Friday, April 20, 2018

Gym Review :: Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium Hotel

Even though Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium Hotel is overall not as swanky or luxurious as the hotels at Resorts World Sentosa {RWS}, I reckon that I still like it's gym better than Hard Rock Hotel Singapore's gym, which is shared by guests from FIVE RWS hotels - Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Festive Hotel Equarius Hotel, Crockfords Tower and Hotel Michael.

Yes, the other 4 RWS hotels don't have their own gyms so everyone has to flock over to Hard Rock Hotel Singapore if they want to use a gym.

Maybe it's because of its location - Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium's gym is located on Level 6, next to the pool. It has large clear windows overlooking the pool so bright, natural light fills the gym and there's good, vibrant energy there.

Although I think the size of both gyms is about the same, Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium is better equipped with more cardio and strength-training equipment.

It is accessible 24-hours a day by tapping in with your hotel key-card. Really useful especially when you want to come in late after feasting at the hotel restaurant's 1-for-1 buffet dinner haha..

There's 2 exercise bikes, 1 elliptical cross trainer, 2 treadmills, 2 exercise balls, 1 bench, 1 gym mat, 1 set of dumbbells {1kg - 30kg} and 1 multi-station weight machine {3 stations} that allows you to do a myriad of exercises like chest press, low-pull, overhead press, leg extension, lateral raise etc.

The Plurima multi-station machine from Technogym is rather interesting and I haven't seen it at other gyms I've been to.

Instead of fixed bars, most of the handles use a pulley-cable system so you can do various exercises with the different grips {which will in turn work different muscles}, and they also allow you to do unilateral exercises too. Good for those with injuries on one side, or for those that need to train away imbalances..

Here's a closer look at each station. Apparently there's a QR code on each machine that can be scanned with a smartphone to access a library of exercises, including how-to videos.

But on the gym mirror, there's also a poster teaching you how to use the machine and do some simple exercises.

There are alcohol wipes available for you to clean the machines before and after use, a weighing machine and small face towels available for use too.

However since it is just next to the pool, you can grab a bigger pool towel for use too and outside, there's a hot/cold water dispenser and shower facilities.

The boy and I used the gym about twice each. We came together in the afternoon on our first day at the hotel and it was pretty packed. When I trained at night again, it was empty though. In the morning on the second day before breakfast, the boy trained again and he said the gym had people, but wasn't that crowded.

Since it was just a 2D1N staycation, I didn't ask Superman for any program and just did some upper body exercises and cardio at night. If I wanted to, I think it is possible to do a decent full body workout there with the weights machine too.

However, slight disappointment in that there is no pull-up bar available again. Why??? This is the 4th hotel gym I've been to that has no pull-up bars!

☆ Gym Star Rating for Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium Hotel Gym
Overall satisfaction: 3.5/5
Equipment: 3/5 
Atmosphere: 4/5
Cleanliness: 4/5
Accessibility: 5/5
Staff availability: Nil

*****
Other weekend getaway ideas: 


One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
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Friday, April 13, 2018

Go Local : Former Beach Road Police Station

Haven't had time to go on any heritage walks this year yet but the last one I went to was in Oct 2017. It was led by Jerome to the old Beach Road Police Station.

Just like the walk to Old Changi Hospital, the old Police Station is usually closed to public, but we were given exclusive access this time thanks to the kind folks at Singapore Land Authority {SLA}.

{image from URA}
Right next to Shaw Tower, it's hard to miss the iconic orange building. That's not the original colour though - it was repainted bright orange by Raffles Design Institute when it took over the site from 2007 to 2013.

The old Police Station was in the news last year when Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority {URA} launched a public tender for the plot of land along Beach Road where the old Police Station was located.

It eventually sold for S$1.62billion to a consortium comprising subsidiaries of property developer Guocoland. It's a pretty unique sale because although the developer must conserve and restore the former police station, only the main station building that was built in 1931 must be retained.

The developer has the option of demolishing the two barrack blocks as part of the redevelopment, so I was lucky to have gone on that heritage walk as it might have been the last opportunity for me to see the whole complex as it is.

Note: According to URA, 70% of the land must be used for office spaces. The remaining can be developed for additional office, retail, hotel, serviced apartment and residential uses.

