Review: Passport Asia mobile app for exercise classes

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.

bubble bump

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:

The landing page for the Passport Asia app
The landing page for the Passport Asia app

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.

I chose circuit training
I chose circuit training

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.

IMG_3554

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.

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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.

JOYCE-346F

$15 off one month’s subscription

 

Graceful and toned with Barre Sculpt on Codyapp

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.

barre sculpt codyapp

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 pli√©! Saut√©!) 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:

codyapp barre
Second position pulses from “Interval Barre”
Abs and thighs workout during "Rhythmn and Movement"
Abs and thighs workout during “Rhythmn and Movement”
Toning the arms with weights from "Dancer Core"
Toning the arms with weights from “Dancer Core”

Continue reading Graceful and toned with Barre Sculpt on Codyapp

Push your fitness boundaries with Instagram challenges

Since I joined Instagram two years ago, I have taken part in about four Instagram challenges. They were all related to yoga poses but there are also other challenges for general fitness, such as those hosted by @blogilates, who posted a 30-day challenge for her followers. By taking part in this challenge and using the appropriate hashtag, people can follow the progress of other people and motivate themselves! It’s like having a virtual exercise buddy.

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Taking part in yoga challenges on Instagram has forced me to practise poses that I normally avoid and also allow me to document my progress over two years. Here is how it works:

1. The host shows a preview of 30 poses to be done daily for one month. There are usually a few hosts per challenge and sponsors that will give out prizes, such as yoga leggings, at the end of the challenge to a few people.

2. To enter the challenge, you have to follow the daily poses and include the names of the hosts and the sponsors in your Instagram post so that they can take a look at your entry. Do this for the next 30 days or 10 days, depending on the length of the challenge.

3. Take a pretty picture! Get a friend to place the camera at a low angle if your pose is close to the ground. Choose a nice background. The beach is a good choice.

4. Use the hashtags provided by the host, which should allow other people to easily find your photos. It is very encouraging to get nice comments and words of motivation on your photos!

When I started on one of my earlier challenges, I couldn’t straighten my legs in firefly pose. One year later, I looked less like a cockroach and more like a firefly! I dare say that my photography skills have also improved – I became more fussy about lighting and background when I took photographs.

In this case, the firefly pose was something that I would never practise on my own if I wasn’t forced to. Indeed, I went on YouTube to search for instruction videos. I fell on my bum many times and tried different variations before I figured out the right way to carry my weight. I also learnt the various stretches to prepare for this pose.

Firefly pose

Continue reading Push your fitness boundaries with Instagram challenges

Want to win some paleo goodies?

I’m giving away¬†a loaf of paleo bread or a bag of paleo cookies to two people! Now is a great time for you to take part if you’ve always wanted to try¬†the bread or cookies but¬†are not sure if you’ll like it. Or if you’re a regular customer, you can get your next loaf for free!¬†This is the first contest I’m sponsoring so I’m very excited. The winner also gets a one clothing item¬†from local online yoga retailer¬†www.omgoing.com, which stocks amazing brands like Teeki and Liquidoactive.

contest free bread

It’s very easy to take part in this contest.

1. First, you need to have Instagram. Go download¬†the app¬†on your phone if you haven’t!¬†It’s fun and you can ‘follow’ people to see what they are up to!

2. Next take a photo of yourself wearing your gym wear outside of the studio. The idea is that we need not confine exercise clothes to the gym and that there are creative ways to make them look good for outside wear as well.

3. Post this photo with the hashtag #coloursplashsg and tag the four sponsors @paleorina @omgoing @yogaseeds and @trinityark. The other sponsors are also giving away goodies, including free yoga lessons.

3. This contest will run for two weeks from now until 23 July 2014. Winners will be announced on my Instagram wall.

Here are some sample photographs. Let’s create some colour splashes around Singapore!

bodyangelactivewear
Omgoing sisters wearing their yoga tops to the playground
yoga clothes free
Aunty Pearly taking her yoga leggings sightseeing overseas

Staying healthy on holidays abroad

Overseas holidays are normally associated with lots of eating. We want to sample all kinds of delicious foreign food and we take a break from our usual workout routine. It’s not uncommon to come back with our bellies bloated and skin blotchy from poor eating! Even if the trip involved physical activities like¬†hiking for two days, it’s still possible to eat unwisely when we are not prepared with healthy snacks. Or we may pig out after our strenuous activity thinking that we have burnt enough calories!

