Fitness Training

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Exercise Anywhere

by Edwin Padlan, Executive Health Coach at ALMA wellness

As a professional in the health and wellness industry, I've heard all the excuses in the world as to why people don't exercise. "I work long hours and don't have enough time." "My gym is on the other side of town." "Group classes and fitness clubs are too crowded." "How can I make time for exercise, when I have work, family, and social obligations?"

What many people don't realize is that they can get a great workout at home or in their hotel room with only the simplest exercise equipment or even no equipment at all. They also don't realize that 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week may help them achieve their health goals faster than having two long workouts every weekend. The notion that one must sweat profusely in to order to have a great workout is more psychological than biological, and unfortunately this myth deters a lot of people from exercising regularly.

How, then, do we fit exercise into our hectic urban lifestyles? The key to finding a healthy balance is making exercise an integrated part of your busy schedule, not just an additional to-do item. Brisk walking in your neighbourhood on your way home from the office or doing several sets of push-ups and sit-ups in your hotel room while you wait for your room service meal are simple and effective examples. Just find physical activities that you enjoy and perform them several times a week. It's what we do on a regular basis that will define our health, not what we do once in a while.

Eat well, Exercise anywhere™

At ALMA wellness, our philosophy is that a healthy lifestyle is accomplished with a proper balance of input and output – nutrition and exercise. It is the basis of our signature programme that we call "Eat well, Exercise anywhere™." The balance between nutrition and exercise is different for each person, based on the health goal you're trying to accomplish.

"Eat well" may refer to eating more protein to build muscle mass, consuming more raw food to help improve digestion, or joining a weight loss programme, such as IMI's IsoWhey Weight Loss Programme in Hong Kong.

"Exercise Anywhere" refers simply to the idea of being physically active – any time, any place – with no excuses.

Here are some sample exercises to get you started. If necessary, please check with your doctor to make sure you are fit for exercise.

Core Cardio Exercises

Perform each of these exercises for 30 seconds each with no rest breaks between exercises. Rest for one minute after completing all the exercises. This is considered 1 set. Repeat for 4 to 5 sets for a quick, 15-minute, super-efficient home or travel workout.

It's important to breathe continuously throughout these exercises – do not hold your breath at any point. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.

Exercise 1: Star Jumps

Purpose of exercise: To increase blood flow to your entire body.

How to perform: Start by standing with your feet together and your hands at your side. For the first motion, jump so that your feet are spread apart and your hands swing sideways above your head. Then for the second motion, jump back to the starting position. Repeat.

If this exercise is performed correctly, blood should begin to flow nicely throughout your entire body and beginners may feel an accelerated pace of breathing.

To increase the intensity of this exercise, add a third motion: squat down and touch the floor with both hands before returning to the standing position.

Exercise 2: Plank

Purpose of exercise: To strengthen the muscles in the core region of your body.

How to perform: Start by laying face down on the floor. Raise yourself up on your toes and up onto your forearms with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your body perfectly straight as a plank by engaging your abdominal muscles and glutes. Keep your head in a neutral position so that your body is perfectly straight.

If this exercise is performed correctly, your hips should not raise, sink, or twist. Your spine should be perfectly straight at all times.

To increase the intensity of this exercise, raise one leg 10 cm off the floor and hold for 5 seconds. Put your leg down and repeat on the alternate leg. Continue alternating for the duration of the set.

Exercise 3: Mountain Climber

Purpose of exercise: To improve your cardiovascular strength and muscle strength in your upper body and core region.

How to perform: From a face-down position, raise your body onto your hands and toes with straight arms, hands directly below the shoulders, and your body completely straight. (This should resemble the starting position for a push-up). For the first motion, bend your right leg and bring your right knee towards your chest, without touching your toes to the ground. For the second motion, return your right leg to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg, then alternate continuously.

If this exercise is performed correctly, your hips should not raise and your shoulders should constantly be above your hands. You should feel an accelerated rate of breathing and strain in your abdominal muscles.

To increase the intensity of this exercise, perform this exercise as fast as you can while maintaining proper form.

Exercise 4: Burpee

Purpose of exercise: To improve cardiovascular strength and muscle strength throughout the entire body.

How to perform: Start in a standing position with hands raised above your head. For the first motion, bend your knees and squat on the floor, and put both hands firmly on the ground at your feet. For the second motion, support your body weight on your hands with straight arms and jump back with both feet back simultaneously, landing with your body in a push-up position. For the third motion, jump both feet forward into the beginning squat position. For the fourth motion, stand up and raise your hands to the ceiling.

