I tried a physical and mental gym that reminded me of the Red Room in Black Widow

I tried a physical and mental gym that reminded me of the Red Room in Black Widow
Fitness influencer Natalie Yeo showing us how it's really done at a circuit station at Sparkd.
PHOTO: AsiaOne/Lynette Phua

Brawn and brain are what seemed necessary to be a Black Widow — elite spies and assassins trained in the Red Room, a secret Soviet-Russian training programme.

How would it be like to have both, I wondered as I watched ​​Marvel Studios' Black Widow intently on screen.

Working out has been kind of a hobby to me now — after all, what else is there really left to do in a semi-lockdown? But as for the mental aspect, I'm the kind who likes to shut down and do mindless activities after working hours.

As the Chinese idiom goes, 'a little rest goes a long way', no? Apparently not.

According to Anna Milani, 39, founder of brain health and fitness gym Sparkd, doing 'nothing' may actually deteriorate your brain health.

Milani, who has been in the fitness industry for 15 years, started her research into neuroscience and how exercise impacts brain health when her grandfather died of Alzheimer's eight years ago.


"Cardiovascular exercises like running and HIIT (high intensity interval training) lead to better working memory, while resistance training such as boxing and bodyweight exercises lead to better planning and organising," shares Milani.

Combine that with brain health training and cognitive assessment, one can not only strengthen the brain and body, but also "detect degenerative neural pathways early", she adds.

Convinced, I gave their introductory class a shot, and boy was it a challenge trying to answer questions and work out concurrently.


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♬ Leaping - Clutch

Set up like a typical HIIT circuit class with atypical workout equipments, the session felt like what a spy or assassin would go through — except less murderous, and more gamified.

From swinging kettlebells filled with sand instead of solid steel, to boxing, kicking and throwing balls at all sorts of boards and standees with digital displays, my mind and body were put to the test at every station.

"Each class is designed to dual task, to move your body while engaging your mind to focus on a cognitive task at hand.

"This is a critical skill not just for for professional athletes, day traders or pilots, but for everyone and for your everyday activities. From something as simple as remembering your shopping list or to-do list, to driving, or riding a bike," Milani shares.

And after what felt like an eternity (aka 30 minutes), and burning over 300 calories, I'm happy to report that my brains weren't fried and it was definitely more fun than it looks (or sounds).

If you, like me, are someone who gets bored from doing the same workouts over and over again, this four-month-old gym may just be the thing for you. 

Milani says: "After so many years in the fitness industry, I get bored too, so the workouts at Sparkd are ever-changing and customisable."

From regular kids and adults group classes ($42 for a single class) to summer bootcamps and private one-on-one sessions (from $185) for anyone, including seniors, there's something for everyone at every age and any stage.

And yes, classes are still ongoing despite Phase 2 Heightened Alert restrictions.


Not one to leave anyone out, the inclusive gym also has a neuro zone for specialised therapists to provide one-on-one sessions with anyone with cognitive conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.

With such inclusivity, I can't think of a better place to break a sweat and break your mental barrier with your whole fam.

Address: 46 Kim Yam Road The Herencia Unit 04-23 & 24, 239351


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