“It’s not exercise. It’s an experience.”
That is a commonly touted slogan used by Virgin Active, which describes itself as an international premium health and fitness club. To find out more about Virgin Active and how it differs from traditional gyms, I headed down to their Raffles Place club for a short trial.
Past the friendly receptionists, Virgin Active seems to hold the usual gym equipment at first glance. Rows of weights and treadmills line the gym floor, and a space is dedicated to Grid training, which combines strength, intensity and functional training in one workout. While these facilities hold their own in any comparison to other gyms, they’re not the Virgin Active amenities that members usually boast.
Perhaps more impressive is Virgin Active’s recent installation of a The Trip™ spin studio. I’d never attended a spin class before, and I was promised that I was in for a treat with The Trip™.
What makes The Trip™ so different from traditional spin classes? A cinematic screen dominates the front wall of a The Trip™ studio, complemented by speakers for an immersive experience. As one cycles, they’re taken on a journey through a digitally created world. The graphics on screen reminded me of worlds in the Final Fantasy franchise, and complementary music topped it off.
Our instructor in The Trip™ class stayed energetic throughout, urging us onwards, giving us instructions that would match the resistance of on our bicycles to our on-screen journey. As the class progressed, I found myself glad for the compelling visuals: I’m someone who gets easily distracted, and progressing through the digitally rendered worlds helped to keep my attention on the task.
I also popped by the yoga studio in the Virgin Active gym.
Spacious and well lit, I could easily imagine myself relaxing into yoga stretches. The minimalist decor and fantastic view also inspired a sense of serenity.
That’s not all. Virgin Active is perhaps best known for their rest and recovery zones, and they were what I was most excited about trying out. Not before taking a shower, though—Virgin Active insists on this for the sake of hygiene, and appropriately provides showers with its signature Panpuri scented toiletries line. On top of that, there are also experiential showers, outfitted with controls for a range of water intensities, including an aromatic mist that smells like rainforests.
After rinsing off in the showers, you might want to visit the ice and steam rooms in the rest and recovery zone. Some athletes believe in icing their limbs immediately after an intense workout, to help mitigate the build-up of lactic acid, and minimise post-workout muscle soreness. Virgin Active provides for that with an ice room, where an ice machine periodically drops small chips of ice for this specific use.
Too cold after stepping into the ice room? Pop into the adjacent steam room, which feels like a sauna.
The steam room is designed for use after the ice room, but I witnessed several people relaxing in the steam room without heading to the ice room. It’s easy to understand why: the steam room is ultra-relaxing. Just don’t stay in there too long, or you’ll end up dehydrated!
The Himalayan salt room is also another favourite with Virgin Active’s members. Himalayan salt is highly prized in certain circles, that believes in its ability to detoxify and purify. It also releases negative ions, which is supposed to counteract the excess of positive ions that most of us build up in modern life.
Virgin Active’s Himalayan salt room features walls of the pink crystalline salt. Chunks of Himalayan salt also sit on a heated metal tray.
Daybeds line the walls in the Himalayan salt room, and I observed many taking naps there. Since it is recommended to stay in the Himalayan salt room for a minimum of twenty minutes to enjoy full benefits, it is no wonder that people are curling up and dozing off.
In addition to this already impressive array of amenities, members of Virgin Active also get to enjoy complimentary monthly treats. This includes luxury treatments such as manicures, pedicures, facials and massages.
I was told that the pedicures were so popular that the club would get pedicurists down multiple times a month. The foot bathroom would be too small to contain the members queuing up for pedicures, and some would spill out onto the main space.
On your way out of the gym, you might also want to pick up some of their specially prepared meals, designed to refuel one after an intense workout. These meals were quickly snapped up when I was there. Or you might want to take a post-workout nap in some of the sleep pods that Virgin Active provides. If you need to get some work done, a meeting room is available for members’ booking.
My final verdict, upon experiencing what Virgin Active has to offer? Classes are excellent, but you’ll want to sign on for the impressive range of amenities that this chain offers. It not only guarantees a complete physical full-body workout but also promises a calming treat for the mind and soul.
Virgin Active is one of the more transparent gyms in Singapore that provides upfront membership fee information on their website under the individual club information. To get you started on a holistic affair in life, Virgin Active will kick off celebrations to commemorate their anniversary by offering new 12- and 24-month membership fees on top of their current flexible fee arrangement.