It's a familiar, but inspiring narrative that Firdaus Fidrishah tells. This TripleFit trainer has overcome his past of rebellion, and found redemption in exercise as well as helping the community through the power of calisthenics.
Unlike most personal trainers that hail the importance of weightlifting, Firdaus is all about bodyweight exercises. Whether gymnastics, calisthenics, or mobility training, this guy has a wealth of passion and knowledge to share about how bodyweight movements can impact your life, in more ways than one.
We speak to Firdaus about his entry into fitness, his community gym, and what he loves so much about bodyweight training.
My introduction to fitness was through bodyweight exercises. I met a gymnastics coach who trained me for about six months, and taught me how to programme my routine, as well as how to teach outdoors. After that, I began my own community classes, teaching people how to do moves like handstands and such.
I saw a few people who really needed help, and that made me start personal training. A group class setting may be very intimidating, so a one-on-one session would make them feel more at ease.
About five years ago, four of my friends and I decided to hold free calisthenic classes outdoors. Word began to spread, and a lot of people would attend, particularly youths at risk. It would be at East Coast Park or Sentosa, and we'd just get together. Soon, I began to see that this held potential.
My gym is called the Singapore Calisthenics Academy. It's purely about bodyweight exercises. Anything supplementary would probably be five or 10 kilo weights. Some people who can't afford signing up for the gym can attend the free outdoor class that I do once a week. I think it's great to give back to the community.
Unlike other gyms, TripleFit allows you to create your own system and programme. It becomes your identity. For example, if you were to see a calisthenics class here being offered, people would know it's me behind it. It feels great that I get to run the class and share my passion, as well as knowledge.
People think it's hard to build big, thick muscles with bodyweight exercises. Weightlifting appears easier and faster. Bodyweight exercises can get you there, but it's a longer, more intensive process, and you grow in a different way. People just naturally like to be ripped. Bodyweight exercises should be your foundation, though.
Bodyweight exercises are much safer. You start off with no weights, and you can work out anywhere, even when you've just woken up.
Even if you lift weights, you're going to have to tap on mobility and flexibility work at some point. Things like pull-ups are a great accompaniment to your growth or preparation for a competition.
In my past, I was a bad kid that changed for the better. As I changed, I showed a lot of other kids the potential of exercise, and this allowed me to feel more empowered and motivated. My philosophy is to give everyone a seed of hope, and help them see things for the positive. I try to create a training environment that feels more like a brotherhood, one that is inclusive and encouraging.
I believe in eating clean, but I also believe it's good to cheat along the way, maybe once a week.
Eating clean in Singapore is tricky. You see a lot of new, "green" and healthy eateries, but people still think there aren't enough clean food options around, and use that as an excuse. It's more of the price, actually.
To navigate the price hurdle, you've got to cook. You might think, ugh, I've got to spend two hours preparing and cooking, and I've got to wake up much earlier. But that two hours prepares four or five days' worth of breakfast, so there's a fair trade off.
TripleFit is located at 9 Raffles Boulevard, Millenia Walk #02-63, Singapore 039596.
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