Singapore gym for older folk at $5 a month

SINGAPORE - A gym designed for older folk is a top attraction at the new and improved Geylang West Community Club, a first such tie-up by a CC with a private operator.

For $5 a month, residents aged 50 and older will get personal attention from Dennis Gym trainers, who will show them how to get the most from lighter weights and equipment timers that lower their risk of strain and injuries.

More tie-ups between CCs and the private sector are in the pipeline, said People's Association chief executive director Ang Hak Seng at the CC's opening yesterday.

Other tie-ups with private operators at the CC include a childcare centre run by Happy Town, and the EdeS Academy which trains spa therapists and beauticians.

The childcare centre charges $720 a month, which is 20 to 30 per cent below market rate.

The CC has also imposed a ceiling on the fees Happy Town can charge, in exchange for giving it a lower rent, said Mr Edwin Tong, a Moulmein-Kallang GRC MP.

He is the grassroots adviser to the Jalan Besar ward in which the CC is located.

The CC, which has been upgraded four times since its establishment in 1961, was opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He said it was an example of how CCs have kept up with residents' expectations as society becomes more affluent.

However, CCs are important not just for their activities but also because they are "a centre for our community activities and organisation", he said.

During the worst week of the haze a fortnight ago, CCs were the nerve centre for mask distribution and a place for people to find respite in air-conditioned rooms set aside as haze shelters, said Mr Lee.

He urged residents to make good use of the CC, which he called a "very important part of community building and of building kampung spirit".

The gym for older folk is in a new three-storey extension to the CC that also has such facilities as a dance studio and a rooftop space.

Geylang West CC is the first of four to be upgraded this year. Another 16 are expected to be revamped by 2015.

"As we go along the journey in our CCs, we want to tap the strength of the private sector in providing more services, more convenience and more affordable programmes for our residents," said Mr Ang.

For instance, the gym for older folk came about after grassroots leaders consulted residents in Geylang West, where about 40 per cent of the 12,301 residents are aged 50 and older.

It is also highly subsidised.

For every $5 paid monthly by an older resident to use the nearly 100 sq m gym, the CC's management committee gives $25 to the operator.

Administrative assistant Jenny Chan, 65, and sprightly grandmother Yap Choo Siang, 76, are part of a group of 15 who work out at this gym every Thursday.

Madam Yap spends most of the week at the CC, attending singing classes, working out at the gym and doing fitness dancing at the rooftop space.

"I'm so busy now," she said with a laugh.

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