There are some girls who grow up dressed by their parents in pink tutus and who always insisted on wearing frilly dresses. I was not of them. I was never a girly girl. In junior college, when I was 17 and 18 years old, I joined the windsurfing squad, where we trained at least twice a week in the scorching sun and got really tanned as a result. In university, I joined the women’s football team, where we ran around in muddy fields in our studded boots.
My girliness only manifested itself in the past year when I started taking photos of my friends in yoga poses. I became entranced by the the aesthetics of the body, specifically the lines and planes of one’s body that made for a beautiful photo. That led me to ballerinas, who have the most beautiful lines of all dancers.
I first started my adult ballet “career” at a community centre with Joni. She taught my friends and I the basic arm and leg positions over a period of 10 weeks. I enjoyed the classes but lost interest towards the end when my knees starting hurting from the turnout. It was only much later did I realise that I should not force my turnout from the knees.
Following that, I gave up ballet until I chanced upon a new dance studio at Boat Quay called Wings to Wings three months ago. The studio was small, which limited the number of students that were able to attend the class. Instead of a traditional class that tend of to be quite hands-off, our teacher Denise went around adjusting her students. I was thrilled because I finally understood what muscles I needed for ballet and how I was not suppose to lift my hips whenever I raised my leg up.
At the end of the class, Denise said, “We are having our year end concert in November and we need dancers for ballet. Please sign up for it!”
I thought nothing of it when she said that. It was laughable that I could even perform as an absolute beginner. But as I attended more classes and became less intimidated, I started thinking that I could indeed prance around on stage. It also helped that the other dancers were truly “adult ballerinas” and not child prodigies who stopped for a few years and started once more.
So on 27 November 2015, I took the stage in a ballet recital at the ripe old age of 31.
We arrived at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts at 3pm to do up our hair and put on makeup as well as take part in two rehearsals before the actual performance started at 730pm. In between that, we had time to muck around and take photographs. Continue reading Taking the stage as an adult ballerina
I found out about Passport Asia one month ago from a friend, who told me with sparkling eyes that she has been attending exercise classes around the island – ranging from gymnastics to yoga to spinning – just by signing up with one mobile phone app.
I took little convincing. I love trying classes at different studios. Passport Asia hooks you up to 200 different exercise studios and you can select classes from kickboxing to judo to hip hop dance. You can even sign up for bubble bump soccer. If you don’t know what’s that, just take a look below – it looks awesome.
When the app first launched on smartphones, it was free for the first month. My friend tried out a dizzy array of classes before deciding to commit to paying $59 a month for four classes. That’s just $13.75 per class. A drop-in yoga class might cost $25 at the bare minimum. A boxing class in the business district costs around $40.
The first class I signed up for was adult ballet at Wings to Wings. When I arrived at the studio at Boat Quay, one of the teachers manning the reception cheerily that the class was on the second floor. The ballet teacher, Denise, took our attendance and asked us which app we were using – Passport Asia or its competitor KFit – before starting the class with minimal fuss. There were no complicated forms to fill in, which made the whole process very pleasant indeed.
The class itself was really fun. There were only six of us so the teacher had enough time to go round and correct each one of us. We did plies at the barre, jumps in the centre and also did assisted stretching. At the end of the class, I whipped out my phone again to book more dance classes at Wings to Wings.
The first thing you see when you open the app is this:
You can use the search bar on top to search for a class you like – such as yoga or even the studio’s name. Alternatively, you can scroll down and click on the type of class you want to attend.
This filters for the class you want to attend – circuit training, in my case – and lists them by day. You can even filter further to specify the location, time of class and specific studio.
Apart from ballet at Wings to Wings, I also attended boxing conditioning at Level gym, which is located at Telok Ayer in the city centre. Once again, the process was fuss free. I arrived earlier to fill in a form, noted that I was from Passport Asia and I was good to go. At the end of the class, the boxing coach told us he would see us next week and there was no talk of signing up for any packages. I was very happy that the whole experience was easy.
And because I was curious, I also downloaded the KFit app, which is rival to Passport Asia. In comparison, KFit’s interface was a lot more cumbersome. The landing page looks similar, except that it insists that there are zero activities this week. KFit’s interface has improved a lot since I last wrote this post. I am happy to see that they now rival Passport Asia’s interface.
I also could not find a search function. The filtering only allows me to filter for broad activities, such as martial arts, and location, but I couldn’t search specifically for judo or karate. If I wanted to go for a ballet class, I have to filter for dance and zumba, then scroll through every day to look for ballet classes. And because I could not filter for specific studios, I could not see what other classes were offered by the same studio.
You can now search by typing in key words, by ratings, distance and trending.
