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Featured Food Spy Shape Up

Why a Mediterranean diet could benefit you

Adapting to the Mediterranean diet could offer a wealth of benefits, like improved heart health and lower cholesterol. Here’s your sign to switch up your palate and indulge in healthier food options at HomeTeamNS Clubhouses.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK, ELA & SIAM KITCHEN

While the Mediterranean diet – featuring more seafood, more vegetables and less carbohydrates – was discovered in the 1950s by American scientist Ancel Keys, it has remained popular for being easy to adopt as well as relevant; with more studies substantiating its promise of multiple benefits.

HOW DOES IT HELP WITH HEALTH?

The grilled salmon mentaiko rice bowl served at Indulge Teppanyaki & Grill House in HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier.

Taking inspiration from the typical menus of those living in the region, such as Italy, Greece, Spain and Morocco, the Mediterranean diet boosts vegetable intake while cutting back on red meats and refined carbs.

Its most pronounced effect is that on the cardiovascular system – reducing risk of heart diseases, alleviating high blood pressure, and even helping with overall mortality. In a 2018 study of nearly 26,000 women, 25 per cent of those who followed the Mediterranean diet had less risk of developing cardiovascular disease over 12 years. The main drivers for this were attributed to changes in inflammation, blood sugar, and body mass index.

There are also increasing reports that support its role in supporting slow ageing and cognitive health as well, especially for men.

The Mediterranean diet fundamentally does this in two ways, by upping nutrient intake through generous servings of vegetables and fruit, and by relying on the use of monounsaturated fats. One of the biggest changes is using olive oil, which is a healthier fat that lowers total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol levels. For proteins, the diet prefers fish like sardines, mackerel, tuna and salmon. These meats are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation within the body, and the polyunsaturated fats also reduce blood clotting, lower the risk of stroke and heart failure. They also help the body with building brain cell membranes.

Ms Jessica Bayes, the lead researcher for the UTS study found that the increased intake of fibre from the diet of nuts, fruit and vegetables contribute to healthy microbial growth in the gut, and that in turn stimulated more production of serotonin – the chemical which makes us happy.

Add to that the nutrient-rich properties of staple ingredients like tomatoes (antioxidant lycopene, vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K) or chickpeas (vitamin B9, copper, manganese and iron), your diet will protect and energise with its natural goodness.

SO WHAT DOES THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET CONSIST OF?

Ela at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok also offers traditional Greek soups like Fasolada.

One advantage of the Mediterranean diet is that it involves shifting your dietary preference than cancelling intake altogether.

Replace refined grains with whole grains and benefit from the added nutrients and fibre while enjoying your carbs. Swap out fried sides like fries and chips and opt for hummus, beans or salads instead. Feeling peckish? Try snacking on nuts and seeds instead of processed treats.

The meat department also needs some rotation. Try to reduce their intake to twice a week as you will be getting plenty of good protein from legumes. Also, move away from red meats and choose fish and other seafood instead.

While following the menus of this region may have you thinking that it’s pizza, pasta and ice-cream all the way, know that while those items do feature in the cuisine, the locals take them in moderation, and tend to eat them in smaller portions with plenty of sides of legumes, vegetables and fruits. This is because items like pizza can contain too much processed red meats and use refined flour, while ice cream contains added refined sugar.

AND IT’S EASY TO START

The Steamed Seabass in Chili and Lime dressing served at Siam Kitchen in HomeTeamNS Khatib.

Luckily for us, Singapore has excellent access to affordable imported ingredients, which means kickstarting a Mediterranean diet is within reach! Many of the ingredients that grow on the sunny Mediterranean belt can be found in local farms as well, like tomatoes and greens.

To start, try swapping out one of your sides, or have a meal lean into the principles of more vegetables and white meat. Make small decisions; like replacing desserts full of refined sugar with fruits, or using the rich regional spices or cheese like feta and goat to flavour your food.

Singapore’s vibrant food scene also makes it easy for one to adhere to the diet. Whether it’s chowing down at Singapore Food Festival or one of the eateries at HomeTeamNS clubhouses, you can always easily find meals that line up with the diet.

For example, the Steamed Seabass at HomeTeamNS Khatib’s Siam Kitchen is one item with the fish healthily simmering in a chili and lime dressing. At Indulge Teppanyaki & Grill House in HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier, the Pan-seared Scallop Rice Bowl and Grilled Salmon Mentaiko Rice Bowl fulfil the white meat quota with sides of edamame beans and cherry tomatoes. And if you’re looking for the full experience, Ela at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok offers a delicious Greek menu with pita bread, cucumber yogurt dips, traditional salads and soups like the Fasolada, and marinated servings of chicken and octopus to complete your meal.

If you’re a HomeTeamNS member, kickstart your Mediterranean diet and enjoy 10 to 15 per cent off the total bill at the HomeTeamNS eateries above. Just flash your digital membership card in your HomeTeamNS Mobile App upon checkout.

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Featured Shape Up

Fitness Workz trainer by day, Mr World Singapore finalist by night

Mr World Singapore finalist Aidid Haidil has come a long way since his life was changed by a road accident in 2017. This fitness trainer at HomeTeamNS Fitness Workz hopes to inspire others with his story.

TEXT: NICHOLAS JACOB

PHOTOS: FITNESS WORKZ

A model, an avid football player, and a lifelong fitness enthusiast, Mr Aidid Haidil awoke from surgery in 2017 to see his right arm and leg completely encased in casts. In addition, his upper lip had been torn apart and stitched back together.

