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Day One, 11am: Registration with the Asics team at The Warehouse Hotel, a former godown perched on the Singapore River bank in Robertson Quay that’s been transformed into an industrial chic haven. Fascinating aside: Word is that the meticulously restored 120-year-old building was once a gathering ground for secret societies and underground shenanigans. In any case, the 37-bedroom hotel was booked out for the training event and its lobby transformed into a fitness space just for us.
11.45am: I overheard a fellow journalist saying that she has been training more regularly of late so as to not bring shame to her publication and business. Sorry, Her World colleagues: The HIIT and bodypump classes I’ve only just started attending two to three weeks before are not going to be enough to save our collective dignity and pride. My goal was pretty simple: to get out alive.
12 noon: Whisked away for lunch at Po restaurant, a modern Singaporean hangout named after the classic popiah and a fictitious, sassy grandmother. Got our hands dirty and made our own popiah. Honestly, mine turned out looking more like a burrito (#asianfail), but it was a decent icebreaker, plus the atas Carabinero prawn konbu mee and sambal forest mushrooms we had on the side were absolutely scrumptious. Under usual circumstances, I would’ve felt guilty about wrapping up my first staycation meal with a decadent serving of creamy halia panna cotta but hey, I could probably use the energy booster.
1.50pm: Time for a 20-minute consultation with the Urban Rehab physiotherapist team. I occasionally experience lower back pain while seated from my sedentary office lifestyle, so my consultant Louise suggested bending both knees to chest, as well as practising right and left knee rolls; I've been 'tasked' to aim for about three to four reps while lying in bed in the morning and at night.
2.20pm: Checked into room 218! The high ceilings and eco-certified Ashley and Co toiletries infused with invigorating crushed mint, blackcurrant and lemongrass-ey goodness were just a couple of my favourite things. The room was furnished and decorated by homegrown brands that cleverly weaved in quirks unique to Singapore – socially motivated lifestyle brand Matter Prints, for instance, customised the bed runner based on the hotel building’s reflection in the Singapore river, and and the minibar was stocked with local snacks like The Golden Duck Co.’s salted egg yolk chips. Bottom-line: I can certainly get used to a life like this.
5pm: Our first session with Tanya Poppet kicked off with a series of high knees, butt kicks, reaching lunges, bear crawl-frog squats and crab crawl-bear planks to warm up. At this point, my heart was already pounding. Then we got into her signature Tabata HIIT – speedy workouts with short rest intervals that are designed to push yourself to hit your maximum heart rate. For the record, Tanya introduced three stations – jumping lunge twist crunches and push-ups with row; plank tuck burpees and frog squats; and reverse burpees and hot steps. Each went on for six rounds before we stretched and cooled down.
If that sounds like your idea of fun, you may be pleased to know that Tanya’s routines rely on body weight instead of equipment (no gym required!). Catch a preview of what you’re getting yourself into on her social media channels and fitness app Train with Tanya (available free for download with in-app purchases). Plus, here’s a bite-sized #fitspo tip from the fitness guru herself:
6pm: After a 20-minute break to catch our breath, the day’s second workout focused on strength. Think: push-ups, step-ups with knee drive, and death rolls (thankfully not as painful as it sounds. See what it looks like here). For the core challenge finisher, we partnered up – two minutes of taking turns to complete six commandos and to hold a plank position; one minute of taking turns to complete six boat tucks and to hold a boat position.
7pm: Grateful for the bananas doled out by the ASICS team at this point.
7.30pm: Celebrity chef Angela May of Angela May Food Chapters fame served up an unorthodox but relatively healthy three-course spread. Take for instance the sugar snap pea salad composed of kale tofu flower, mint, ginger, and a delightful tinge of szechuan chili oil (pictured below).
I sat across from superhuman and all-round nice person Tanya, who shares that she owes her interest in fitness in part to her mother, who was also a trainer. A vegan for almost two years, she was convinced by a myriad of things to switch up her diet – namely the effect consuming meat has on the environment, animal cruelty, and one’s health. She was so smiley and approachable that it was easy to picture her as a kindergarten or primary school teacher (she still teaches twice a week).
9.30pm: A chill-out session with drinks was in order but first, I caught up with the adorable and inspiring Ming Bridges who shared what it’s like balancing a workout routine and battling hypothyroidism.
9.45pm: In an attempt to overcome certain vices at this time of the day, I also prodded Angela May for her answer to curbing midnight snacking and her go-to meal for a busy work day (hint: beans).
12am: Time for bed, because I’m a child who needs at least seven hours of sleep in order to function like a human being.
Day Two, 7.30am: Woke up feeling more than a little sore in my shoulders and legs. Maybe I should’ve given that Amino Vital sachet for speedy muscle recovery a shot; it says on the packet that it was designed for the Japanese Olympic athletes in London.
8am: As inviting as the breakfast spread looked, I could not quite bring myself to stomach anymore than scrambled eggs and a cup of joe for fear that it’d all come rushing back up as soon as I begin session three’s running-based workout.
8.30am: Whoever said that Sundays are meant for lazing around? We started with a warm-up jog to the opposite side of the river. Next, we challenged ourselves to see how many sets of 10 burpees and 100m sprints back and forth we could complete within five minutes or less. Then it was the number of 100m bear crawls and 100m jogs we could complete, and so on and so forth. It started to drizzle, but apparently that means nothing to these fitness enthusiasts. It was like I was witnessing firsthand how new year’s resolutions come to life – through pure grit and determination.
9.10am: Eternally grateful for a 20-minute break to cool down and regain our composure and sanity.
9.30am: We were down to our final HIIT exercise in the lobby. Pistol squats, frog squats – everything was burning. I must confess, it feels pretty good. Trouble was, I was getting a bit tired and somewhere between mountain climbers and what felt like the hundredth reverse burpee, I began losing count of how many reps I had completed. This is possibly where a fitness tracker might come in handy.
10am: All freshened up, I hand over the room key and bid adieu to this heaven of a place. On my way to brunch, I feel distinctly pleased – I reckon I’ve earned myself a hearty meal.