You know it’s January when your inbox gets filled up with promos from gyms and fitness centres, all capitalising on the New Year’s fitness resolutions you’ve inevitably made. Yeah, forget those. Overreaching during one month of the year just encourages you to slack off during the rest of it (dry January, anyone?) and the founder of Pilates, yoga and barre studio Flex, Heather Thomas Shalabi, wants you to stop.
“Exercise used to be a secondary, vanity activity, something we only did before a big event to lose a few pounds, before a photo shoot to achieve muscle tone, or in a brief New Year phase of exuberance,” she says. But if you don’t already, you need to look at exercise as a necessary part of your regular routine – you wouldn’t, for example, take your morning multivitamins in January and then stop for the rest of the year.
Of course it’s hard. Even something as easy as taking your daily vitamin supplements takes determination. But Thomas Shalabi is here to offer a little advice, including which Flex instructors best suit your fitness style.
1. Remember, exercise beats even La Mer when it comes to anti-ageing. True fitness isn’t working a body part for vanity’s sake, just for six-pack abs or a sculpted butt. In Asia we see a lot of thin people who don’t exercise because they don’t understand that exercise isn’t just a weight-management tool. Fitness should be understood as a miracle drug for preventing premature ageing, warding off disease, and improving cognitive ability and fertility, to name just a few of its long list of benefits. Essentially, fitness can turn back the body clock; it’s the best anti-ageing tool that exists.
The best Flex instructors for newbies: New to Pilates? Dawn and Meg are wonderful at introducing the basics to ensure you work properly. Our yoga teachers are also fantastic. For Classical Hatha and even yoga therapy, Dillip Pillai is amazing, with many years of experience. He is a true healer with a thorough understanding of the body.
2. Rest days are important – but don’t do nothing. Even restorative days can be relatively active. Take a yoga class or go for a walk. It will keep you in the rhythm of moving everyday and make active workout days much easier to tackle than if you’re coming off a couch-potato day. On weekends, play with the kids in the park, take them on a hike, play golf, tennis, or walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift. It’s all activity and it all counts.
The best Flex instructors for rest days: For recovery days – and to de-compress and release back tension– there’s nothing better than AntiGravity® Hammock work. Our Decompression Session works wonders, as does Yamuna® Body Rolling on Saturdays in Central with Tami.
3. Give yourself visible reminders. Leave fitness props (exercise mat, foam roller, thera-band, yoga block, hand weights and so on) in your bedroom or home office. Set an alarm and take regular work breaks to jump on the mat and do a short yoga Vinyasa flow sequence, Pilates 100s and a few push-ups with stretching. Whatever your body needs. This will keep both mind and body fresh. Before bed, do a few restorative poses. When I start to snack to get myself through desk work. I keep my yoga mat by my desk and whenever I’m tempted to go to the fridge, I force myself to instead do a yoga pose or move through a vinyasa.
The best Flex instructors for equipment (Allegro reformer) classes: We have something for everyone. There’s even an HIIT style workout on the Allegro: Fat Burn with Riel, Karin or Meg.
4. Get a group, not just a fitness friend. The Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends says High Internal Intensity Training (HIIT) is the biggest fitness trend for 2018, while group training classes involving more than five participants has come in at number two. I can really understand this mentality. Relying on a friend for motivation is not for me, but being in a group definitely serves as a motivator to push yourself to do those extra repetitions and keep up with the pace of the class. In essence, group energy is motivating and community building, and thus more effective. It goes without saying that nothing substitutes the infectious dynamism of a good teacher who see your potential and pushes your limits.
The best Flex instructors for high-intensity group classes: “Hard core with a lot of heart” is their mantra. Andrea and Raul’s workouts will sneak up on you, and before you know it, you’ve done hundreds of squats and push ups with a smile on your face. If you prefer an athletic, fast-paced Classical Pilates flow, try Kgosi, Karin or Heather.
5. Book it in advance. Schedule in time to exercise or any activity you can manage. Book classes in advance, and don’t cancel them! If you leave your physical fitness to the mercy of last minute class bookings or drop-ins, I guarantee you will exercise at least 50 percent less. Treat your workouts like important meetings and think of a good trainer as someone who is working with you to reach those goals. You won’t want to let them, or yourself, down.
The best Flex instructors for sculpting a dancer’s body: Want to move with the grace, poise and “length” of a dancer? Flex has three professional dancers leading Xtend Barre – Anna, Fang and Elvin. Without being intimidating, these three instructors will coax the best movement out of your body, to sculpt long lean muscles. Barre classes are also the highly popular at Flex, so do book early!
Check out Flex’s schedule here.