Top 3 Things That Peeve Me (and Maybe You) About Workout Videos

For someone who only recently became a gym member in the middle of last year, I have to say most of my current weight loss and strength gains are due to home workouts. I used to not be a believer in gym memberships, but ever since I started joining obstacle races (and completed my first Trifecta last year!), I know that added weights and resistance is beneficial to making progress. But even till this day, I would say, my gym trips are solely for taking advantage of the available weight area and the select few classes that interest me.

I still do HIIT and circuit training at home at least 50-60% of the time, and I have found some very distinctive aspects of fitness videos that really get on my nerves. I’d love to know if I’m the only one who takes an issue with the things I’m about to vent about below!

What Am I Watching?!

This is probably an old affair, with many in the fitness industry having griped about how fitspiration has turned into a soft porn abyss of scantily-clad women in barely-there bikinis and low-cut fitness apparel that works more to give someone a hard-on than to motivate someone to work hard.

I totally get that you want to show off your progress and the amount of dedication that you put into getting lean, but it’s also vital to remember that fitness isn’t about looks. It isn’t about being ripped or getting that 6-pack. It’s about taking care of the one body that you have so that you allow yourself to lead a fulfilling and healthy life, and if a toned, well-sculpted body is a by-product of that, hats off to you!

timthumb-php
BodyRock.tv is a classic example of fitness voyeurism and has taken on such a sexual approach to fitness that it’s just downright vulgar and distasteful

But seriously though, shooting movement and form almost exclusively from a voyeuristic and close-to-perverted angle for most of a fitness video doesn’t make me want to follow along; it irks me, annoys me and honestly, makes me feel worse about myself.

Okay, I Get It!

I have to admittedly say that I’m personally impressed when a trainer can continuously dish out step-by-step instructions throughout a high intensity workout, in addition to encouraging the viewer to push themselves and motivate them to tough it out. But there comes a very fine line between enthusiastic and downright naggy.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they probably aren’t aware of how annoying and verbose they sound on-camera, but when you’re standing there breathless, exhausted and using every ounce of energy to get through a gruelling workout, there’s nothing more enraging than someone who’s repeatedly yelling, “Form over speed, form over speed! Push yourself, push yourself! Remember to keep your back straight, inhale through your nose and exhale through the mouth, you can do it! Never give up, keep up with me, or outdo me if you can!”

tumblr_mvpqh9rlvh1s3gkzko1_500

When not performed accurately, squats can prove to be an injury waiting to happen

And this can go on without a single second of non-verbal break! For those of you reading this who produce or star in fitness videos, please remember there are people on the other side of the screen who are struggling and not necessarily at the same fitness level as you; balance your vocal time well with a handful of seconds of quiet time as well, regardless of how intense the workout may be. Sometimes less truly is more, and if we see you sweating and huffing along with us, that’s more than enough motivation to keep us going, honestly.

You Want Me to… What?

This might seem like a flip-side to my previous point, but I believe it’s more the lack of concern for the viewer. I totally get that a workout should be as seamless as possible, with fixed intervals for activity and rest accordingly. But if you’re filming a beginner (or even intermediate) workout, it would be super helpful to set aside at least 10 seconds before the next move to demonstrate to the viewer how to perform the next exercise, rather than jump straight into it and explain as you go along.

184863684
That’s a very familiar reaction

Me, as the viewer, ends up struggling to keep my eye on the screen, listen actively to the instructions meted out to me, all while attempting to watch my form and breathing – all at the same damn time. And that actually throws out a good 10 to 12 seconds of workout time just trying to get things right as opposed to spending it actually working out. I don’t believe I’m asking for too much, because I’ve watched fitness videos that have managed to arrange the workout in a very viewer-friendly manner and allows you to actually feel confident doing the moves along with the trainer. No falling all over yourself, standing there panting and figuring out what on Earth you’re supposed to do next or having to train your multi-tasking skills more than your muscles.

