Categories
Club Buzz

Celebrating 56 with a bang

HomeTeamNS clubhouses commemorated the nation’s 56th birthday with exciting festivities – celebrated from the comfort of home and at clubhouses.

TEXT: ADLINA ADAM

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

REDISCOVER OUR KAMPUNG SPIRIT AT HOMETEAMNS KHATIB

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WHEN 2 to 22 August 2021

HomeTeamNS Khatib kickstarted its National Day celebrations with fun activities that brought back the kampung spirit. Visitors dropped by the clubhouse over two weekends to meet and greet Singa, Singaporeans’ favourite Courtesy Lion, and reminisced about old-school games like Chapteh, 5 Stones and pick-up sticks.

COMPLETE THE CENTREPIECE AT HOMETEAMNS BUKIT BATOK

WHEN 20 July to 7 August 2021

Over 3,000 HomeTeamNS members and patrons collaborated to complete the National Day centrepiece at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok. Made of DIY paper roses, the artwork was an expression of visitors’ appreciation to the heroes at home – their families. Participants were guided by friendly Customer Experience Ambassadors on how to fold the paper roses.

LEARN TO DRAW MERLION WORKSHOP AT HOMETEAMNS-JOM

WHEN 10 August 2021

Over at HomeTeamNS-JOM, a group of participants took part in the ‘Learn to draw Merlion’ workshop. Using different drawing techniques to sketch the half-fish, half-lion statue, they brought the iconic Singapore landmark to life.

Don’t miss the ‘Learn to draw Merlion’ workshop featured on Channel 8 News.

‘BE SPOTTED IN RED & WHITE!’ AT HOMETEAMNS-JOM

WHEN August 2021

For displaying their patriotism by dressing in red or white, more than 100 HomeTeamNS-JOM visitors were welcomed with Singapore flags and gifts.

VIRTUAL FUN WITH HOMETEAMNS

While some members and their families were having a blast at the clubhouses, others tuned in to live gameshows and workshops at the various HomeTeamNS Clubhouse Facebook pages.

WHEN 4 August 2021

61 viewers put their game faces on during the ‘How Singaporean Are You?’ Pictionary live gameshow hosted on HomeTeamNS Khatib’s Facebook Page. With up to S$300 worth of vouchers up for grabs, the participants battled it out and made guesses on drawings that represented all things Singaporean, while embracing the nation’s lingo – Singlish.     

DIGITAL SCAVENGER HUNT

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WHEN August 2021

Close to 60 HomeTeamNS members got their mystery fix in the Digital Scavenger Hunt on HomeTeamNS’ Official Facebook Page. Prizes worth a total of S$1,700 were on the line, as participants solved three Singapore-themed riddles. The top three winners took home S$428 worth of HomeTeamNS facility passes, Cathay Cineplexes Digital Movie Passes and Swensen’s food vouchers. Ten consolation winners bagged four Cathay Cineplexes Digital Movie Vouchers each, while another 10 won this year’s NDP Funpack.

“Thank you for proactively arranging events for the members to participate and win prizes. Keep up the great work!” wrote Joey Lee, a Digital Scavenger Hunt participant.

FACEBOOK LIVE SHOWS & WORKSHOPS

Live cooking show
Live exercise session
Live band performance
Virtual craft workshops
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WHEN 23 July to 5 August 2021

Together with their families, members connected virtually as they joined various live shows and workshops on HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok Facebook Page. From singing National Day songs with heartfelt gusto to striking a warrior pose for yoga, close to 100 viewers enjoyed a memorable National Day weekend.

‘LIVE’ COOKING SHOW

The viewers tuned in for the ‘Live’ cooking show joined by a special guest from Minmed Group, as they whipped up healthy dishes such as Red Chicken Rice and Red Ruby Dessert for their families at home. 

 

‘LIVE’ EXERCISE SESSION

Not forgetting to keep fit and healthy while staying home, members partook in the ‘Live’ exercise session with Yoga Instructor, Gina. Besides burning up the extra calories, they learned new short breathing practices as a way to de-stress.

 

‘LIVE’ BAND PERFORMANCE

Ending off the ‘Live’ Facebook shows on a high note, viewers flaunt their vocal prowess and patriotism by singing along National Day songs with acoustic duo, Choy and Ernest, from 二人世界  (Two of Us).

 

‘LIVE’ EXERCISE SESSION

The clubhouse also hosted 2 virtual workshops ‘I’m Proud to be Yorchid’ and ‘Thank You For Masking’. Participating families were taught how to fold origami orchids and sew face masks in the comfort of their own homes, with the sewing kits and materials delivered to their doorsteps.

