The Best of the Toughest Boutique Fitness Classes in Singapore

My clients are always intrigued – and often shocked! – to find out that I and lots of my trainer friends are regulars at a variety of group exercise classes. I love the environment of group exercise and not just because I began my fitness career as an indoor cycling instructor. The music, energy, group motivation and coaching all appeal to me, especially after spending long hours in my own studio training one-on-one with clients.

Some serious exercise addicts still look down on group exercise; it’s a common misconception that group classes are easier, less effective, or less intense than other kinds of training. The idea of group classes, to some, conjures up visions of lurid spandex, sweat bands and en-masse, low-impact, choreographed dance sets to bad 80s music held in shopping malls.

There is also the expectation that personal trainers and fitness instructors do something markedly different from what 'regular' people do to stay fit – that we don’t need group motivation or coaching anymore or that we’ve got this fitness secret all figured out.

Truth is, I’ve run the gamut of high-intensity training options – from Insanity videos to CrossFit boxes to competitive triathlon and even running the Boston Marathon. I’ve tried a little bit of everything in my 12 years as a fitness industry professional, but at the end of a long day of training other people, the last thing I want to do is conjure up a creative workout for myself, which is where effective group exercise classes fit in.

Even Olympic athletes have coaches – so why not trainers? I work out alongside some of the best in the business here in Singapore, everyone from other personal trainers to bootcamp instructors to powerlifting pros to competitive athletes come together in group exercise classes. We come to challenge our fitness levels, try new ways of conditioning and gather new ideas for our own workouts and clients, too.

With this in mind, below are some of the boutique fitness spots at which trainers and fitness professionals train. This is by no means an exhaustive list – there are hundreds of fantastic facilities all over Singapore, but these spots are a great starting point for folks looking to seriously amp up their workouts and boost their athletic performance.

The Garage is a no-frills, indoor-outdoor functional training spot off of Bukit Timah Road. Known best for their circuit classes (although they offer various strength and TRX classes, too), their experienced coaches combine barbell powerlifting, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) moves and functional outdoor fitness equipment (think sandbags, tyres, sledgehammers and more) to design ultra-challenging workouts that can bring even the fittest participants to their knees.

Fitness Bravo in Bugis is known for their SHIIT classes – yes, that stands for super high intensity interval training. Don't think for a second that the name is any sort of gimmick – these group classes are among the hardest you’ll experience on the island, combining elements of speed, strength, flexibility, power and endurance in 60-minute sessions that will leave you panting, exhausted and feeling fitter than ever.

Bespoke Fitness near One North and the Mediacorp new campus offers its trademark “FitRX” workout, which combines strength and conditioning, mobility and a skills-based ‘workout of the day’ (WOD) into a comprehensive and progressive fitness curriculum. Their hashtag, #nowimpyworkouts, could not ring more true; each day of the week focuses on working a different muscle group to fatigue using a combination of weights, drills, functional training and calisthenics.

Speed Sports & Fitness is tucked away in a corner of Horse City (Turf Club Road) and has a ton of usable indoor and outdoor space for its high-intensity circuit training. Trainers integrate elements of sports performance and agility drills (think hurdles, ladders and even a light-response wall) alongside weight-based circuits and functional skills training. Speed classes are fast-paced, heart-rate spikers that will challenge even experienced athletes.

Ziva Yoga in Tiong Bahru is a zen haven for all things yoga, but their Hot Classic classes are anything but relaxing. Set in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius, the series of 26 poses in Hot Classic yoga can challenge even long-time yoga practitioners with the duration of holds and intensity of heat throughout 75-to-90-minute classes. Hot yoga in an already tropical climate is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is incredibly effective for overworked, sore athletes looking to prevent injury and enhance performance.

Beatx is a newcomer to the CBD fitness scene, offering cycling, boxing, rebounding and their trademark Battleground classes, which combine elements of CrossFit, interval running and traditional weightlifting. The Battleground classes are fast-paced and cater well to advanced exercisers, offering top-notch functional equipment such as prowler sleds and multi-rig equipment alongside high-end treadmills and Assault Air Bikes for a truly killer workout.

Extremer Gym near Upper Serangoon on Yio Chu Kang Road is a small and mighty space that packs out its nightly HIIT classes with intense, creative training concepts such as Tabata intervals, countdown sets and AMRAP series that can be scaled up or down for any level of athlete. Workouts repeat daily throughout a given week, changing weekly to keep regular attendees on their toes.

Momentum Bootcamps, at various locations island-wide, does not offer your ordinary outdoor workout. The range of classes here, from the heavyweight Strong & Lean, to the fast-paced HIIT, to the cardio-blasting RunCamp, are designed to take recreational exercisers to the next level of strength and performance. Expect a lot of sweat, high-energy coaching and no-rest drills in a variety of outdoor settings, including the Botanic Gardens, the East Coast and the NUS Track.

Orangetheory Fitness, in its two locations at Robertson Quay and Tanjong Pagar, is a popular chain out of the United States that combines treadmill, rowing and weight training into one of three thematic workouts: endurance, strength and/or power. The classes are rigidly structured, but organised to maximise performance for each individual; all attendees must wear a heart rate monitor that reads directly to a screen at the top of the gym so coaches and clients alike can monitor their exertion throughout the 45 to 90-minute classes.

Power Fit Studio is humbly tucked into a strip of shops near Potong Pasir MRT, but boasts top-of-the-line TechnoGym equipment including the SkillMill, a manually-powered treadmill that doubles the intensity of typical treadmill training. The studio maintains small class sizes to ensure that each class feels like a personal training session. Their Build, Burn and Combat classes focus on strength, cardio and circuit training and provide full-body workouts that will leave you ‘good sore’ the next day.

Whether you’re an experienced exerciser or a newbie, group classes are a great way to sharpen your skills, perfect your form, learn new ways to challenge your body and take your fitness to the next level.

If you’ve never taken a group class before, grab a buddy and see if you can share a free trial or, in some cases, get a week or two-week introductory special. The new year is the best time to get great deals on boutique fitness, so make sure to take advantage and try something new this month!

Amanda Dale is a certified trainer, nutritionist and director of Singapore-based fitness consulting firm Peak Health. With over a decade of experience in the health and wellness industries, Amanda has coached and transformed over 200 individual clients, consulted for companies such as Disney, Toyota, Dairy Farm, PayPal and 20th Century Fox. She has also contributed to fitness publications such as SELF magazine and SHAPE.com.

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