetitions with light resistance like 1kg weights, to fatigue the muscles rather than get bigger ones,” says Anabel Chew, 29, of Webarre, the first dedicated barre studio here, which she co-founded with her friend Linda Lim. The goal – to achieve a lean, toned physique.
THE ROAD TEST
There’s something alluring about a ballerina’s poise. When I was standing in the studio, one hand on the barre and in first position (where your heels are together and feet turned out), I felt a frisson of excitement. Sure, no one but my classmates might be watching me, but I felt compelled to raise my head higher and work on making the movements as graceful as possible.
Still, ballet dancers and VS Angels don’t get those bodies just by a few dainty arm raises. Weight training, squats and crunches are part of this workout. And that means the use of light weights, resistance tubes and pilates balls. Some 15 minutes into the class, I could feel the burn radiating through my muscles.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know first position from third – the instructors will walk you through the basics. They also energetically chirp words of encouragement throughout the class (although I could barely pant out a response).
If you’re a beginner, start with a fundamental class, which is slower-paced. If you’re looking for a more intense session, aim for a high-intensity interval class or go for the signature, which gives you a bit of both.
I am now a barre convert because the next day, I ached everywhere – a sign that my body had been put through the paces. But no pain, no gain, right? Lily Aldridge’s figure, here I come.
Visit http://www.webarre.com for more information.
<b>HAIR</b> KENNETH ONG, USING KEVIN MURPHY <b>MAKEUP</b> RIE MIURA, USING BOBBI BROWN <b>OUTFIT</b> ADIDAS BY STELLA MCCARTNEY
Be A Circus Act
Step into Aerial Fitness Studio and you might think you’ve walked into a big top – with people executing moves on trapezes, hoops and silks. But what looks like a circus performance is actually a full-body workout where you master balance, strength and flexibility. Here’s where you can live out your Cirque du Soleil fantasies.
The studio is run by 32-year-old Hazel Zhou, a former pre-school teacher who started out pole dancing for fitness but later switched to aerial arts. Her latest oﬀering, introduced in January, is an apparatus called an aerial cube.
“Because of its 3-D shape, the aerial cube allows for more dynamic movements,” says Hazel. “It’s a little diﬀerent from other aerial apparatus because it requires a lot more spatial awareness [for where to place your limbs within the cube], and all your muscles need to be engaged to minimise rocking.”
THE ROAD TEST
I’ve had several years of aerial-fitness training, yet the shape of the cube was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Because the cube moved with me, I became hyper-aware of where my hands and feet were placed, and was forced to execute each move slowly and carefully. This control made me more conscious of the muscles I was using.
Still, this is one workout that hurts. Because I’m not used to hanging from steel bars, I developed some blisters on my palms. In each class, I learnt how to execute diﬀerent moves, then string them together to form a choreographed routine. And because all your weight is resting on the bars of the cube, be prepared for some bruises the next morning.
But safety always comes first – classes start with an intensive warm-up, are conducted with crash mats, and have a teacher there to supervise you. The cube is also suspended fairly close to the ground.
Heads-up: This is an advanced-level class, so you’ll need at least four consecutive months of aerial training before giving this a go.
Visit http://www.aerialfitness.sg for more information.
<b>HAIR</b> SANDY YEO/EVOLVE SALON <b>MAKEUP</b> ZOEL TEE, USING M.A.C <b>ON SYIMA: OUTFIT</b> ADIDAS BY STELLA MCCARTNEY
Climbing is usually a solitary activity. But at Clip ’n Climb, Singapore’s first indoor climbing theme park, you can show oﬀ your moves to a friend who’s climbing face-to-face with you. That’s because the theme park, located at HometeamNS Tampines, boasts a clear acrylic wall – one of 19 climbing stations that are brightly coloured, creatively designed, and go by quirky names like Cloud 9, Big Cheese and Aliens.
Clip ’n Climb also uses an automatic belay system, which means fewer ropes on the wall. It also means you don’t require a fellow climber to belay you – unlike with traditional climbing walls. Combine that with the unique wall designs, and you’ll get better snaps of your workout. “You can enjoy climbing the walls while still looking picture-worthy,” says chief games specialist Nazatul Syima, 30, who is also a climbing instructor. “You can do it #forthegram.”