I’m sure there are several other things you find yourselves having to contend with when it comes to fitness videos, and I’d love to hear all about them! I mean no hate or disrespect to those who put in time and effort in planning and producing workout videos for viewers like me who workout at home, but I believe there are a few tweaks here and there that could greatly benefit the quality of not only the videos themselves, but also the experience for us at home. After all’s said and done, whatever or wherever you draw your strength and motivation from to actually work out, the most important thing is that you enjoy it enough to stick to it! Let 2017 be another great year for health! 🙂

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

Advertisements

5 Real Reasons Why You Should Start Meal Prepping Today

Many weeks have passed since my last post, and trust me when I say that I’ve been meaning to post a hell lotta content here, but somehow they end up being written for other clients… then I cannot re-post it here before it goes ‘live’ on their site, and by that time, I forget about it… yeah, excuses, excuses. 😦

BUT, today, I remembered! And it’s a piece that I just wrote for a place that I absolutely love writing for, because they allow total freedom for writers to explore unique perspectives and creative approaches to otherwise run-of-the-mill topics.

I’ve never been one to meal prep, but I’ve observed a lot of friends who are getting into watching what they eat – in a healthy and really refreshing way. They come up with great recipes for the week, spend their weekends whipping up a huge batch of food, and pay more attention to what they feed their bodies. Unfortunately, I love food too much to direct energy to meal prepping, but I’d like to believe I still eat reasonably well. But if you’re thinking twice about whether you should pick up this honestly admirable habit, here are 5 great reasons to. 🙂

1. You gain perspective

One weight loss tool is a food diary, which helps you have a proper visual of what you consume in a day or a week. Eating mindlessly often leads to underestimating just how much you’re consuming, so meal prepping allows you to get a broader perspective of your eating habits.

If you’re doing the meal preps yourself, even more kudos to you, and you’ll have the added benefit of seeing the entire week’s worth of food laid out before you, thus providing you a tangible perspective of what you’re putting into your body. It’s easy to justify eating poorly meal-to-meal, but if you see all the garbage you feed your system literally laying out on a table in front of you, it can be a potent wake-up call.

2. You’re less likely to make poor food choices

The best of intentions can completely disappear with the first hunger pang or stomach growl. At that point, your eating choices are based on convenience and cravings rather than what’s best for your body or your wallet.

By having your meals planned for the day or even the entire week ahead, you’re less likely to drop by your favourite fast food chain because you already know you’ll be fed later with a wholesome meal. You know how they say never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry? Same principle applies here; choose your meals before your body chooses them for you.

3. You learn about portion control

Self-control isn’t just about what we eat, but how much of what we eat. And although it’s one thing to eat leftovers from a pre-packed Tupperware container, it’s a different story when it comes to knowing what works for your body, in terms of nutrients.

We’re not saying you should go into the nitty gritty of micros vs. macros (because ain’t nobody got time for that!), but meal prepping should help you sort out the percentage of carbs, proteins and even fibre that you should consume for your weight or health goals. Meal prepping teaches balance. You can still make delicious things and have a treat here and there, but the amount you eat has been decided by a wiser version of you from a few days ago – who wasn’t hungry or in a hurry.

4. You learn about your food

Singaporeans love their food, but how many of us know about our food? Like where it comes from, what kind of nutrition it provides, its benefits and the best way to cook it to maximise flavour? When you meal prep, you’ll undoubtedly want to mix things up as you go along, because there’s only so long you’ll put up with chicken breasts and brown rice.

Your body needs a variety of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients to flourish. With informed knowledge through talking to like-minded people or via research, you’ll put forethought into making your meals, and will choose essential items from several food groups to get the variety you need to fuel your body and cover all your bases. With a varied diet, you’re more likely to stick to it and will have more food options to choose from so you’ll never have an excuse not to eat well.

 

5. It creates habit, and ultimately changed behaviour

It’s been said, on average, it takes 66 days for a person to develop a habit. Meal prepping takes time to get into, especially with getting used to time spent on peeling, chopping, mixing and what-not.

But once you see all the other benefits, you’ll slowly develop a heightened sense of awareness of what you’re feeding yourself, which in turn will subconsciously make you want to eat mostly clean – even when you feel like having a cheat meal. It’s like that mindset of “I’ve already put in so much effort into eating well, and I don’t wish to ruin my hard work”.

If you’re interested in reading more lifestyle articles written by me (or my fellow writers), visit Bow & Tiara, and I’ll see you guys real soon! 😀

Love,
Wani xoxo

Sweat, Keep Away!

Okay, I’m actually quite excited to tell you guys about my latest purchase.

You first need to know that I’m easily excited when it comes to buying anything fitness-related, be it shoes, bras, leggings, shorts… hell, even my trusty toe socks! All that was missing was finding a durable and reliable gym bag, and I knew I wanted to make it a real investment.

