Our latest Singapore export

by | March 4, 2024

New York seniors are getting Gym Tonic and help them get strength training.


New Yorker Christine Heeg learning to train with the abdominal and back machine.

From hawker fare to health tonics – Singapore’s latest export to New York is Gym Tonic, an evidence-based AI (artificial intelligence)-driven strength training program tailored to build strength and tackle sarcopenia or age-related loss of muscle and strength in seniors.

New York’s eldercare facility/provider, Bay Ridge Center, has officially opened its doors and launched Gym Tonic in its new 21,000 sqft facility in February 2024. The newly inaugurated senior gym will transplant the Singapore home-grown success to improve the lives and well-being of seniors in southwest Brooklyn, where some 26,400 seniors reside.

“People are living longer but not necessarily ageing better. The struggle against frailty in older people is a global issue, and we believe that Gym Tonic can play a vital role in helping to fight it,” said Ken Tan, managing director of PulseSync, a Singapore health tech company. “Gym Tonic’s track record in Singapore has shown that the safe, sustainable and effective evidence-based strength-training programme can reverse frailty and help seniors regain muscle and strength to improve their lives. Our studies revealed that seniors who attend two short sessions of Gym Tonic  a week for 12 weeks will experience a gain of 20 to 30 percent in muscle strength. We aim to replicate Gym Tonic’s success in New York and bring the life-changing benefits of this proven programme to seniors in Bay Ridge Center.”

Since early 2022, Bay Ridge Center has been scouting for ways to improve the fitness and quality of life of its elderly members living in the neighbourhood-naturally-occurring-retirement community (NNORC). In their search, Mary Ann Coughlin, the Center’s fitness and healthy ageing specialist, came across a study, which was co-written by PulseSync’s Tan, on how strength-training exercises offered by eldercare centres in Singapore changed the ageing trajectory. They contacted him and were soon won over by the programme’s ease of use, innovative use of technology, data-driven approach and proven results. The Center’s new building, including Gym Tonic, was predominantly funded by federal and state governments, i.e. the New York State Office for Aging and the New York State Department for the Aging.

Todd W Fliedner, executive director of Bay Ridge Center, said, “We are confident that Gym Tonic will be a game changer in our mission to improve the health and well-being of older adults in Southwest Brooklyn. The Singapore experience tells us that progressive, short, simple and safe exercises are easily completed by our members, which spurs their participation and leads to increased sustainability. Paired with an AI-optimised system and science-backed exercise protocol, Gym Tonic is effective in generating results for older adults.  Within four days of the soft launch in November 2023, we have over 150 members signed up and raring to go. Never before has the statement ‘ageing old and well’ seemed so apt!”

Today, Gym Tonic in Singapore has grown from its initial 12 locations in 2015 to a network of over 30 spots islandwide, serving more than 5,000 seniors. Since PulseSync and Lien Foundation launched the programme, it has reached over 15,000 seniors.

Based on their physical needs and condition, each user gets a customised strength training plan focused on strengthening their core muscle groups. Exercises are done on state-of-the-art hydraulic gym machines that use a proprietary AI-optimised software system (for the machines’ user panels and backend) to record and track users’ progress. Each user also undergoes a pre-and post-assessment to measure their fitness, physical function and isometric muscle strength.

Gym Tonic users see improvements in muscle strength and improved functional abilities after 12 weeks on the programme with twice-a-week, 40-minute session training. A 2017 study revealed that users of the Gym Tonic programme reversed their frailty status. Results after the 12-week mark showed that 41 percent of users who were deemed as “frail” became stronger to achieve “pre-frail” status, while 55 percent of “pre-frail” seniors improved to ideal robust health. Gym Tonic® is recognised as one of the interventions for preventing the progression of frailty in elderly persons in Singapore’s National Frailty Strategy’s care landscape map.

Besides gaining strength, many seniors experienced improved walking speed, better balance, increased stamina and endurance, better disposition and new-found confidence.  A regular Gym Tonic  user from Toa Payoh, Singapore, 71-year-old Sebastian Chee, said,  “My main goal is to remain active, maintain my current good health and prevent poor health. Living alone can be dangerous for a senior like me, but with Gym Tonic, I am now more confident of my strength.”

On plans for Gym Tonic  in America, Tan added, “We aim to set fresh precedents for wellness in the future of aged care in New York and the US. Starting with Bay Ridge Center as a model site, we will demonstrate what Gym Tonic  can do for seniors wishing to change their trajectory of ageing. In addition, we will use an evidence-based approach to enhance the programme for American seniors further. At the same time, we will engage and reach out to the NYC Department of Aging, non-profit and private eldercare providers, and philanthropic foundations in New York and other states to advocate and share the secret of our exercise as a tonic recipe from Singapore.”


** To find out if Gym Tonic is at your location, go to: https://gymtonic.sg/locations.


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