TNP TRIES: Ritual Gym

Work outs at Ritual gym are short and hard. It might just be 20 mins but it will still leave you gasping for air.
Ritual Gym opened a new branch in Holland Village. So TNP reporter Azim Azman went down to try it out.

A gym was opening a new branch and my bosses felt that I was the best person to test it out.

Looking at my ever expanding stomach, I have to agree with them.

Plus, some exercise has never killed anyone.

So on Tuesday (Aug 30), I down to Holland Village to test out Ritual Gym's newest outlet, which opened on Sept 1. The first Ritual Gym opened in 2013 at North Canal Road

The Gym


Ritual Gym caters to those who are pressed for time.

They promise their clients that they needed just 30 minutes to finish their workout and continue on with their day - 20 minutes for the workout followed by 10 minutes to shower and change back into your normal clothes.

They achieve this by using a training method called high intensity interval training (HIIT).

"At it's most basic, HIIT is basically a short quick burst of exercise followed by a brief rest period," said Mr Ian Tan, the co-founder of the gym.

"It elevates your metabolic rate for 16 to 48 hours after your work out... It's your body burning (calories) long after your workout," the 29-year-old added.

So none of that long boring runs on treadmills then.

The experience



The gym provides everything for you, from shorts and T-shirts in various sizes to towels for you to take your shower later.

Oh, you train barefoot, so there is no need to bring shoes.

When you step into the reception area of the gym, you cannot help but notice the concrete.

It's everywhere.

The grungy interior of their workout space makes you feel as if you just stepped into a trendy new bar.

Then you change in the (unisex) changing rooms and step on to the padded workout floor.

This is not some mega-gym where you see rows upon rows of treadmills.

It is a small space that can hold a maximum of 10 people at any one 30-minute session.

The pain

The reporter being put through his paces. TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN

Before I was even able to jump into one of their sessions, I was given a pretty comprehensive health questionnaire by one of their trainers, Mr Ismail Mahmood, affectionately known as Shrek

His huge biceps meant that I did not ask how he got his name.

He taught me the basic moves and I was ready to hit the floor.

The session itself was fast, intense and more importantly, to the point.

There was no time wasted.

Before this, I was already familiar with HIIT, having done it a few times on my own.

The difference here was that, where I would dilly dally when I worked out on my own, Shrek was there to keep the session focused.

You don't rest more than the stipulated amount of time.

Plus, Shrek was there with a gentle reminder to correct my movement every time my form faltered.

So what exactly did I do in the 20 mins?

There were two halves.

Face full of pain and concentration TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN

The first half, I did overhead presses for 40 seconds before moving on to doing squats while carrying a kettlebell for another 40 seconds.

Then I rested for 30 seconds. That was one set. I did four.

While I did my best to keep a straight face, I started to feel the burn.

There was a minute's rest before we moved on to the second half of the workout.

This time, we did squats for 20 seconds, standing rows for 20 seconds, and then mountain climbers for 20 seconds.

This went on for five sets with a 10-second rest in between each set.

By the end of the last set, I was absolutely covered in sweat and gasping hard.

In the first few minutes right after the session, I was barely able complete a sentence.

But honestly, it felt good to get a good session in.

My verdict

A sign on the way out of the gym. TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN

The fact that I can theoretically get in and out of the gym in 30 minutes really sells it for me.

I can swing by the gym before work and sweat my guts off and then get on with my day.

That is really attractive.

The membership price, however, is was not so attractive.

Membership price starts from $199 a month for an unlimited number of sessions during their off-peak hours: 8.30am to 11.30am and 2pm to 5.30pm on weekdays, 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays.

But I feel that the experience and the workout is worth the price you pay.

On the way out, there is a sign hanging that asks: "Aren't you glad you did that?"

Confidently, I can declare, that yes, I was glad that I put myself through that.

Tags: Singapore, Health and Trains

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Zika: New war, old enemy

S M Ong asks isn't the war on Zika same as the war on dengue?

The Zika has hit the fan.

