Mention community centres in Singapore and the first things that come to mind are line dancing, karaoke and kids’ art and craft. Let’s face it, community centres or community clubs aren’t exactly known as the coolest of places. But don’t write them off completely just yet—there’s actually a whole bunch of classes on offer that you might find actually find… heaven forbid… cool. Best of all, community centre classes tend to be very inexpensive, making them the perfect way to get an introduction to a new hobby.
Parkour is best known as what the guys in Yamakasi do, i.e. climbing up the sides of buildings like Spiderman and doing flips over railings and walls. It basically turns the urban landscape into one big obstacle course, with some acrobatic-like movements thrown in. You’ll learn how to vault over railings, jump from high places and climb up poles.
If you’ve ever wanted to just somersault over the heads of human obstructions on your way to work, this might be the perfect sport for you. As exotic as it sounds, parkour training is currently available through the organisers at Bedok Community Club, although the actual training takes place at SMU. 2 months of weekly sessions cost around $200.
2. Muay Thai
Martial arts like muay thai, Brazilian jiu jitsu, krav maga and MMA have really taken off in Singapore, and these days it seems everyone spends their time after work rolling around red-faced with some guy’s arms around their neck. However, enrolling at a martial arts gym can also be quite pricey, since they tend to be targeted at people who want to train multiple times a week.
A cheaper alternative is to join a class at one of the many community centres that offer muay thai training, including Cheng San, Chong Pang, Marsiling, Kampong Ubi, Tanglin, Pasir Ris East, Yew Tee, Chua Chu Kang, Woodlands, Yew Tee and Nanyang. A 10-session course will set you back about $60 to $150. A lot of people who end up becoming members of muay thai gyms start out at community clubs before committing to a costlier membership.
3. Balloon sculpting
Back when I was an office worker, the company threw a Christmas party and hired a balloon twister to come in and entertain the employees’ kids. This guy could make just about everything, from Stitch and Bart Simpson to dragons and ponies, and he was completely self-taught, having bought his own supplies for the love of the art. Before long, he was surrounded by blushing female employees, many of whom started lamenting that they needed a cooler job.
Now you can learn the basics of balloon sculpting too. Woodgrove, Tampines North, Ulu Pandan and Yew Tee conduct single-session workshops costing $10 to $25. Once you’ve learnt the basics, you can learn more using tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet. If you have kids in your life you can probably save a ton of money on gifts, too.
Sorry to break it to you, but the mahjong course at Thomson CC isn’t going to have you walking home with your pockets full of cash, since it’s not an actual gambling session. It might, however, help you to get the edge over your friends at your next all-night mahjong tournament. You see, most mahjong players in Singapore play with a lot of bravado, getting annoyed when people take too long to decide on a move and aggressively ordering everyone to “guard” this or that player. But in actual fact, few people use an optimal mahjong strategy when they play.
The mahjong course will have you learning the official international rules of mahjong, school you in the various mind-boggling combinations you can use to win a game and also teach you some tried and tested strategies. This is one skills upgrading session that might actually increase your income. The 10 session course costs $50 to $70.
Has your partner been complaining that you never spend any quality time together? Is going to the spa every month becoming a very expensive addiction? Or are you so out of shape that you can barely walk without your weekly foot reflexology session? Have your partner or a family member take a massage course at one of the community centres in Singapore and all the above problems will be solved.
There are quite a few massage courses at the various CCs, from acupressure point massage at Bishan and Serangoon to hand reflexology at Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green and foot reflexology at Jalan Besar, Nanyang and Teck Ghee. Courses are generally 6 to 10 sessions long and cost about $100 to $200 altogether.