Personal Trainers – are they neccessary?

WeightsAs a new gym goer, I was recently introduced to the concept of personal trainers (also known as personal fitness trainers) in a gym. I have read about personal trainers and how all the rich and famous must have one but this was really my first contact with personal trainers up close and personal.

Because I was new to my club, I was offered free services of a personal trainer for 3 gym sessions. It is then up to me whether I need their service further; for a professional fee to be paid.

I had seen personal trainers in other gyms previously. To me, many of them look like muscle beef cakes and seem to be fond of walking from one corner of the gym to another, strutting their muscles along the way. Others seem to be posing in front of mirrors all the time. Yet others seems to be hovering around female gym goers only. They don’t seem to be doing a lot of personal training…

Well… maybe it’s just because I wasn’t familiar with personal trainers or perhaps the good ones had not caught my attention. Anyway, I had a personal trainer attached to me for 3 gym sessions and this let me had a good understanding of the role of a personal trainer and how he or she can add value to a new gym goer.

Firstly, believe it or not, not all trainers are muscle beefcakes. In fact, you can’t tell at all that the personal trainer I had is a personal trainer despite her being a national hockey player.

Secondly, a good personal trainer job is not to just show you how the various exercise machines work. In fact, that is his last task. A good trainer will firstly need to sit down and assess a client’s physical and medical condition and find out his/her client’s fitness goal. He will also need to assess your physical posture, your dietary habits and the time you can afford for training.

Only then can he work out a short and long term training for you. Even then, a good trainer will not let you start on exercise machines straight away especially if you had never been a regular gym goer. He should start you on various stretching and strengthening exercises, so that your various weak muscles and/or the core muscles needed for further physical work can be strengthened. This will also correct posture problems you may have, prevent future muscle injuries and build up core essential muscles.

Your trainer will need to take a few sessions just to build up these strength. These sessions may involve a lot of stretching and posturing exercises using various basic fitness tools such as elastic bands, dumbbells, exercise balls etc. You are unlikely to be familiar with most of these building up movements and this is where a trainer can guide, motivate and even exercise along with you.

A good trainer will want to get your basic diet, posture, core muscles correct before he would even want to start you on the various exercise machines. Like what my trainer said, if you can’t get the basics correct, then progressing on to the exercise machines will not be as good or as effective as what it should be.

My personal verdict about personal trainers? They are certainly worth the money (between S$70-120 an hr), if you have a serious fitness goal plan or want to see double-quick results or are unable to motivate yourself to exercise.

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Found my ideal gym and spa club – II

Fabulous view when I exercise

Fabulous view when I exercise

Let me tell you more about the new club that I joined a month ago. It’s a gym. It’s a spa. It’s a studio. It’s a cafe. It’s a cozy hang out corner.

Well, I don’t really know how to categorise it. First and foremost, it’s a gym club but it’s really more than that. Let me explain.

What caught my eye about this club in the first place was it’s location. It is located in a shopping mall near the sea in the southern part of Singapore. Hence, the entire club has a fabulous view of the sea – whether you are jogging, doing Yoga, getting a massage or having a drink.

Secondly, the club was being marketed and ran like a lifestyle club more than a gym club. Yes, there are state-of-the art exercise machines but at the same time, equal or more emphasis was laid on a full range of popular exercise programs, the good and healthy food at the cafe, the nimble fingers of the masseurs at the spa, the soft, fluffy cushions at the lounge, the large screen movies on Sundays and the concierge services at the counter . Overall, you feel like going to a social club that happens to have a large gym rather than going to a common gym.

State of the art exercise machines

State of the art exercise machines

I also like the fact that the exercise studio runs a gamut of programs ranging from Yoga to Pilates to Boxercise to Aerobics to Latin Jam. I particularly like it that there was also a cozy spa managed by two sweet Filipino masseurs that were ready to massage my tight muscles right after a good gym workout. No change of gears needed. No getting in and out of cars or buildings.

I normally just grab a quick drink after working out in a gym and then look for real food elsewhere – Gyms are never known to serve ‘real food’. However, in this club, I can tuck into good real food right at the cafe – wraps, sandwiches, pastas, meat dishes – prepared the delicious and healthy way, all with extra doses of vegetable. I hear that the chef was from a 5-star hotel and prepares each dish as if he was going for a round of culinary competition. Check out his killer tiramisu!