But not the sports fan.

Remember when people were afraid to go to Brazil for the Rio Olympics because of Zika?

On Friday, the World Health Organization said no infections were reported among the athletes and visitors during the Games.

So don't blame Joseph Schooling for the Zika outbreak in Singapore.

We are the new Brazil - minus the giant Jesus statue, Carnival and a few World Cups.

But we do have the Merlion statues, Chingay and a few Malaysia Cups.

So Singapore and Brazil are practically twins. At least fraternal twins.

We even had a major international event where thousands risked infection to attend - the opening of Japanese label Uniqlo's first South-east Asian flagship store at Orchard Central on Friday.

You think beating Michael Phelps in the pool is tough?

Try enduring someone insincerely yelling "Welcome to Uniqlo!" every second you're in the store for 50.39 seconds.

No $39 jogger pants is worth that. Ooh, elastic waistband.

But unlike Uniqlo, some businesses have suffered since the Zika outbreak as people are avoiding crowds and staying at home.

Which is the opposite of what I would do since I get bitten by mosquitoes more when I'm at home.

Also, I would rather be in a crowd so that the mosquitoes have other people's blood to suck besides mine.

It's every man for himself.

I guess it's instinctive for people to avoid crowds when there's an epidemic. Most of us were probably conditioned to do so by the Sars outbreak of 2003 when hell was other people.

But you can't get Zika from someone coughing on you.

Perhaps people are paranoid that if you are in a crowd, someone in the crowd could have Zika and a mosquito could bite that Zika-infected person and then bite you.

Whereas if you are by yourself, all the mosquito has to bite is you.

Which is bad but also good because unless you already have Zika, you're not going to give yourself Zika.

And that's your excuse for being alone and not that you don't have any friends.


Singaporeans have not been advised to avoid crowds or stay home because of Zika.

But one of the doctors who first raised the alarm about the disease in Singapore, Dr Chi Wei Ming, did advise on Facebook last week: "Unless you live or work in Sims Drive, Aljunied Crescent, Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way, avoid these areas.

"Please do not go to these areas to hunt for Pokemons!"

Hey, doc, thanks for helping us fight the spread of Zika and all that, but, please, the plural of "Pokemon" is "Pokemon". There is no "s".

Just like the plural of "sheep" is "sheep". There is no "sheeps".

As in "To the mosquitoes, we are all just sheep for the slaughter."

To avoid getting Zika, basically all you have to do is avoid getting bitten by a mosquito, specifically a Zika-infected mosquito.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

It's not like before Zika came along, we were letting mosquitoes bite us for fun.

It's not like we suddenly realised, "Oh my god, you mean like having unprotected sex with strangers, getting bitten by a mosquito can actually be bad for us?"

Before the war on Zika, we were already having a war with dengue, both of which are essentially the same thing - a war on the Aedes mosquito.

It's like waging a war on crimson when we are already at war with the colour red. It's kind of redundant.

And meanwhile, Selena Gomez is at war with lupus.

But the fact that we have to have a war on Zika is an indication of how the war on dengue is going.

We have had 11,247 dengue cases since Jan 3 the last time I checked, which can be easily converted to a Zika website by just replacing the dengue stuff with Zika stuff.

Most of it is mosquito stuff anyway.

Can our war on Zika turn out any better than our war on dengue?

If not, I know one place I can go to escape from Zika-infected Zikapore - Brazil for the Rio Paralympics, which starts on Thursday.

I must remember to pack my new jogger pants.

Hend takes one-shot lead over Noren

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Confessions of a mountaineer: 'The more dangerous the climb, the more rewarding it can be'

Local mountaineer, who lost his friend in a fatal fall, says risks do not stop him from pursuing his passion

Before every climb, mountaineer Jeremy Tong would send a Facebook message to his friend, Mr Ong Eng Wu.

"Allez (French for let's go) bro! Miss ya," writes Mr Tong, 26, knowing that it would remain unread in his friend's inbox just like the other messages before it.

