Sun, 06 Feb 2000

People turn to malls to exercise

By Stevie Emilia

JAKARTA (JP): Going to a mall to exercise might never have crossed your mind; but if you want to flex your muscles a bit, you can do it in malls with fitness centers attached.

Sports facilities -- ranging from swimming pools, climbing walls to ice-skating rinks -- are available in some malls in addition to movie theaters and food outlets, enabling one to do many things in one place: exercising, watching movies, having fun and then, of course, doing what most people do at malls: shopping and eating.

For urban youngsters, the presence of sport facilities in shopping centers adds something extra to their mall culture.

At least once a week, after watching a movie, Randy Umar and his friends take a walk-in ice-skating session at Sky Rink in Mal Taman Anggrek in West Jakarta.

"I'm still learning from my friends, but I enjoy it," 14-year- old Randy told The Jakarta Post after leaving the rink with his shirt dripping wet.

Instead of renting skates as many other people do, Randy and his friends had brought their own. Some wore gloves and knee protection. "My father bought me these skates abroad," boasted Randy while showing off his shiny black skates.

Ice-skating is not a cheap form of exercise.

The Sky Rink, which opened on Aug. 20, 1997, charges each visitor Rp 13,000 for two hours on the ice, including free skate rental, from Monday to Friday and Rp 15,000 on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

But those who want to seriously learn how to skate have to dig deeper into their pockets. A walk-in lesson on weekdays costs Rp 55,000 and Rp 65,000 on weekends, excluding Rp 20,000 registration and administrative fee.

A group lesson for five to 10 people lasting 30 minutes costs Rp 120,000 per session, with a minimum of five sessions, on weekdays and Rp 140,000 on weekends.

But price is not everything. The presence of shopping malls also helps parents spend quality time with their families.

A working mother, Nina Dahlan, for example, enjoys spending the weekends with her families at malls where they can do more than shopping.

In the past, she said, she would go shopping for her family's requirements with her husband while her children went to other places on their own.

Now, they can go to a mall together. And since her daughters, aged 13 and 16, love ice-skating, they frequently go to Mal Taman Anggrek.

On their visits to the mall, she takes her daughters to the Sky Rink before rushing out shopping with her husband. After shopping, they pick up their daughters before heading to a restaurant for lunch.

Pondok Indah Mall in South Jakarta has swimming pools in its compound. It is where Rahmat Sentosa, a dentist, and his wife take their two children for recreation.

He used to take them to swim at Ancol recreational park in North Jakarta on Sundays, but soon switched to Pondok Indah Mall after he realized three years ago that it had a swimming complex.

"There's one thing that makes me like swimming there: I don't have to wait for my wife when she is doing the shopping ... it might take her hours to finish," laughed the 39-year-old man.

The six-pool swimming complex, which first opened its doors in 1991 -- the same year as the mall -- is open from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. It charges Rp 7,000 for adults and Rp 4,000 for children under six, while during public holidays adults have to pay Rp 12,000 and children Rp 7,000 each.

For the malls, the presence of facilities which blend sport and recreation is one of their marketing tricks to lure as many shoppers as possible.

Mal Taman Anggrek's public relations Rezianni said the ice- skating rink was added to the mall in 1996, soon after the mall opened in the same year, to introduce the sport to the public.

"Earlier, ice-skating was only available abroad, hence, only a limited amount of people could try it," she said. "But with the presence of the Sky Rink, everyone can try it. There's no need to go abroad to do it."

Rezianni said the presence of the Sky Rink had increased the number of visitors to the mall. Year after year, the visitor numbers had risen by between five to 10 percent, she added.

"At first, the mall's visitors would come to simply to shop or eat. But now, they spend more time here to try ice-skating."

Pondok Indah Mall's promotion manager Eka Dewanto said the concept of blending sport, recreation and shopping was already planned when the shopping center was first built.

"People go to the mall not only to shop but also to have fun with families," he told the Post. "And it's better for them if they can do all they need to do in one place."

He added that many youngsters go swimming in the afternoon after watching movies at the mall's theaters on Mondays, when the ticket price is almost half price.