Work, limber up at Mapletree Business City

PHOTO: Work, limber up at Mapletree Business City

It's called the Mapletree Business City (MBC), but its 10,000-strong working community do more than just business. As early as 6.30am every weekday, fitness enthusiasts can start working out at the 11,000 square foot gym, which is operated by Fitness First and located on the seventh floor.

Those who aren't keen to work up a sweat can take a dip in its 44-metre long infinity pool, which also offers a view of the surrounding landscape. And you won't catch a cold from chilly water, because the pool comes heated.

MBC's focus on providing a healthy lifestyle is set to get even stronger once redevelopment work starts at the end of this year on The Comtech - a 10-storey building which currently stands adjacent to MBC and, when completed in 2016, will form Mapletree Business City II. The people behind the business park at Mapletree Investments have decided to enhance the work and play component, and have dreamt up a blueprint for the $700 million project that includes two futsal and two basketball courts.

Joggers keen on the outdoors experience will get a track that will lead them through a lush, man-made garden and out of MBC II to HortPark and the Labrador Nature Reserve - part of the Southern Ridges. There will also be an outdoor fitness corner - but don't carry too much hopes for a range of equipment that will allow users to show off their bulging muscles or taut bodies to passers-by of the opposite sex.

"It's not sexy, it's very functional. We will have the normal chin-up bars and the like, and it will be conducive for people to do their warm-ups before a jog," said Tay Chin Khim, head of Singapore investments at Mapletree. "We are trying to create this conducive environment where the staff of our tenants take on a healthy lifestyle. Of course, we all know that you can't force people to go running, but we want to create a conducive environment for it to happen."

Mapletree Investment's move to incorporate these recreational elements in its commercial property is rare in Singapore, where land is scarce and developers, driven by the need to maximise profits from the limited land they own, are reluctant to spend on such facilities.

It is now looking to work with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to make healthy living even easier for its tenants. In the pipeline are workout classes that HPB will introduce to MBC tenants in partnership with Fitness First, and an evening group running activity that will be called i-Run. Also, the MBC community will find healthier food options at their doorstep. Think 500-calorie meals and discounts to encourage them to tuck into a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.

These initiatives with the HPB were announced yesterday at the launch of the National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign - Go Healthy @ Workplace event - at MBC.

Said Angela Keng, marketing director for Mapletree's Singapore investments: "We want to be a different landlord. We want to understand not just the business (of our tenants) but also help them live a balanced lifestyle." There is a productivity element to this. Ms Keng believes healthier employees can help firms to boost efficiency.

Mapletree is able to do all this because it has a huge plot of land to play with, among other reasons. Both MBC and MBC II will take up a sizeable 11 hectares of land when the latter is completed.

The company is confident that the new facilities in the works and the initiatives with HPB will be well received by the working community at MBC. The gym and the pool are fully utilised, it said, and a few informal running groups have already been formed.

In future, Mapletree says, it will consider organising futsal and basketball competitions for its tenants - once the courts are up and running. Said Ms Keng: "We will see how it goes, if we can pull this thing together, then we will take things one step further."

Added Mr Tay: "We will look at the software part in the future because the hardware is not available now. But in time to come, if there is a critical mass or if tenants suggest it, we are open to the idea."

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