Sphere Gym expertly blends psychology, philosophy and art into your fitness and recovery process

By Elliot Tan 28 January, 2023
Recovery - Infrared Sauna

Like a Kubrick film brimming with details, Sphere physically embodies that concept in a literal sense

Entrance to Sphere
Entrance to Sphere

Everything is a mind game at Sphere. From the heavy metal front door to the way training is conducted, and even to the colour of the walls—every detail is carefully considered for. Let’s break it down. Before entering the premise, a bleached metal door greets you rigidly. Herein lies your first challenge: moving it. The weight of the gate represents the dread of exercising, and the act of opening it symbolises taking the first step. So often it is the very act of starting that deters us from exercising, but once you begin, you wonder why starting was even challenging at all. 

As you enter Sphere (137 Cecil Street), you’ll hardly recognise it to be a place of physicality and vigour. The name of the game is cashmere on concrete; soft and rugged, smooth and textured, finished and unfinished. The colour white permeates the space, and concrete is a canvas—artworks hang from walls, and art pieces are exhibited on platforms. With an interior design inspired by various luminaries such as Rick Owens, Carlo Scarpa, and Richard Serra—it’ll leave you questioning whether you’re at an art gallery or a fitness recovery centre. I certainly did.

Lounge & Performance
The social lounge and performance area. Sphere’s design was conceptualised in partnership with Ken Yuktasevi of Parable Studio

The juxtaposition between the social lounge and performance area is a jarring one, but with all things at Sphere, it’s done so deliberately. The separation between warmly lit cream-toned furnishings and all-white space is accentuated by a blue frame, forming a transitory gateway. The distinction allows you to enter the performance area with a clear and focused mind, leaving behind any baggage you may have from a long day, and trust me, you’ll notice it. 

Sweating it out

As physical as exercise is, it’s also psychological, and Sphere unlocks that part of our psyche. It is here where I tried my hand at deadlifting for the first time—among other exercises that involved elastic bands and callisthenics—with some help from Allan Ng, the co-founder and trainer at Sphere. 

Fitness - Performance 2
Inside the performance area

It started with a demonstration by Ng, then it was my turn to give it a shot. It looked straightforward enough, but I ended up finishing the set with heavy breaths and wobbly knees (embarrassingly so, if I may add). He told me to pick up the barbell again, and gave me a tip: to bend my knees lower. This time, I managed to complete a set without so much as a tremble in them. He later explained that by allowing my body to make mistakes on its own, and to realise them and correct them after, it would help my brain differentiate between a bad and good form, ultimately making a deeper imprint in the long run (evident from me penning this down based on memory a month later). 

Art Installation
Art installations are strategically placed along the way to the recovery rooms

The road to healing

The recovery process begins even before you step into their Infrared Sauna, Cold Plunge or Sensory Deprivation Float Tanks. Remember the art scattered throughout the establishment? They’re strategically placed along the way to the recovery rooms to soothe the senses and transition you into a place of relaxation. Consider it a precursor to a seven-course meal at an elegant restaurant, which in this case plays mental gambits with its patrons. 

I continued my recovery process at the Service Suite, a private quarter containing both Infrared Sauna and Cold Plunge, along with an ensuite shower equipped with a selection of amenities from Aesop. You start with a 15-minute sauna session, followed by a cold water dip for as long as you can hold out for, then repeat the process twice more. The hot and cold cycle triggers the blood vessels to constrict rapidly, therefore elevating blood pressure and accelerating the healing process.

There are other health benefits, too, including a boost in collagen production, detoxifying properties, and a reduction in inflammation. The Cold Plunge in particular is said to be used by students, athletes, and executives on the day of big events to sharpen their minds immensely. Do be warned that the plunge is not as easy as it sounds. Nothing could have prepared me for how cold it was, so I won’t attempt to brace you, but if I were to describe the experience, it’s probably how I imagine frostbite to be. The good thing is it gets easier with every dip.

It’s easy to categorise Sphere as a fitness and recovery centre, but it’s not just about the workouts. The founders of Sphere, Allan Ng and Bowen You, also believe in the philosophy of free circulation of information, which is reflected in the curated environment that draws inspiration from the realms of philosophy, psychology and art. Whether you’re looking to improve your physical health, explore the depths of your mind, or simply find a space to unwind and recharge, Sphere offers a unique experience that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible for both body and mind.