Kenneth Seow, Zachary Lee and Wensen Teh were brought together as much by chance as their shared interest in a form of fitness training called calisthenics. Yes, those deceptively simple gymnastic exercises that many of us were taught incorrectly in primary school. But which, when done correctly, can help us to achieve bodily fitness, strength, and grace of movement. This month, the three are launching Common Ground, a local organisation that specialises in outdoor calisthenic training, boot camp style.
How did you guys come together?
Wensen (WS): We met each other individually, in different settings, and at different times. But the circumstances always involved calisthenics – it’s what we have all been quite serious about.
Kenneth (K): It was from our shared passion. I had wanted to find a group to work out with and learn from, so that we could all progress together. Everyone has their own preference for how they achieve fitness. We happen to like and believe in calisthenics.
How did you guys come up with the idea for Common Ground?
Zachary (Z): I’ve always wanted to work out with like-minded people but I also had to actively look for those folks. It was great to find Kenneth and Wensen. When we started meeting to work out at the pull-up bars, we realised we could do something to bring people like ourselves together and form a community. We wanted to educate people about using anything they have around them to train with. For instance, our own bodies can be used as a gym. We thought the three of us could do more together, rather than just training our own clients separately. We could bounce ideas off one another.
K: It’s harder to do challenging workouts on your own, so we thought if we could come up with workouts that require team effort, people could push one another to do better.
Why enter a saturated industry like fitness? Who are your target audience?
K: I think we’re already in the industry as each of us are personal trainers. We want to do more outdoor-based training and that crowd is relatively small though, so we feel there’s a market for calisthenics-based outdoor workouts.
Z: You don’t need all the fancy stuff to get a workout. Just grab your mates, bring it back to the outdoors and be raw about it. I won’t say we’re the only guys in the game but we are keen to give it a shot. We want to change the mindset to training using whatever you can around you, instead of a gym filled with equipment. By using the open spaces in a community for workouts, you’re going to bring the people in that area together.
Part of your appeal are your personal good looks and well-toned muscles. What do you think will happen in 20 years’ time?
WS: (laughs) Yes, we live in a narcissistic world so looks definitely help to sell ideas. That said, looking good is not our focus. Our focus at the end of the day is to educate our clients in maintenance, sustenance and longevity. The aesthetics are always a bonus and at best, it is just that: a bonus and nothing else.
How do you intend to stay ahead of the competition in a saturated market?
Z: It’s not our desire to be better than the others. We want to stay true to what we do. We’re not out to impress. Ultimately, join us if you think this is for you. Like Kenneth has said earlier, we all have our preference in the way we attain fitness. If like us, you happen to like the freedom of being outside conventional gyms, then come and join us. Or don’t, if you prefer otherwise. We’re in this to be a part of the wider community to promote health and fitness. If others think of us as competitors, then we must be doing a good job. In the end it’s better to know ourselves, not what others think.
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Photography: Simon Sim
Hair + Makeup: Wee Ming using Schwarzkopf and NARS
Words: Basil Sim