United we train

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01 Jun 2018 | PEOPLE

United we train

// STORY Thrina Tham

// PHOTOS Chai Sian Liang & courtesy of interviewees

English Melayu

You’ve probably heard the old saying in Basic Military Training that goes: "My grandmother can run faster than you!"

At Innervate Fitness, that statement might just hold true. After all, members at this CrossFit gym range from ages four to 73. CrossFit involves varied functional movements, such as weightlifting, running and rowing, performed at high intensity.

"People think CrossFit is scary and hard, and that you have to be fit to do CrossFit. This doesn’t gel with the message we’re trying to deliver — we want to encourage the community to grow,”"said"Captain"(CPT)"(NS)"Leonard"Kong, 34, one of the coaches at the gym.

Based in an industrial building in Bendemeer, Innervate Fitness not only holds CrossFit and self-defence classes for adults, but also offers workouts for kids, teens, and the elderly. In March last year, it started a programme for the disabled.

The gym is also a social enterprise and runs the annual Operation Broken Wing, a mass CrossFit event to raise funds for youth beneficiaries.

CPT (NS) Kong opened the space with his CrossFit buddies — 29-year-olds Lieutenant (LTA) (NS) Lionel Choong and Moses James, who serves in the Singapore Police Force — in 2014. Together, they manage the studio in every sense: from devising and conducting fitness programmes to sweeping the gym floor.

Despite their busy schedules, (from left) LTA (NS) Choong, CPT (NS) Kong and Mr James meet at least once a week to run through their programmes and events.

What makes Innervate different?

LK We were the first in Singapore to offer a Kids' programme for CrossFit — that had to do with Lionel's passion to work with youths. Then the Silvers (programme for the elderly) kicked in six months later.

LC We wanted to do more for the community… It's really about improving the quality of their lives through CrossFit.
What obstacles did you face when you started?

LK Drawing people in. When you first open you're worried because you don't see that many members. But slowly through word-of-mouth, we started to gain more interest and support.

LC We started with just one.

LK (laughs) Three of us working out here and one other person.

LC My then-girlfriend, who is now my wife!

MJ Now we have about 120 members altogether.

Innervate Fitness runs workout programmes for people of all ages and walks of life — from adults to kids, teens, the elderly and the disabled.

Why the Adaptives programme (for the disabled) last March?

MJ We started from a point of ‘who else can we help?’ and realised there’s nothing being done in the region (for this community)… They’ve built a community here too. One of our blind athletes realised she liked it and told her friend who has an autistic son. Now the son comes here and joins in the training.

Describe one another.

LK Lionel’s the kid at heart. Which is why he works with them!

MJ He’s always jumping a lot, he’s a bit loud and he’s always smiling.

LK I’ve competed with Lionel in a team CrossFit event and he’s definitely more whiny. I think I’m the more serious and competitive one in the team.

LC Moses is the balance (between  the two of us).

How was National Service (NS) like for you, any stories?

LC (points to Leonard) Confirm got a lot…

LK (laughs) I’ve just MR-ed (become part of the MINDEF Reserve), so finishing the 10-year cycle with my unit, 754th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (754 SIR), was a big milestone. I was fortunate to have been given the responsibility of leading a Company.

I feel strongly for NS — I think there’s a good need for it and that’s why I continue to serve (under the Reservist On Voluntary Extended Reserve Service Scheme), now as an S3 or Operations Officer in 773 SIR.

Has your NS experience helped you at work?

LK I just finished my Battalion Tactics Course which exposed me to military tactics and planning. The carry over (of skills) happened in the planning and organisational aspects, and in building a community and being in a leadership position. We’re in a similar position here as coaches.

LC In the Air Force (as an Officer Commanding of 707 Squadron), I get to interact with Full-time National Servicemen. That helps me in the gym because I get a feel of what the youths are thinking and their fears about going into NS. So when we train our youths, we help them to get ready and be mentally prepared…

We prepare them to do anything and everything: jump, run, throw, duck, crawl!