Photograp: 123rf.com / ANTONIO BALAGUER SOLER
equilibre Pilates Studio
Rochester Mall, 35 Rochester Drive, #02-13/14
THERE’S no one who knows movement better than a dancer. When Susan Su-Lengowski started equilibre Pilates Studio in March this year, she knew exactly what kind of movements she wanted in her boutique studio.
She says: “While we do offer the classical ballet syllabus in our ballet barre classes, we aren’t a traditional dance studio at all because we primarily do the exercise to train certain muscles. We also offer Pilates, the gyrotonic method, and suspension training.”
Trained in ballet at the Vienna Municipal Conservatory Austria, Ms Su-Lengowski suffered hip and ankle injuries at the young age of 25, which forced her into early retirement. Her focus at equilibre is making sure all her clients get quality instruction. “I know what it’s like to wake up in pain every day. Instead of just getting our clients in shape, we teach them how to properly use their muscles so they can enjoy the long-term benefits, protect their joints, and reduce the risk of future injuries.”
To this end, instructors at the wellness studio aren’t afraid to get hands-on, literally. “We’re always checking to see that our clients are engaging the right muscles and we make micro-corrections so our clients can really feel and understand the difference. Sadly, this isn’t standard practice which means people doing a low-impact activity such as Pilates can still easily sustain injuries because they aren’t executing the move correctly,” says the Taiwan native.
Classes, which cost about S$50 a session, are available on an individual, semi-private, and group basis, but there is a maximum of six students per session.
“When you train in such a small class together, it’s not just that you get more instructor interaction, but also that you support each other through progress, pain, and fun times,” she said.
While most Pilates studios tend to cater to a niche audience because of their high price point, equilibre looks to reach a wider audience with their more accessible group classes.
“We still work with people in their mid-30s and older but we’re starting to see younger clients come in, and some bring their kids too.”
The studio is located in Rochester Mall, chosen because “it has plenty of natural light and the space is large enough to accommodate simultaneous group sessions”. But with the previous tenant being a restaurant, setting it up came with its own challenges.
“We had to do a licence change in terms of spatial use which took a while to be approved. That, in turn, caused a delay in our renovations and it caused us to fall behind on our expected opening date which was January this year.”
Despite the initial hiccups, Ms Su-Lengowski is optimistic about the future of the studio. “Twenty years ago, I could hardly walk but Pilates slowly but surely transformed my body, and I’d love for more people to experience that for themselves.”
Mandarin Gallery, 333A, Orchard Road, #04-13
NO, put that smartphone away because you don’t need to go online to access fitness subscription company GuavaPass anymore. With the opening of GuavaLabs on Aug 1, their new pop-up studio at Mandarin Gallery in Orchard, GuavaPass is taking their online presence offline.
Rhyce Lein, the general manager of GuavaPass, said: “It gives us a brick-and-mortar space so it’s a tangible thing. People can come in to have a chat about what we offer, how our membership works, and even what kind of studios we work with. It offers a more personal touch.”
Having the 2,000-square-foot space also helps them make a stronger case for overseas studios to expand into Singapore’s burgeoning fitness market.
“There are some great brands in London and New York that we’re in conversation with, and we’d like to showcase them in Asia, but as you can imagine, they’re hesitant to do it right off the bat. This way, we can offer them a space and a demographic to see if it would be viable for them to do it on a more permanent basis,” he said.
But as a pop-up, the permanence of their space isn’t guaranteed either. GuavaLabs, originally conceived as a tie-up with Mandarin Gallery, will be at its current location for about six to eight months still – but will move into a dedicated wellness building operated by the OUE group in the Central Business District by Q1 of 2017.
“The OUE building will have several fitness studios in the basement, as well as a farmers’ market and a retail section, and while Orchard is a great location, we’d like to see what the downtown area has to offer as well.”
Mr Lein adds: “But if Mandarin Gallery asks us to make it a permanent offering once our agreement period is over, we may even have two studios in Singapore next year.” And if successful, it is probable that the partnership may even become a permanent one.
GuavaLabs offered free classes to the public this month and to date has seen about 500 people come in – of course, the overall growth in the local fitness community and a rising interest in boutique studios over commercial ones may have something to do with that too.
Mr Lein said: “When I moved to Singapore four years ago from Australia, there were very few studios here. But over the past couple of years, the number has almost quadrupled. I think people are starting to move towards fitness options that are more curated, and of a higher quality, than the ones available in commercial gyms.”
The classes offered at GuavaLabs are of a wide variety and range from methods such as Barre to yoga to boot camp. The studio takes a holistic approach and frequently invites nutritionists to speak at their events. It also has a snack bar stocked with items such as acai bowls and coconut water.
With about 130 local studios in partnership with GuavaPass, one is guaranteed of an ever-changing roster of classes, which incidentally isn’t just for members – the public can access the same on a per-session basis.
“Because we’re so active on social media, and we’re engaged with the fitness community here on a daily basis, we aim to curate the classes based on what our members want,” says Mr Lein. “And hopefully, once more people visit GuavaLabs, they’ll become GuavaPass members as well.”
Capital Tower Sports Performance
168 Robinson Road #09-01 Capital Tower
FITNESS First may be a commercial gym, but its philosophy of constant innovation is more in line with what you might find at a boutique studio. And nowhere is that more evident than at its reconstructed Capital Tower location.
After a month of renovation works at a cost of about S$1.65 million, the newly titled Capital Tower Sports Performance has one major focus. And that is to improve the performance of their members at extracurricular activities, be it running, cycling or playing basketball.
Andrew Phillips, Fitness First Singapore’s managing director, said: “We’ve been doing the same concept for about a decade, and we knew it was time to produce something that was different and had an edge to it. It had to stand outside our traditional propositions.”
To figure out what had to change, the UK-based fitness chain spoke to an expert, Professor Stuart Biddle, at Loughborough University who identified the three key components to intrinsic motivation.
Mr Phillips said: “The three things we found that would make our environment more motivational were competence, autonomy and social relatedness. That meant our members needed to feel they knew what they were doing, were in charge of it, and were engaged in activities with other like-minded individuals who shared similar goals.
“We also conducted some feedback sessions so we could make sure our members were getting exactly what they needed.”
What they learnt was that 60 per cent of their membership base is broadly defined as people who wanted to improve themselves towards a goal outside of the club such as doing triathlons, swimming faster, and performing better at group sports.
So the reinvigorated club, with its new direction, added to its existing core fitness facilities. “There are six new classes unique to this club and eight instructors in place for this new programming, some of which include Run classes, Athletica (strength and conditioning) classes, and Primal (dynamic movement) classes,” Mr Phillips said.
But don’t be intimidated if you aren’t an athlete just yet. “It sounds intense, but it’s designed for people for all levels. Take the Run class, for example. Each individual can be running at a different pace while still receiving the same instruction.”
Though the club is still very new on the market, member access has been noted to be 50 per cent higher than it was before closure, with a very strong enquiry rate. But that doesn’t mean Fitness First will keep it exactly like this.
“It will be tweaked over time. My philosophy is that everything should be under review and have the ability to be moulded. There’s no point holding a class if it’s the same every time. The body adapts very quickly to the same type of training so we have to make sure things stay dynamic.”
This story was originally published in The Business Times.