Friday 11 December 2015

Free Sunday workouts at 50 parks

Health Promotion Board expands fitness programme to meet rising demand
By Samantha Boh, The Straits Times, 10 Dec 2015

Be it to hop and swing their arms to the latest Korean pop songs, or stretch to soothing yoga tunes, people have been going to parks near their homes on Sundays for free instructor-led exercise classes.

These one-hour workout sessions are part of a Health Promotion Board (HPB) programme called Sundays@The Park.

Residents can pick from around 16 different types of exercise classes, including yoga, kickboxing and zumba, an aerobic dance to the rhythm of high-energy music.

Started in 2013, Sundays@The Park was held at only two locations initially: Choa Chu Kang and Sembawang parks.

"Since then, enthusiasm for the programme has grown and the HPB partnered with SportSG to implement it at more locations," said a spokesman for HPB.

Today, a variety of instructor-led workouts are held at 50 parks across Singapore, including Yishun Neighbourhood Park, Green Oval Park in Pasir Ris and Chinese Garden in Jurong.

They take place either on Sunday morning or evening, typically from 8.30am to 9.30am or 5pm to 6pm.

Each session is attended by an average of 30 to 40 people, comprising families with children, young adults and the elderly.

Some, like Madam Jessie Jee, 66, go for the sessions with friends. She finds it a fun and convenient way to keep fit.

"As a bonus, the sessions have also allowed me to get to know my neighbours and make new friends," said the assistant administrative executive who attends classes in Clementi's Firefly Park every week.

The sessions are led by either SportSG instructors or freelance trainers, who conduct them on top of their daily workload.

All, like SportSG instructor Kelvin Liu, 33, are more than happy to take on the extra responsibility.

"It does not feel like extra work to me. I find it fun to meet new people and share my experiences with them," he said. The former trader teaches Bokwa Fitness, a cardio-intensive workout in which participants draw letters of the alphabet and numbers with their feet.

Bearing in mind that participants at the Sunday sessions could be new to the form of exercise, Mr Liu keeps his routines simple.

"I usually also take the first 10 minutes of each class to run through the basic steps," he said.

The HPB said its aim is to encourage people to use public spaces to embark on a healthy lifestyle.

"By creating visibility of groups of people gathering for mass exercises in community parks, we are normalising the concept of using available public spaces within residential vicinities for regular group physical activity," said its spokesman.

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