He was lucky to be alive, having survived a major road accident in which his motorcycle collided with a lorry at the cross junction next to Marsiling MRT station. Mr Aidid had been flung off his bike into the lorry’s windshield, before landing on the road.

“I thought it was just a dream as it felt like I had just woken up from a nap,” he recalled.

The sudden awakening was soon followed by a bleak period of depression, as he slowly recovered from his injuries but continued to struggle mentally.

“Knowing that I had 20 metal implants surgically placed in me, I was demotivated and started wasting my life away. I was depressed and honestly speaking, I gave up on fitness and sports as I knew for sure that everything would not be the same anymore due to the physical challenges I have permanently.”

A TURNING POINT, VIA FITNESS

Mr Aidid tried to keep a cheerful face on for the sake of his supportive family and friends, but he hit his lowest ebb when he was unable to secure his dream job as a flight attendant, having failed the skin check portion of the interview due to his physical scarring.

“I sat down by the roadside just outside the building where the interview was and I broke down badly,” he said. “I sat there for a good two hours as I could not accept the fate I had been given. But something popped out in my head, telling me to give my lecturer from ITE College West a call.”

It was the turning point for Mr Aidid. His lecturer suggested that he apply for the Work Study Diploma in Fitness Management, as Mr Aidid already had a Higher NITEC in Sports Management and his lecturer was confident that he had the capability to succeed.

Recalling how proud his parents had been when he graduated from ITE, he took a leap of faith and applied for the programme. Today, Mr Aidid is a Fitness Workz trainer at HomeTeamNS Khatib. He received the Personal Trainer Certification from the American Council of Exercise last year and has made it to the finals of the Mr World Singapore 2022 competition.

If he was able to go back to the aftermath of the accident in 2017, he says he would tell himself that everything happens for a reason, and always for the better: “It happened to make me realise that not everything will go as planned. Don’t ever give up – don’t make the same mistakes and waste the upcoming years being so hard on yourself. Get back up on both feet and achieve the success you were meant to achieve.”

HELPING HIMSELF BY HELPING OTHERS

Five years after the accident, Mr Aidid still suffers from bouts of post-traumatic stress disorder. But he tries to keep himself occupied and focuses on his mental health.

One thing that gives him a deep sense of fulfilment is helping his clients, especially NSmen like himself at Fitness Workz. While none of them have been through a similar accident, he has assisted clients who suffer from various conditions, such as slipped discs, asthma and polycystic ovary syndrome.

He is able to understand their difficulties and meet them on another level. Over time, Mr Aidid has worked to rebuild his own fitness despite his own physical challenges, such as being unable to flex or extend his wrist fully, which means that he cannot do a proper push-up or bench press.

“I told myself that I have to find ways to strengthen and condition my body again, and not let all of this pull me down,” he said. “I fought through it. The sweat, pain and literal tears were worth it – today, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”

Having surpassed his former fitness levels, Mr Aidid is eager to help others do the same.

“I don’t just help the clients who have paid for their personal training sessions with me,” he said. “I attend to any gym members in need, or those who seem lost and demotivated in the gym. I approach them and guide them throughout their gym session.”

FACING THE WORLD AND SHARING HIS STORY

Mr Aidid first heard about the Mr World Singapore 2022 competition from gym members, who recommended that he enter. He took up the challenge, feeling that the event would serve as the perfect platform for him to share his story and inspire others in a similar situation.

“I took a chance,” he said. “The experiences I’ve gone through so far are amazing! From going to events, parties, getting sponsored by multiple companies and meeting new people from different backgrounds – it makes my life more interesting and I love it.”

He added: “I have a habit of not expecting great things, but with all the effort and sincerity I’ve put in, I’ve managed to progress on and become a finalist in Mr World Singapore. I believe that with my consistent effort and willingness, I will get to reach out to people and raise them back up on their feet to achieve success, just like me.”

Besides modelling and acting, Mr Aidid still enjoys his first love – football – and of course, working out at the gym. Despite his pageant success, he plans to remain in the fitness industry.

“I want to be better, gain more knowledge and further progress in this line of work,” he says of his career as a trainer. “My goals are not just for me, but also for society. I want to be the reason why people are inspired and get out of their hiding spots to achieve greatness as well.”

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Featured Shape Up

How to put your best foot forward for the REAL® Run

Here’s how you can conquer the REAL® Run, whether you’re crossing that finish line for the first time or aiming to beat your personal best.

TEXT: NICHOLAS JACOB

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

It’s finally back: The REAL® Run.

HomeTeamNS’ annual signature event is back on the streets for the first time since the pandemic. Flagging off on October 8, the 26th REAL® Run makes a true return to form as a long-awaited physical run offering 5km and 10km categories, at Gardens by the Bay, The Meadow.

This year’s event looks to bring together runners itching for that race-day atmosphere that was missing during the virtual events staged during the pandemic. The question stands: are you ready to make the most of it?

As the saying goes, success occurs when opportunity meets preparation – let’s go over the full run-down of how best to gear yourself for the big day, from start to finish.

READY, GET SET …

First up, physical training.

REAL® Run offers two categories: the 5km and 10km run. While this isn’t quite a marathon, it’s worth bearing in mind that these are still far longer distances than the 2.4km many of us are familiar with.

Consistency is key – ensuring you can avoid both burnout and injury are key to a successful training plan. This is particularly true for beginners; it’s important to start out slow and ramp the intensity over time.