STAY-HOME JOY WITH HOMETEAMNS-JOM

HomeTeamNS-JOM karaoke finals
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WHEN 3 to 21 August 2021

HomeTeamNS-JOM celebrated the festive month with online quizzes, a karaoke contest and a durian giveaway.

CAN OR CANNOT? QUIZ

171 fans participated in five quizzes about Singapore’s history on HomeTeamNS-JOM’s Facebook page. Winners took home Jom Makan BBQ Seafood dining vouchers worth up to S$600 in total.

“Thank you HomeTeamNS-JOM Clubhouse and Jom Makan BBQ Seafood for the thoughtful giveaway,” expressed Irene Lim, a participant in the ‘CAN or CANNOT?’ quiz.

HOMETEAMNS-JOM KARAOKE CONTEST FINALS

The second online edition of the annual HomeTeamNS-JOM Karaoke Contest saw 55 submissions from 25 participants. Ten finalists across two categories were selected through online voting and judges’ selection.

Finalists were announced by professional coaches from The Vocal Studio Singapore on 9 August. The finalists performed familiar National Day songs, including Home and We Will Get There on 21 August.

Professional vocal performers and coaches from The Vocal Studio Singapore — Nisha Mahtani, Hydir Idris, Harsha Channa, Hanna Ma, and Bojana Fabel — were guest judges. They also shared professional advice with the participants. Close to 720 viewers watched the show. Viewers were treated to goodies, including chances to win exclusive NDP fun packs and salad bowls from Indulge Teppanyaki & Grill House.

DURIANS ON DISCOUNT

HomeTeamNS-JOM sweetened the festivities with an exclusive durian giveaway. Simply by registering their interest, members snagged a S$5 promo code to offset their online durian purchases from 99 Old Trees Durian.

Missed out on the National Day festivities with HomeTeamNS? Visit the HomeTeamNS website for upcoming activities and post-event coverage!

Categories
In The Force

To be the best that he can be

SC/SGT(1) Chan Jeng Hin, a PNSF who has gone through the gruelling training of Special Operations Command, shares his experiences of serving in the unit.

TEXT: SPF
IMAGES: SPF

Joining the Special Operations Command (SOC) is an ambition of many Police Full-time National Servicemen (PNSFs), but to be a member of this elite unit is no easy feat, as officers undergo extremely rigorous training — from tough physical drills to scenario-based exercises and even handling special weapons and vehicles such as the water cannon vehicle.

SC/SGT(1) Chan Jeng Hin is among the selected PNSFs who have completed SOC training. Currently an Assistant Trainer in the School of Tactical Competency Development (STCD), his exemplary performance saw him graduate among the top 5 percent of his batch and earned him the Best Ops and Fitness title. With a thirst for self-improvement and a friendly rivalry between his troopmates, SC/SGT(1) Chan pushes himself to the fullest during every physical training session; always striving to be better.

SETTING THE BAR

Braving dangers and hardships, all SOC officers regardless of their specialisation are highly trained and well-equipped so they can perform their duties with great speed and focus, ensuring the safety of Singapore.

As an Assistant Trainer, SC/SGT(1) Chan is closely involved in all the physical training for PNSFs, including Close Quarter Combat (CQC), Armed Strike Team (AST), and the Police Tactical Course (PTC). He shares that the PTC is a rite of passage for trainees before they officially become an SOC Trooper.

The PTC is a 12-week-long course that includes mainly Public Order (PO) and Public Security (PS) training. This course aims to develop the trainees’ mental and physical resilience, as well as hone their leadership qualities and instill the important values a PTU Trooper should and must have. 

SOC trainees undergoing the Police Tactical Course.

Serving as an Assistant Trainer has given SC/SGT(1) Chan opportunities to interact with people from all walks of life, including his trainees, supervisors and members of public. This has taught him how to better communicate and empathise with those around him. He also takes pride in being a trainer and hopes to make life in NS more fulfilling for his trainees by passing down important values and lessons.

“I am humbled to serve and stand alongside SPF’s finest special operators and troopers to protect the people. I have found purpose in what I am doing and expectations I am to uphold.”

SC/SGT(1) Chan Jeng Hin

WHAT IT MEANS TO SERVE IN THE PTU

The Special Operations Command (SOC) of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is home to the Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR) unit, the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) and the K-9 Police Unit. Mainly tasked to deal with emergency situations like riots and terrorism, the PTU (or Riot Squad, as it was originally called) was formed in 1952 to deal with Public Order situations after the Maria Hertogh riots.

It was then revamped after the Mumbai attacks in 2008 to deal with more sophisticated Public Security incidents. As such, PTU officers are required to have higher standards than their SPF peers in both their physical fitness and mental fortitude.

