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Inclusive Singapore gym caters for users with disabilities

Inclusive Singapore gym caters for users with disabilities
September 30, 2015

A newly opened fitness centre in the Singapore neighbourhood of Redhill has been designed to cater for disabled users, as well as non-disabled gym goers.

The iFit gym in Lengkok Bahru, Singapore's first inclusive fitness centre, is open to all, from the deaf and blind to those with intellectual disabilities and the elderly.

The gym has a range of features which make it disabled-friendly.

Most of the doors slide sideways, instead of opening outwards. Equipment can also be modified - their seats are removable - so that wheelchair users can use them, too.

For people who are visually handicapped, there are Braille dots on the treadmill user panels and some machines are in contrasting colours. For deaf people, a "hearing induction loop" system has been implemented so that, with a hearing aid, they can better hear directions from fitness instructors who speak into a microphone.

Without such a system, they would hear the instructions as one of several ambient sounds - which could include background music and other people's voices.

For people with mobility challenges, such as the elderly or those with physical disabilities, the gym include Hur Fitness equipment from Finland that use an air-pressure system which is gentler on the muscles and joints.

The gym is sited within a community space set up by SG Enable, a Singapore Government-established body that offers services for people with disabilities. The iFit gym is run by Care Advisors Recruitment Enterprise (Care), a social enterprise that provides caregivers for the elderly.

The 21 regular and specialised machines in the gym cost a total of $250,000, funded partly by the National Council of Social Service.

Standard Chartered Bank donated another $250,000 for an outdoor fitness corner and fitness classes for 1,200 low-income elderly over three years.

Fitness instructors from Care have been trained by staff from KK Women's and Children's Hospital and Changi General Hospital, to design exercise programs for the elderly and people with disabilities.

These include chair aerobics, done while seated or while standing and using the chair for support.

SG Enable Chief Executive Ku Geok Boon  told Singapore newspaper The Straits Times “besides helping (disabled users) to keep fit, these programs can contribute towards developing work stamina and complement job training.

"With this holistic approach, we hope we can help people with disabilities live and work well."

While the gym operator looks forward to working with people with special needs, Care's Managing Director Satyaprakash Tiwari adds “we also welcome other people interested in pursuing a healthy lifestyle to explore what iFit offers."

In August, the Singapore Government unveiled a new S$3 billion five-year Action Plan for Successful Ageing.

The Plan includes ‘active ageing’ hubs to be built in future Housing Board developments. They will be similar to current senior activity centres but will be larger and incorporate both social programmes and rehabilitation or daycare services.

Introducing the plan a Singapore Government spokesperson explained “this move will change the way people approach ageing and help to enhance the public perception of ageing.

"Longevity must be coupled with a life that is worth living."

For more information on the iFit gym go to www.ifit.com.sg

For more information on Hur Fitness products, click here to conact their Australian distributor Hur Australia via their entry in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory. 

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