IMAG2024_(1).jpg

These are just some of the must-haves I need in a gym bag:

  • Stylish – I tend to go out after hitting the gym, so I don’t want to lug around something that looks like I went camping for a week.
  • Pockets – Being a woman, you know how we love bringing half our belongings even if it’s just out to the store.
  • Roomy – For obvious reasons, a good gym bag should be able to accommodate the equivalent load of what may seem like an overnight’s worth of clothing.
  • Water-resistant – The ladies’ locker room is full of many unknown liquids, including water, soap, lotions, toners, shampoo/conditioner, serums, creams… and a bazillion other products I have no clue why it’s necessary.

AND most importantly, a separate compartment for my shoes and wet, stinky gym clothes.

IMAG2025_(1)

So my Google search began, and I stumbled across TRIMR. The minute I saw it’s All-In Wet/Dry Gym Bag, I knew I had found IT. With two models available, I instantly fell in love with the studio version, that weighs in at only 544g, measures  16 x 6 x 11.25 (inches), and is made from a coated water-resistant material. It has a single pocket outside and another zipped pocket inside, with three other side pockets – including a dedicated water bottle holder!

IMAG2028_(1).jpg

The winning feature is definitely its broad, sturdy base that unzips to open up to an expandable cave that’ll keep your valuables safe from damp gym clothes and (possibly) rank trainers. If you’re on the hunt for THE gym bag to get, I absolutely, highly recommend TRIMR.

IMAG2027_(1).jpg

They also sell shaker bottles; the first of its kind with a straw. I don’t consume protein shakes personally, so I cannot speak for that line of products, but hey, if their gym bags are this awesome, I don’t doubt that their bottles are either!

IMAG2029_(1).jpg

I think this could just be the reason why I’ll hit the gym more often now (well, I hope it is!), because I cannot wait to show it off! Show your support for this Kickstarter project, and give yourself an excuse to spice up your sweat style. 😉

Love,
Wani xoxo

*Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. I purchased the TRIMR All-in Wet/Dry Gym bag (Studio version) with my own money, and am basically really excited to share with you guys an amazing product. 🙂

Working Out Depression

If you guys follow me on IG (@WaniWrites), you’ll know that I’ve been battling depression head on the last few months, but perhaps you didn’t know that it’s something that I was diagnosed with about 8 years ago.

A bad break-up early this year utterly shattered me and I’ve been struggling to find myself all over again since then. It’s also during this period that I’ve gone into full swing with my workouts, combining at-home HIIT routines with long nature trails and gym classes and free weights. Safe to say, physically, this is the fittest I’ve been in my adult life. But this is also the most I’ve had to deal with emotionally and mentally in a very, very long time.

Couple that with a change in career, from a full-time job to a freelance one, financially, I’m still trying to get on my feet, so that is an additional constant worry. But that one, singular, regular thing that has kept me grounded is working out. I’ve been called out on social media for being fat and shameless about posting about my body, and been accused to my face of working out so much because I’m insecure and that my depression makes me a crazy person.

I’m not going to lie and say all those comments didn’t hurt me, and that I didn’t for a second think that, maybe, they’re right and have allowed myself to shed a few tears when I read/heard them. They fucking HURT. Especially when you know, deep down, you’re exercising to keep sane, and vanity is honestly the least of your priorities.

That didn’t keep me from working out constantly though; I picked myself up and put in 110% in every single workout I did and still do. I know that if I want to have any chance at getting better and being a better person, for now, I have to be selfish. I have to put myself at the very top of the VIP list. I have sacrificed numerous social invitations because I just didn’t feel like it or decided to work out instead or have a quiet evening in. And although I know I cannot keep isolating myself in the long run, for now, I know this is what I need to feel safe and comfortable.

Because of the negativity I’ve received regarding my depression, I don’t share my experience with people very much – whether with my personal circle or with you guys. I admittedly still harbour the mindset that I’m burdening others or simply whining when I talk to someone about how I’m feeling, so I reserve my thoughts for when I attend therapy. I know it’s better to talk to someone about it, but I just don’t feel like I’ve reached that point where I feel safe enough to be candidly open about what I’m going through.

But what I do know is that working out has literally saved me from myself. It has given me the drive I desperately needed to keep going, to get through every single day and to be able to tell myself I’m doing well and I WILL get better. There will be days or weeks when I’ll feel like there’s a constant grey cloud weighing heavy on my head, but I have to keep fighting.