Maybe it was just me being dense but I certainly had a much harder time grappling with KFit’s interface. When I downloaded the app, they had a promotion that allowed you to go for one free class per month. I attended a judo class at Aljunied and like Passport Asia, the experience was very nice and there was no hard selling.
There were some overlapping classes with Passport Asia and KFit. The ballet classes I attended, for example, were available on both platforms. The judo class I took on KFit was not found on Passport Asia. In general, I felt that KFit offered a wider variety of martial arts classes.
Overall, I chose to go with Passport Asia because of ease of use and because I could go for unlimited classes at Wings to Wings. On occasion, studios might choose to limit your attendance to a certain number of times per month to encourage you to sign up directly with them. Level gym, for example, only allowed me to go for classes twice a month.
The two issues I found with Passport Asia was that I had to “check in” the app to register my attendance. I did not do it for the first two times and was registered as a “no-show.” I was fined $15 for each “no-show,” which meant that I was charged $30 unfairly for classes that I attended. I emailed the support team, who were quick to respond. They could only give me a coupon for $30 off for the following month but could not reverse the charges on my credit card. So, users beware. You have to check in on the app either before or directly after the class. Leave it too long and the deadline to “check in” would have passed and that’s a $15 fine.
The second issue is that you cannot book back-to-back classes. For example, if Studio X has two classes, one starting at 7pm and another starting at 8pm, you can only book one of them. Passport Asia restricts you from booking classes that start within half an hour of each other.
Edit: Seems like I am able to now!
It costs $99 a month to attended unlimited classes and $59 for four classes per month. Passport Asia has replaced their $99 unlimited pass with a more inferior system.
Four Star Pass: at SGD 54 this is the smart supplement to your weekly fitness routine. Allows you to book four classes per month.
Six Star Pass: combine value and variety at SGD 76. Allows you to book six classes per month.
Eight Star Pass: always on track to reach your fitness goals at SGD 98. Allows you to book eight classes per month. (I chose this one after my unlimited pass ended but I may cancel altogether as I tend to attend more than 8 classes per month and the platinum pro pass is not an option as it’s too expensive.)
Platinum Pro Pass: challenge yourself with a daily workout. Allows you to book up to 31 classes per month at SGD 179.
I signed up for the unlimited package partly because I knew I could cancel it any time I wanted to. I didn’t have to commit to a one-year package and I could pause the subscription if I were going away on a long holiday. My friend is on the four classes a month package and she tries something new each time to complement her existing workout routine.
If you want to sign up, you can use the coupon code JOYCE-346F which is good for new subscribers.
I am not usually a fan of home exercise videos. The last time I completed a home programme was during an exam period when I had no time to go to the yoga studio or for a run. This time, I injured my wrist and cannot even hold a plank. The doctor told me I had a cyst in my wrist and I had to avoid putting weight on it.
I decided to buy the Barre Sculpt programme on Codyapp, which costs US$39.99 for five videos, each 30 minutes long. The exercises can be assessed directly from the Codyapp website or can be downloaded as an app on your iPad, iPhone and other media devices. The trainer, Jacqueline Umof, has a dance background and also taught at Tracy Anderson’s fitness studios.
How Barre Sculpt works
There are 30 days in total and each week consists of the five workouts and two rest days. At the start, we are given a short introduction on how to use the plan.
The strength and beauty of this programme is that it focuses on the smaller muscles that dancers use, which are often neglected in regular cardio or strength training exercises. The movements are somewhat similar to those done in barre classes but I really like that Jacqueline focuses more on ballet positions. She also uses ballet terms (“Do a deep plié! Sauté!) and gets us to turn out our legs. This means that you’re not just doing pilates moves while holding a chair; you are actually doing conditioning moves that dancers use.
This is not to say that the classes are ballet classes disguised as a modern upbeat exercise routine. There is a good mixture of ab exercises on the floor; arm toning with light weights and unusual leg work with the help of a chair.
Here are screen shots of what some of the moves look like:
If you have been following me on Instagram (@Paleorina) you will know that I have been moaning about my knee injury. I have been unable to run without a throbbing soreness in my inner right knee and it has been driving me mad. Without running to help me expand my energy and keep me from bouncing off the walls, I needed something else to do that was low impact and interesting.
Yes, I have yoga but yoga was something very familiar to me. I wanted to try something different and exciting. Enter Xtend Barre. This is a pilates cum ballet workout that was created by an ex-ballerina in the US. The aim of this exercise was to create the long lean lines of ballerinas without actually having to take a ballet class. I mentioned in a previous post that my favourite body types are that of gymnasts and dancers so I was quite excited to try these classes!
I signed up for a one-week trial at $55 with Upside Motion that allowed me to take not only Xtend Barre classes, but also aerial yoga and pilates. In that one week, I managed to take three Xtend Barre classes under two different teachers, Laura and Saniya.