Six years ago, Mr Ong died in a tragic incident at Mount Aspiring in New Zealand. He slipped and fell 800m.

The usually jovial Mr Tong turned sombre when he spoke about his fellow mountaineer, explaining: "I write to him each time, hoping he will watch over me as I climb."

Having scaled more than 30 peaks in the last 12 years, the 26-year-old is hoping to add Mount Everest to his list of achievements next year.

His interest in climbing was piqued when he conquered Malaysia's Mount Ophir during his secondary school days with the National Cadet Corps, when he was 14.

To fund his expeditions, he worked part-time selling adventuring equipment while still studying.

Each trip can cost from $700 to $4,000, depending on the location and remoteness of the peaks.

The Nanyang Technological University graduate with a degree in sport science and management returned from Tajikistan in August, having climbed Peak Korzhenevskaya.

This and last year's conquest of Tajikistan's Lenin Peak makes Mr Tong the first Singaporean to summit two 7,000m peaks in Central Asia.

It is no small feat as the two mountains are fraught with dangers, in a country that does not have a great safety record.

Mr Tong recalls: "Before the climb, I heard a rumour that the whole country has only two helicopters and one is reserved for the president. There is pretty much no chance of any helicopter rescue if things go awry."

But climbing is never without danger. On the recent expedition to Tajikistan with a French climber, Mr Tong fell into crevasses twice - once while looking for a spot to relieve himself.

"Crevasses are basically cracks in the earth that are covered by a sheet of snow, so you don't see it coming. It happened so quickly and I could have died, but thankfully I had someone to rescue me," he recalls.

Another time, he slipped while abseiling down a cliff face and had to quickly arrest his fall with an ice axe.

But in doing so, he pierced himself through the right thigh with the sharp end of the axe.


Mr Tong says: "I was so full of adrenaline that I didn't feel any pain until I reached the base camp.

"Only then did I realise that I was bleeding everywhere."

When he used his satellite phone to call home during the descent, he said nothing of the close encounters with death.

"It was my brother's birthday, and I was just telling my mother that everything was fine, I had reached the summit already and the conditions were good."

It was a white lie as it was bitterly cold and a fierce wind was raging right outside his tent.

While he has lost a friend to the dangers of mountain climbing, Mr Tong says it does not discourage him from his passion.

To him, the risks involved are a challenge, not a deterrence.

Mr Tong says: "I am addicted to it, to the fact that not many people do this. I want to be able to discover myself and push my mental and physical limits."

But he adds that he is not there to court death.

"Yes, it's true that the more dangerous the climb, the more rewarding it can be. But I will die for no mountain. I have a lot to live for," he says.


1 For beginners, finding a good mountaineering mentor is a good way to get into the hobby. There are also courses overseas that teach the basics of mountain climbing.

2 Eat your fill of your favourite Singaporean food before you embark on an expedition, which can last for a month. This is because homesickness can be a factor in whether you complete the climb or not.

3 Pick your mountaineering guide properly, as they can be a good source of motivation and support. Make sure that you can communicate even with the language differences.

Community, parents, schools work together

Schools work with parents and the community to provide a network of strong social and emotional support that spans the home, school and community, says a Ministry of Education (MOE) spokesman.

And there are several layers of support, adds the spokesman:

  • As part of the school curriculum, teachers build all students' resilience through the teaching of social emotional skills such as time management, goal-setting, coping with stress and handling expectations.
  • Teachers are also taught to identify distressed students and to provide basic counselling support.
  • For students who need further support, they will be referred to the school counsellor.

When necessary, school counsellors will refer them for further assessment and intervention by relevant mental health professionals.

The MOE spokesman also added that the establishment of the Reach (Response, Early Intervention and Assessment in Community Mental Health) programme aims to bring greater accessibility of mental health expertise in assessment, consultation and intervention to schools.

Community mental health teams work directly with schools to assist students with psychological, emotional and behavioural problems including those who are depressed or are at risk of suicide.