I’ll share with you a little something that my therapist asked me the last session, which scared me but also provided me with a little reality check. She asked, “And what if you never get better? What will you do then?” (This was in response to me telling her how I will keep pushing through every emotional wall to get to where I want to be).

I didn’t know how to respond, to be honest, and I really was internally questioning myself, ‘what if I really DON’T get better?’. But then I just replied, “Then I will just keep going, even if it’s something I have to do for the rest of my life. No one will fight this for me, and at the end of the day, I might not have any one by my side cheering me on. But for myself, I have to do this.”

And that is the promise I’ve made to myself. When everyone may have seemed to have given up on me, or have no interest in supporting me, I will be my own cheerleader. I will be the friend that I’ve so desperately needed, and I will love myself enough to know that I cannot and will not give up on me.

So, after this long rambling post, I just want to let anyone out there who’s going through the same (or similar) experience, the most important person is you. Yes, you are definitely not alone because I’m sure I’m being a cynic and psyching myself out. But at the end of the day, the person who cannot give up the most is you – that’s what I’m trying to say. Do what you need to do to get through the darker days and take relief in the brighter ones, but don’t stop. Don’t ever stop. Every fight will be damn worth it.

Love,
Wani xoxo

Pure Yoga Does #YogaRelay

I’m going to be honest; the closest thing I do that’s considered yoga is me practicing my inversions after my own HIIT workout. I’m not really a fan of going for yoga classes per se, and I think the biggest reason is because I think it’s not really my thing. I’ve tried bikran yoga several times, and after several trial classes I realised I just got bored of the monotony.

I mean, kudos to those who do practice yoga religiously – it’s not easy mastering those poses when you’re not very flexible or strong. But I’m just more inclined to active, hyper boot camp-style stuff.

So, why am I sharing this nugget of information that fell into into my inbox? Because I think it’s an awesome way to get yoga virgins off their bum and be part of a community of yoga enthusiasts from around the world. Pure Yoga will be celebrating International Day of Yoga with an International #YogaRelay on 21 June, with a 24-hour relay involving 5 cities from New York to Asia.

SG_without baton

According to the official press release, “the annual day recognises the 5,000 year-old Indian practice for its holistic benefits, not only as an accessible and inclusive exercise to promote physical and spiritual well-being, but also for the promotion of harmony and peaceful relationships”. Uniting 610 yoga instructors, the 24-hour event will see itself run from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (GMT+8) in Asia, followed by New York from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. (EDT). Hong Kong will start off the #YogaRelay at 8 a.m. (GMT+8) followed by Taiwan, Shanghai, Singapore, with the last leg of the relay ending at 8 p.m. (EDT) in New York.
On our shores in Singapore, the sessions will be as follows:
Tuesday, 21 June 2016, Pure Yoga – Ngee Ann City
  • 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
    Session 1: Vinyasa with Arun
  • 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    Session 2: Hot Hatha with Jacque
  • 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
    Session 3: Hatha with Arun

If you’re keen to test the yoga waters with this free event, book a mat by calling +65 6733 8863 (Pure Yoga – Ngee Ann City) or +65 6304 2268 (Pure Yoga – Chevron House)!

Needless to say, there’ll be promos and contests running concurrently with this event, but I will not bore you with the nitty gritty details. If you’re a curious cat, head to www.pure-yoga.com or their official Facebook page for more information leading up to the event.

So, the question is, will I be partaking in the event myself? I haven’t decided, but it’s definitely got my interest piqued, so who knows – I might just be your mat neighbour. And if I am, please do say ‘hello’ and give me a friendly wave! 🙂

Love,

Wani xoxo

Happy #BodyPositivity Week!

I unintentionally took a month off from writing here, mostly because I was away in Sweden with family for two weeks, and I was burying my nose in work and my personal life. But now that Buzzfeed is celebrating Body Positivity week, there’s no way in hell I wouldn’t give my two cents’ worth! 😉

As someone who has constantly struggled with body image and self-love, and also been the target of body shaming – right from when I was a little girl, up till adulthood – I would say I’m very familiar when it comes to the topic of loving/hating your body.

I am happy to say that these days I am the fittest I’ve been all my life, and I’m finding more reasons to love my body for what it can do rather than what it looks like. I still have days where I find the reflection in the mirror a tad upsetting, but I reassure myself by telling myself that I’ve come so far from the days of being a chubby girl who was horrified at the sight of that vacation photo, which marked the start of my fitness and weight loss journey. It’s roughly been about 4 years since then.

