Building fitness through obstacles: The Vertical

Five friends partner to open Ninja Warrior inspired gym with dedicated obstacle training

When you walk into The Vertical, one of the first obstacle course gyms in Brunei styled after the Ninja Warrior TV show, you’ll most likely find at least two if not all of its five owners personally welcoming you.

Located on the first floor around the busy Batu Bersurat area, The Vertical manages to pack monkey bars, a salmon ladder, rope climbs, unstable bridges, odd objects to hang off as well as the more conventional dumbells, barbells, and kettlebells.

It might be a tad smaller than your typical gym spanning multiple floors – but The Vertical uses its intimate space to its advantage; giving personalized coaching as you navigate the tricky obstacles.

“We think of the gym as one you’d like to have in your home,” said Ali Zamikhan, one of the five owners. “Being a smaller gym, we have the opportunity to focus on the quality of our workouts. We divide our time to move around and attend to the group during the classes so that everyone can trust that we are responsible for each of them.”

Each class is $5 – with up to 12 participants, and $85 for unlimited classes a month. Each owner typically supervises a few as they take on obstacles, giving advice – and demonstrations where needed – for them to strengthen their muscles and refine their technique.

The Vertical scales the intensity of movements according to the group’s fitness levels. They’re also expanding to sell gym merchandise – releasing their t-shirts, each $30, earlier this year.

“This allows us to assess what each person’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Ali. “From there we can also recommend exercises for them to further progress.”

The five owners, four who have full-time jobs outside The Vertical, are close friends dating back to school. Ranging between 27 to 30-years-old – they take a hands-on approach to running the gym since it opened six months ago.

Mizan Marsad was the first to really get into fitness while studying in the UK, but it was Azmi Ali that put forward the idea of opening a more unconventional gym.

“Azmi was the first to suggest opening a gym,” said Mizan. “But we discussed that a conventional gym was not going to cut it because there were too many of them out there already.”

Abdul Hafiz Mohammad and Mamduh Yusop also pooled in, and together the group of five invested $30,000 collectively to revamp the bare single-unit retail space into an obstacle course.

Mizan takes the mantle as the main trainer, carrying fitness and personal training certifications. Mamduh is Vertical’s second trainer – and handles legal paperwork – while Hafiz does the marketing and Azmi and Ali share gym managerial duty.

“On developing and expanding new workouts, we plan to offer sports-specific training,” added Hafiz. “This will focus on exercises that specifically increase the performance of the particular sport the athlete is training for.”

The Vertical is located on the 1st Floor, Block E, Batu Bersurat, Brunei Darussalam (same building as PetLink). The gym opens from 6am to 8am and 6pm to 10pm from Mondays to Saturdays. For more information, visit @theverticalbn on Facebook and Instagram or call +6738881061.

The Vertical is also available for rent outside their classes; $30 per hour without an instructor and $50 per hour with an instructor.