The spokesman adds: "Our schools also promote peer support efforts, such as having students encourage peers who may show signs of emotional distress, to seek help from trusted adults."

Signs to look out for

Parents should seek professional help for their child if they notice significant changes in the child's behaviour.

Dr Lim Choon Guan, deputy chief of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health, said parents should take note if their child:

- Becomes withdrawn

- Loses interest in activities he used to enjoy

- Becomes aggressive towards others

- Seems emotional, depressed, moody, irritable or scared most of the time

- Experiences a loss of appetite

- Feels anxious and restless

- No longer sleeps well

- Refuses to attend school, or his school results plummet for no apparent reason

- Expresses abnormal and negative thoughts such as suicide

Psychologist Freda Sutanto at Kaleidoscope Therapy Centre says friends can also keep a lookout for the following symptoms in peers suffering from exam stress:

- Focuses solely on talking about exams instead of a variety of topics

- Suddenly spends a lot of time engaging in avoidant behaviour like playing computer games constantly - a result of procrastinating the inevitable anxiety

- Sudden consumption of too many stimulants, such as coffee or Redbull, to "help" with studying

- Appearance of dark eye circles or a constant look of lethargy

A wet market to wow you

TAIWANESE TREATS: (Above) A sushi bar in the middle of the fresh seafood section at Shidong Market in Taipei.
Wafer-thin barbecue bak kwa.
A unique terrine made with eggs, century eggs and salted eggs.
Cherry tomatoes that have been sliced open and stuffed with a piece of preserved prune.

Up to two dozen hawker centres and wet markets will be built in Singapore in the near future.

If you think that is "nice", "convenient" and "reminiscent of our old wet market culture", you are likely to be part of an older generation.

Informed insiders cite a problematic trend - a disconnect between the younger generation and our wet markets.

They shun them - wet markets are muggy, smelly and, well, wet. Dialects are often used in place of English.

And wet markets are not "Instagram-friendly".

Who will be going to the upcoming wet markets then? More importantly, what will be sold there?

Perhaps imported frozen meats that have been thawed, dried goods, and the usual seafood from Jurong Fishery Port - stuff you can get online and from the supermarkets.

How do you get the Snapchat generation into these wet markets then?

Look to Taiwan for a possible solution. Just look at the Shidong Market in Taipei.

The clean dry floors of Shidong Market in Taipei. PHOTO: KF SEETOH

For starters, it is air-conditioned.

It is clean and odourless despite the butchers, fishmongers, and greengrocers around.

Plus, there are little coffee roaster cafes, and a sushi bar right next to a seafood stall. Other stalls sell fruit, braised meats, cold cuts, and even wafer-thin barbecue bak kwa.

I felt like I could spend more than half a day there talking to the vendors before heading upstairs to their hawker centre - also air-conditioned - for braised pork over rice, and then popping over to the perishables and clothing stalls next door.

This market allows you to shop in comfort.

The vendors tell me they pay no more than NT$1500 (S$65) a month in rent, and the market is run by the government.

Bullhorn chestnuts that are sold at Taipei's Shidong market. PHOTO: KF SEETOH

If Taiwan can do it, so can we. Just look at some of the things you can get at this Shidong "wet market".

  • There is a no-frills sushi bar nestled in the middle of the fresh seafood section. It is dry, clean, inexpensive and odourless, and you are served by friendly staff. The owner-chef will take time to explain the fishes and dishes as well as his side offerings.
  • The braised meats and snacks stall offers something I adore, but had never eaten in this manner - a three-egg terrine. A cake of egg whites - with bits of century egg pressed in and topped with a layer of regular egg yolk and salted egg yolk - that has been steamed. Slice it and eat it like tapas, or have it with porridge. Fantastic.
  • Some fruit vendors there slice open cherry tomatoes and stuff in a piece of preserved prune. They beat the Italian tomato and mozzarella version.
  • You can also find bullhorn chestnuts, long gone from our markets. The vendors sell them with steamed peanuts and they are hearty and comforting. I remember playing with this as a kid in Singapore.
  • There are a few vendors who offer dumplings. You see them making the dumplings by hand and packing and sealing them immediately. They are quick to tell you that no preservatives are used, so the dumplings can last no more than three days in the chiller.