I chose to share this particular video from Buzzfeed because I totally get why a compliment on someone’s weight loss may not necessarily always be taken the right way. It’s because no one knows the struggle, the bad days and the personal dilemmas that someone has had to fight through to come out 10 or 20 pounds lighter. Was the weight loss really because of personal motivation? Was it for vanity’s sake? Was it because of social pressure? Was it due to medical conditions or medications? NO ONE WOULD KNOW EXCEPT THEM.

And that’s why telling someone they look like they’ve lost weight may not always be well-received, even if your intentions are good. Instead, if you wish to compliment someone on their looks (because dang, they deserve it!), try telling them their outfit looks really flattering or that they seem exceptionally chirpy that day or compliment/thank them for something they’ve done to make your day better. The whole point is to take away the focus on their SIZE, because honestly, IT DOESN’T MATTER. Sure, they probably have lost a ton of weight but unless you know them super well (like eternal BFFs), making them feel special about WHO they are will make them feel tons better than WHAT they look like.

I don’t want to ramble on, because I know I can when it comes to body image issues, so I’ll leave you here. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you have any. And please, please, please, know that you are so much more than those numbers on the scale. I know it’s hard to accept, but that’s the truth. 🙂 Enjoy the video!

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

Personal Workout Motivation Hacks

I think more times than not, I actually have to muster the motivation and dedication to workout – just like most of us. Everyone has their own little thing they do to prepare for a sweat session, from eating well to putting together a sick playlist to look forward to listening to. I thought I’d share with you some of my own nifty tips on how to prep yourself mentally and in some ways, emotionally, for a workout (because I’m sure we all hate that mental quicksand we trudge through just to convince ourselves that the workout will be worth all the effort!).

Start the day with a great meal – Notice how I didn’t say breakfast. That’s because some of us don’t eat breakfast (I’m not here to judge) and only manage to work up an appetite a little closer to late morning. So, whatever your first meal of the day is, make it COUNT! Get in the good stuff, like protein, complex carbs, vitamins and maybe even a bit of coffee, if you need it. It’ll set the tone for the day (read my previous post about this here); control the things you can, and fitting in a workout is one of them.

Wear your workout attire early – If you work from home like me, I like to wear my exercise gear from the moment I get out of bed. For me that sort of forces me to put those clothes to good use since I’m already donning them. On that note, I also try and shop for sports bras and running tights (read: my latest workout gear haul really burned a hole in my pocket!) that are cute or colourful and bright so that it makes me want to wear them more often, and it also makes me feel good wearing them. This in turn makes me wanna workout, because I feel empowered. Not sure if I’m the only one who feels this way, but it sure helps! Alternatively, if you work at an office, you can perhaps cheat on your office wardrobe choices by wearing your sports bra underneath your blouse, or if your workplace allows more casual options, wear your workout tights with cute flats to get you in the mood.

Sneak in a nap, if possible – I’ve developed this new habit of taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon, right before I work out. To maximise the nap’s benefits, I actually have a small bite to eat; not too much though, you don’t want a food coma or worse, indigestion! If I’m not feeling like a snack, a small shot of coffee right before my half hour nap will allow me to feel completely refreshed when I wake up, and I’m more than ready to attack that HIIT session!

CHOCOLATE – Okay, this might not be the best way to fuel your body before the workout, but I metabolise sugar pretty quickly. When I eat a full proper serving of dessert, I go through the whole sugar high-crash pretty fast, so I thought I’d use that to my advantage and use as a pre-workout snack. I break off about two to three squares of dark chocolate half an hour before my workout and hydrate well, then I’m good to go!

I hope this handful of tips will be able to help you in your daily goals of squeezing in a workout, even when it seems like you’re low on energy or simply lazy. 😉 What are some of the ways you prepare for a workout? I’d love to hear from you guys. 🙂

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

Squat for More Than Just a Better Booty

I’m a self-professed fan of squats. Squats of all kinds, and I’d like to believe the proof is in the derriere. 😉 In fact, I feel like no workout is complete without adding squats in, even if it’s upper body, abs or cardio day. SQUATS are LOVE. ❤

I think it’s safe to say that most people perform squats for the benefits of a rounder, firmer and perkier booty, along with amazingly strong and solid-looking quads (damn, them #squatgoals). But did you know that squats are also great for improving overall strength and health?