As a general rule of thumb, training between 3-4 times a week with rest days in between is ideal. A solid baseline training program generally takes place over 8 weeks, with more weeks being beneficial if you need that extra bit of prep.

For beginners, start your runs at around half of your target race distance, and gradually ramp up weekly until you can run 90%-100% of the full mileage.

For intermediate and advanced runners, throw in some interval training and tempo runs in between to improve speed and pace alongside the long runs you’ll already be used to for building endurance.

Regardless of your level of fitness or experience, remember to take the appropriate injury prevention measures. Take rest or active rest days, ice and compress joints, do plenty of stretching and, of course, eat a healthy and balanced diet.

THE FINAL STRETCH

Following weeks of training, one certainly won’t want to falter as they approach the literal and figurative finishing line.

After all, you’ve trained so hard and geared yourself mentally for so long – no reason to not finish strong by ensuring you’re well-prepared for the race day itself.

Veteran runners will know that race day prep actually begins the week before.

Continue to condition your body, but start paying extra attention to not overdoing it in order to avoid injury. Mix in several long, slow runs with a couple days of interval training at your target 5km or 10km race pace broken up with light jogging in between.

The little things matter: Clipping your toenails (don’t do this too close to the race day!), visualising the actual race and thinking of your post-run celebration plans are all small strategies that the pros incorporate before their runs.

A little bit of prep at this point also goes a long way. Lay out your race day outfit, fitness accessories and running shoes. The less you scramble on the day itself, the better your chance of being in peak condition mentally and physically during the run.

Two days ahead of time, you’ll want to ensure you get in good, carb-heavy meals to maximise both your body (nutrition) and mind (motivation) as you await the day to come. At the same time, hydrate well throughout the day.

As with all important days, you’ll also want to make sure your body gets plenty of rest a couple days before; two good night’s sleep of about 8-9 hours should do the trick.

THE BIG DAY

On the day itself, try to get a solid meal in about 2-3 hours before the race – an energy bar about an hour before the starting horn is also a good idea for that extra boost.

Remember to pace yourself by starting at a measured pace and ramping up as you get into the swing of things. If you’ve got a fitness watch, use that to keep time and check yourself against the pace you’ve become most accustomed to during training.

If all goes according to plan, the light at the end of the tunnel will come into view sooner than you’ll probably expect. Keep at it, and you’ll cross that glorious finishing line in no time – all according to plan!

But perhaps the most important tip of all: remember to enjoy yourself. Relish in the run, soak in the vibes, and don’t forget to smile when you cross the finish line!

Now that you’re equipped with the race tips, take the next stride and register for the REAL® Run now. Registration is now extended to 21 September 2022, and is open to HomeTeamNS members, SAFRA and Passion Card holders, and the public. For more details on the race entitlements and fees, please visit our website.

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Club Buzz Featured

More movie goodness, now on your HomeTeamNS mobile app

Booking 1-for-1 movie tickets at Cathay Cineplexes just became much easier, thanks to a HomeTeamNS Mobile App update.

TEXT: AUDRINA GAN

IMAGES: HOMETEAMNS

Getting your fill of epic big-screen action with your friends or loved ones just got much easier, with the ease of in-app bookings of 1-For-1 Cathay Cineplex movie tickets.

The update was officially launched at Cathay Cineplex Cineleisure on 15 July 2022, marking a new milestone in the partnership between HomeTeamNS and Cathay Cineplexes.

The event was attended by more than 50 guests including HomeTeamNS President, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who is also the Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development; Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS and Mr Chang Long Jong, CEO of mm2 Group.

TAKING SEAMLESS CONVENIENCE TO A NEW LEVEL

From left: Mr Chang Long Jong, CEO of mm2 Group, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, HomeTeamNS President, and Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS at the launch.

Assoc Professor Faishal said HomeTeamNS has been on a digitalisation journey since 2020. “One of the key goals of this journey was to build a seamless and convenient experience for our members as they enjoy the perks and privileges of the HomeTeamNS membership,” he explained.

Ms Eu said she was happy to see the healthy turnout at the event to celebrate HomeTeamNS’ new partnership milestone with Cathay Cineplex. “I’m also pleased that our app is well-received by our members,” she added.

Mr Chang noted that the new movie booking integration with the HomeTeamNS app would allow members to access the movie benefits more efficiently. He said this is part of the company’s efforts to give back to HomeTeamNS members. “After a two-year hiatus, we’re excited to return with a vengeance. We have a line-up of Hollywood, Asian and local movies coming up,” he added. 

A MILESTONE FOR NS, AND A CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP

As a frequent moviegoer who enjoys the big-screen surround-sound experience at the cinema, Assoc Professor Faishal said he uses the HomeTeamNS Mobile App regularly. “This year marks the 55th Anniversary of National Service. It is a significant milestone as we pay tribute to our NSmen for their contributions to keep Singapore safe and secure. We are thankful for corporates like Cathay Cineplexes that have stepped up to support our NSmen,” Assoc Professor Faishal added.

The  HomeTeamNS-Cathay Cineplexes partnership began in 2018 offering members S$3 off Weekend movie tickets from Fridays to Sundays. This was later expanded into a 1-for-1 Weekend only promotion. Currently, members enjoy an exclusive “All-day 1-for-1 Movie Benefit” any day of the week. To date, the partnership has garnered 30,000 1-for-1 transactions, clearly showing the popularity of this entertainment benefit among HomeTeamNS members.