Forged by adversity through the years, PTU Troopers stand at the forefront of tactical excellence to bring the full spectrum of combat power in order to execute their duties swiftly and successfully.

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Club Buzz

To infinity and beyond

Continuing the REAL® Run legacy amid the pandemic.

TEXT Adlina Adam
PHOTOS Pierre Ooi Photography

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of REAL® (Regular Exercise Active Lifestyle) Run, the annual flagship event of HomeTeamNS. To adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, a four-month long virtual race was launched on 8 July 2021. The date was deliberately selected as the number ‘8’ resembles the infinity symbol — a sign that REAL® Run intends to keep running, no matter what obstacles lie ahead, especially during these unprecedented times.

“The pandemic has significantly impacted a lot of running events including REAL® Run,” said MAJ (NS) Su Caizheng, Chairman of the REAL® Run Committee. “But rather than being negative about it, the team looked at it as an opportunity and an even stronger reason for us to continue what we have always been driving — which is to encourage our runners to maintain their regular exercises and active lifestyle.”

ACHIEVING A BREAKTHROUGH

CPT Tan Chun Hui

Undeterred by the restrictions imposed on physical events, REAL® Run advanced and persevered through the challenges that it faced and organised its first full-fledged virtual edition in 2020.

Despite being new to the virtual race scene, the REAL® Run team rose to the occasion — they conducted research on how such events have been held around the globe. “We continued to follow our mantra of not limiting ourselves in terms of ideas and we are constantly thinking of new ways that our runners can interact virtually,” said MAJ (NS) Caizheng.

“It is nice to be able to still participate in the REAL® Run despite the ongoing pandemic, and I do appreciate how the team behind the event is always looking for ways to make a virtual race more fun!” expressed CPT Tan Chun Hui, an avid runner who represented the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in the 10km Women’s Team Event at the Sundown Marathon 2019.

KEEPING UP THE PACE

SGT Hamizah Binte Abdul Talib

As this year’s virtual 25km race period extends to four months, it is crucial that participants stay motivated and clock in their timings consistently. REAL® Run 2021 accommodates participants of differing ability and fitness levels through two running modes: Leaderboard Run (Competitive) and Sole-Mate Run (Non-Competitive).

Competitive runners can get head-to-head with their friends when participating in the Leaderboard Run, while leisure runners can run at their own pace and, at the same time, explore new places. To stay motivated during virtual runs, CPT Chun Hui indulges in friendly competitions with her friends, and aims to beat her own personal-best records.

In SGT Hamizah Binte Abdul Talib’s case, she perks her ears to a good running playlist and snaps photos of the good memories after crossing the finishing line.

“Some seasoned runners can do it alone and conquer the race, but it gets boring for me after a while. I get a close friend or colleague to accompany me for the run, so we can motivate each other,” shared SGT Hamizah, an Emergency Response Team (ERT) Officer from the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

THE VIRTUAL ROAD AHEAD

MAJ (NS) Su Caizheng

From a small-scale SPF event of 500 runners in 1996, REAL® Run has grown to host over 10,000 participants from all over the world. REAL® Run has persevered through the years, with the committee members putting their unwavering efforts in ensuring that every edition remains astounding.

MAJ (NS) Caizheng plans to develop REAL® Run into a leading race event by finding innovative ways to engage youths and incentivise regular runners who have been supporting REAL® Run over the years. The team also intends to tap on technological solutions and engagements to make each REAL® Run event a pleasant memory for the runners.

“Throughout the 25 years that REAL® Run has been around, we’ve evolved so much – but one thing has never changed: our commitment to our runners and our Home Team NSmen,” said MAJ (NS) Caizheng.

New to the running scene?
Here are some tips to get your engine started!

After running, don't stop immediately. Walk slowly to bring your heart rate down and end off with a good static stretch to prevent injuries. Remember to hydrate well, wear a good pair of running shoes and plan your route before setting off.

SGT Hamizah Binte Abdul Talib, Singapore Police Force

Have a good dynamic pre-run warm-up, followed by running short distances. This helps to increase your heart rate, relax your muscles and loosens your joints. Start slow and build up your running mileage gradually. This prevent overtraining and injuries, which can hinder your progress.

CPT Tan Chun Hui, Singapore Civil Defence Force

Interested to know more about the 25th-anniversary edition of the REAL® Run? Read up and register for the run here.

Categories
Shape Up

Taking the less intense road to fitness

The idea of restarting your fitness journey to get back in shape now feels that much more appealing, yet intimidating all the same. A trainer from HomeTeamNS’ Fitness Workz shares how even less-intense activities, spanning lifestyle changes to leisure sports, can help.

