Rai’s been a client for about a year and a half, and in this short piece he talks about his unconventional life as a musician, frustrations he had with fitness programs in the past, and why Ritual works well for him. Enjoy!
If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is to do what you love.
I was always an avid sportsperson, specialising in Track & Field, specifically the 400m event when I was in school. My coach then, Mr. Mike J., was a big inspiration to me wanting to be a PE teacher, which is why I enjoyed university; studying and learning everything from multiple games to sport-related psychology, physiology, sociology and history.
Music was a hobby while I was in National Service, but little did I know that opportunities would develop, together with my love for music and performance. And again, doing what I enjoyed enabled me to push myself to improve and carve a good reputation for myself in the music industry, progressing from weekend bar musician to well-paid gigs both in and out of Singapore as part of a well-known singer-songwriter duo. All this, against the grain of what people would consider a ‘normal’ career. At the crossroads of two loves, teaching and music, I decided to pursue a full-time career in music, and left the teaching service after 5 years.
But then how was I going to scratch my itch in sports and physical activity? As a PE teacher, I was always doing something or other with my students or colleagues. Being quite restless, I do need that kind of catharsis. So the search began. I tried a regular gym… but I hate treadmills and weight machines. At one point, jogging sounded good enough, except that I was a freelancer and hours were very irregular. Not to mention, I kept late nights because of gigs which generally start in the evening, so that didn’t leave much time for nice outdoor jogs unless I ran in the hot Singapore sun. And let’s face it, jogging is boring. So I tried Insanity with Shawn T., but couldn’t motivate myself enough to keep up with an instructional video. Went on to Muay Thai and boxing, which I enjoyed a lot, but ended up with something similar to tennis elbow.
Finally, I ended up with a trial at Ritual. Initially, it was completely out of convenience. The location was perfect for me to get to most of my gigs in town, I could go anytime in the day, not bring along a gym bag and get a good workout in 30 minutes. But that isn’t why I love Ritual.
I liked the gym after monitoring my improvements and feeling stronger after going consistently. But it wasn’t a love affair yet. Casual conversations I had with whoever was at front desk, like Stephanie, Christine, Cass, Xuann, Alain and Zurina; my habitual post-workout coconut water and bar chats with Faizal and Darryl; Ramzan teasing me with loaded push-ups; Shrek whose warm smile completely contradicts his ice cold tone (which still remains a conundrum to me to this day, given his spartan physique); Desmond and Nas, for whom words of encouragement are second nature; Ruzaini testing my limits beyond what I could possibly muster; talking to Amirr about toys and music; our 2 resident friendly faces, Rahim and Azri, who mop up my sweaty mess; bumping into and working out alongside old friends while making new ones – all these combined, contributed to the X-factor I was searching for. I get a good workout, in my own little space, and I get the interaction and the environment that makes the facility feel so comfortable. It’s pretty easy to just come and go, but I’m not one who can really turn a blind eye to what goes on around me, solely for the sake of a workout. For me, it is that, which distinguishes Ritual, as compared to executing the same workout at home or in a fitness centre somewhere. And as a result of enjoying the overall package, I keep going back to work out, to test myself, increasing loads and intensity where possible.
Moral of the story? Do what you love. I don’t believe health reasons alone can motivate someone to exercise. You have to enjoy the process in order to want to progress. One person’s cup of tea might not necessarily be another’s, and it takes effort and patience to find something you love, that keeps you motivated. Get out, do stuff & find it.