HAMMER TIME

Guests at the event also watched a complimentary screening of the Marvel superhero film Thor: Love and Thunder. Having hung up his hammer in search of inner peace, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is forced out of retirement to take on Gorr the God Butcher, who wants to eliminate all gods. Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) to stop Gorr as mayhem ensues.

Till 31 March 2023, HomeTeamNS members can purchase an all-day F&B Combo at S$5 (U.P.S$9.80) through the app, which includes a regular soda and a medium popcorn.

To book tickets, login to the HomeTeamNS Mobile App, go to “Promotions”, and tap “1-for-1 Movie Tickets” under “Marketplace”. Click “Book Now” and enjoy your 1-for-1 movie tickets.

Each member can only purchase one pair of tickets per day. Redemptions are limited and are on a first-come-first-serve basis, while stocks last across Cathay Cineplexes in Singapore. Advanced bookings are also allowed in the HomeTeamNS App, with a standard online booking fee of S$1.50.

Download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App to uncover all your membership perks and get first dibs on promotions. 

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Featured In The Force

NS55: Celebrating a 40-year bond and an even bigger brotherhood

As Singapore celebrates NS55, we drop in on the 40th anniversary reunion of the 7th batch of officer cadet trainees from the Singapore Police Force.

TEXT: BENEDICT THAM
PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

In 2007, the 7th batch of Officer Cadet Trainees from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their National Service enlistment. Since then, this group has been organising reunions every 5 years. The easing of safe-distancing measures enabled them to celebrate their 40th anniversary reunion recently at the HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok Clubhouse.

As Singapore celebrates NS55, we gatecrashed their reunion to find out what National Service means to them and why they still keep in touch.

RUNNING BEFORE DAWN

The reunion kicked off with several NSmen sharing fond memories of their Officer Cadet Training (OCT) course like their pre-dawn runs.

“Our commander, Sri Kanthan, instilled a lot of fitness and discipline in us. We used to go for runs before sunrise, and he’d lead us. We would run around behind the Old Police Academy and we would all run in our various squads. Oh, it seemed like a never-ending run! You didn’t know when the run would end. Once it did, you’d feel very tired, but also very good!” shared Mr Richard Koh, 60. Mr Koh was one of the reunion organisers.

FORGING UNBREAKABLE BONDS

From left: Mr Gerald Chew and Richard Koh were members of the reunion organising committee.

Over lunch, the NSmen listened to more speeches and watched video presentations by those who were unable to attend, and caught up with one another. Mr Gerald Paul Chew Cheng Huan, 58, who was also part of the organising committee for this year’s reunion, elaborated more on the unbreakable camaraderie forged amongst the ex-trainees.

“We bonded, not only within our own squad, but also between each squad (the trainees were grouped into four squads). We knew what everyone else was doing and tried to help each other. Even during our operational roles (when we were posted out), we would still call each other for advice on handling cases.”

STAYING IN TOUCH, OVER A VARIETY OF CHANNELS

Mr Chew added on with how the ex-trainees kept in touch with one another after their NS stint. “The collective experience forged in the early years of NS bonded us and helped us to stay in touch even throughout university and reservist life. In addition to WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram and individual calls, we continue to find more creative ways to stay in touch.”

After celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2007, the ex-trainees set up a WhatsApp group and even invited their previous instructors to join. They still congratulate each other on their birthdays, job promotions and other life milestones. Their former commander, Sri Kanthan, who is in his 70s now, continues to inspire his ex-trainees. He sends the group inspirational messages every morning in addition to maintaining his overall fitness.

CELEBRATING AN EVEN BIGGER ANNIVERSARY

Mr Yap Shao Peng, Assistant Commissioner of the SPF, found this year’s reunion to be a “happy and touching affair”.

As the 7th Batch of Officer Cadet Trainees gathered for their 40th anniversary of NS, Mr Yap Shao Peng, Assistant Commissioner of the SPF, who makes it a personal goal to attend every reunion found this year’s reunion a “happy and touching affair”. As their reunion coincided with the celebration of NS55, Mr Yap also explained how such cohesion events improved the morale of NSmen.

“NS55 is about acknowledging NS, the contributions of NSFs and NSmen to Singapore. Us getting together today, and other cohesion events, helps to reinforce the notion that NS is an essential institution in Singapore; the fact that we can gather after so many years shows that we cherish NS. NS lives on through these reunions!” he said.

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Featured Shape Up

It’s time to give yoga a try

Yoga can benefit anyone looking to develop flexibility, strength and serenity. Here’s how you can get started.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

IMAGES: HOMETEAMNS, SHUTTERSTOCK

If you think yoga is only for the young and flexible, think again. These days, people of all ages and fitness levels are up for its physical and mental benefits, including top football players like Ryan Giggs (who released a yoga DVD), Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It’s a growing trend all over the world, including in Singapore, which has seen numerous studios set up shop and a profusion of different styles to suit every preference: hot yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and even yoga blended with high-intensity interval training.

Whether you’re a gym addict or a couch potato, yoga is accessible, relaxing, and easy to incorporate into your lifestyle – and you don’t even have to squeeze yourself into leggings (unless you want to). Here are some of its benefits, and how you can try it out for yourself.

STRETCHING TOWARDS A STRONGER, HEALTHIER BODY

All that stretching and posing helps to build and tone muscles. After all, it takes real physical effort to hold a plank pose or a dolphin push-up.