TEXT: NICHOLAS JACOB

IMAGES: FITNESS WORKZ

COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives and diminished the feasibility of traditional routes to maintaining health and wellness – such as regular gym sessions. Even with Singapore now opening up, this means getting back into the swing of your old fitness routine may not be so easy after all. Of course, where there’s a will, there’s a way. After all, nobody wants to be the butt of another “pandemic physique” joke.

Unsure of what to do, now that access to that bench-press and rowing machine is limited? Our expert breaks down the types of lower-intensity exercises readily available in and about the neighbourhood to help you ease back into old habits.

WORK FROM HOME, WORKOUT AT HOME

The prevalence of remote working arrangements has inevitably resulted in many of us being holed up at home in front of our desktops all day – and sometimes all night (cue related excuses for lack of exercise).

That being said, activities for keeping fit need not be confined to full-on sessions at the gym. As a starting point, Fitness Workz trainer Aidid Haidil Bin Mohamed Said puts forth stair-climbing as a solution that can be tailored for a range of fitness levels and goals.

Instead of taking the lift up to your home, one could use the stairs to improve cardiovascular strength and endurance. The descent, on the other hand, can build core muscles and improve balance.

If that sounds a little too daunting, Mr Aidid notes that the intensity of a stair-climbing routine can be easily adjusted. “For example, the way to make it less intense is to climb up the stairs but use the lift to go back down instead and continue the same drill again!” he says.

Mr Aidid adds that a whole range of exercises can also be completed in the comfort of one’s home, even without ‘proper’ equipment. For instance, a single towel is a flexible tool that can be used for bend-over rows, shoulder presses and the like.

“Apart from that, you could use a moveable chair to do your chest presses, a bag filled with books for some weights when you do your squats, or even as simple as a wall for you to use to do your wall push-ups.” he shares.

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN TOGETHER

Social butterflies might consider setting their sights on casual sports to keep both their minds and bodies in shape. Take, for instance, leisure football – a group activity that is engaging on all fronts; keeping players up on their feet while also in constant interaction with their teammates. The various HomeTeamNS Clubhouses and Fitness Workz gyms also offer a range of group sports and exercise courses available that are a good opportunity for members to keep fit.

While prevailing social-distancing rules make for smaller group sizes, a good game with your football buddies still offers much of the same benefit. A football enthusiast himself, Mr Aidid recounts hardly ever feeling like he’s exercising while playing – having fun with friends is the proverbial goal, after all. “Your cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular system will get better as well!” he adds.

Group sports aren’t the only way to get fit while staying social. Partnering with a workout buddy is often mutually beneficial, as each of you constantly pushes the other to greater fitness heights.

For a change in pace and to ease stress levels, why not try activities such as yoga offered by Fitness Workz with a friend? As a low-intensity activity, yoga aims to improve one’s flexibility, balance, and coordination in order to alleviate posture issues and lower back pain.

Alternatively, those interested in strengthening their core and muscle balance can opt for pilates – an exercise regime that focuses on low-impact flexibility while building muscular strength and movement endurance — instead.

A STRONG START IS HALF THE BATTLE WON

For individuals taking their first steps towards a less sedentary lifestyle, Aidid suggests that they first play some sports to gain momentum, before moving on to home workouts.

Beginners can ease into a routine by incorporating half-hour activity sessions twice a week; the length and frequency of these sessions can be increased following improvements in fitness, endurance and strength. Aside from eating well and having sufficient sleep, beginners should also draw up a workout schedule to support a work-life-exercise balance. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” warns Mr Aidid.

Consistency is critical in order to get the most out of one’s fitness routine. Getting fit carries a multitude of benefits, including reducing the risk of heart attacks, improving weight management, strengthening the muscular system, as well as boosting mental wellness and alertness. This is not to mention looking great once you get in shape!

At the end of the day, remember to just keep going at your own pace. As Confucius once said: It does not matter how fast you go, so long as you do not stop.

Categories
Lifestyle

A Mid-Autumn to remember

The Mid-Autumn festival is upon us. From DIY lanterns and decorations, to delicious mooncakes and activities at HomeTeamNS, here are some fun ways to make this year’s festivities memorable.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK, HOMETEAMNS

The Mid-Autumn festival is upon us. From DIY lanterns and decorations, to delicious mooncakes and activities at HomeTeamNS, here are some fun ways to make this year’s festivities memorable.

As a marker to the second half of the year, the Mid-Autumn festival is easily one of the most understated celebrations in Singapore. One can think of it as the quiet sibling of Chinese New Year, with traditional celebrations focused on intimate gatherings while appreciating the bright celestial entity with some pastry and beverage.

While some of the original festivities included activities are not so relevant today (like lantern riddles), others have remained popular and even been updated with novel interpretations for the urbanite to enjoy. Here’s how you can create some charming memories for this romantic event, for friends and family alike!

