Before 2005′s big property boom, nearly all Western foreigners lived in pristine condos or downtown apartments. After the en bloc madness was over, all but the richest foreigners were forced to move into Singapore’s HDB littered heartland. My journey over the past four years has been from a three bedroom apartment at Mt. Emily, to a rented room near Pasir Panjang, to a two bedroom HDB in Clementi. The roughest part is that I’m still paying the same rent!
During this transition, my workout venue is perhaps the only aspect of my life that has become more convenient and affordable. When I first arrived in Singapore, I was lured by the wild promotions and flashing signs of California Fitness. The advertisements told of free complementary visits and sessions with a personal trainer. The reality is that you only get the complementary visit if you sit through their sales spiel, and the free session with a personal trainer is just a commercial for more sessions with a personal trainer. During the trainer’s high pressure sale, he poked my belly and said, “You like burgers, eh??!” Shocked and naive, I was hoping that he’d just check my form on some of the workout machines and help me write down a good training schedule.
The California Fitness sales scheme was secretive and inexcusable. I wanted a piece of paper that listed the their standard rates. Instead they pounded me with questions and attempted to extort every last dollar. Knowing full well that most people don’t go to the gym that often, they entice you with overpriced four year, three year, and two year plans available in not-very-different gold, silver, and platinum levels. I eventually settled on a one year plan for something in the ballpark of sixty U.S. dollars a month. After my first year I regretted my decision and canceled.
After I moved to HDB territory, I learned that there’s a better realm of fitness available in Singapore. These small gyms are typically located near community sports centers and go by the name ClubFitt.
At a ClubFitt, there’s no pressure to join, and the pricing schemes are reasonable. Adults can pay $2.50 per visit or the more ambitious can buy a six month membership for $170 (Those prices are Singapore dollars). There are bargain memberships available for seniors, students, and those willing to go at off-peak hours.
The environment is wholesome, but still tough enough to take fitness seriously. Rather than the Spandex clad tai-tais and business high-rollers of the California Fitness set, ClubFitts will have buff National Servicemen working side-by-side with aerobic aunties.
If you have a question about the fitness equipment, there’s always a staff member willing to answer. They will never pressure you to pay an extra fee. There’s also plenty of equipment to use, and I usually have to wait less time than I did at the more expensive Orchard Road California Fitness.
There are, however, a few drawbacks. First, the rules are quite strict. I’m not allowed to carry my water bottle with me and I have to leave it on a shelf outside the gym. For sanitation reasons, you are also required to carry a small towel at all times. If you should forget your towel, the staff will force you to go buy a dollar towel from their counter. The shower room, which I rarely use, is old and dingy.
The Singapore Sports Council makes a PDF available that provides comprehensive information about the ClubFitt gyms scattered around the island.
If that link doesn’t work, more information can be found at the Singapore Sports Council’s official website.