When it comes to strengthening your back muscles specifically, it’s yoga’s time in the spotlight. Many poses hone the spine’s flexibility and strength, providing increased blood flow to spinal muscles and encouraging growth. Studies have even shown that Hatha yoga can assist with spinal cord injury recovery – although if you have an existing back issue and want to take up a new form of exercise, it’s always best to check with a doctor first.

But what if you’re looking to bulk up? According to research, it can be combined with your existing weight-training routine to improve muscular strength, through relying on exercise science principles. These include progressive overload (going through different poses to place tension on your muscles), mechanical damage (holding poses for longer periods) and metabolic stress, which occurs when you engage in more challenging poses.

Professional athletes in sports ranging from basketball to American football have attested to yoga’s ability to extend their careers and assist in rehabilitating injuries. But you don’t have to be a National Basketball Association star to enjoy the benefits. In a study of male college athletes, it was found that regular yoga practice increased flexibility and balance, and could potentially optimise athletic performance, with positive health outcomes that included lower blood pressure, enhanced muscle torque, handgrip strength, and delayed muscle soreness.

Another major benefit is pain relief. Yoga has been shown to help numerous chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, migraine, lower back pain, and osteoporosis-related curvature of the spine. According to studies, it helped to improve sufferers’ mobility and daily function.

A MEDITATIVE MINDSET

Slow and calming hatha yoga and nidra yoga can calm your mind and help you to focus on your breathing, instead of chasing anxious, jittery thoughts. In a study of insomniac elderly, twice-weekly yoga classes and daily home sessions were found to improve sleep duration and quality.

Yogic breathing, known as Pranayama, has long been thought to have health benefits. The controlled breathing techniques in yoga are said to reduce stress, improve concentration and focus, and even boost one’s immune system. Some studies have even found that breathing practices can help dispel symptoms of mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit disorder, and depression.

Absent-minded people can benefit as well. (Just make sure to remember what time your class starts.) In an experiment conducted by a professor at an American university, participants of a single 20-minute yoga session displayed improved speed and accuracy on tests of their memory and inhibitory control. Overall, they were better able to maintain cognitive focus, as well as learn and remember new information.

GETTING INTO YOGA

If you want to give yoga a go, don’t feel compelled to rush out and purchase brand new gear. All you need to start is loose, comfortable clothing and a yoga mat, which offers a safe, non-slip and cushioned surface to practise your poses.

Any flat, empty space can be used – your balcony, living room or bedroom floor are all suitable surfaces for your mat. Once you’re set up, you can rely on YouTube tutorials or other online resources for a beginner’s guide to basic yoga poses, such as the child’s pose, downward-facing dog, and tree pose.

However, part of yoga’s appeal lies in its sense of community. Working out with others can help to motivate you and keep you going, even when your muscles are burning. Attending a class is a great way to make new, like-minded friends as well.

HomeTeamNS makes yoga affordable, accessible, and fun, with regular classes across the island. Stretch it out in hatha yoga at HomeTeamNS Khatib, Balestier and Bukit Batok, or find balance through yin yang yoga at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok. Check out the available classes here – and get ready to move into a healthier body and mind.

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Club Buzz Featured On The Edge

The evolution of HomeTeamNS cohesion activities

The team behind HomeTeamNS cohesion activities has adapted its programming to suit all requirements – online and offline, masks on to masks off – when it comes to bonding activities. Here’s how they did it.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

If you’ve ever wondered who the mastermind behind an especially fun or creative HomeTeamNS cohesion activity is, meet Ms Nur’Atiqah Aidah.

Ms Nur’Atiqah is an Executive Cohesion Accounts Specialist with HomeTeamNS. Along with her teammates, she oversees all cohesion and non-cohesion programmes across the different HomeTeamNS clubhouses for agencies affiliated with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Having worked at HomeTeamNS for four years and counting, Ms Nur’Atiqah is an old hand at planning HomeTeamNS cohesion activities – sometimes with a twist, if one is required.

She explains that all programmes are carefully tailored according to the goals of the client. As part of her role, she also offers advice on suitable activities, based on her and her team’s accumulated experience of organising HomeTeamNS cohesion programmes over the years.

“Clients are able to customise their activities,” she shared. “For example, we’ve issued blindfolds to participants for high element courses, just to ensure that our clients will have a different experience while doing a familiar activity.”

ADAPTING QUICKLY TO PANDEMIC NORMS

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Ms Nur’Atiqah estimated that up to 95 per cent of HomeTeamNS cohesion and non-cohesion programming took place on-site – a practice that was no longer tenable as the pandemic took hold and safe distancing measures were imposed to prevent transmission of the virus.

Despite the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, Ms Nur’Atiqah and her team made sure that cohesion activities could still continue – albeit in a different form. Everyone stayed calm and kept going in their original roles, even as the future of cohesion programming seemed uncertain and their work routines were completely reshaped.

“We had to adapt quickly to move our programming online,” she recalled. “We had to pick up new skills, acquire new software and also soft skills, so that our programming could be delivered online.”

Even for the activities that could still be carried out offline, there were challenges to deal with, like minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission: “We had sanitise our equipment more frequently and deploy more manpower for our programmes.”

EVOLVING INTO A POST-PANDEMIC REALITY

Like many other countries, Singapore has settled into a new normal, two years after the start of the pandemic. With a widely vaccinated population and a better understanding of the virus, Singapore has lifted many of its original safe distancing measures – a welcome move for those looking forward to the return of real-life cohesion activities.

Ms Nur’Atiqah confirmed that business-as-usual cohesion programming has come roaring back – with some slight adjustments. “We’ve resumed our programmes as per normal currently, but for mask-on programmes, we’ve had to take into consideration the type of activities that can be conducted with masks.”