BAKE SYMBOLIC PASTRY

What’s Mid-Autumn without mooncakes? So much so that the festival is even called the Mooncake Festival at times. The traditional pastry is a baked round filled with lotus or red bean paste and includes an optional salted egg yolk to represent the moon and harmony.

As the festival also typically represents unions and gatherings, what better way to enjoy the event than a bonding session making mooncakes? HomeTeamNS-JOM is holding classes with help from baking school Genius R Us.

 If you’re keen to pursue a more extensive class, Itsi Baking Studio has a 10-hour class covering up to five varieties (teochew, snowskin and even agar agar). Or if you’re looking at something for the kids, Plaza Singapura has a workshop that includes a 1-month unlimited pass to ‘live’ storytelling on the story behind Mid-Autumn Festival.

Prefer a cosier and more relaxed experience? Head over to Bakestarters to buy their no-bake snowskin mooncake kits to have the experience at home. Kiddos will love the ones from Gobblin, which come in adorable rabbit designs and have a surprise colour element! For an extra touch of lux, Hotel Intercontinental is roping in award-winning restaurant Man Fu Yuan’s Executive Chinese Chef Aaron Tan for a virtual mooncake-making session.

And for Muslim friends, classes are available at cooking school Heiraz. But if you just want to savour the treats, halal mooncakes are available at The Fullerton Hotel, Prima Deli and Polar.

HomeTeamNS is also offering mooncake festival promotions that are valid till Sept 21. Download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App for the promo code to apply when making your orders on a specific merchant’s website. Swatow City is also offering HomeTeamNS members a 25-per-cent discount on its freshly baked mooncakes till Sept 21, at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok Facebook Page.

For a truly personal touch, why not create your own cartoon snowskin mooncakes at Genius R Us at the HomeTeamNS-JOM Clubhouse? Sign up your child for a session at only $35, or tag along with them at only $50!

Several sessions are available:

  • Sept 18 from 2.30pm to 4pm
  • Sept 19 from 11.30am to 1pm
  • Sept 25 from 9am to 10.30am
  • Sept 26 from 2.30pm to 4pm

KEEP IT LIT WITH YOUR OWN LANTERNS

Like a mirror to the glowing moon above, lanterns have become synonymous with the Mid-Autumn festival as well. And while carrying one around for walks is quite the experience, creating one can be just as fun and satisfying.

One doesn’t have to go super traditional with cellophane lanterns, but a lantern-crafting session can be kept simple for your kids, or effectively fun by focusing on creative details.

Create an easy but dramatic version with this video tutorial, and add some origami rabbits for the kids to play with. The popular accordion-fold versions can also be made at home, so gather up some watercolour paint and friends, and explore that inner artist. For the ambitious folks out there, there’s even an impressive reed alternative to attempt.

Head out afterwards to show off your creations, but for a safer and hassle-free experience, use LED lights instead of open-flame candles.

If you prefer some personal guidance, HomeTeamNS Khatib Clubhouse is organising a Make & Share a Lantern event as well on Sept 18, from 10am to 4pm. The pop-up booths will be located on level 1 of the clubhouse and materials will be provided for visitors to unleash their lantern-making skills.

T-Play at HomeTeamNS Khatib and Bukit Batok Clubhouses will also organise a lantern-painting sessions and competition. Held on Sept 18-19, 25-26 and Oct 2-3 at the T-Play Craft Room, seats will be capped at 10 people and will be allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis per session.

To enter the artwork competition on Facebook, submit a photo of your child with the final artwork and tag T-Play. The top 3 winners will each receive an exclusive Art Pack.

If lantern painting doesn’t appeal to your child’s inner Picasso, they can still show off their artistic chops in the HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok colouring contest. Head to the lobby from Sept 13-21 and colour Mid-Autumn related images such as mooncakes. Post their artwork on Facebook and the participant with the highest number of votes will win a prize. The winner will be announced on Sept 21 at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok Facebook Page, so stay tuned!

DISCOVER THE TEMPO OF TEA

A sip of Chinese tea pairs perfectly with the sweet mooncake, so why not acquaint yourself with the brew more deeply?

Tea Chapter at Tanjong Pagar offers a more classic experience – they’ve been open since 1989 after all, being one of the stalwarts locally. Discover the differences between an Oolong and a Pu-er, and be transfixed by the tea ceremony and its many intricacies. Over at Orchard, Tea Bone Zen Mind offers a more modern take, and takes you through the same experience in a curated and elegant setting.

