Breaking the Routine: Officers on Alternative Sports

Need to spice up your workout? Hear from these plucky public officers on the alternative sports they do to challenge themselves.

Taking flight

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Mr Faisal Latiff believes in pushing his limits – and never more so than through aerial arts where he has stepped out of his comfort zone and learnt to soar.

Adrenaline junkie Mr Faisal, 37, has done extreme sports from mountain biking to wakeboarding. These days, his fix comes from aerial arts, acrobatics done while suspended from special fabrics (called silks) or a trapeze. He started partly out of curiosity and partly because of a personal fascination with acrobatic performances. “I wanted to see how I would fare,” said the Assistant Director at Sport Singapore. And though more popularly associated with women, the sport is hardly “soft” – it takes immense amounts of strength, coordination and focus. After a challenging eight-week foundation course, where he learnt basic moves on the lyra (hanging hoop), trapeze and silks, Mr Faisal is now obtaining a Level 1 proficiency in silks. Despite looking sedate, the acrobatics offer the same adrenaline rush as other daredevil sports – but in a more disciplined way. He said: “There is no greater satisfaction than overcoming perceived physical and social limitations… [and] knowing that you are performing to your body’s full potential.”

Where to go
Simply Yoga
Katong V #03-23/24/25, 30 East Coast Road
T: 6348 6828

Iron throwin’


Speed, strength and grace all come together in kettlebell workouts – and for Mr Arthur Foo, it adds up to an intense, satisfying sweat.

The first time, Mr Foo, 54, a veteran marathon runner, did a kettlebell workout, it rang his bell. “I was on the verge of collapsing!” recalled the Principal Estate Manager (Car Park Operations Section) at the Housing & Development Board. Though it was tough, he got hooked on the intensity of the training and the satisfaction of completing each gruelling session. Kettlebell workouts involve lifting, swinging and moving with a weight shaped like a cannonball with a handle. The challenge, said Mr Foo, is in mastering each swing and lift to make something that is complex look simple. In the two years since he started, Mr Foo has seen many benefits, including greater strength and mobility; he even shaved almost an hour off his marathons to about five hours. He isn’t that concerned about the numbers though – just the sense of completion. “I don’t dwell on the milestones but celebrate at the end of each workout: I made it!”

Where to go
The Fitness Protocol
Singapore Badminton Hall
Geylang Lorong 23
T: 9131 3143 W:

Defence for real life


Ever on the alert as a Hazmat (hazardous materials) Section Commander with the Singapore Civil Defence Force, SSG Herrudin Bin Shamsudin is also primed to defend his own well-being.

Compared to Silat, Mr Herrudin’s other sport of choice, Krav Maga has none of the fanciful moves of dance-like grace. But the efficiency and intuitive nature of the manoeuvres in Krav Maga, a hand-to-hand self-defence system, appeals to the 37-year-old. “It is applicable to real-life scenarios and based on common sense and natural movements,” he said. “Anyone can learn and apply Krav Maga; the movements are simple but effective.” In fact, his three children – a boy and two daughters – have also taken it up. Mr Herrudin has reached even higher peaks of fitness in just over a year, thanks to intense conditioning exercises that are part of the gruelling Krav Maga regime. The sport has not only enhanced his situational awareness, reflexes and fitness, but his mind and sense of security as well. “I feel prepared to defend myself and my family and I have also become stronger mentally.”

Where to go
Krav Maga Culture
Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre
765 Upper Serangoon Road #01-03/#02-02 
T: 6282 2721 W:

Strong is beautiful


Ms Haidar Afandi, 27, is in a class of her own, with personal lifting records of a 60 kg bench press, 90 kg deadlift and 60 kg squat.

“It’s a beautiful thing; empowering,” Ms Haidar said of her passion for power lifting. The avid trekker, weightlifter and runner is always on the lookout for the next personal challenge. And nothing challenges her – and social conventions – more than her strong(wo)man workouts. “You can see [that people] have a newfound respect for you and it changes their perspective about women, especially hijabi women [who wear head coverings].” The long-time fitness buff was introduced to power lifting as a way to build strength and improve technique for her kettlebell workouts. Though the experience was intimidating at first (“It was all men at the gym”), she soon fell in love with the challenge, even finding elegance in the sport. Ms Haidar, who teaches Art and Computer Applications at Unity Secondary School, makes time for at least four workouts a week (running, lifting and yoga) despite her busy schedule. “It’s something I do for myself,” she reflected. “When you free up your mind, boundaries and limitations are surpassed.”

Where to go
325 New Bridge Road #03-00
T: 9138 3463 W:

Spin me right round


Far from sleazy, pole dancing is an intensely physical sport that has helped Ms Britney Cheong build strength, grace, flexibility and confidence.

For a dance that looks as graceful as it does, pole dancing has an ugly side – and it is not what you think. “When I started, I would get really bad bruises!” said Ms Cheong, Senior Manager (Lifestyle) at SPRING Singapore. But the 27-year-old, who used to do Malay dance and Salsa, said these marks and bumps are all just part of practice. She picked up pole dancing two years ago because it was something different. “It took me three to four months to get confident,” she said. As her form improved, interestingly, so did her “immunity” from bruises. She practises at least twice a week and even used to have a pole installed in her home. Now, she can execute gravity-defying moves like leg hangs and midair inversions. Pole dance is a combination of gymnastics and dance, and takes a lot of practice, said Ms Cheong. “It’s not just wriggling around a pole! It’s actually very technical and acrobatic, and forms a good fitness foundation.”

Where to go
Acro Polates
261 Waterloo Street
#02-29 Waterloo Centre
T: 6334 2382 W:

    Sep 1, 2014
    Sheralyn Tay
    Charles Chua
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