For her, the fact that some units still prefer to hold online cohesion activities comes as a bonus: “That would mean that our services have expanded to both online and on-site.”

Looking to the future, Ms Nur’Atiqah feels that the pandemic has enhanced the cohesion programming team’s skillsets, as some of the skills they’ve picked up while conducting activities online – such as more effectively engaging their clients – are also proving useful in real life interactions.

Overall, she believes the team has also become far more flexible in how they respond to changes. “We’ve learnt to always be on our toes. Regulations change and we have to adapt, so our team has been in go-go-go mode since the pandemic.”

BUILDING A SENSE OF CAMARADERIE

Mr Mohamad Hafiz of the Singapore Police Force’s Central Division (A Div) is a veteran of HomeTeamNS cohesion programming, as the A Div has engaged Ms Nur’Atiqah’s team on multiple occasions for activities targeting its Police NSmen (PNSmen).

Complimenting the team as being passionate and dedicated to facilitating programmes, he said: “HomeTeamNS has managed to tailor, customise and inject various elements to their programmes to match the profiles and characters of our PNSmen. There was never an activity which was not well received. Most importantly, our objective of building a strong camaraderie amongst our PNSmen is well achieved through all their team building and cohesion packages.”

He added, “HomeTeamNS has proven to be a highly reliable, independent and proactive organisation that is willing to go the extra mile in facilitating and meeting customers’ expectations. Working with the team has been a pleasure. I would strongly recommend HomeTeamNS as your go-to destination for team-building and cohesion programmes.”

GROWING AS A TEAM WITH HOMETEAMNS

You can’t teach team spirit – but you can develop it, through stimulating and thought-provoking activities designed to encourage cohesion and camaraderie. As a provider of corporate teambuilding services, HomeTeamNS offers a selection of packages to suit your team’s specific needs.

For a hassle-free experience, choose from the different options among the Corporate Fixed Packages, such as the Shoot-off, Shoot-out in which teams engage in rousing competitive rounds of Archery Tag and Laser Quest. Let your inner child loose with Uno Bowl, which features giant UNO cards (perfect for the ‘gram) paired with bowling and ice-breaker games, or bring your own children for Family Day – a customisable package that can be constructed to suit all budgets, activity levels and demographics. All fixed packages are equipped with a programme facilitator, safety officers, bottled water and a photographer to capture your team’s most memorable moments.

If you have something more specific in mind, try out a Corporate Customised Package instead, which allows you to select from a wide variety of activities to fulfil your team-building objectives. Dodgeball, drumming, a rope challenge course, human foosball, pool rafting, mixology – the choice is entirely yours.

And for Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) agencies, the cohesion activities at HomeTeamNS are a homecoming of sorts – a comfortable, welcoming place to come together as a team and engage in the exciting work of team building. Clocking in at different budgets and provisions, the cohesion packages range from no-frills to upsized and combo, with over 40 activities to pick from. Paintball, pedal gokarting, pool, futsal and even terrarium making – forging stronger team bonds has never been more fun. 

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Featured In The Force

Lifesavers flying the flag at the Hanoi SEA Games

Two Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) NSFs who are also national athletes share how they achieved sporting glory.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: SCDF

Say hello to Corporal (NSF) Noah Lim Tian Run and Lance Corporal (NSF) Muhammad Syakir Bin Jeffry, two SCDF Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) who recently participated in the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

CPL Noah, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) from Alexandra Fire Station, clinched the gold medal in Jiu-Jitsu, while LCP Muhammad Syakir, a firefighter from Tuas Fire Station, brought home the joint-bronze medal in Pencak Silat for Team Singapore. They share their experiences balancing life serving National Service (NS) with being national athletes.

TRAINING SMARTER, FIGHTING HARDER

CPL (NSF) Noah (left) competing against his opponent from the Philippines.

What is Jiu Jitsu? What is its main objective?

CPL Noah: A Jiu-Jitsu match is fought between two opponents and the main objective of the martial art is to make your opponent tap out using submission holds such as arm locks, leg locks and chokes. There are various types of submission locks in Jiu-Jitsu. Every submission lock must be precisely carried so your opponent does not have a chance to escape. Jiu Jitsu is not an easy martial art to master.

How long have you been practicing Jiu Jitsu and what attracted you to this martial art?

CPL Noah: I have been practicing Jiu-Jitsu for about six years. Prior to this, I was a competitive swimmer. My elder brother was already learning Jiu-Jitsu then and he would practice his submission moves on me at home [laughs].

I became fascinated by the different types of submission moves that one could master in Jiu-Jitsu. That was how I got into the martial art and dedicated myself to it.

How do you feel having won the gold medal for Singapore?

CPL Noah: I did not expect to do well in this sport, as I was up against several strong opponents in the competition. Moreover, I was unable to train as often as before after my National Service (NS) enlistment. My brother, who was more experienced than me in Jiu-Jitsu, competed in the same category and clinched a bronze medal. Knowing this and the challenges involved, I placed a lot of pressure on myself to make Singapore proud.

Were there any challenges faced during the competition?

CPL Noah: Yes, definitely! My opponents were all very strong. During my first match, I used a technique which I was confident would work against my opponent. However, he was the same size as me and physically stronger. I managed to wear him out later in the match and emerged victorious.

What is your training regime like for Jiu Jitsu after you enlisted to serve NS?

