Bloomberg Square Mile Relay: My First Training Session with Virgin Active

Feeling happy after completing our first session with Virgin Active. (Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

Feeling happy after completing our first session with Virgin Active.
(Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

I was invited to be a part of Team Virgin Active for the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay, which takes place early next month – on the 2nd of October.

Official fitness club for the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay

Virgin Active is the official fitness club of the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay, a corporate relay race for teams of 10 runners each. The Bloomberg race made its debut in Singapore last year.

Said Christian Mason, Operations Director of Virgin Active, South East Asia, “Virgin Active has been a proud partner of the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay in London for many years. When the race was brought to Singapore for the first time last year, it was a natural decision for us to partner the event as the Official Fitness Club Partner.”

A team relay event where runners complete one mile each

Our instructor, Joe, shows us how to warm up on the power plates.  (Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

Our instructor, Joe, showing us how to warm up on the power plates.
(Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

Each team member will run one mile from The Promontory @ Marina Bay and the team with the fastest cumulative timing wins $10,000 to donate to charity. Each team has 10 members.

Virgin Active opened in Singapore last October

Virgin Active opened last October at One Raffles Place in Singapore, with a 33,000 square foot fitness club on three floors and is currently one of the biggest in Singapore.

Altogether, they have 270 clubs scattered across the world.

Virgin Active has four teams in the run

This year, Virgin Active will be sending four teams to participate in the race.

Explained Mason, “The first year, we sent down one team and received good sign up rates. We decided to increase the number of teams this year. The first three teams will consist of both Virgin Active staff and members. The last team will consist of bloggers and staff from Waggener Edstrom (Virgin Active’s PR agency).”

Anti Gravity Yoga can be done at Virgin Active gym. (Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

Anti Gravity Yoga can be done at Virgin Active gym.
(Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

Last year, Team Virgin Active’s 10 member team did well, finishing in 11th position out of 159 teams, with a cumulative timing of 1 hour 3 minutes and 29 seconds.

Classes for members at Virgin Active

At Virgin Active, gym members can take part in all regular classes, including interesting activities such as anti-gravity yoga and hot yoga.

The anti-gravity yoga takes place on silk hammocks suspended in the air, while the hot yoga takes place in a heated room.

Training sessions for participants

To prepare for the race, special classes and outdoor activities are available for race participants. These include outdoor training runs, interval workouts, abs and core body workouts and nutritional talks.

In addition, on the race day, Virgin Active will also be running a pre-event warm-up for participants and will also have an exclusive area for the Team Virgin Active runners to stretch and cool down upon completion of their relay leg.

Training Sessions For Bloggers

Besides being invited to participate in the special classes, three group training sessions were also organised by Virgin Active, for their team of bloggers and Waggener Edstrom staff.

Last Saturday, I took part in the first Virgin Active training session. This was an intense treadmill workout.

Warming up on the power plates

We first stepped onto the power plates to begin the workout itself.

Adjusting the settings of the treadmill.  (Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

Adjusting the settings of the treadmill.
(Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

The power plate is actually a machine that vibrates, to give the body’s muscles a high-speed workout. These vibrations are supposed to make the muscles expand and contract, to cause an automatic muscle reflux contraction of 30 to 50 times per second.

We were also required to do a few stretching exercises on the power plates, to add tension to the muscles. These exercise workouts were for muscles such as our calves, inner thighs and hamstrings. But I found that it was tough to do these on the power plates, because of the movement and vibration of the plates. I suppose that it is something I will have to get used to.

State of the art treadmills

Later, we moved on to the treadmills, where we did several sets of tough speed intervals.

The Virgin Active treadmills have a touch screen where, once you sign up for an account, you can log in and track your workouts. This can also be synced to a smartphone, simply by downloading an app.

Besides this, you can also use the touch screen to surf Facebook and watch YouTube, as well as popular American television shows while working out. If that isn’t enough, there is also a simulation that allows you to run in otherwise inaccessible scenic locations around the world, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

The treadmill workout is in full swing.  (Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

The treadmill workout in full swing.
(Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

This is in addition to the usual features that a typical treadmill has, including tracking the runner’s speed, distance, calories and heart rate.

Other cardio gym machines at the Virgin Active gym also contain these innovative and interesting features, and are all part of the ARTIS line of equipment from Technogym.

However, I didn’t really get to use much of the other cardio gym machines during the workout session itself, because we were focused mainly on the treadmill workouts.

Tough interval sessions

The first treadmill interval sets required us to increase the treadmill incline to a 5.0 gradient and then a 6.0 gradient for the second interval set. The purpose of setting the treadmill inclines like that, was to mimic the movement of climbing up a hill – generally a good form of strength training for runners. We then alternated between brisk walking and sprinting, increasing to a maximum pace of 12 kilometres per hour.

We're so exhausted. Is this going to end soon? (Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

We’re so exhausted. Is this going to end soon?
(Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

For the third interval set, this was done without using any incline, but the sprinting part was much harder – because we were required to increase the pace to the maximum that we could take. In my case, setting my treadmill to a pace of 16 kilometres per hour was definitely taxing.

In between these interval sets, we did lunges and squats.

When we had finally finished on the treadmills, I was totally exhausted and the only thing that I wanted was to do, was to have a well-earned rest.

A soothing massage on the power plates

It was a relief to hear that the final part of the session was to get back onto the power plates – for a soothing massage. That was really music to my ears and was probably the most relaxing part of the workout.

Yes, this gym does have sleep pods too. (Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

Yes, this gym does have sleep pods too.
(Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

This time, on the power plates, we massaged our calves, hamstrings and finally the lower back. It felt so different to when we were previously using these power plates to exercise and stimulate our muscles. In fact, the massage was so comfortable, that I didn’t really want to get off the machines when it was finished!

Tour of the Virgin Active Gym

Straight after the workout, we went on a tour of the Virgin Active gym, which has some other pretty cool facilities. These even include sleep pods – where gym goers can go for a nap – yes, within the gym itself!

As well, there was a comfortable lounge and a café, whereby you can sit down and chill out after your workout. There are iPads available too, for you to read the newspaper online, should you wish to do so too.

The Salt Room at the Virgin Active gym. (Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

The Salt Room at the Virgin Active gym.
(Photo Credit: Virgin Active).

There is also a spectacular recovery area, which has interesting facilities such as a salt room containing ionised salts that aid in skin rejuvenation and purify one’s respiratory system. Other intriguing facilities include ice rooms, experience showers, footbaths with complimentary use of bathrobes and an ice water bucket – for gym goers to cool down after a hard session.

There are also plenty of smartphone charging units too for all of the major phone devices, just in case your phone runs out of battery in the gym.

Thank you, Virgin Active, for the invitation to take part in the race next month and the training sessions.

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