If this exercise is performed correctly, you should feel an accelerated rate of breathing and muscle strain in your legs, arms, and core.

To increase the intensity of this exercise, add a fifth motion by jumping and reaching to the ceiling instead of just finishing in a standing position.

Upper and Lower Body Exercises

Similar to the cardio exercises, perform each of these exercises for 30 seconds with no rest breaks between exercises. Follow these exercises with a 1-minute rest. This is considered 1 set. Repeat for 4 to 5 sets for a quick, 15-minute, super efficient home or travel workout.

It's important to breathe continuously throughout these exercises – do not hold your breath at any point. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.

Exercise 1: High Knee Raises

Purpose of exercise: To increase blood flow to your entire body.

How to perform: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your hands on your hips. For the first motion, balance on your left leg while raising your right knee to waist height. For the second motion, place your right foot back on the floor. Repeat with the left leg. Alternate continuously until the end of the set. Make sure to keep your body upright and the spine straight.

If this exercise is performed correctly, you should feel an accelerated rate of breathing and slight strain in your abdominal muscles.

To increase the intensity of this exercise, increase the speed of raising your knees and put your hands near your ears with your elbows out to the side.

Exercise 2: Push-Up (also known as a Press-Up)

Purpose of exercise: To strengthen your core muscles, as well as the muscles in your chest and arms.

How to perform: From a face-down position, raise your body onto your toes and your hands, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Keep your arms straight and your body completely straight. For the first motion, bend your arms until your chest is 10 cm from the ground. For the second motion, keep your body perfectly straight by engaging your core muscles, and press your chest and arms to return to the starting position. Repeat.

If this exercise is performed correctly, your hips will not raise or sink. You should keep your spine straight at all times. In the lower position, imagine your hands drawing a line across the ground – your chest should be aligned with this line.

If this exercise is too difficult for you, lean your hands on a stable and raised surface, such as the edge of your couch or bed, to perform this activity in an incline position. You can also perform this exercise with your hands on the floor while resting on your knees instead of your toes.

To increase the intensity of this exercise, raise one foot 10 cm off the floor while performing the exercise.

Exercise 3: Squat

Purpose of exercise: To strengthen your leg muscles.

How to perform: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and your hands on your hips or held straight out in front of you. Your toes and knees should be pointed forward at all times. For the first motion, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor. For the second motion, extend your legs to return to the starting position. Repeat.

If this exercise is performed correctly, your body will not lean forward and your knees will not go forward beyond your toes.

To increase the intensity of this exercise, hold the lower position for 3 seconds before returning to the standing position. You can also perform a "narrow squat" by keeping your feet just 4 cm apart while performing this exercise.

Exercise 4: Leg Lifts

Purpose of exercise: To strengthen your lower abdominal muscles.

How to perform: Lay on the floor on your back with your hands pointing towards your feet and the palms of your hand on the floor. Lift your legs towards the ceiling so that your body is in an L-shaped position. This is your starting position. For the first motion, keep both legs straight and lower them towards the floor to the point where you can barely hold them up. For the second motion, raise your legs back to the starting position. Repeat.

If this exercise is performed correctly, your lower back will remain on the floor at all times.

To increase the intensity of this exercise, alternate the angle of your legs by lowering them at a slight angle to the left, then at a slight angle to the right, and then down the centre. You can also hold your legs out at the bottom position for 3 seconds before lifting them back to the starting position.

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Hong Kong Fitness

by Edwin Padlan, Executive Health Coach at ALMA wellness

We work, we play, we socialize, we entertain, and if we're lucky, we sleep. Then we repeat this routine the next day and play even harder on the weekends. But when do we ever have time to exercise? When do we have time to eat well and take care of ourselves?

If this sounds familiar – if this sounds like your life in Hong Kong - then you're not alone. This work-hard, play-harder lifestyle is very common in a dense urban city such as Hong Kong. Unhealthy temptations like alcohol, fast food, or the wide array of refined foods that are a part of the typical Hong Kong local diet are around every corner. And, of course, there is always the temptation to skip your planned exercise session to socialize with your mates over a glass of wine and a nice meal.

But don't worry, it's not all bad news. There is such a thing as Healthy Hong Kong! There are a wide variety of options for getting and staying fit in this urban metropolis. The key is finding and engaging in a fitness activity that you enjoy on a regular basis – one that will motivate you to resist the sweets and put on your sweats.

