You might be familiar with Fitness First Singapore as a chain of fitness centres that offer various workout classes for its members in addition to the usual gym set-up. Well, that list is expanding with the introduction of their new aqua fitness classes, H20 Flow and H20 HIIT.
These new offerings present a unique experience for its members to perform their workouts on a floating aqua mat while surrounded by water. Each of these brings its own benefits, with H20 Flow helping to build core strength and endurance through yoga sequences, while H20 HIIT improves strength and stability from cardio and resistance type movements.
I was looking forward to trying out both of these classes at Fitness First’s Westgate location when handed the opportunity; its unique premise was intriguing. But there was some scepticism on my end as well about its efficacy. On an unstable surface, we might not generate enough power, which leads to inefficiencies.
I arrived at the gym’s pool area in the early hours of the morning, ready to start the experience. Greeting me was Sherlin Foong, my instructor for the day and the one who masterminded the creation of the H20 series for Fitness First
She described the two experiences in further detail. H20 Flow is a yoga program where participants do various yoga movements for 45 minutes before finishing off in the Shavasana pose (lying down). H20 HIIT, as the name suggests, has people doing high-intensity interval training, going through intense cardiovascular workouts for 30 seconds and resting before starting the cycle again.
These new programs were conceptualised as something that would add a little more challenge to a person’s usual routine for workouts or yoga.
“H20 Flow, for example, if it’s somebody who has actually done yoga before and they’re looking to challenge themselves a little bit where they can engage their core for a longer period of time. I think this is a good place to ‘up’ their challenge. As for HIIT, we recommend it for anyone, and if you’re looking for something that is (a) more cardiovascular-based workout (that) you want to challenge yourself (with)— use more core, use more muscles to help you burn more calories,” Sherlin explained.
Before we got started on the workouts, Sherlin was eager to highlight the refreshing change of scenery of having the pool be the place for the workouts, saying, “You can see from our pool environment… it’s very nice; the ambience is beautiful. And we have classes in the morning if you’re a morning person; we also have them in the evening if you prefer sundown.”
The environment plays a relevant role in one of the goals for the H20 series. Training the core muscles may be an essential aspect, but there’s also the aim of providing mental wellness benefits. And it does have a positive effect on it; the lush palm trees juxtaposed against the clear blue water, bring an air of relaxation.
After changing into the appropriate clothes, I grabbed a floating aqua mat and went into the pool to begin the session.
I started with H20 HIIT, and that 30-minute session surprised me with how gruelling it was. We were doing regular HIIT workout exercises like jumps and mountain climbers. Still, the instability of the aqua mat that we were standing on brought much more core engagement compared to if you did it on land or even a Bosu ball.
Falling into the water was among my concerns during the initial portions of the session. Still, it is something that you eventually get used to, mainly with the help of Sherlin’s assured and calming instructions.
Deeper into the session, when I had a little more confidence in my stability, the instructor pushed me to go harder and faster on the workouts. My abs are a testament to how tough it was, considering that they still hurt the following day.
The following 45 minutes was dedicated to H20 Flow. I did a series of yoga sequences like the Downward-Facing Dog and the Warrior (ll) pose. It’s a different experience to do these yoga poses while minding your stability on the float, requiring a little more concentration on my end.
Likewise, I also had to put more effort into maintaining the yoga poses for a period that helped train my stamina. The final Shavasana pose proved to be an apt closure to the H20 Flow session.
After experiencing both programmes first-hand, I am pleased to say that the experience has been a pleasant surprise. My scepticism was swiftly quashed early on, and it does provide a challenging workout routine with doing it on the water.
But most importantly, the programs were fun! I went through the sessions accompanied by a couple of friends. While the workouts were challenging, sharing the experience with them brought laughs and made things easier, especially when trying to get them to fall into the water yourself!
Right now, both the H20 Flow and H20 HIIT classes from Fitness First are only available at their Westgate location, but more of them could be opened up at Westgate if they become popular amongst participants.
Sherlin is also just one of the few instructors that will be headed up classes for both programmes, bringing their own style into the lessons. The choice is yours whether you want to stick to a specific person or try out different instructors.
“If you attend the same instructor, the class changes every week. And if you attend from a different instructor, the feeling that they give you definitely differs from class to class, person to person,” she elaborated.
So, if you’re looking for some extra challenge to your workouts or perhaps something refreshingly fun to do with friends, the H20 Flow and H20 HIIT classes at Fitness First might be something for you to try out. Do bring some extra clothes while you are at it!
Photos by Brandon Neo and Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC Team.
Interview Video courtesy of DNMC+ Productions.