Whether you’re a fitness buff or one who’d rather kick back and relax, here are three alternative treatments for your mental and physical benefit
Just for the record, I’m not one to cut corners when it comes to being physically fit. Sure, I indulge in a pack of chips every now and then, but I also make it a point to exercise at least three times a week. Do I feel good? Yes. But do I also wish I had spent my time lazing and switching off mentally? Yep.
Like it or not, the above scenario is usually an ‘either or’ option, which is where the following alternative wellness therapies come into play. For those who already work out regularly, you’ll find these useful for recovery. And for those who don’t, well, these are the alternatives for when you want a different kind of spa experience.
Price: S$90 for 60 mins, S$110 for 90 mins
Where: Palm Ave Float Club
In a nutshell: Lie still for 60 minutes to relieve stress
What it is: Palm Ave Float Club is the city’s sole floatation therapy provider. Having been around since 2014, it has proven to be popular with creatives and athletes. It has six treatment rooms, each with a single pod and shower. For now, it exclusively offers floatation therapy, but will be adding red light therapy, Pilates and yoga classes in the near future.
Your job is simple. All you have to do is float in a pod of saltwater and nothing more. Flotation therapy is meant to remove external stimuli that trigger your senses – sight, hearing, movement, direction and gravity – bringing you into a deep state of relaxation, also known as ‘theta’. As you straddle between consciousness and subconsciousness, your cortisol levels are lowered, thereby reducing stress.
My experience: The session starts with 10 minutes of ambient music to ease you into it, followed by 45 minutes of ‘nothingness’, with ambient music coming back on in the last five minutes.
It might all sound very easy, but in reality, I’m anxious, and I tell myself that it’s okay to leave the pod prematurely and call it a day. I’ve colleagues who don’t enjoy it, so I’m aware that this isn’t for everyone.
So I close my eyes, lie back and turn off the lights in the pod. It feels like a warm, milky bath.
A few minutes in, my neck starts to ache, but placing the donut float behind my head instantly relieves the dull throb. I feel myself rotating anticlockwise and feel slightly disoriented, and it’s slightly unnerving.
Reality kicks in once the music dies down and all I hear is my heartbeat. I shouldn’t have worried about feeling anxious, though. I’m not sure when or how, but I end up dozing off, only to be awakened by the music at the 55-minute mark.
I leave the pod feeling relaxed, though it’s not quite the same feeling as one gets from a massage.
Robb tip: You’ll need to mentally prepare yourself, particularly if this is the first experience. Your senses will be heightened, and if all you’re doing is counting down, those 60 minutes will feel like forever. You can, of course, play your own music for the entire duration, but that may defeat the purpose of signing up for a session in the first place.
Palm Ave Float Club
66 Kampong Bugis
Tel: +65 9151 6004
Price: S$140 for a 55-minute private class
Where: Idō Studio
In a nutshell: Stretch your muscles and rotate different parts of your body to enjoy better joint mobility and an increased range of motions in the long run.
What it is: Don’t expect to lie back and relax as active movement is involved throughout the session. Unlike yoga, where you’ll get into poses, Gyrotonic has you doing circular, fluid motions on a pulley-assisted machine.
It will take time getting used to the range of ‘spiral’ motions. Instead of always using your arms and shoulders to pull, you’re taught to use your core and spine too. Think of this as dancing while remaining in a single spot.
There are quite a number of studios that offer Gyrotonic classes in Singapore, including The Moving Body, Como Shambhala Urban Escape Singapore, Breathe Pilates, Paradigm Wellness and most recently, Idō Studio.
My experience: I pay a visit to Idō Studio, which specialises in Gyrotonic and Pilates. The two founders are former dancers, both who found Gyrotonic as an effective method in elevating the pain and getting their range of movement back after sustaining dance injuries.
There are no particular movement names here, and after a brief introduction to Gyrotonic, I get started. Co-founder Samantha Lum explains each sequence, along with muscles I’m supposed to use and feel, before guiding me through the reps.
It’s all about circumduction movements here, and I have to keep my spine elongated and core, tightened. Now, couple that with inhaling and exhaling at the right moments, and there’s quite a bit to juggle. It does take some getting used to – the human body is more used to linear movement – so give it a few sessions and muscle memory will kick in.
During the session, I learn to ‘open’ my collarbone and pelvic muscles. The former is meant to help with ease the load on my shoulders and neck – essential, given I’m at my desk quite a bit – and does the job in loosening my trapezius. The latter helps with keeping my hips square and grounded, which proves to be useful because I experience lower back pain quite a bit.
My trapezius are definitely more relaxed when I leave the studio, but the tightening returns later in the evening. I’m told that it’ll take more than one session to see a lasting effect.
Robb tip: Come dressed in comfortable exercise clothes. You won’t perspire much, so if you’d like to freshen up, you may do so at the studio. Don’t forget your own towel, too.
261 Waterloo Centre
Tel: +65 8850 8732
Price: S$75 for 45 minutes
Where: Pure Wellness Studio
In a nutshell: Lie or sit still to sweat it out
What it is: This may probably resonate with the most amount of people reading this article. You don’t have to lift a finger and you’ll start perspiring in no time. And depending on which infrared sauna you go for, you can even read a book (hard copy, no kindles, sorry).
Compared to a wet sauna – it works to open your pores to release the sweat – infrared does a lot more. It penetrates your body up to a depth of 7cm, heats your core from within, dilates your blood cells and increases blood flow, while removing up to 20 per cent of toxins such as mercury and lead, and breaking down cholesterol.
There are a couple of spas that offer infrared boxes, but Pure Wellness Studio is Singapore’s first dedicated ‘sweat box’, with three ‘sweats’ to choose from. Depending on which you choose, you’ll be exposed to near (anti-ageing, skin purification and tissue regeneration), mid (muscle recovery and lactic acid breakdown) or far infrareds (detoxification of organs and cells).
Of the three saunas – Rejuvenate, Recover and Relax – the first two have you sitting in a wooden cabin. Rejuvenate is the all-rounded booth offering all infrareds. Each sauna is also fitted with chromotherapy lights – yellow, orange, cyan, blue and violet – which you’re supposed to pick based on how you’d like to feel at the end of the session.
My experience: The cabins aren’t large enough for a lie-down. Even so, you shouldn’t, given that the infrared wouldn’t be able to penetrate your back. In Rejuvenate, I choose the Pure Wellness programme and the orange chromotherapy light, which is meant to help me focus and incite enthusiasm. It takes around 25 minutes before I start breaking out in sweat, and I doze off for a bit. Perhaps it’s due to the heat, but I leave feeling no more energised than before.
I very much prefer Relax, simply because I get to lie down and nap, while letting the pod work its magic. This pod also happens to offer the most concentrated sweat session of the three.
There are nine levels of heat, and because my body gets cold quite easily, level five feels just right. I choose the green chromotherapy light – said to encompass soothing and energising properties at the same time.
After lying down, I pull the casing to my neck. Unsurprisingly, I doze off almost immediately (though by now you’re probably attributing this to the fact I can fall asleep anywhere, and in record time). When I awake, my body is dripping in sweat, and my heart is beating quickly. I leave the pod feeling much fresher and alert.
Robb tip: Go for a quick 30-minute jog around the area, or join an exercise class (Crucycle, for example) nearby prior to your session. As it takes about 20 to 25 minutes for your core to be heated (which means you’ll only start perspiring after), sweating it out before the session would ensure you get the most out of it.
Pure Wellness Studio
70 Duxton Road
Tel: +65 8892 2575