Here's a suggested list of popular activities for staying fit in Hong Kong:

Fitness

  • Fitness Club: Sign up for a membership at one of the many fitness clubs around town and get access to group classes, exercise equipment, and personal trainers.
  • Independent Personal Trainer: Don't want a gym membership? Then get yourself an independent personal trainer and they'll give you personalized attention and access to one of the several high-quality private fitness facilities in the city.
  • Bootcamp: Not a fan of training indoors? Maybe an outdoor group training program will appeal to you.

Studios

  • Dance: Exercise is not all about weights and cardio machines. Dancing is a fun way to move your body and to burn calories.
  • Yoga: Practice this age-old activity to exercise both your mind and your body.
  • Pilates: Learn to align your body with simple exercises and train muscles you never knew you had.

Other Activities

  • Running: Perhaps the most popular physical activity in Hong Kong. Lace up your trainers and head to Bowen Road, the Happy Valley racecourse, or Quarry Bay Park.
  • Hiking: In less than one hour from Central, you can escape to one of the many hiking trails in Hong Kong or the New Territories. Clear your mind, get fresh air, and return to nature.
  • Martial Arts: Hong Kong has a long history of traditional Chinese martial arts such as a Wing Chun and Hong Kuen, popularized by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. You can also try the popular Muay Thai or mixed martial arts classes or even Tai Chi in the park.

Sometimes, though, we don't even have time to put on our trainers and head across town to the gym. Sometimes work obligations keep us in the office for long hours or family obligations lead us to stay home with the kids. If that's the case, then just Exercise Anywhere. A 20-minute routine of bodyweight core cardio exercises will jump-start your day or add balance to your afternoon.

 

For more information about any of the above-mentioned activities, contact Edwin via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Hotel Room Exercise for the Busy Executive

by Edwin Padlan, Executive Health Coach at ALMA wellness

Introduction

During my 15 year career in the tech industry, I traveled hundreds of thousands of miles across multiple continents. When I was at home, I was always fortunate to have proper fitness facilities nearby and I made sure to exercise often. However, I traveled 50% of the time and needed a set of simple but effective exercises that would keep me energized throughout my business trip and help me battle jetlag.

As a result, I created a comprehensive set of bodyweight exercise routines that kept me fit while on the road for many years. These routines became the basis for what I now call the ALMA Bodyweight

Circuit – a series of exercise routines (of varying levels) that can be performed anytime, anywhere, with only your own bodyweight.

ALMA wellness‘ health coaching clients will learn all of these circuits, but for our online readers, here is the ALMA Bodyweight Circuit – Level 1. The initial goal is to complete this circuit three times in one training session. Once you can complete this circuit five times in one session, then I recommend moving onto Level 2.

 

ALMA Bodyweight Circuit – Level 1

Jumping Jacks (30 repetitions) – great exercise to get blood flowing to all parts of the body

Press Ups (10 repetitions) – the most complete exercise to train your chest, shoulders, arms, and core muscles. Also see this article for more variations.

Sit Ups (10 repetitions) – one of many exercises to train your abdominal muscles

Squats (10 repetitions) – great exercise for your glutes and thighs

Tricep Dips (10 repetitions) – primarily trains your triceps and a little bit of your shoulders

Plank (hold position for 10 seconds) – one of the best exercises to train your core muscles. Improving your plank will help you improve your press up.

Repeat this exercise circuit for a total of 3-5 circuits.

 

For more information about any of the above-mentioned activities, contact Edwin via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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The Most Complete Exercise Ever

by Edwin Padlan, Executive Health Coach at ALMA wellness

 

Regardless of where you are or how much time you have, body weight exercises are an extremely simple and effective way to build muscles and to tone muscle mass that you already have. There is no better single bodyweight exercise than the press-up, also called a push-up.

Deceptively simple yet extremely effective, the press-up can be performed with many variations to train your chest, arms and core muscles all at the same time. If you want to super fit in your weekend t-shirt or simply want to improve your posture, then get into a habit of doing your daily press-up.

Novice: On Your Knees - Here’s a really great explanation for a beginner pushup (just don’t laugh at the computerized voice). Keep your spine straight and your abdominal muscles engaged to get a similar core workout as the regular pushup.

Intermediate: On Your Palms - Here’s another very clear explanation of how to do a press-up properly. The most important thing to remember is to keep your abdominals engaged and your back straight.

