When it comes to health and fitness, Singaporeans are rather adventurous when it comes to trying new things.
As we head into 2019, there are three prominent fitness trends that I believe will stay relevant:
1. Wearable tech
Devices such as Polar fitness trackers, Fitbit, and Apple watches are always on you. Being able to see your fitness and health progress in real-time is a good reminder to have throughout the day.
2. Bodyweight training
You need to be comfortable moving about with your own body mass. There is no point trying to lift heavy bench presses when you can’t even do a pull-up. All muscle groups have to be worked on as a whole. Without good balance, power becomes detrimental.
3. Functional fitness
Exercises should be catered to the lifestyle or the sports an individual does. It is very specific and it is not just about setting a personal best doing jump squats and wood chops.
With these fitness trends in mind, it doesn’t come across as a surprise that Singapore has been ranked as the fourth healthiest country in the world, according to the Bloomberg Global Health index 2017. Despite a series of accolades, 1 in 10 Singaporeans are obese, and the Health Promotion Board estimates a 15% rise in obesity rates in the next few years, unless lifestyles change.
When we piece the information together, we start to see a full picture: With the transition to the workforce, long hours place stress and urgency on working professionals who are time-starved to get active.
The health and fitness industry understands the situation. “Fast”, “effective”, and “reach your goals in 6 weeks” are common promises that are often thrown around. The truth is, everyone can hit their health and fitness goals simply by adjusting one’s perspectives and approach towards fitness. I will be sharing some personal insights that I have gleaned through the interactions with my clients.
Tip 1: Get through your daily activities pain-free
You may be leading a sedentary lifestyle and have never exercised once in your life, or you may be a fitness buff who never misses your daily
To be able to move freely and without experiencing pain is the baseline that we should all work from.
I notice that people often overlook the importance of preparing their bodies before their workouts. I personally recommend foam rolling. Check out this entertaining video by American actor Mark Wahlberg, who demonstrated how he foam rolls before beginning his morning workout to get his long day started.
For example, I have conducted a session with a client who was decked out in equestrian attire, and as she is required to make specific movements in her sport, she started warming up by twisting her torso and practise keeping her torso upright. This allows her to get her body accustomed to such movements in a controlled environment before she gets onto a horse. In another example, we see the workouts done by Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show models with an incline for their feet, which helps them to simulate movements on heels to prepare them for their runway walk.
Tip 2: When in doubt, less is more
Exercising in a group setting can be very motivating, and it could get you more active. However, “no pain, no gain” along with similar fitness maxims, and a kiasu mindset could cause us to do more than we should and overexert ourselves as a result.
The pressure to keep up with the pack and the lack of adequate understanding can blur the line between pushing yourself safely, and potentially injuring yourself. When in doubt, less is more.
Tip 3: Respect the limitations of your body and use your age, lifestyle, health, and gender to define your fitness goals
We all have different backgrounds and are at different stages in life. If you’ve been active when you were younger but fell off the bandwagon, getting back to an active lifestyle would not be as daunting as someone who has never worked out before, for example.
Our goals are also dependent on the stages of our lives. Having a body ready for the beach could be your goal in your 20s, and being able to keep up to play with your children could be a priority in your 40s.
I always remind my clients to understand and respect the limitations of their bodies. I have encountered enthusiastic clients who have either resumed training after a hiatus from injury or have been inactive for a long time and are getting back into training. I always make sure to start them slowly and gradually build them up to avoid injury, and to progressively bring about their desired health and fitness results.
Tip 4: Consistency beats sporadic intensity any day
One of the reasons that people approach health and fitness seasonally is due to the fact that the lifestyle needs to be consistent and sustainable. For Singaporeans, factors that detract them from adopting an active lifestyle include the cost of living a healthy lifestyle (dietary requirements, gym subscription, fitness classes etc.) and the time it takes. Health and training isn’t a destination, but a journey. Consistency beats sporadic intensity any day.
As we get older, exercise gets harder. Having access to the right trainer, adhering to instructions accurately, and sticking to a workout plan catered to your needs goes a long way.
I get my clients to make a fitness goal that they wish to hit in a year, and from there we break the goal down to realistic milestones. Health and fitness have to be approached like a marathon, not a sprint! I believe that a good training program should be practical with the individual’s lifestyle in mind, customised to the individual’s needs (with tweaks along the way), and executed consistently.
Tip 5: Too much, too soon can bring about dire consequences
A good analogy of exercising is to understand it as medicine: the difference between medicine and poison is in the dose. The future of exercise lies in getting our goals and needs in sync with good trainers. There is no fitness goal that is too small, or a pace that is too slow. What matters is that we keep moving forward consistently. I feel that it is a good step forward with the implementation of governmental initiatives for Singaporeans to get more active. Looking ahead, we need to get into greater detail.
For example, I have witnessed those who are suffering from high blood pressure get better with the right training and proper weight management, and this would lead to them being in better shape, which also proved to be beneficial for enhancing one’s health.
Although high intensity has been all the rage these days, it needs to be paced properly so that there will be significant results without compromising on one’s health. The level of intensity also has to be catered to the individual – too much, too soon can bring about dire consequences.
Photos courtesy of Ezfit Singapore, Andres Urena, Edgar Chaparro, Victor Freitas, Alex Kotliarskyi, Trust “Tru” Katsande, and Chanan Greenblatt.