If you’re up for novel interpretations, try the wine-inspired teas from A.muse Projects. Local purveyor Angela Phua creates her own blends that brings to mind the notes of wines like Cabernet and Merlot, and it’s a meeting of two worlds that surprisingly works. If not, task them to customise your own blend, and give them out as thoughtful gifts for the festival.

TALKING TO THE MOON

Let’s not forget the gorgeous ‘star’ of the show – the full moon. With all the stress this past year, many of us have found respite in nature, and having a little gathering outside under its glow is a treat some of us have forgotten – weather permitting.

Pack your picnic and bask under the celestial satellite at spacious and scenic spots such as the Botanic Gardens, Marina Barrage or Gardens by the Bay, or just pack some chow at City Hall and head up Fort Canning Park or the nearby War Memorial Park to enjoy a more urban viewing.

Otherwise, a romp through the pretty annual light-up at Chinatown is just as charming.

Fancy learning more about the moon? The Science Centre has astronomy exhibits that will enlighten the children. And for a mesmerising outing for the whole family, the Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom exhibition has been extended until October and has plenty of glass sculptures that look out of this world. Visit after sunset and try to hunt the piece appropriately entitled ‘Moon’.

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Contest

HomeTeamNS Subscriber Quiz

Take our reader quiz and stand a chance to win Dairy Farm vouchers!

The HomeTeamNS Family Scheme lets you sign up second and subsequent family members (children between the ages of 5 and 21) within each family for free and without the $10 administration fee (till March 31, 2022).

In submitting this form, I agree to the terms and conditions of the quiz by Frontline.

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Lifestyle

Why you need to take a moment to smell the coffee

Catch yourself before you get swept away by responsibilities and find rewards in rest.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG
IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

In fast-paced cities like Singapore, there’s no letting up. It’s all too easy to get swept away by one’s perceived duties or by getting caught up in the rat race, leaving one little room to have a true breather. And if you’ve been working from home, you know those lines are blurring more than ever before.

And have you noticed how those around you are dropping the word “busy” like a verbal badge of pride in conversations? Giving yourself time to decompress can come across as indulgent, but the truth is that it is essential to maintain healthy productivity and a much happier and motivated self.

The experts call it: The power of the pause.

THE MIDNIGHT OIL BURNT

We frequently talk about burnout, but what is it really? Some people think it occurs unexpectedly, but more often than not, it creeps in insidiously. One minute you’re restless and always finding it difficult to concentrate; the next you’re incapable of performing the smallest task even if it’s something you used to enjoy.

Unlike stress which makes one anxious, burnout saps motivation and energy. Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North outlined 12 phases, which starts with excessive drive and sustained workaholism, but transforms later into depersonalisation, depression, and eventually, full mental or body exhaustion. And in Singapore, it’s a very real problem. Microsoft’s 2020 Work Trend Report shows our country coming up top in the Asia Pacific with 37 per cent of respondents feeling burnt-out.

Some of the best ways to combat impending burnout are regular exercise, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, and reframing work as one’s priority and validation.

REFUELLING THE TANK

Having those coffee breaks matter. If you still find them indulgent, know that these brief periods of rest have been proven to increase productivity through better focus, improved mental health, and boosted creativity.

For example, stepping away from work can help with decision fatigue, as researchers Danziger, Levav and Avnaim-Pesso discovered. They saw how judges were less likely to give criminals a chance for parole later in the day by making increasingly simplistic calls as time wore on without breaks.

On the flip side, sipping on that cuppa has been found to improve memory, and resting led to inspiration, as explained by essayist Tim Kreider. He wrote, “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration – it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

Start with microbreaks – anything from a few seconds to indulge in a game on the phone or a few minutes staring out of the window – they work just as well.

IT’S TIME TO SIT BACK

With hybrid working now the norm, boundaries are blurring as work routines become increasingly mixed with home tasks. While invites from colleagues used to have you joining them for a coffee run, your reminders for a break may not be as obvious now.

But how do you determine your body and mind need a break? Physical symptoms are your best bet. If your neck is hurting or your eyes are tired, use that as a sign to stretch and move a little, even if it’s just to the living room. Always have regular mealtimes, then just let yourself sit back and enjoy the scenery. Better yet, go outside for a walk.

Scheduling in short breaks after a block of set time for work is a healthy habit to adopt. There’s even a name for it – the Pomodoro Technique.

NO CHEATING

Recall how you often postponed picking up a hobby, or putting off a task for far too long? The effects of burning out means you won’t even touch those during your down time, so it’s best to prioritise them into your breaks to jumpstart that engagement.

Apart from micro breaks mentioned earlier, take deep breaks that remove you from your work scope. For example, if you’re an accountant, you could practise drawing in your sketchbook for 30 minutes. Departing from your routine is a real mind spa.

