The Gym Pod is the brainchild of 37-year-old Damian Chow, a self-described introvert who says that his inspiration came from not enjoying ‘going into a crowded gym filled with sweaty, grunting men’. Damian launched the company’s first microgym, housed in a converted shipping container, in the One-North business park in June 2018. Since then, the business has – aptly enough – gone from strength to strength. Today, it has 17 pods across the city, with more in the works. The eventual aim is to expand the business abroad. ‘We have ambitions to become a global brand, but Covid-19 has presented some complications,’ says the company’s brand and partnerships director Peter Lam. So how exactly do these pods work in practice? We stopped by to snoop about.
The Gym Pod’s microgyms are situated in parks, industrial areas, commercial districts and residential estates across Singapore – and are all easily accessible by public transport. ‘We’re actively trying to expand so that everyone always has a pod nearby, whether they’re at home, at the office or are simply on the go,’ says Peter.
Pay-as-you-go users can book a slot up to 14 days in advance via The Gym Pod’s own app. A 30-minute session starts from S$7.50 ($6) per person. ‘On average, our pods are booked for about 10 to 12 hours a day, with more popular sites in use for more than 18 hours a day,’ says Peter.
The pods are open 24/7. There’s no key card or access code; users enter the pod simply by tapping the ‘Open Door’ button on the app.
As a safety precaution against Covid-19, every pod features a thermal-scanning system. Individuals who have a temperature higher than 37.5°C will be denied access to the pod.
The modular outdoor pods come in a standard size of six meters by three meters, while indoor pods measure 18 to 28 square meters. Each one can accommodate up to three users per session.
The facilities vary from pod to pod, but there are usually three stations: a cardio area (eg, a treadmill or an elliptical machine), a functional area (dumbbells, kettlebells and exercise bands) and a strength-training area (a power rack or a Smith machine). In addition to the regular gym pods, there’s a spin pod with stationary bikes and a projector system for streaming virtual classes.
The lights, air conditioning and air purifiers are all connected to The Gym Pod’s smart booking system. These are turned on before every session to ensure that the pod is cool, clean and well-lit before use. Each pod also features a smart mirror called the PTX, which streams virtual workout content.
An anti-microbial coating is applied daily to all equipment. The pods are also professionally cleaned six times a week. Pod users are encouraged to use disinfectant to clean their hands and equipment before, during and after their sessions.
To further enforce hygiene standards, customers can lodge a report via the app’s rating system if they discover that a pod has not been properly cleaned and tidied by the previous user. ‘Our customer service team will warn, suspend or even ban the user if necessary,’ says Peter.