The station and two barrack buildings were completed in 1934 and was operational for nearly 70 years until 2001.

Apparently before the 1960s, most police stations in Singapore had living quarters for staff and their families. Beach Road Police Station was no exception too and provided quarters for 64 married men in one block, and 80 single men & NCO in another block.

Someone in the group that day, Mr Philip Xavier, actually worked and stayed there in the 1970s!! Was interesting to hear him share about his experiences..

The old Police Station also contained offices, a guard room, an armoury, a cell block, fitness training / recreation areas and a number of stores.

After its closure in 2001, the Beach Road Police Station was accorded conservation status in 2002 and became the fourth location to be marked as a historic site by the National Heritage Board in 2003.

You can find out more on its history & background from Jerome's write-up.

Unlike Old Changi Hospital, the old Police Station is actually very well-maintained, clean and in most areas, already refurbished.

Probably because even after the Police Station closed, the site was still used from 2003 to 2006 by private schools, and then from 2007 to 2013 by Raffles Design Institute as I mentioned earlier. After that, it was open a few times for art shows and trade fairs. 

Some parts were air-conditioned, grounds were swept, windows were cleaned... the interior looked and felt just like any other unused modern building except for its traditional colonial-style exterior. 

Nothing like the dilapidated, Old Changi Hospital we saw which I actually enjoyed exploring more as it had more character and an air of mystery haha.

I really love these old wooden window shutters though...

Every time I go on one of these heritage walks, I'm reminded again how fast Singapore is changing and developing. By the time Lil Pumpkin grows up, will it be vastly different from the one I grew up in?

Read this opinion piece in Straits Times recently about how if this is home, truly, it should look like home. It struck a chord with me especially now as my parents are preparing to move out of my childhood home since it, too, will be redeveloped soon. Sobs.. sobs.

"And if the point guard chooses to pass, let us not, in 50 years, undertake a "Memory Project" memorialising the Big Four, turned to dust on our watch.

Let us not wax lyrical about the best pad thai we ever had at Golden Mile Complex.

Let us not commission a documentary on People's Park Complex, behemoth of South-east Asian Brutalist architecture.

Let us not track down the founders of The Projector, the beloved independent cinema at Golden Mile Tower, to pick their brains on seeding creative diversity in fringe locales.

Let us not fund the production of hipster badges featuring illustrations of the legendary horseshoe-shaped Pearl Bank Apartments.

Let us not be bystanders to the destruction of things we hold dear - things that make us us - while there is still time to take action, and then some years down the road, when it is well and truly futile, initiate twee endeavours to revel in skin-deep nostalgia about those losses.

Before we are asked to have an identity, to reflect on ties that bind, to take pride, to procreate, to pledge, let us have something to come home to that is ours.

If this is home, truly, it should look like home."


Former Beach Road Police Station
99 Beach Road
Not open to public

Other Singapore heritage places:


Friday, April 6, 2018

Fitness Diary :: Lessons Learnt from Being Injured


It is a pain, both literally and figuratively, to be injured. Ever since I aggravated my chronic back problem {due to scoliosis} in late September 2016, my training hasn't been the same and I haven't been the same sportsperson as I used to be.

I know that I'm not alone in getting injured while training. There are tons of articles about it, tons of books written about it, and in the past 2.5+ years since I started gymming regularly, I've probably seen more injuries and known more people to be injured than the 10+ years I spent in competitive swimming... even the boy and Superman have been injured, and still get injured while training nowadays.

I also have people visiting my blog and writing in to me because of their own injuries while training.

As with anything when you have to stop and start over, it is very frustrating and at times, depressing. You question, "why me??!" and start to wonder and think if there was anything you could have done to prevent the injury.

Maybe. Most likely. But then again, the very foundation of muscle-building and strength training is to, very simply put, "damage" and stress your muscles so that they repair and grow back stronger. So, if you think about it, you are in the game to get injured, you just want to make sure that you don't get injured seriously.

Anyway, I digress.. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and I've learnt some positive lessons from being injured which I wish I knew from when I first got badly injured. It probably would have saved me a lot of stress and tears.

This letter is what I would tell my old injured self in 2016, a reminder to myself whenever I get injured now and then, and also to serve as an encouragement to anyone who is currently injured from training at the moment.