Active breaks also rejuvenate. For instance, simply walking about can fire off powerful creative inspiration. And if you’re feeling up for it, a light 30-minute workout can have uplifting effects that last through the day.

Scene-changing breaks suggest that taking in a different visual setting – like going to a park instead of staying in your apartment – can make for a stimulating break. Thankfully, there are always pockets of green even in the concrete jungle that is Singapore’s business district.

Social breaks involve contacting your friends and loved ones just to catch up. It’s a great way to maintain mental health and feel connected to the bigger things in life. Instead of working from home, you could also try a coworking space. The alternate setting and organic community may be just what you need from falling into a rut.

Take a breather and keep up these good work habits to let yourself decompress and stay refreshed and motivated. After all the lifestyle and professional changes of the past one-and-half-years, you’ve definitely earned it.

Categories
Close Up Uncategorized

Getting physical

Keeping fit is all in a day’s work for SSSGT (NS) Heiryl Ilham.

TEXT: KEENAN PEREIRA
PHOTOS: SSSGT (NS) HEIRYL ILHAM

SSSGT (NS) Heiryl Ilham values fitness so much that for a period of time, he was downing 20 egg whites every day, just to up his daily protein intake (protein benefits the body in several ways, like helping to build lean muscle and speeding up post-exercise recovery). And without the soy sauce or pepper that many of us would add, mind you. “Just straight-up whites — 10 in the morning and 10 at night,” the 29-year-old says matter-of-factly.

His commitment to a healthy lifestyle started during his teenage years, when he would consistently fail his National Physical Fitness Award (NAPFA) test at school. “I did well for every station except my 2.4 km, which I was completing in about 15 minutes,” SSSGT (NS) Heiryl recalls.

Keen to turn this aspect of his life around, he turned to YouTube to learn more about fitness — and the rest is history. These days, he clocks in at under 10 minutes for his 2.4km runs — a result of training on the treadmill, which he finds highly effective in learning to run faster. This, combined with interval training, has helped SSSGT (NS) Heiryl shed around 27kg (he currently weighs in at a lean 62kg).

FITNESS TOGETHER

Between December 2016 and May 2017, SSSGT (NS) Heiryl Ilham set out to transform himself, losing about 27kg and going from 28 per cent body fat to 8 per cent body fat.

“Be the best that you can be”: This is a tip SSSGT (NS) Heiryl readily shares with his clients at Sport Singapore, where he is a fitness instructor. He also supports his fellow Home Team NSmen through the Virtual Fitness Training (VFT) initiative, which was launched last December.

Every Saturday, SSSGT (NS) Heiryl leads about 40 NSmen in a vigorous High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout that he designed, which comprises an energetic mix of core training, as well as upper and lower body workouts. This complements his NSman role as Officer-in-Charge (OC) Fitness at Clementi Division, where he supervises Remedial Trainings (RT) and oversees the division’s Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) training sessions. In addition, SSSGT (NS) Heiryl serves as a Police Contact Tactical Trainer and IPPT Trainer, training fellow NSmen in a modified self-defence form that combines elements from Wing Chun and judo.

SSSGT (NS) Heiryl is passionate about helping NSmen up their fitness game, especially since many of them support crucial operational work during their reservist cycles — and it’s an experience he knows well.

While on patrol during his first reservist cycle, he and his partner were alerted to an incident of public nuisance. A drunken man was causing a scene outside VivoCity and when the pair approached him, the person refused to cooperate and even tried to attack them. SSSGT (NS) Heiryl acted swiftly to pin him down and arrest him. “Anything can happen in situations like this. That is why we need to be on our best form, even as NSmen,” he shares.

FITTER TOGETHER

Fitness isn’t just an occupation for SSSGT (NS) Heiryl; it’s also a means of bonding with his wife, whom he had met when he was a trainer at a private gym. “She is just as passionate as I am about fitness. We love working out as a couple,” he says.

SSSGT (NS) Heiryl and his wife tied the knot last December. “We had a COVID-19 wedding,” he explains, referring to the smaller and more intimate nuptials that are now the norm because of the pandemic. This meant that the ceremony cost less than one-third what it normally would — money that is going towards their first home in the upcoming Tengah Forest Town development which will be ready in 2024.

For now, the couple is living at home with SSSGT (NS) Heiryl’s family, where they enjoy his mother’s  scrumptious cooking. He admits that he does not really watch what he eats and he is more concerned about when he eats. “That’s because I am very disciplined with my workouts. I may start the day with a packet of nasi lemak but I know for a fact that I will work out hard enough to burn off those calories.”

For most of us who don’t have that kind of determination, he suggests using a simple calorie tracking app to avoid eating excessively. “But there’s no need to go overboard with calculating everything that you eat. That may be too tedious and is not sustainable in the long run,” he adds.