CPL Noah: Before I enlisted for NS, I would usually train three times a day for about two hours each session. I currently train during my days off. As an athlete, the key to doing well in your sport is consistency and self-discipline. This may sound simple, but with all the distractions around us, one can find it hard to stay focused. This is when we must fall back on the reason we got into the sport and what we want to achieve at the end of the day.

In what way does your involvement in Jiu Jitsu positively impact the work you are doing in SCDF as a NSF?

CPL Noah: Jiu-Jitsu helps me stay calm under pressure. This helps me strategise my moves to overcome my opponent. Likewise, in my work as an EMT, I have worked under immense pressure during emergencies where there is a need for physical and mental fitness, and most of what we do is closely scrutinised by the public. The ability to keep my composure during a stressful situation allows me to make good judgment calls to save a person’s life.

What do you plan to do after NS?

CPL Noah: I will be enrolling myself in Medical School. This would most likely affect my training schedule. I want to use the time I have now to compete in as many matches as I can before moving on to the next chapter in my life.

OVERCOMING INJURY FOR THE PRIZE

LCP Muhammad Syakir Bin Jeffry didn't let injury stop him from bagging the bronze medal at the Hanoi SEA Games.

What is Pencak Silat? What is its main objective?

LCP Muhammad Syakir: Pencak Silat is a martial art that originated in Indonesia. It involves the use of strikes, throws and grappling techniques to overcome your opponent. In general, there are two types of Silat. The competitive type, which is Pencak Silat, and Seni Silat, a form of performance art.

How do you feel about your recent SEA Games medal?

LCP (NSF) Muhammad Syakir (black and red sparring vest) in a match against his opponent from Thailand.

LCP Muhammad Syakir: This is this first SEA Games I had participated in, and it was definitely an eventful competition. About 10 weeks before the competition, I tore my left Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and my doctor advised me to refrain from competing in the SEA Games. I insisted and till the day of competition, I focused on my physiotherapy sessions to get myself back in shape. It was not until a week before the SEA Games that I could finally execute kicks and run normally.

During the semi-finals, I was competing against a Thai exponent. The Thais are one of the strongest in the region and I could feel the pressure building up within me, especially when I knew I had not fully recovered. I said to myself: “I have come this far, there is no turning back. I just have to give 100 per cent in this competition”.

I managed to overcome my opponents until the match against Indonesia, which was a close fight. Even though I lost, my coach commended my determination even though I was not in peak physical condition. His encouragement meant a lot to me.

How do you juggle your time between training for Silat and your work as a firefighter?

LCP Muhammad Syakir: Before my enlistment, I used to train five days a week, from Monday to Friday, twice per day. During my off-duty days in NS, I would hit the gym at my fire station to build my physical strength. As I have been practising Pencak Silat for 10 years, firefighting to me, is not physically demanding but a form of daily exercise to maintain my physical condition to compete in Pencak Silat.

What are your future plans?

LCP Muhammad Syakir: I have just gone for my surgery, and henceforth, will focus on my recovery. Once I have fully recovered, I aim to compete in next year’s SEA Games in Cambodia.

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Club Buzz Featured

HomeTeamNS Heroes: On the frontlines of customer experience

Meet HomeTeamNS’ Customer Experience Ambassadors, Jessica Leong Hui Yi and Muhammad Hashim Bin Mohamed Yusoff, who make visits to any HomeTeamNS Clubhouse feel like home.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: MEDIACORP STUDIO 3

If you’ve ever asked a question about swimming pool opening hours, or booked a function room at a HomeTeamNS clubhouse, chances are you’ve interacted with one of our Customer Experience Ambassadors (CEAs) – a team of people dedicated to ensure that members and guests have a smooth and pleasant experience.

In addition to assisting visitors in the clubhouse lobby, members’ lounge and function rooms, CEAs also respond to customer queries via phone, live chat and email. But beyond such standard interactions, the CEA team is working to bring a more personal approach to the customer service experience.

For example, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEA Muhammad Hashim Bin Mohamed Yusoff found himself lending a listening ear to HomeTeamNS members, who shared challenging stories about how they were coping during the unprecedented global event.

“Listening to them and sharing some kind and supportive words like ‘take care and stay safe’ are my way of expressing to them that they’re not in this alone. It’s rewarding when you know you are able to make someone’s day with these simple gestures. One thing’s for sure – it certainly made mine.”

HomeTeamNS Customer Experience Ambassador Muhammad Hashim Bin Mohamed Yusoff

GIVING VISITORS A WARM HOMETEAMNS WELCOME

According to Jessica Leong Hui Yi, the most rewarding thing about being a CEA is the opportunity to build bonds with regular HomeTeamNS clubhouse visitors.

“When we see them, they sometimes greet us even before we can greet them,” she says. “It feels like they’re coming home.”

Ms Leong, who joined HomeTeamNS last January after graduating from Murdoch University in September 2020 with a Bachelor of Business Hospitality and Tourism Management Marketing, enjoys the fact that she gets to meet people from different walks of life as part of her job. And far from having to repeat a rote customer service script, she is able to engage members on their preferred terms to ensure that they are satisfied.

“When I meet different members, I try to see if they want a quick answer to their question or if they’re looking for a longer conversation about how they can best experience our clubhouse,” she explains. “As part of the team that represents the face of HomeTeamNS, we try our best to contribute to a better customer service experience in every way.”

Mr Hashim, who also joined HomeTeamNS last year in June, recalls how Ms Leong assisted him with a challenging customer situation during his second week on the job. A customer had brought her children for a day out at the swimming pool, but did not have the required membership. With Jessica’s help, Mr Hashim was able to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.