Advanced: On Your Knuckles - Contrary to popular belief, the main reason for doing knuckle pushups is to “strengthen your wrists” – not toughen your knuckles! You will see that this press-up not only exercises your chest, arms, and core muscles – but it will also train your forearms and wrists. To increase intensity even more, you can hold your body in the downward position for a 2 seconds before pushing up or you can keep one leg off the ground to further train your core stabilizing muscles.

 

For more information about any of the above-mentioned activities, contact Edwin via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Top 5 Tips for Running Your First Marathon

by Edwin Padlan, Executive Health Coach at ALMA wellness 

Running a marathon has been on my bucket list for years. But with a 6km run on my apartment treadmill as the longest distance I’ve ever run, a 42km race on an unknown road course with thousands of other runners seemed like such a daunting task. Inspired by my father who ‘ran’ his first marathon at age 60 and supported by my friend and running coach (Julie Price, CEO of Shinobi Labs), I decided that now is as good a time as any to run my first marathon.

I’m happy to say that I just completed my first official half marathon and my training continues for my first fullmarathon. Having said that, I thought it would be a good time to stop and share my Top 5 Tips for other non-runners out there with a similar goal of completing a marathon.

Top 5 Tips for First-Time Marathoners

1) Have a Consistent Running Schedule: Consistency is the key to building a solid ‘running’ foundation so that your body slowly gets used to long distance running. Stick to a consistent training schedule which starts off very slowly with short distances and gradually adds distance in each subsequent week. I started training 10 weeks prior to the half marathon having nearly zero running time in the previous 12 months.  The 1st week consisted of four 3km runs. Within only a few weeks, I broke my own distance record every Sunday, eventually reaching 20km ‘training’ runs by week 8.

2) Act Like a Boat, not a Car:  Boats start off very slowly and change speed very slowly. When training, you should think about jogging, not running. After you pass your first or second kilometer, then slowly increase your speed. Unlike any other sporting competitions that I’ve trained for, marathon training is conducted at a much slower place than actual competition day in order to prevent injury and to prepare your body for a very long race day.

3) Find Your Inspiration: Whether it’s running on a nature trail, listening to music or audio books, or just being alone with your thoughts, find whatever inspires you to run.  For me, I enjoy listening to audiobooks because I get lost in the voice of the author and my mind wanders to the point that I forget that I’m even running. On race day, fun and upbeat music is my inspiration of choice. Overall, the key is to have fun!

4) Get Support: Proper marathon training is a long process and the encouraging words from friends, family and colleagues can be the boost that you need to keep you inspired. After every one of my training runs, I exchanged notes online with my running coach and she helped keep me on track. She answered every question I had, provided suggestions to help me improve, and gave me encouraging words to keep me motivated.

5) Run Your Own Race: Don’t worry about how fast someone next to you is running and try not to pay close attention to your average pace. My preference is to run alone and with a heartrate monitor. This enables me to run consistently within my target heart rate range and to very clearly track my progress each week. On race day I started off slowly while hundreds of runners raced past me, but by the 10th kilometer I reached a very comfortable stride and began passing many of these same runners who ran out of fuel all too soon.

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How to Skip Rope Like Ali 

by Edwin Padlan, Executive Health Coach at ALMA wellness

As a martial artist, traveling businessman or fan of aerobic exercises, skipping rope is one of the best and simplest exercises that you’ll ever find.  You can easily fit a skipping rope in your luggage and perform skips nearly anywhere, including your hotel room or home gym. Have you ever watched old clips of Muhammad Ali or Rocky Balboa and wished you could skip rope like them? Well, here are several tips to help get you started.

How to Skip Rope Like Ali

1) Try a speed rope. These ropes have very light handles and narrow ropes usually made of a durable plastic. These will give you more control and help you learn proper hand-foot coordination.

2) Relax your shoulders, move your wrists. Beginners often move there feet faster than the rotation of the skipping rope. Try using your wrists along with your shoulders to keep the timing of your hands and feet coordinated.

3) Hop on one foot. Do four hops on your left foot, four hops on your right foot and alternate this pattern back and forth. Eventually get to the point where you’re only doing 1 or 2 hops per foot and you’ve got yourself the boxer’s shuffle.

For those of you who already know how to skip rope, here are some advanced techniques to mix it up:

A) Alternate from regular skips to high knee running in place

B) Alternate single jump to double jump (two rotations of the rope for every one jump of our feet)

C) Alternate from square stance to side stance (fighter’s stance with one foot in front of the other)

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