From failing his NAPFA test as a teen to training fellow NSmen to pass their physical fitness tests and helping his fitness clients lead healthier lives, SSSGT (NS) Heiryl has come a long way on his fitness journey. Not only has he come to embody physical fitness, he’s doing his best to help others transform their lifestyles, one rep at a time.

INTERVAL MATTERS

SSSGT (NS) Heiryl is a big proponent of interval training as he has seen its benefits for many clients and himself. Here’s how to start:

  1. Warm up thoroughly
  2. Sprint for 30 seconds at 100 per cent effort
  3. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes
  4. Repeat (2) and (3) at least eight times, at least once a week

IMPORTANT: You should always consult your physician or other healthcare professional before starting this or any other fitness programme to determine if it is right for your needs.

Categories
Lifestyle

How to kickstart your workflow mojo

We get it, working from home can sap your motivation at times. Here are some ways to speed your way through your work, chores and tasks alike – backed by science.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG
IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

Working harder is great but working smarter is better — and looking at ways to efficiently mow through your tasks is a win-win, because you clear them faster and feel more motivated afterwards. Next thing you know, you’re done for the day.
If you’ve been finding it impossible to get past that one email, adopt some of these methods and their principles — backed by research — to kickstart your workflow mojo once again.

 

DEADLINES SAVE LIVES

Your manager wasn’t that far off. Setting an achievable deadline actually promotes productivity because of Parkinson’s Law, where the effort and work expands according to the timeline of the task. In other words, the more time you have for the task, the more likely you’ll waste time on it. And a lot of this has to do with flow.
It takes immense effort to achieve full concentration, and finding your flow – or being in the zone – has often been said to produce great results. By placing an over-generous marker, the general tendency is for one to run on half a tank. So if there’s a realistic deadline, then it’s actually working to power your natural motivation.
But what if it’s a huge project? The Harvard Business Review found out that breaking down larger projects into daily tasks led to better satisfaction and higher achievement rates through small wins – so really, these short-term goals help to nudge people in the right productive direction.

 

RHYTHM DOES IT

We each have our own ultradian rhythm, similar to our circadian cycles for sleep. By working with our natural bio-rhythm and matching our activities to the alert phases, we achieve more – even if we wake up at 9am instead of 4am.
As a guide, we generally perform well at a task until it hits about the 90-minute mark. Swedish psychologist and researcher Anders Ericsson studied high performers such as athletes and musicians, and found that those at the top of their fields practised in intense bouts. It is evident that we are most productive when hedging work into compartments, and following through with scheduled breaks.
The Pomodoro Technique for instance, recommends 25 minutes of work followed by a five-minute break. And when it comes to maximising your efficiency and enjoyment of the tasks at hand, prioritise them with the Pareto Principle, which lets you invest your best energy on the top 20 per cent in value-creation work.

 

SPACE OUT RIGHT

Having a conducive workspace is a fundamental element in your quest for workplace domination (or at least finishing your projects on time), although work-from-home has admittedly complicated this. So that means no more working at the dining table!
To pitch yourself at the right kind of uplifting environment for work, it’s important to pick an uncluttered space with plenty of natural light. The former creates visual distractions, while studies have shown that a sunlit work spot helps to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm for better sleep, and reduces drowsiness by 10 per cent and raises productivity by 2 per cent.
To further enhance your space, adding plants can help. They’re known to boost productivity by 15 per cent. And for a perfect soundtrack, put on some white noise (lyrical songs might prove distracting for some), classical music or even binaural music for a boost in productivity.

 

BREAKS ARE GOOD FOR YOU

Don’t feel bad about taking a break. As evidenced by the earlier point on our bio-rhythms, taking clear-cut scheduled pauses actually heightens motivation in the long run.
It’s important these breaks are enjoyable, so make sure that your rest period is really a departure from work. For a change, why not take up the Work-From-Villa packages at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok? Every spacious bungalow comes with secure Wi-Fi and game consoles, which allows you to easily break for some entertainment.
Feeling drowsy? Rest assured that science has proven that a nap is beneficial for your productivity, but just make sure that you time it right.

 

DITCH THOSE UNHEALTHY STEREOTYPES

And finally, it’s time to reconsider what we know about work ethics and model behaviour in
the office. Multi-tasking and perfectionism may sound great at an interview, but studies are showing that these actually impair work.
Multi-taskers can experience a productivity dip of 40 per cent because of the time taken to switch between different tasks. Perfectionists burden themselves unnecessarily because they can’t delegate, have a tendency for over-delivering, and leave no room for realistic goals (which ironically leads to more delay).
Rethink your work ethics and drop the toxic ones – it’ll free you up to get the actual job done.