As a father of two children himself, Mr Hashim has a soft spot for families who are spending time together at the clubhouse.

“Seeing them having a good time at the clubhouse makes me feel that I’ve accomplished my task,” he says. “Our job is to bring the members’ experience up to a whole new level, which is very rewarding.”

Now that social-distancing regulations have eased, both Ms Leong and Mr Hashim are looking forward to reconnecting with HomeTeamNS clubhouse visitors and raising the bar for members’ experiences even higher.

MORE THAN A SERVICE TRANSACTION

Even as the number of visitors ramps up, the CEAs are determined to maintain the warm and personal aspect of the HomeTeamNS customer service experience.

As observed by Ms Leong: “Many members are now more willing to leave home, step out of their comfort zones and explore the clubhouse. To make things easier, we have different channels to reach out to them like the new and improved HomeTeamNS Mobile App. When you make a facility booking, you’re experiencing time spent with us, whether via the live chat or emails, phone calls or meeting us on site. It’s not just a transactional purchase – we try to interact with customers using a human touch.”

She adds that as a CEA, she hopes to continue to get to know visitors better and work with them to ensure their HomeTeamNS clubhouse experience is engaging and pleasant.

For example, when helping a visitor to book the pool facility, instead of just telling them to download the app in order to make the booking, she prefers to chat with them about their desired purpose. “Understanding where they are coming from – such as an elderly visitor who wants to bring their grandkids for a swim – makes the process much easier for them. I can also explain the perks of going digital and how they can reconnect with us in a faster manner, thus enticing them to give it a try and truly catering to their needs.”

Ever the family man, Mr Hashim says that on his off days he plans to bring his kids to Khatib Clubhouse more often, as they enjoy visiting T-Play. “HomeTeamNS has facilities for teammates, friends and families, and Khatib Clubhouse recently celebrated its first anniversary and there are lots of perks to enjoy for both members and non-members. So feel free to come to our clubhouse – we have lots to offer you guys!”

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Featured Shape Up

Fighting fit for National Service

Enlisting for National Service soon? We talk to a Fitness Workz trainer to find out how you can improve your conditioning to be in the best possible shape for NS!

TEXT: NICHOLAS JACOB

PHOTOS: FITNESS WORKZ

If you’re about to enlist for National Service (NS), it’s understandable to feel some trepidation over what lies in wait over the next two years. After all, NSmen are trained rigorously to ready themselves to defend our country – an important duty which calls for the requisite level of physical fitness.

Even so, with the right mindset and plan in place, you can place yourself on the right track to emerging from NS stronger in both body and mind, while having had the best experience possible – and we’re here to guide you through that!

EXPECTING WHAT TO EXPECT

Some of the challenges NSmen can typically expect to undergo include adjusting to new living environments and routines, hours of demanding physical training sessions, and a range of intensive physical activities which call for a high level of fitness.

According to Mr Muhammad Danish’aizat Bin Kamsani, a fitness trainer at Fitness Workz, setting realistic fitness goals is one way to stay on track and motivated before enlistment and throughout the NS journey.

“This gives you a framework through which you can achieve milestones. Achieving your fitness goal can be rewarding and being fit ahead of enlistment can reduce the risk of injury during basic training,” he shared.

So, how does one structure that fitness plan?

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME

As a rule of thumb, it is ideal to allow yourself around a year to prepare for NS – this allows plenty of time for you to train at a measured pace and condition your body before enlisting.

Mr Danish’aizat recommends hitting the gym three days a week for the first few months, then ramping up the frequency to five weekly sessions as you progress.

“Always aim for improvement every week and try out new training styles. Having a few gym kakis can also help you stay motivated and focused on your fitness goals,” he advised.

Of course, not everyone may have the luxury of time to spend a full year of training. For instance, if one only has a month to prep before enlisting, Mr Danish’aizat recommends focusing on improving cardiovascular health and muscular endurance for the best short-term gains possible.

“This can help you to be mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming training sessions,” he explained.

THE ROAD TO GETTING FIGHTING FIT

When it comes to the exercises, our fitness trainer notes that focusing on strengthening your pectoralis and abdominal muscles before enlisting will translate into the greatest benefits for your NS journey. Again, tie these back to goals you wish to achieve.

For example, training yourself to run the 2.4km under 13 minutes will improve your cardiovascular fitness – which can not only help with the 2.4km run itself, but also a wide range of physical activities you can expect during NS.

Fun fact: Incorporating additional exercises to develop your shoulders, arms, back and legs can also improve your overall cardiovascular health! Doing so will also enhance your holistic strength, allowing you to tackle the physical challenges that come with NS more easily.

FITNESS FOR LIFE

Apart from fitness training, Mr Danish’aizat recommends maintaining a balanced, healthy diet to complement your training while also mentally preparing yourself for lifestyle changes during NS.

“Simply replace vegetable oil with olive oil, choose baking or air-frying over deep-frying. Try to prepare your own meals as much as possible or pick healthier options when you eat out. Getting used to eating healthy will also make it easier to acclimatise to a new healthy lifestyle upon enlistment,” he explained.

Through it all, the fitness habits picked up during NS will be helpful long after your stint is complete.

“Fitness does not stop as there is no limit to it. Continuing to live an active and healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of illness and improve your mental health! Each new day is a new opportunity to improve yourself – take it and make the most out of it,” Mr Danish’aizat advised.