Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fitness Tips: Xtendbarre and Yoga

Searching for fitness activities is never an easy task, especially if you're not really the sporty type. When I was much younger, I never really craved for fitness activities. Being fit seemed to just come easy and happen naturally despite the unhealthy eating habits. But as the years go by, being fit starts to require extra effort... and even most especially after having a baby.

I have been regularly practicing Xtendbarre and Yoga for more than half a year now, and I would like to share some of my experiences, what worked for me, and some tips on how to keep yourself motivated:

Find an activity that you love

Be on the lookout for activities that would not only keep you fit but would also be fun to do, otherwise it will be difficult to be motivated. One of the things that worked for me is Xtendbarre. I have been doing it regularly for more than six months now, and I'm totally loving it. For those who are not familiar with this fitness program, it's a mixture of Pilates and Ballet, designed to tone your body (with special attention to the glutes and legs) and to strengthen your core. It's fun because it feels like you are dancing when you are doing the ballet movements. But be warned, you may think that just because it is fun, it is not strenuous.


Doing some stretching before the class

Look for instructors that inspire you

The first time I attended my Xtendbarre class, my body just screamed. It was way too much work for the uninitiated. But after a week or so, I started to get the hang of it. I totally love my Brazilian instructor, even though I can always see her evil silent laugh out of the corner of my eye every time the whole class struggles to keep up with her fast-paced sadistic instructions. But that's what works for me, and that's why I love her classes.

As for my yoga teacher, she is incredibly nice and a very inspiring person. Just meeting her and speaking to her is already relaxation enough for me. She always seems so peaceful and so cheerful, which is quite unusual for someone not from the Philippines.


At the barre

Practice in a good studio or in a beautiful open space 

Finding a yoga studio in Singapore is a real challenge. Everything is expensive and super crowded. I went into some free trial classes but found that instead of emerging from the lesson feeling calm and refreshed, I ended up feeling stressed and crowded in. These yoga studios just try to pack in as many people as they can. And was I ever so glad and lucky to have found an instructor who teaches yoga out in the lush greens of the UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage site of the Botanic Gardens.


This is not at the Botanic Gardens, but this is almost how it looks like where I practice my Sunday yoga

I think, the peacefulness of the place is just perfect for yoga. Especially since, yoga is all about relaxation. You get to breathe in all that fresh air, and the soothing environment is just perfect to melt away your stress and help you meditate and reflect on all the goodness in life. My first ever yoga session was actually in The Maldives, right in front of the sea at sunset. This is what made me realize that the surroundings play a very big role on inspiring me to keep fit and healthy.


Early Sunday morning stretch at home before going to Sunday yoga... my downward dog still needs work

Get the right outfit

Never underestimate the power of a sexy outfit. At first, I was self-conscious to wear those sexy, bare back yoga tops, but when I went to Melbourne last month and entered a Lululemon shop, I had the opportunity to try some of them on. And I just went totally crazy and bought a few bare back outfits and some sexy strappy sports bra. Go ahead and indulge yourself. Go with whatever motivates you. Another good thing about buying those sexy exercise outfits is that you will have to maintain and keep working on staying fit enough to get into those clothes! But do remember that you have to be comfortable in them, otherwise, you won't feel good while working out.


Lululemon strappy back sports bra
This Lululemon top has a sewn-in strappy sports bra
Found on Amazon.com -- meshy sparkly grip socks for my Xtendbarre classes
my Lululemon non-slip yoga mat


Invest in good, quality equipment

When I went for the first time to my Sunday yoga class, I purchased a cheap five-dollar yoga mat at the drug store. I thought I might not be getting so much into it so I just bought a non-committal cheap yoga mat. But it was pure horror practicing in that cheap, stinky, slippery mat. I just had to get myself a real one. After doing some research, I finally bought myself a Lululemon yoga mat. It's a little heavy, but I only practice once a week, so I don't really have to carry it around all the time. The good thing about it is that it's not slippery at all, even when your hands get sweaty doing all those difficult poses.

Eat right

I always find that what works for somebody does not always work for somebody else, when it comes to eating right. What works for me is not feeling full. I never like the feeling of being full, so I never really eat a lot. What is not easy for me though, is to NOT eat all the time. I like to snack in-between meals. And I could never, ever give up on chips. I do not like to deprive myself of eating what I want to eat. I don't think it's healthy. I've tried it before and it DID NOT work. What's more achievable and realistic is NOT overeating. Especially the ones that are not good for you. Balance is always the key.

Reward yourself

Being fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not at all an easy task, so reward yourself whenever you get the chance. You could get a cheat day and pig out once in a while when you feel like you have been working so hard on keeping fit. Just don't over-reward yourself. Otherwise, rewards will be pointless.

two months into Xtendbarre and yoga

Love your body

Last and not the least, love your body. After all, who else will? It's one thing to work on keeping fit. But another thing to obsess about your figure. I have to admit, I have the tendency to obsess about my figure. But I always keep myself in check, whenever it becomes too much. To a certain extent, it helps to motivate me to keep fit, but when it becomes a reason to be depressed, it's not healthy anymore. With time, I have learned to live with the mommy pouch that is taking forever to recede. It might not even go away anymore because of my age. 

It helps to remember that people come in all shapes and sizes. The important thing is to work on the shape and size that you want yourself to be while being realistic. That's why, mommy pouch and all... I still love my body, and I intend to keep it as healthy and as fit as possible.

That's all I could think of for now. Ciao and thanks for reading! If you have other advice to share, feel free to write it in the comments.

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