Gym bag essential: Havaianas flip-flops

It’s no secret that I love Havaianas.

Hooray for fresh coconut water in my neighborhood! 😍 #b3anywhere #bringyourown

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I wear my Havaianas for most hours I’m awake.

Nakalimutan ko na anong araw today. 😂

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I wear them anywhere convenient. (Side note: I also like coconuts. Coconut water is life!!!)

Some years ago, I got so obsessed with Havaianas that I must have collected more than a dozen pairs.

I even wore Havaianas in my sleep. I wouldn’t know if that’s true or not. There’s no way to verify because I was half-asleep.

I still love Havaianas today and I don’t think my shoe rack is ever complete without a pair or two.

I also have a pair kept in my gym bag. I always bring it with me when I workout–it’s as important as my water bottle and my towel.

I have another pair at work, under my desk, for when my feet need a break from my shoes. LOL

The best thing about Havaianas–apart from its signature comfort and style that it gives me–is how it always makes me excited to customize my pair every year.

This year’s Make Your Own Havaianas is basically a time machine: pairs and pins gave nods to the best decade in history–the 90s!

This year’s commemorative pair came in black and printed with colorful pixels, drawing inspiration from video games.

I assembled my pair using pins from a selection of vintage television, casette tape, boom box, and video game icons.

Here’s my 2017 MYOH pair–a time machine I can wear.

Follow Havaianas Philippines on Facebook and @havaianasphils on Twitter and Instagram for more Havaianas love. In Davao City, Havaianas is available in All Flip Flops in SM City Davao and in SM Lanang Premier.

Strong by Zumba has great music but it’s not a dance workout

The novelty in Strong by Zumba–the music-led high intensity interval training (HIIT) brand by Zumba–lies in how sets are designed around music instead of the other way around.

Music is a primary element in the bodyweight workout–the brand refers to this kind of system as Synced Music Motivation.

“In every class, music and moves sync in a way that pushes you past your perceived limits, to reach your fitness goals faster,” the Strong website said.

But then again, not all HIIT classes have great playlists. I once went to a HIIT class playing OPM the entire time. This is where Strong comes in as an intervention. No more Roselle Nava in the gym please!

At a glance, I thought this feature of Strong may easily be dismissed. All the fancy work put in by Strong to “reverse engineer” a playlist to a workout seems unnecessary because, when I think about it, anyone can manually sync movements to whatever song is playing in the background when working out.

But then again, not all HIIT classes have great playlists. I once went to a HIIT class playing OPM the entire time. This is where Strong comes in as an intervention. No more Roselle Nava in the gym please!

Playlist and tracks in Strong are created by producers like Timbaland solely for the workout. This creates a more immersive workout environment that literally connects movements with music. Imagine moving to the beat as it moves with you: planting your hands on the floor as you do burpees or inchworms, for example, will be less boring thanks to heart thumping bass beats that literally push you to keep going. Just don’t forget to sync your breath, too!

Strong can be challenging depending on the effort you put in it. My first class had lots of squats and lunges and variations and combinations of both. Some sets involved doing explosive, high impact movements like jumping forward and landing on a squat.

It is best to have basic knowledge on proper form and execution when joining Strong because, based on my experience, the music might get too loud and instructors might not be able to correct your form or give you alignment cues.

There will be lots of leg work throughout the class so it’s important to know your leg movements by heart–and to modify accordingly when exercises become too much to handle. (Check the Strong Facebook Page for a breakdown of the staple movements.)

Some sets in the class are fast paced and might make it difficult for students to stay in their best form. Even I always have to look in the mirror to check my knee positions during my lunges, which falter often. Bad form makes a bad workout.

At some point, I felt the rigidity of Strong: once I got in the groove with the workout, it seemed disorienting to be left out and not sync movements with music. But it’s a HIIT class–naturally, there were times when I had to pause and try to catch my breath.

The good thing is that recovery in between sprints and cardio sets (curse you, jumping jacks!) are made fun: there are lateral shuffles, wide stance plies to toe taps, and Capoeira ginga. So cool.

Strong exudes minimal Zumba identity. Instructors would often be heard saying that dance comprises only one percent of the entire workout.

At another time, I joined a Strong class in Matina Town Square. Everything went well until we had to do floor work. Strong isn’t a class I’d recommend doing with a large group of people outdoors because it will be difficult to hear or see instructors when your back is on the floor or when you’re doing push-ups.