What I really like best about the club is that it has a small membership in the low hundreds rather than the thousands in a mass-market gym. The small cozy environment means that there is a ever ready smile from the staff, always clean floor in the changing room and no one to fight over your favorite exercise machine.

Exercise studio with a view

Exercise studio with a view

Life is already hectic and busy in Singapore as it is. I simply hate to go to a gym where the gym owner tend to squeeze as many members as they can into the gym – turning it into a yet another noisy, sweaty busy gym.

I think this club will be able to give me my exercise need without the hustle and bustle of a mass-market gym. Why not join me too? Check out the next article where i reveal the identity of the club!

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Make Asia’s Best-Spa-Massage part of your web life!

Do you browse so many websites and then loses track of what is where after a while? This is a common problem that many of us face. So many websites. So much info. And so little time!

A couple of readers had wrote to me that they would love to be part of this website; having enjoyed some of the spa reviews and other massage articles. Can a spa and massage community be formed? Can we keep in touch? Can we be updated of new articles as soon as they are released?

Being a spa person and a technical nut, I asked my technical support manager aka husband if these readers’ requests can be fulfilled? I bribed him with a couple of spa sessions and even then, he had to look far and wide before he found a possible solution.

Here’s the solution. Click and download the tool you see below. This will install a toolbar on your web browser (such as Firefox or IE) that will allow us to keep in touch. It will also install a couple of other nifty tools on your browser. If you would like to keep in touch and possibly build a spa and massage community together, do download the toolbar now!

Your web browser or your firewall may not allow the download and installation immediately. If there are any pop-up or other messages asking for permission to download the file, please allow it.

You should not have a problem downloading and installing the toolbar. I was able to and I’m quite a technical nut. If you do face a problem, please email me and I’ll see if my husband can be persuaded to help you out!

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Pampered Weekend @ Angsana Spa at Bintan, Indonesia

Bintan Spa Resort

Angsana Spa at Bintan Island

Looking for a pampered and quiet weekend getaway? If you are in busy and bustling Singapore, just head to Bintan, Indonesia.

Bintan is an island off Indonesia that is a mere 55-minute trip away from Tanah Merah Ferry terminal in Singapore by fast catamaran. There is a scheduled trip every hour and it is common to see Singaporeans visiting Bintan on a regular basis for leisure and pleasure. In fact, we took the morning ferry ride and reached our hotel-resort before noon.

Bintan is a relatively large island that is typical of so many other outlying Indonesian islands. Unlike Bali which is world famous, Bintan tend to only attract visitors from Singapore and nearer countries only because it has not really gained international fame. The island has a indigenous population that is increasingly dependent on tourism. Resorts and hotels dot the island although the main cluster of resorts are concentrated towards the north of the island where the best beaches and sea-view is.

There are a few large and well-known hotel-resorts in Bintan and we had chosen to stay at the Angsana Resort & Spa, Bintan. The Angsana hotel chain is part of the Banyan Tree group although the Angsana chain is a lower price version of the high-end Banyan Tree resorts which is world famous for their spectacular and unique resort landscaping and design, immaculate service and ultimate peace and privacy.

Once we have settled in, we immediately went to check out the hotel’s spa. Afterall, my main purpose of this trip was to check out the well known Angsana Spa. As we walked into the reception, we could smell the frangipani aroma. It was so nice and soothing. The receptionist greeted us politely. She introduced their full range of head-to-toe treatments and we eventually booked a time slot for our massage for the evening.

There is also the Angsana Gallery where you can take home their range of specially blended massage oils, floral-based essential oils, and other spa and massage products. Angsana Spa own-brand fashion apparel, home furnishing, jewelery and accessories were also unique and available at an affordable price.

At Bintan, the Angsana and the Banyan Tree resorts share a lovely beach with powdery white sand and shallow, calm blue water. The beach was so wide and empty. We strolled down the beach and picked sea shells whenever we spotted a nice one. We then took a light lunch at the coffee house and went for a swim and sun-bedded by the large swimming pool. By the time we finished our swim, it was time for our massage.

