Wednesday, January 3, 2007

If you're gonna be sick, be sick with this!

"If you're gonna be sick, be sick with this!" That's what fitness instructor Dan Cohen said after the conditioning track of Body Combat 30. How I wish I'd be sick after a good workout rather than be stricken down by this fever/upper respiratory tract infection I've had since new year's eve. Once a member of family has the virus, the rest of the family is sure to get it. Gelyn and I are the current casualties, with Archie and my parents already past it. This was further compounded by the fallout of smog resulting from the firecrackers of new year's celebrations. Now as I lie here on my bed, drowsy and weak from an overdosage of paracetamol and lagundi, how I wish I was up and fighting as the fellows above. I've been out of the gym for almost a week now, and I can feel my body being pulled back. Got to heal soon and fast!

I like going to the gym not only for the fitness benefits it could bring, but because it can be an ideal venue for stress release. Especially if we talk about my favorite group exercise class, Body Combat, which is "the empowering cardio workout where you are totally unleashed! This fiercely energetic program is inspired by martial arts and draws from a wide array of disciplines such as karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi and muay thai. Supported by driving music and powerful role model instructors, strike, punch, kick and kata your way through calories to superior cardio fitness. (from Les Mills)" I've never had any martial arts training before and people knew how clumsy my body was, so I would have second thoughts of ever joining a group class (I couldn't forget the first time I joined a Body Jam class. I discovered how inflexible and awkward my body was! Not to mention being harassed by the instructor). But pretty soon, classes after classes, I got addicted to Body Combat. It didn't stop there, I joined the Body Combat Marathon (which is 2-3 hours non-stop version of the original class, testing your endurance, form and strength), where I was able to be one of the finalists in the Body Combat Challenge Finals held at the PICC Forum last year. It was such a big event, each participant has to arrive in their best combat costume, and I did. Here is what Mich and I came up with (we doodled as we attended the EXECOM Meetings):

Mich made a funny caricature of the selected costume:

Even designed a personalized henna tattoo, which caused an allergic reaction (I almost thought my right arm will be marked with keloid for life!) and had lightning designs etched on my hair. Here I am with the costume in action:

Before, I always asked why people would engage themselves in such situations, join such events which really can't be classified into any official sport. Besides what's at stake (a trip to Australia/New Zealand, with free Les Mills Training, free 1 year gym membership, and many more), it's the assurance that you're fit and healthy and you're having fun while you're at it. If you think my costume's too much, you should have seen what the others wore (or did not wear for that matter... as you can see above). I didn't win but I had tremendous fun.

Before I joined in Body Combat classes, I participated in RPM and Cycling (formerly Cosmic Cycling) classes at the spinning studios in the gym. RPM is "the indoor cycling workout where you ride to the rhythm of powerful music. Take on the terrain with your inspiring team coach who leads the pack through hills, flats, mountain peaks, time trials, and interval training. Discover your athlete within – sweat and burn to reach your endorphin high. " (from Les Mills). Cosmic Cycling classes are basically the same, but gives more emphasis to upper body workout, by combining trunk and body choreography while spinning. These classes has got to be the sweatiest classes there is. Not everybody gets the sense of cycling for an hour on stationary bikes, but you have got to give credit to the instructors for providing excellent music and choreography to make it an exciting experience. These classes also have their regular showcase events such as the Cycling Marathon which is a 3 hour non-stop RPM/Cycling, in which I fared better (recently, I made it to 1st place Male Category in Fitness First Manila, and 2nd place Male Category in Fitness First MetroEast).

Scanned these from a feature page in Action & Fitness magazine (July-August 2006 issue). Here you see Aimee, my gym buddy, who always bags the 1st place in every marathon event, that is, unless beaten ahead by cramps. It's more fun to participate in events held at Fitness First MetroEast, because not only are you surrounded by wacky fellow gym addicts, friends and instructors, they also offer the best giveaways and prizes!

Besides these group exercises (there's Body Pump and Body Balance too), there are the usual fitness machines and free weights. I don't pump iron in the free weights area, and I've grown bored of the treadmill machines. Recently, I've been focusing on the least popular gym equipment: the indoor rowers (or "ergs" as they are more commonly known in other countries). I really don't understand why these machines are so unpopular. In fact, some gym managers have positioned these rowers inappropriately. If you use these machines this way, be very careful as you might hit your head against the wall, especially if you're a forceful rower. And believe me, these rowers will move! When I used one of the rowers in Fitness First Eastwood, the rower actually moved without me noticing. Before I noticed, I was already halfway down the width of the hall!

From Men's Health Magazine: Where you sit when you work out could determine how fast you lose your gut. Irish researchers recently reported that men burn more fat while rowing than while biking. In the study, scientists measured the amount of fat used for fuel while men exerised on wither a row-ing machine or a stationary bike. The result: Participants burned 40-50% more fat when rowing than when cycling, even though the duration of the exercise was the same. The likely explanation is that because rowing machines incorporate both your upper and lower body, they work more muscle, says lead investigator David Ashley.

The manufacturer of the indoor rowers, Concept2, has a website where you can log your progress in their machines. In fact, during the holiday season, they organized an incentive challenge for online members to complete 200K meters in 30 days. I made 206K meters and they'll be sending gift packages (shirt, pin and certificate) soon. I'll be joining up their video making competition for a chance to win one of the new rowers (valued at P150K! each). I have yet to accomplish 1 million meters before I can join their Million Meter Club.

Hope I get well soon... I could already feel the calories pile up in my belly due to this temporary gym hiatus. Can't wait to try the capoiera moves and evasive side kicks in the new release of Body Combat on my new set of kickers: authentic brand new Nike Free 7.0 Trainers (P4900 value at Nike outlets) bought from eBay for only P2900 (including shipping!). Got them on the rare varsity red-black color combination too.

“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas” Going regularly to a gym warrants you with occassional guiltless pig-outs.

Possible next physical feats in my agenda includes joining up with my brother Archie in his mountaineering activities, a major marathon event, and perhaps a minor triathlon event.

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