Don't give up on your fitness goals, for this too shall pass.

*****

Dear Injured You,

I guess you must be feeling rather sorry and pissed with yourself right now. Sorry that you're in such a sad state and training has to stop or slow down, sorry that you've to stop Muay Thai & CrossFit, sorry that now you might lose your "gains"... and pissed. Oh boy, are you pissed that you ignored the signs and uncomfortable tinges of pain during your workout and now you have to pay for it by being forced to pay attention and stop to rest. Or maybe, you're just pissed because there were no signs.

Yup, sometimes shit just happens and despite taking all the necessary precautions and having the best intentions in the world, you still get injured. C'est la vie.

Superman told you this when you first got badly injured, "... once you realise that almost everyone who trains hard is dealing with some sort of injury in one way or another, you begin to understand that it's part and parcel of pushing yourself hard. Look at every professional athlete out there. All of them have injuries. Some even retire because of them. Just accept is as a normal part of the process and it'll be less frustrating. You just have to understand that's usually how it works? And getting upset over these things won't help in the long run too."

Wise words from an experienced trainer, and you're really lucky to have such a patient and caring trainer by your side to help you to deal with the pain, encourage you through the frustrations, manage your expectations, plan your rehabilitation & training, and not to mention give you "tough love" when you're getting all whiny and indulging in self-pity.

Getting injured isn't the end of the world. In fact, it might be a blessing in disguise as you...

1) Appreciate your support system,
It's very easy to stay negative when you're injured, but with a good support system you can bounce back faster. Thank goodness for the boy who is there to motivate you & get you whatever supplements or gear you need to get better, for friends who share their experiences & tips on recuperating, and for Superman who keeps an eye on you during training and never complains about amending or making new programs for you whenever a new or old injury cropped up.

2) Learn not to take a healthy body for granted,
When even a simple movement like squatting or bending over hurts, you learn to be grateful for the times when you were healthy and mobile enough to move without pain, and you become more aware of the way you need to feel, perform and move be be as healthy and mobile again. 

3) Become more aware of the basic movements, techniques and skills,
There's no better time or reason then now, when you are injured, to really take things slow, work on your techniques and build your foundation up again. To go further you have to go slow and not rush the process. Prior to getting injured, you progressed very well and managed to hit many strength PRs in a relatively short amount of time. As you got stronger, you started to be more daring in testing your limits and adding more weight to the bar, and your body probably could not keep up with the intensity especially since you neglected your recovery process and diet. Now that you are forced to step back, you are slowly building up your strength but with an even stronger foundation in knowledge & skills so that no matter how challenging the workout may be, you are able to adapt and focus on your form & techniques, before worrying about the numbers.

4) Take time to improve on your weaknesses,
When you to focus on your form & techniques, you come to recognise and critically analyse your weaknesses both in and outside the gym to improve on them. For example with your bad lower back, you now know that you've to do additional rehabilitating exercises like Reverse Hyperextensions and Back Extensions, stretch that area for at least 30mins daily, work on your core and consciously brace hard to strengthen and protect it from further injuries. Even if doing these extra work takes time away from other exercises or makes the workout even longer than usual, they still must be done and you now understand that.  

5) Focus on the small wins & progress, 
You may not be as strong as you used to be, but the sportsperson that you are is still in there. Progress is progress no matter how small, and you must celebrate the small wins and steps forward that bring you towards being an even better lifter than you were before. You may just be lifting much less than what you are used to, but at least now you are lifting with even better form. You may be going much slower than you are used to, but at least now you are doing so with even better technique. 

6) Remember to leave your ego at the gym door.
You're sometimes tempted to do the same movements and weights that you did pre-injury, but that will only slow down your recovery and stall progress in the long run. Superman always reminds you when you complain about not being about to do some exercises or lift the same weights as before that "you are not weak, you are injured". You've learnt the hard way that while ego lifting with poorer form may let you lift more initially, building from proper form and a strong base is always superior. You've had to change your stances, sharpen your techniques, and open your mind to doing things differently and even though it might feel "weird" or uncomfortable at the beginning, it's just because you are not used to it, not because it is wrong

Nobody doubts what you can achieve in the gym, and you are always willing to give it your all during your workouts. But given the intensity and frequency at which you train, having injuries from time to time is inevitable.