We were led to our treatments rooms by our therapists. Wow, the outdoor pavilion is located on the rooftop of the hotel, overlooking the stunning view of the blue South China Sea. So ultra-romantic and the pavilion looks exactly like the picture on the brochure (See top-left picture). Even the shower where we took a bath before the massage was outdoor and open up to the clear blue sky!

The massage was so gentle and relaxing. Every stroke was carefully pressed on every part of the body by the ever so gentle Indonesian masseurs. Throughout the massage, we could feel the gentle sea breeze and whenever we opened our eyes, what we saw ahead was the blue South-China sea amidst swaying palm trees and sandy white beach! Oh…. what a life!

Time passed quickly and all too soon, our 90 mins massage treatment ended. The aromatherapy massage in the open air pavilion left us feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated.

To round off the relaxed day, we had our dinner at the Pantai Grill in the evening where tables were set up on the beach, illumination was provided by crackling fire-sticks and chefs grill their best seafood dishes in the open air. You are literally enjoying barbecued seafood and wine on the beach with the sand beneath your toes and the sound of the crashing waves providing the accompanying ambiance.

What a great and fulfilling short weekend getaway!

Location of Spa: Angsana Hotel, Bintan, Indonesia
Size of Spa: About 4 open-air massage pavilions
Friendliness: Friendly receptionist and masseurs
Facilities: Swimming Pool, Sauna, Shower
Pricing: Minimum SGD90 for a 30min massage

Transport: Fast Ferry from Singapore or domestic flight from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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Deepavali – Festival of Lights

Deepavali - Festival of LightsToday is Deepavali or more popularly known as “Festival of Lights” to Hindus. Celebrated as Deepavali in Southern India and Divali in Northern India, this is one of the most significant festival for Hindus not just in India but across the world.

While Deepavali is popularly known as the “festival of lights”, the most significant esoteric meaning is “the awareness of the inner light”.

Central to Hindu philosophy, is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Deepavali is the celebration of this Inner Light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, imminent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman, comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (Inner Joy or Peace).

Deepavali celebrated with festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing sweets and worship. While the story behind Deepavali varies from region to region, the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things.

We wish all our Hindu friends a Happy Deepavali Day!

(Part Text credit: http://en.wikipedia.org; Pix credit: http://www.malaysiasite.nl)

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Three months of Yoga

This is my third month of taking up Yoga. In 3 months, I have grown from a Yoga novice to a basic Yoga practitioner.

Despite a busy work schedule, I try to visit the Yoga studio at least twice a week. I look forward to each and every Yoga practice and can’t wait for the next. I guess I have never stretched my body as much as I did during these 3 months.

Yoga has brought me more than just physical release. It has brought me mental release as well.

In these three months, I have tried Hatha Yoga and Therapy Yoga.

In Hatha Yoga, we were put through a series of stances, poses and postures. It may look easy when our Yoga master demonstrated these positions but when it came to doing it ourselves, our body certainly had a tough time. Many other trainees and myself had a hard time and it was only through our Yoga Master who pushed us to develop our bodies and strengths and overcome our weaknesses and our fears that we were able to achieve many of Hatha Yoga poses.

He kept telling us that we would become stronger and he gave us all the belief to carry on. And each time as I practiced and meditated, my body and mind became stronger and more relaxed. Eventually, I was able to do many Hatha Yoga moves which I had thought would be impossible previously.

Therapy Yoga is less physically demanding as compared to Hatha Yoga. It is also my favorite Yoga practice at the moment.

Therapy Yoga consist of a series of stretching movements, Yoga breathing techniques and relaxation and meditation sessions. I find Therapy Yoga a wonderful physical and mental release especially after a day of stressful work.

For every physical position we do or a breathing technique that we practice for Therapy Yoga, our Master would explain to us their benefits including how each posture or technique would help us build up certain physical immunity or fight certain kind of illness.

Both Yoga discipline have been very beneficial to me in self-tuning and re-alignment with my inner self. I look forward to every Yoga lesson; especially when I feel stressed out by work and other matters. The Yoga practices do give a lot of relief after every session, and it was a great experience!

If you have been thinking of starting Yoga or wondering if Yoga is helpful, well, you have my full recommendation that Yoga is certainly beneficial for both the body and mind especially if you lead hectic city lives! You will find yourself coming out afresh from each Yoga session and you will want to attend the next session as soon as you can.

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