I do not think it takes a lot to air-condition our wet markets and hawker centres.

We can do it, and if the newer generation visits, it will open up new conversations and opportunities in the hawker trade.

I hope it happens.

KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like food markets, his own TV shows on cable, publishing food guides, consultancy and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tags: makan, Taiwan and market

He once raced 2 weeks after breaking ankle

Gritty S'porean racer takes on top riders in the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship today

DETERMINED: Mr Hasroy Osman (above) is competing in the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship today.
DETERMINED: (Above) Mr Hasroy during last year's Honda Asia Dream Cup championship.

He fractured his left ankle in a motocross race in mid-August last year.

About two weeks later, motorcycle racer Hasroy Osman broke the cast on his ankle and competed in the Honda Asia Dream Cup 2015 in Thailand.

While Mr Hasroy managed to complete both races at the event, he did so in pain.

Today, he will be counting on the same determination and skill as he races against international riders in Round 1 of the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

Mr Hasroy, 24, tells The New Paper on Sunday about his race with a fractured ankle: "I had problems shifting gears. I had to lift my whole left leg just to move the (shift) lever.

"Sometimes I missed a gear because I didn't have the strength. But I managed to complete (both) the races safely without crashing."

In today's Australia leg of the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship, 17 riders from countries such as Spain, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia will line up on the grid. Mr Hasroy and veteran racer Eric Chia are representing Singapore.

Riding high-powered 450cc dirt bikes equipped with road tyres, the racers negotiate each lap over tarmac and an off-road section, complete with jumps.

Spectators can expect to see riders brake-sliding into corners and daringly take jumps even when their slick tyres have no grip on off-road terrain.

Mr Hasroy, who has competed in motocross, supermoto and road racing events, has taken his own tyres and braking components for the Newcastle race.

Mr Hasroy, who prefers to race dirt bikes, says: "For supermoto, you'll need strong brakes and sticky tyres. There will be lots of hard braking and acceleration. If I use normal brakes, they'll overheat and the brakes will fade."


While local sponsors are forthcoming in providing product support, Mr Hasroy discloses that racing is expensive, especially when he has to pay out of his own pocket.

His secretary mother and personal driver father - both in their 40s - have been supportive as they also share the cost of his racing.

For instance, Mr Hasroy pays for his airfare and his mechanic's airfare for some race meets while the race organisers provide hotel accommodation.

"It might not be much for a single race meet, but it adds up when you take part in a full season which has four or five rounds," he says.

"It becomes a financial burden when I take part in motocross, supermoto and road racing all in the same year. I hope to get financial support."

But win or lose, he cherishes the memories from races like the Qatar leg of the Honda Asia Dream Cup championship in October last year.

Mr Hasroy says: "That's (Losail) the circuit that MotoGP riders compete on. You get to ride it like the MotoGP stars at night. The experience is magical."

And Race 2 of the Qatar race kept the teams in the paddock in suspense, too.

Mr Hasroy adds: "It was a good fight for me. I was fighting for Top 5, but I got unlucky in the last lap."

He finished in ninth place.

With more than 20 trophies at home from his racing career which started at age 16, Mr Hasroy, who was formerly a fitness instructor, says he expects the competition today to be stiff.

He reveals that half the grid consists of new riders, making it hard to gauge if he can get into the Top 5 or Top 10.

Yet, Mr Hasroy, who has been on the podium in various races in Malaysia, welcomes the uncertainty.

He adds: "I usually make many new friends. But more importantly, I gain a lot of racing experience when competing with international riders.

"Foreign riders are more aggressive and if you leave a gap, they will exploit it and overtake you."

Like his rivals, Mr Hasroy knows when to put his game face on. Friendship ends when he dons his helmet and the race begins.