Clad in my ‘Bring Me The Horizon’ t-shirt and a pair of long black tights, I walk toward the CrossFit Fire City gym hidden among the run-down buildings in Lavender. Upon arrival, I hover awkwardly at the main entrance, waiting for the instructor Shirlyn, to arrive. All I could see from the outside were ominous dark grey walls, an extensive amount of fitness equipment, and a digital clock on the back wall.
Shirlyn arrives in a black band muscle tank and invites me inside to meet everyone else. Anyone would assume I was in the gym to flip some tires and kill my triceps using the battle ropes. Instead, I am here for an unconventional yoga class—heavy metal yoga to be specific for S$35 a mat.
This unorthodox past time was created to cater to the niche market of heavy metal music lovers. Rather than a bright, airy room with varnished parquet floors and people dressed in pastel yoga sports attire, everyone is covered head-to-toe in black.
It’s a small class of eight, with a mix of men and women. We retrieve our mats from a small alcove amongst the gym equipment and space them out evenly in three rows across the room and Shirlyn begins the warmup to make sure that our entire body is properly stretched out before the foreseeable arduous workout planned for us.
For someone who has never set foot in a yoga studio or even tried yoga, the class is relatively easy to follow. Even with the heavy metal music playing in the background, I can clearly hear and see Shirlyn from the last row. She guides us through the yoga poses, and I’m left dripping in sweat after the half-hour warmup, wishing I had brought a bath towel with me instead of the little face towel I had. At some points of the session, I had difficulty with some of the poses, but Shirlyn walks around, making sure we’re not over-stretching or pulling a muscle and repositions you accordingly.
The yoga session lasted for 75 minutes. Throughout, she encourages us to enjoy the music, scream or headbang to the music if we want to. Although the perception of heavy metal might be loud, screamo music with no decipherable lyrics, there’s various sub-genres of metal— death metal, black metal and thrash metal to name a few.
Examples of well-known bands that play these genres include death metal purveyors, Arch Enemy and Children of Bodom; black metal groups, Watain, and Cradle of Filth; thrash metal legends, Metallica and Iron Maiden. The focus though is less on the music, and more on the pain from contorting your body into a pretzel.
At the end of the cool down, I’m completely calm and relaxed, albeit drenched in sweat. The casual atmosphere makes it easier to let loose. Knowing you share the same love for a specific music genre as everyone else brings about various conversation topics. I even found out that Shirlyn’s part of her own band: ‘Shirlyn + The UnXpected’.
Heavy metal yoga aims to build a community out of a single common interest and to keep it real. I highly recommend anyone who’d want to understand the heavy metal community and music better to try out a session with Shirlyn.