First, we must understand what muscles are engaged when we perform a proper, regular squat. There’s a lot going on, but essentially, you can count on your quadriceps and hamstrings to do the bulk of the hard work. The four muscles that comprise the quadriceps, known more commonly as the quads, run along the front of the thigh. The hamstrings are the three muscles running along the back of your thigh. Working together, the quads and hamstrings allow you to flex the thigh and extend the leg. And let’s not forget the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in your rear end, that’s also in on this party.

tumblr_inline_myg0fsbb4d1svj27b
A break down of squat knowledge 101

Second, is performing a proper squat. The rule of thumb is to not allow your knees to go past your toes (when looking down in a squat position) and that your back remains flat (i.e. not rounded).

Straight-Back-
Yay’s and nay’s of a beginner’s squat

If you’re finding yourself constantly struggling to find the right form (which is important, because it can prevent injury and maximise the squat’s benefits), set up a box or a chair to assist you. Film yourself performing a set of squats and observe where your lower back starts to round. Set up the box or chair this height, then perform your squats but sit briefly on the box in each rep. Focus on keeping your lower back straight and pulling your shoulder blades back to maintain your lower back position and good upper back posture.

Now that we got form and function out of the way, let’s talk about how great this one simple move is for your body! Even though the main focus of squats are centred around your leg muscles, squats also promote muscle growth around your entire body. The exercise is so intense that it creates an anabolic environment and makes the body release hormones, that are vital for the growth of muscle tissue, thus improving strength in your upper and lower body.

One of my personal favourite advantages of squats is how it improves your posture by working on building better balance. The balance that you need to do them will help to sit, stand and walk tall and straight. It will also strengthen your back muscles, and gradually instill a natural upright posture when walking and sitting – with chest out, tummy in and shoulders back. I have noticed that I now walk without slouching, which reduces the shoulder ache I used to frequently experience. 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget about those joints! The bending and stretching of your knees will strengthen your knee muscles and allow more oxygen and blood to flow around the joints, thus helping to keep them supple and strong.Speaking of blood flow, squats improve circulation as well. Good circulation means that more nutrients and oxygen reaches vital organs and muscles.

The benefits even extend to aiding your digestion, believe or not; squats help you to remove waste from the body. The muscular action of the squat improves the flow of fluids in your body and eases the passing of waste through your bowels, so it helps to keep you regular too. Who would’ve thought?!

Your entire body will thank you for squatting, no doubt, and if you’re looking to add more power and depth to your squats, feel free to add weights or barbells as you get better at it. All this talk about squats is making me really look forward to my workout later (yes, I’m odd like that!) so I really hope this piece provided a little more information about the humble squat, and if you have a favourite squat move/variation, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy squatting! 😀

Love,
Wani xoxo

 

How Spin Class Got Me In a Tizzy

I walk into this packed room filled with about 5 rows of stationary bikes, snugly positioned next to each other – about 6 in each row. Everyone seems to know what to do; adjusting this and that, and I look over to my cousin and meekly ask for his help. Then the instructor sees me, the new face, as lost as ever, and walks over to show me how to adjust the bike according to my body.

It looks easy enough, but I know I’ll probably forget how to do it myself the minute she walks away. Because I still have no clue what comes next, I take visual cues from the other participants in the class and climb onto my bike and start my warm-up with an easy pedal.

Then the torture begins.

I thought starting Shaun T’s Insanity program was tough; spin class is a whole other world. During the 50-minute class, the first 20 minutes were the most agonising. It was a real task keeping up with the instructor’s pace and my thighs were screaming bloody murder. My heart was working triple the effort I’m used to, and I honestly felt like I was going to be wiped out by the end of the class.

I do have to admit though, I really only started getting into the rhythm during the last 15 minutes of the class and could finally find the mental focus to push through the muscle strain and motivate myself to do my best.

61293843
YAY me! 😀

For anyone looking for an excellent workout to shake up your routine, I would definitely recommend trying a spin class. And when you go, give it your all. But I also have to highlight this super important reminder: make sure you’re feeling good that day, physically, and that you have at least a basic foundation of fitness. I kid you not, spin class isn’t as easy as it looks. I’m very used to the gruelling physical expectations of HIIT, but I did not expect spin class to test my limits. I’m glad I did it, but I don’t think it’s something I would do regularly.

