I have never been able to make jumping onto the treadmill, hitting a ball across the court or doing laps part of my weekly routine. I hate exercise. Which is terrible given that I eat and drink far more than my body can metabolise in its natural state. Then, I discovered Pilates. And I was hooked. Until our son, T arrived. I simply haven’t made the time to take classes since becoming a mother. So, I was thrilled to be invited to try out a class at the newly launched COMO Shambhala Urban Escape Singapore. It was a well-timed impetus for me to get a workout.
I’ve had the fortune of visiting a number of COMO Shambhala Retreats around the world over the course of my career, so I am a fan of their holistic approach to well-being. They bring together experts from a range of fields to help you achieve physical and emotional balance. More than a spa, more than a gym, COMO Shambhala gives you the tools to help keep your body as well as your heart and mind well tuned. They offer yoga, Pilates and Gyrotonics classes; massage therapies; and access to consultants specialising in life coaching, functional medicine and women’s health, as well as naturopathic medicine. But I’ve also always associated the brand with a level of luxury well beyond the reach of my everyday life and only indulged in it on our travels.
The difference, I’ve come to realise, is that the Urban Escape isn’t so much about transporting you back to your plush holiday getaway as it is about keeping you anchored to the fundamental benefits you had experienced there. Don’t get me wrong. The Urban Escape is as polished and luxurious as everything else you’d associate with the COMO brand. But to me, it is designed with a clear focus. It is not the sort of place you float about in all day, because let’s face it, most of us simply don’t have the time for that kind of indulgence. When you enter this beautifully minimalist box of white, you check your over-stimulated, hyper-technologized busy-ness at the door to efficiently devote some quality time to work on your corporeal and spiritual self. Yes, you can stop in for a fabulous massage to ease the knots you’ve developed from spending way too much time on the computer or on a plane (or both) in addition to getting a workout, but there is a level of elegant matter-of-factness about it which I appreciate. It’s about getting the very best out of the very finite time you’re investing in yourself.
I love Pilates for the selfsame reason. It’s very much about precision of movement, focusing on utilising specific muscles and prizing the quality of each move over quantity. You try to get the most out of the tiniest move that you make. It also works on core muscles in the abdomen and back, ultimately helping to alleviate the back and neck aches that seem to haunt not-so-youthful bodies that tend to carry a little more weight than they are accustomed to. Most importantly, I feel the benefits of it fairly rapidly. I’ve always felt like I’ve given myself a massage at the end of each Pilates session because there’s so much stretching, rotation and extension involved. You do a spot of exercise and get a massage simultaneously. What could be better than that?
I’m not suggesting that Pilates is a substitute for a good cardio workout, but it really does help develop muscle strength, improve posture and boost energy levels. Because I’ve only ever done matwork, I was eager to try out the reformer, a machine that helps you achieve a precise, full-body resistance workout. I really like how using the reformer helps you to zoom in on specific muscles and offers tangible methods of checking on your own body alignment. And while the session wasn’t overly challenging (I know my lovely trainer, Vicki Berman was going easy on me), I was pleasantly surprised to feel the gentle aching of core muscles two days after my workout. I’ve always thought that I would prefer matwork , but this single session on the reformer has convinced me that I can actually get a whole lot more out of working on the machine.
I like that there are never more than four people in each reformer group class at COMO Shambhala because without close supervision you can conceivably get everything wrong without realising it. The trainers are internationally accredited and experienced, and I have to admit that I adore the spare, functional beauty of the facility. It is bathed in gorgeous natural light. And while every piece of equipment is there to serve a purpose, everything has been curated and placed with an eye for detail. Here, I have found form with function in the everyday—a combination I value greatly. So, for the first time in my life, I’m actually going to sign up for some exercise because I want to, not because I should!
Como Shambhala Urban Escape Singapore
402 Orchard Road
#06-01 Delfi Orchard
Tel: +65 63043552