How do we stay healthy on overseas holidays then? I just returned from my friend’s bachelorette party in the Maldives and indeed, we feasted non-stop! Actually, I thought we ate a lot less than our usual holidays simply because the food and drinks were prohibitively expensive. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a fast before your holiday

If you know that your holiday will involve a lot of eating and sitting around, it may be prudent to do a one-day fast before the trip to compensate for the extra intake. There are several ways to fast. My favourite is the Fast Diet method, in which you only eat 500 calories for women, and 600 calories for men, for one day. The next day you go back to eating normally. It’s not as difficult as water fasts and not as sugary as juice fasts. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend juice fasts at all given the amount of sugar consumed. The good thing about fasting is that¬†you do it just for one day¬†but studies have shown that even¬†temporary caloric restriction can¬†have many benefits for the body, including improvements in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.

  • Start with a salad

maldives holiday inn Continue reading Staying healthy on holidays abroad

Namaste Yoga Festival in Jakarta – Nov 2013

A weekend of yoga with great teachers, amazing Indonesian food and relaxing hair spas – what more can I ask from a short weekend jaunt overseas?

In late November, I attended the Namaste Festival at Hotel Sultan in Jakarta. This was three days worth of workshops ranging from yoga classes to martial arts to recycle art. The yoga classes were the main attraction naturally. Because we signed up very early for the festival, we paid only S$130 each (it was a one-for-one deal) for the full festival pass. Barbara, who attended a similar festival in Hong Kong earlier this year, paid about S$500 for that event. This Indonesian one was a very good deal indeed.

The festival took place in downtown Jakarta at Hotel Sultan. We were fortunate that we were able to bunk in for three days with our Indonesian friend Rosiva who lived just 10 minutes away and didn’t have to waste money on accommodation.

The hotel grounds were humongous. All the tennis courts were converted into marquees for the yoga workshops. Here we posed at the pool.

namaste festival jakarta Continue reading Namaste Yoga Festival in Jakarta – Nov 2013

Yoga workshop with Briohny and Dice

Last weekend, I was convinced that I had developed visible stomach muscles after practising yoga for seven hours over two days.

“Look at them! I seem to have some muscles now!” I crowed, pointing to my non-existent abs. My friend Barbara wasn’t so convinced.

We were at a three-day yoga workshop conducted by instructors Briohny and Dice. This workshop was held at Pure Yoga at Ngee Ann City. It was going to consist of very strong poses, such as handstands, arm balances and various other athleticism. Actually, it was more like a slow gymnastics class rather than yoga, and that was the way I like my yoga.

Take a look at this picture below and you will know what I mean.

briohny dice

Continue reading Yoga workshop with Briohny and Dice

Acroyoga – or how we went topsy turvy

I first heard of acroyoga from surfing on Instagram. There, I saw photos of people contorted on each other. It looked more like gymnastics rather than yoga. I wondered how they got on top of each other. It looked really difficult.

acroyoga 1Source: alexxac

acroyoga 2Source: alissayoga

acroyoga 3Source: mallzballs

It turns out that acroyoga is quite a new trend in the yoga world. It is a blend of yoga and acrobatics and was conceived by yoga practitioners in North America (Montreal and California) in 2001. This practice, as you can see from the pictures, require two people at least, and usually consists of a base, who has the most contact with the ground, as well as the flyer, who is elevated off the ground.

Continue reading Acroyoga – or how we went topsy turvy

Yoga – crow pose

crow-tara stilesSource: Tara Stiles

Arm balances have always been the bane of my yoga life. I couldn’t get into crow pose (pictured above) or do chaturanga, which is like a yoga push-up. I thought I didn’t have the arm strength. It was only until recently did I realise that I did indeed have the strength to do these things. It was a matter of technique – I was taught by Alicia how to shift my weight forward to get the balancing sweet spot.

On the other hand, my friend Barbara has always been very good at arm balances. Here is her crow pose. The difference between hers and Tara Stiles above is that her calves are not lifted as high.

crow pose yoga Continue reading Yoga – crow pose

Anahata Yoga studio at Arab Street

Anahata Yoga studio is a small yoga studio tucked away in the back alleys of Arab Street. It was quite difficult to locate because it was not on the main street. Here is the entrance.

anahata yoga

I signed up for a two for $20 first time promotion, which allowed me the chance to try two power yoga classes conducted by Kiki. She came recommended to me by a colleague and I was told that she used to teach at Hom Yoga.

There were two studios at Anahata yoga and I only saw one of them because the other was meant for hot yoga. We were given mats and towels at the counter, which we brought into the small studio. I liked that the studio was small and could only house about ten students but the room didn’t have a mirror, unlike Yoga Movement, which meant that it was difficult to follow the teacher if you were right in front staring at the wall. The quality of the mats was also not as good as those provided by Yoga Movement or Hom Yoga; the material was less “sticky” and slightly harder to grip. Continue reading Anahata Yoga studio at Arab Street