Not because it’s tough (although yes, I wouldn’t volunteer to put myself through that sort of pain again!); I just don’t enjoy it as much as HIIT. So, from one spin class virgin to all those others out there, I would say give it a spin (haha, pun totally intended!), and see if it’s your new thing. Unfortunately for me, I’ll take my circuit training any day. 😉

For those of you up to the challenge, here are few pointers for your first time:

  • Don’t be shy about asking for help adjusting the bike to your height and body requirements. You’re going to be on that bike for quite some time, so it’s important you feel comfortable.
  • Listen to your body. As much as it feels like you should try and keep pace with the instructor, don’t over-exert yourself till you’re in excruciating pain. Even if he/she asks the class to up the resistance but you know you can’t handle any higher, keep at the current setting (or even turn it down a notch). Never feel bad about not being able to ride as tough as everyone else is.
  • Remember to bring along a water bottle to class! You’re definitely going to be parched!
  • At the end of the day, just like any other workout, have fun with the music! Yes, its going to be really tough to get through, but as I sit here with my thighs as sore as ever, I’m so damn glad I really went for it and got out of my comfort zone.

Love,
Wani xoxo

Viper Challenge Asia Experience: How NOT to Organise an Obstacle Race

So, if you follow my Instagram feed, you’ll know that I partook in the Viper Challenge last weekend. It’s originally from Malaysia, and this is the first time it’s held in Singapore (I think!).

Either way, it was my first time participating, and it was a stark difference to my Spartan Sprint experience (which I took part in last October). And I’m pretty new to obstacle races in general, but boy were there so many things that went wrong!

Firstly, their marketing efforts were sparse during the weeks leading up to race day, which is kind of strange as we have plenty of races (marathons, fun runs, triathlons, bike races, etc.) here in Singapore, and there’s always so much hype about each and every one of them. No one in my team knew if there was going to be a race pack collection, until they announced a week before race day that there wasn’t going to be one (I’m guessing lack of budget or sponsors?).

Secondly, on race day, the bag-drop/bag collection points were merged into one, which created chaos, confusion and helluva long queues. Tsk tsk, organisers. On to the actual race, the route was not clearly marked, with few to no marshals at each obstacle, who were some of the unfriendliest bunch of people in what’s supposed to be an event that’s about encouraging and motivating each other. 😦

12628397_10153574065224335_4679104005364419684_o
Just one of the many walls we had to overcome in the race.

Thirdly, as we were the last heat to be flagged off for the entire event, the organisers were much too quick to strip the course of flags, markers and signs, which left many runners totally lost, resulting in some skipping obstacles and making unnecessary detours round the island (it was held in Sentosa, which is a small off-shore island near Singapore). A team mate and I even had to stop to ask island staff for the race route. Fourthly, the obstacles themselves were so unsafe! Some had loose parts, while some were broken that we had to skip it. There were even obstacles that had poor planning put into it in which organisers didn’t consider the amount of racers and queues had formed just for a single obstacle. These queues took more than 15 minutes, to which my team and I decided to give up waiting for and moved on to the next one.

12615359_10153574066169335_7156623008380561633_o
Making the best out of the situation. 😉

After what seemed like forever to reach the finish line, it was time to collect our medal and finishers’ tee. The medal was tacky at best, and they had run out of sizes so some of us had to settle for tees that were huge for us (you can pretty much guess how mad I was at this point). As icing on the cake, ALL stalls selling water and snacks were already packed up, and mind you, there were still plenty of people running the race. When I went over to the bag collection point, they had lost my bag and I had to go personally scout for my seemingly missing bag. After a frustrating 3 HOURS of attempting to clear a 10k obstacle course and clearly exhausted and parched – the entire course only had 2 water points – we made our way to the nearest kiosk to buy bottles of water for the whole team.

12525323_10153574066939335_5943398652745902946_o
I’ll be biased; love how them muscles are showing through here! 😀

The only consolation was the company we were in, while the race itself was a sore disappointment. I can safely say this will be the last Viper Challenge I’ll participate in, so for those of you who are considering joining future editions, do take note. They could possibly improve by then, but I don’t think I’d want to risk my money considering this experience.

12604826_10153574067749335_4681037236763492830_o
In spite of the course’s shortcomings, we made it, guys! 🙂

Till then, I’m super pumped for Spartan Super on May 7, so if you haven’t signed up yet, I highly recommend it! You may do so here (the Spartan Sprint will be held then, too). On a closing note, if there are any Viper Challenge organisers out there reading this, better buck up, guys!

Love,
Wani

P.S. All photography credit to Neville Teo. Thanks, buddy!