You just have to learn to accept it, deal with it, and move with better form to prevent them from flaring up, and also to prevent future injuries.

Most importantly, don't give up. Don't let your injuries stop you from training and progressing further. Don't let your injuries triumph over you. YOU are stronger than that.

Love,
From Someone Who Has Been There

*****

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Family Ice-Skating @ The Rink, JCube

During the March holidays, I brought Lil Pumpkin to ice-skate at The Rink, JCube. It was one of our most fun thing we did ever, I reckon!

Lil Pumpkin said that she wanted to skate during the March hols but I can't skate for nuts. I can't really balance that well you see {only learnt how to bike in my 30s haha} and I want to do activities with her, not just watch her do it, so decided that the next best thing to do was to bring her ice-skating as there are very helpful skating aids to assist people like me, who can't skate, enjoy the experience..

There are 2 places that you can ice-skate at in Singapore - The Rink at JCube and Kallang Ice World at Kallang Leisure Park. Both places use real ice in their rinks.

You used to be able to ice-skate at Marina Bay Sands {MBS} on a pseudo-ice synthetic surface. However, since 22 Dec 2017, the rink at MBS is now permanently closed and has been taken over by a new digital art exhibit that lets visitors create art with their footsteps, watch fishes swimming underneath their feet, or set off fireworks.

I heard that the pseudo-ice surface was really slippery compared to real ice, and not many people liked to skate there because it didn't feel like ice-skating at all, and it was very open since it was right smack in the middle of the mall so no loss over it closing I guess.

After researching, I decided to head to The Rink with Lil Pumpkin even though it was much further away from home compared to Kallang Ice World.

See an overview of our whole experience there in the video above. If it's not working, check it out on my YouTube channel.

Although Kallang Ice World has free skate aids and is more private as only paying visitors can see you skate {The Rink is open for viewing to all}, some reviews on Tripadvisor said that staff service is horrendous, skates are too worn and the place is in dire need of upgrading. Oh dear.

Didn't want to risk it and since we were at Kallang the day before for rock-climbing already, we headed to The Rink for that day's 12.45pm session. It took us about 1.5hrs to reach there via public transport.

The Rink is Singapore's first and only Olympic-size ice skating rink. Our National Skating Associations {NSA} train there and it also hosts events and activities such as recreational ice skating, and international tournaments in ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, and ice curling so the ice rink must be kept to a certain standard for sure.

We arrived about 12 noon and since The Rink is on Level 3 of JCube, I went to get lunch for Lil Pumpkin first from McDonald's at Level 1, then go to Daiso on Level 2 to get us some gloves as I couldn't find our pairs at home.

Went to buy our tickets about 12.20pm from the sales counter there was no queue. The guy staff was helpful and explained that ice-resurfacing was going on now for about 15-20mins so we could buy our tickets, but it's better if we enter at 12.45pm after that as your 2 hr 15 mins time limit starts the moment you enter the admission gates and the time you use to wait for the resurfacing will eat into your play-time.

Note: After people skate a while the ice melts and gets chipped off so ice-resurfacing is done to clean and smooth the rink's ice surface.

Lil Pumpkin had her lunch while waiting and when we went back to enter at 12.45pm, there was already a long queue at the sales counter. Thank goodness we bought our tickets earlier!!

But then even after we entered, we still had to queue about 5-10mins to exchange our shoes for our ice-skates. On hindsight, we should have entered about 12.30pm to get our skates and try them on as that takes up some time, especially with the holiday crowd.

Despite Lil Pumpkin's objections about getting skating aids {"No need Mummy, I know how to skate!!"}, I rented 2 Snowman skating aids for each of us.

So glad I did as they were a lifesaver!! They cost S$10 each for 2 hrs rental which is a little steep but well worth the money as we could enjoy skating, without worrying about falling or hanging on to the rink edges for dear life.

I was thinking of getting the Seal skating aid {S$15 for 2hrs rental} as one person can skate while the other person sits on it to get pushed around but Lil Pumpkin didn't want it at all.

Oh well. It's more fun when the both of us are skating together anyway.