But don’t be fooled – although these social media-worthy stations look less daunting than traditional climbing walls, they still pack a punch in terms of challenging your climbing skills.
“Being petite, I sometimes get people saying to me that women should just be doing yoga,” Syima confides. “The challenge is to prove that I can conquer the walls and silence them. I’m hoping to pave the way for more women to climb and prove all these naysayers wrong.”
THE ROAD TEST
I can’t bear heights. The 8m-high walls might as well have been Mount Everest for me. But what was reassuring were the safety procedures in place – staﬀ members come by to check your carabiners and remind you to shout safety commands before you start the climb, and as you are about to descend.
This was also the first climbing experience I’d had which was so visual. The walls were a feast for the eyes and, certainly, for my Instagram account. Because they were so unusual (one even looked like a tree trunk), I felt I had to think out of the box in order to tackle them.
The creatively designed walls like Face to Face also made it easier to have a buddy workout, as I tried to race my friend to the top. These fun touches made all the diﬀerence in keeping me going – especially during the tougher climbs.
The uninitiated can start oﬀ with a low-diﬃculty wall such as the maze-themed Amazing. If you’re looking for a challenge, try Spaghetti Junction and Dry Ice, which require stronger arms.
Visit http://www.hometeamns.sg/clip-n-climb-hometeamns for more information.
<b>PHOTOGRAPHY</b> FRENCHESCAR LIM, ASSISTED BY SHERMAN SEE-THO <b>ART DIRECTION</b> NONIE CHEN, ASSISTED BY ALICE CHUA <b>LOCATION</b> JW MARRIOTT SINGAPORE SOUTH BEACH
Be A Mermaid
Don a tail, perform underwater moves, and learn about mermaid mythology – it’s all par for the course at Singapore’s first Mermaid School set up by 25-year-old Cara Neo, who goes by the name of her mermaid alter ego, Syrena. Cara usually teaches classes at private swimming pools, but is now taking it to another level. She has plans to start classes at the NCO Club, located at JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach.
The 4m-deep performance pool features a distinctive glass wall that allows diners at the aptly named bar and restaurant Fishpool to watch the mermaids. But the classes – which Cara hopes to get oﬀ the ground after the restaurant opens in the second half of the year – are for advanced practitioners only. Students should have completed the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels at the Mermaid School and, by then, be comfortable swimming underwater. They should also have mastered more complex routines such as swimming while twirling a scarf.
But being a mermaid is also a state of mind. “It involves many more holistic elements – it’s about loving yourself and the people around you, carrying yourself with a certain grace, graciousness and confidence, and feeling empowered,” explains Cara.
That aside, the good news is: As long as you can swim two 25m laps in the pool independently and tread water for 20 seconds, you’re good to get in the water, start at the Bronze level, and work your way up.
THE ROAD TEST
I first wet my toes as a mermaid in Syrena’s foundation class. After I put on the tail while on land, I felt ungainly and handicapped. Getting around meant I had to wriggle, or be carried (yes, really).
But once I got in the water, it felt comfortable – the tail didn’t weigh me down at all. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner, as Syrena will start you oﬀ with a swimming board until you feel more at ease.
It also doesn’t matter if you don’t have abs of steel. In fact, I’d say anyone – even if you’re very unfit – can attend these classes. What’s more important is picking up the technique, which involves squaring your hips and undulating your body – it gives you a great full-body workout.
For me, the toughest part was learning how to sink, as I turned out to be inconveniently buoyant in the water. You also need to be able to empty your mind of distractions in order to hold your breath longer, another aspect I struggled with.
With each level, the syllabus becomes more challenging. I loved the lesson on somersaults, because it allowed me to use my upper-body strength to propel myself upside down. On top of these new moves, I learnt more performance elements like how to swim gracefully with props such as scarves, hold my breath while still looking eﬀortlessly graceful, and blow bubble kisses in the shape of hearts while underwater.
Once you get used to manoeuvring yourself in a tail, the experience is truly magical. It’s one thing to read about mermaids in fairy tales, but it’s another to feel like you’re actually one.
Visit http://www.themermaidsyrena.com for more information.
PHOTOGRAPHY WINSTON CHUANG & TAN WEI TE
ART DIRECTION ALICE CHUA
STYLING GRACE LIM