Disclaimer: Fan girl here! I’m very inspired by Sir Richard Branson’s entrepreneurial spirit and sincerely respect him for the things he have done.. crazy or not – from tour packages to space to jokes about glass-bottomed planes. 😉
One random day, I asked along a friend to check out Virgin Active gym since it is a rare day that I happened to be in the heart of CBD, Raffles Place area. We were sooooo lucky. Turns out it was the first day of the tour. I knew we had to goooooo!
In case you didn’t know… Virgin Active is one of the largest health and fitness operations in the world with over 260 clubs and >1.3 million members across UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, and Australia since 1999. The guy behind Virgin brand is Richard Branson, you could have heard of Virgin Airlines, Virgin Mobile, and/or seen the distinctive red logo with “Virgin” on it.
We were greeted by friendly staff (hi Lyn, Nurin and Melvyn!). Shaik provided a comprehensive tour of the three-storey gym featuring their latest, high-tech features and facilities including the latest Technogym equipment, cycle studio, studio rooms, weight machines and also the indulgent bits like steam/ice room, salt room and showering facilities… yes. I know you’re excited.. wait for it!
All images belong to Virgin Active unless otherwise stated.
Honestly, “holy.. mindblown” was my reaction when I first saw this Android-powered gym equipment. You can surf the web, watch TV, VEVO, Facebook, read news, play Sudoku, use Flipboard, or even Skype while you are on the machines. I chuckled the thought of conducting business calls while running on the treadmill.
There’s also this key they give you that allows you to track your workouts. If you’re bad with numbers, don’t worry – the gym machine can also track the number of reps you do, and even advise you to slow down or tell you you’re doing good. You’ll also have access to your Technogym mywellness account which you can access online anytime, anywhere.
You probably saw these energypod on “The Internship” first. These sleeping pods play ambient music while you rest!
Book them for a 20-minute power nap in the Relax and Recovery Zone… before or after your workout, or after having a hearty lunch at the cafe selling healthy meals like salads, wraps and protein snacks. You also have the option of booking the meeting room for an hour, or use the iMacs available or use free wi-fi to surf the web on your mobile.
Spin room with 3D visuals. You can join classes – check out the timetable. Personally I’ve not been to any because the morning classes start at 6.45am and I’ll tend to be late. It looks really fun, though!
Kinesis machines allow a wide range of movement, hence lowering chances of injury
Why am I a fangirl?
1. Group classes are fun!
I personally enjoy high-intensity classes more, so I gravitate towards classes like Grit Cardio, Zumba, Bodypump, Vcore, MMA, so I pick those when I get the chance. But variety is always good – I enjoy yoga classes just as much! It helps me loosen my muscles I otherwise wouldn’t usually get to stretch.
Many types of yoga available – hatha yoga, power yoga, hot yoga, yoga core, anti-gravity.. or maybe vinyasa flow, yogilates, or pilates for you?
Anti-gravity yoga. It is fun. (Got to be fast in booking the slots though, because it’s too popular!)
2. Salt Room & Steam/Ice Room
Sink into a chair, relax and inhale the salt air in the Salt Room
Supposedly salt has properties that can soothe skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and a range of respiratory conditions including colds, asthma, allergies and bronchitis. Breathe in the salt in the room for at least 20 minutes is advised. But I am no doctor, so please DO NOT quote me for it! hah
There’s also the Steam and Ice Room where you are supposed to alternate between the rooms to relax your muscles post workout. I laughed at the copywriting at the entrance: Werewolves and hirsutes are not allowed to shave in the room. Or that we can’t stay in there any longer than ten minutes, or we will shrink. And not far from it is a cold water bucket, which I have yet to understand the need for. A refreshing shower, maybe!
3. Pampered like a princess
Loving the changing room and showering facilities. You can charge your mobile phone if it’s running out of juice. There are plenty of lockers, the space is huge so you don’t really have to undress right beside someone. Hair dryers (and hair straightener!) are provided at the dressing area, along with cotton pads, cotton buds and spray-on deodorant.
Towel and workout attire (shirt, shorts, socks) are provided so you never have to bring your own (or wash them!). At the shower area, products are from Molton Brown. The gingerlily shower foam smells really good. There are two different heights for the shower – one from the top and another at a lower height. (-_- yeah you know I use the one for shorties) and the showerheads are power-jetted.
On random timings, a masseuse pops by for a surprise massage session for whoever is around. It’s complimentary – I’m not kidding. It’s true. You are spoilt rotten there.
4. Drag your friends along
Besides the usual dashboard where you can manage your bookings, you can also add your workout buddies by their member ID. What’s even cooler? You can view and book classes on behalf of your friends (if they allow you to), so there’s no excuse to be lazy.
Even though the fees are slightly more expensive than the rest, you are never forced to sign on a 1 or 2-year membership. Let’s say you will be away and travelling for a month or two, you wouldn’t have to worry about “wasting” your money because you won’t be visiting.
At Virgin, the compulsory Activation Fee is S$199. (tip: check promotions here!) Membership fees are collected fortnightly and it costs $85/fortnight, so a month’s membership would work out to be around S$170 before tax. And you will be able to access the other gyms elsewhere.
To make sure I’m getting a good perspective, I visited other gyms nearby to have a tour of their facilities. Indeed the machines were relatively more dated, and in general the facilities didn’t feel as comfortable. On top of that, most of the salespeople wanted to lock me in for at least a year, then subsequently persuading me that I would get a better deal if I sign up for 2 or 3 years because the monthly fee would be significantly cheaper. The commitment phobe in me runs upon hearing it…
So my verdict is… it’s value for money. Especially if you love classes, like me. For the price you are paying, you know you are clearly getting quality service. I won’t say I’ve been to all 150 gyms across the island, but unless someone can bring me to a gym that provides a better experience, I’d really love to stay at Virgin for as long as my wallet doesn’t break.
Let’s fit together? (ahh, that’s so cheesy.)
I won’t be able to give you a personalised tour but you can contact them directly. Speak to me via Twitter or email if you have questions or think I can help make an introduction! My buddies are now sick of my endless raving about the gym, and I’m always looking for friends to have fun at the gym with. 🙂
Trust me when I say this… I was known for being a massive couch potato. But understanding that we only have this one life to live, it is important we keep ourselves fit and healthy (not forgetting our loved ones too!). Virgin Gym has made exercising a fun and enjoyable experience for me, and I hope it would be the same for you.