Lil Pumpkin had roller blading lessons twice in school before as an after-exam activity. But ice-skating is a whole new experience for her... and me too!!

She was really excited to try it out though and at the beginning wasn't steady at all {again, thank goodness we had the Snowmans!!} but just about 30 mins in, she was ready to try and skate without the aids.

Actually after trying out a few times without the aid, she was adamant not to use it and wanted to go around the rink without it, even if she had to go slower.. she also encouraged me to try and skate without the aid which I did, but I still preferred to use it hehe.

I must say though, that Lil Pumpkin has good balancing skills {unlike her mummy haha} and picks things up pretty fast. By the end of the two hours she could ice-skate around the rink herself without any support, even though her technique isn't very efficient. The video above was taken just before we left The Rink at the end of our session.

We didn't take any breaks and spent the whole 2 hours on the ice rink. A good thing that I rented a locker {S$2 for one-time use} too so didn't have to worry about checking on my bag if I had placed it on the spectator stand with nobody else to look after it and risk losing my valuables.

It was pretty crowded since it was the March holidays, but there was still enough space to skate around comfortably and most visitors were also amateurs and did not skate around too fast or recklessly.

Confession: I'm reeeeaaaaallly paranoid about us falling down with our hands on the ground and someone skating over and slicing off our fingers with the ice-skates' blades accidentally!!

I saw on their website that from 1 Apr 2018, The Rink started selling a multi-visit savers pass with a 6 months validity period - the Skater's Play Pass.

With it, an adult admission ticket is only S$9.80 {U.P. S$14} and a child ticket is only S$8.40 {U.P. S$12}. Pretty good value-for-money and if we lived nearer, I think we would get it and go more often as we really did have a fabulous time for our first visit!! Will definitely be back again!


Tips:
  • Check the public skating sessions schedule in advance before going. I suggest visiting just after the ice-resurfacing sessions to enjoy your full play without interruption.
  • Minimum age for ice-skating is 3 years old, but kids between ages 3-5 years old needs an adult with them on the ice.
  • Smallest skate boots is size Euro 27 and biggest skate boots is size Euro 47.
  • Each admission ticket allows for one-time entry into The Rink. If you exit and would like to re-enter again, you will have to pay for another admission ticket.
  • Toilets, snacks and drinks vending machines are available on premise.  
  • Rent a locker if you have nobody to look after your belongings. Better safe than sorry.
  • If you're not sure whether to rent skating aids or not, you can skate a while and get them later from the sales counter. No need to get them when you purchase the tickets.  
  • Penguin aids are for really small kids {below 1.2m}, Snowman and Seal aids are for bigger kids and adults.
  • Remember the unit number of the skating aid{s} that you rent. Although you can paste a name sticker on them during rental, once you let go of them in the rink, people tend to want to "borrow" and will skate away with it.. so with the unit number it's easier to recognise in the crowd.
  • At least 2 staff are in the rink at any time {wearing yellow tops} and will help you up if you fall down, or help you to find your skating aid if you happen to lose it in the rink.
  • During peak periods, rent your ice-skates early as your shoe size might run out if it is very popular e.g. adult sizes 8-10
  • The Rink sells socks at S$2/pair for adults & kids, and gloves at S$2/pair for adults & S$2.50/pair for kids. Socks are mandatory but gloves are optional. 
  • Wear long, thick socks as the skates might be abrasive, especially if you're skating for long periods. No need for thick winter coats, but a thin windbreaker or fleeced long-sleeved hoodie and long pants/ tights would be comfortable.
  • The Rink also rents out helmets at S$5 each for 2hrs, but nobody wears them. I actually brought Lil Pumpkin's scooter/bike helmet for her to wear but she didn't want to when she saw that nobody else had one on.
  • For convenience, you can purchase tickets and rent equipment one week in advance on The Rink's online website. For online purchase, you will receive a redemption voucher via email which you need to print and redeem your admission ticket at The Rink’s self-ticketing kiosk.

The Rink at JCube
2 Jurong East Central 1, #03-11, JCube
Open daily usually 10.30am - 4.30pm
*Check public skating sessions schedule on website for details as it differs daily due to NSA training sessions.
Website: http://www.therink.sg/

Note: This is not a paid advertorial or sponsored post. All opinions are my own.