I joined Zumba moms in a Saturday afternoon workout in Matina Town Square

Strong is a welcome addition to indoor group classes in gyms in the city. I like how it instantly popularizes HIIT to the public through the already big Zumba crowd. Those doing Zumba regularly might even instantly like Strong and add strength training to their regular routines.

Watch out, with Strong by Zumba, the Zumba mom crowd might be the next beasts in the gym.

(What workout should I try next? Buzz me on Instagram or Twitter @jesiramoun)

This story is first published in the sports section of Mindanao Times.

Not another HIIT workout

HIIT classes in Holiday Gym Davao are not new to me. I regularly attend them because they’re a good way to break away from my usual routine and to workout while rebooting my brain (as in I don’t need to count while doing reps in my head).

Every so often, Holiday shakes things up and holds themed HIIT classes.

The last installation was a Mega Fit Series class with 24 workout stations instead of the usual dozen. It was fun and crazy.

This February, the gym organized a Valentine’s Day HIIT class called Paired to Fit. It was designed to be a contest where the fastest pair who finishes the workout wins in life.

I joined the workout and mercilessly dragged April that evening.

The workout stations seemed difficult but we managed to suffer out way through them: partner farmers walk, hurdles, partner ball crunches, medicine ball burpees, and bodyweight squats.

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The list isn’t extensive but if you’re racing against time, every step of the way is sufferland.

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April and I did the farmers walk slowly but really surely because we didn’t want to fall on our faces with two barbels.

Everything else was a test of endurance–as in April went through a test of enduring my friendship.

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“Why am I friends with Jesse?” she probably thought to herself. “Why am I friends with someone who likes to make me suffer?”

We finished the entire workout in under 10 minutes while everyone else finished it in under seven (amazaaaaang!!!). I got unbelievably sore the next day and I couldn’t walk and move properly. LOL

Will I do it again? Is it fun? Did I enjoy walking like a stuff zombie the next day?

The answer is yes.

Mt. Capistrano is a fitness challenge that I did not see coming

Last Saturday, I took a midnight ride to Bukidnon with my colleagues from Mindanao Times.

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We were headed for Malaybalay to see and to climb Mt. Capistrano.

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We were told that the way up was just going to be a short hike.

“Hike” in that sentence means the following:

Waking up at 3 AM to prep for the ascend.

Ascending the mountain in total darkness.

Climbing Mt. Capistrano

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Dealing with darkness with nothing but my mobile phone’s flashlight.

Balancing (using my core…charot) and leaning forward to prevent myself from falling downhill. My hands were busy holding my tumbler and my phone and I could not hold on to any support on the way up a slope that has an incline of about 90 fucking degrees.

Not even halfway through the trail lol 😂

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Witnessing a fellow traveler drop like a log out of exhaustion. Like, OMG, it was crazy…too crazy that it was funny. We literally saw someone drop like a log, fortunately, sideways. She recovered.

Laughing out loud the entire time with Amy, Kristianne, Grace, and Phuong because this physically demanding hike was what we wanted and we were getting it. We were being beat up but we didn’t mind because the peak was awesome.

This is amazing 😍

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We're at the peak!

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But the way down was just crazy. It was a test of patience too: I was resisting the urge to just roll down the mountain, which is not recommended at all.

Going down 😱

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This trail is crazy. Hapit na 90 degrees. 😲

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I couldn’t walk properly on Monday and I felt weak on Wednesday (so weak that I could barely make it through a Piloxing class).

I think I’m still recovering from the trip. I thank my limbs for helping me survive.

What did I learn from this “hike”?

The number of hours spent working out in the gym is not an indicator that you’re physically fit to climb mountains. There are specific conditioning exercises for that purpose and clearly I have not aligned my program with that.

I didn’t think I’d be climbing a mountain this month!

😆

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If there was a long aerial silk, then I’d probably do well climbing up. Kidding.

P.S.: everyone thought I wore loafers to the climb. I didn’t. I wore this. This pair is amazing: non-slip, comfortable, durable. What it lacks is cushion and caused my ankles and knees to hurt the next day.

Was Mt. Capistrano worth the climb? Find out in my travel story in Mindanao Times. LOL

Excerpt:

Mt. Capistrano, which stands at about 600 meters above sea level, gives visitors a panoramic overview of the plains of Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

The mountain, located in Sitio Binalbagan, Barangay Simaya, promises an intimate experience with nature for those wanting to escape the city life, and a challenge for those who like hiking in the outdoors.

The hike up takes about two hours depending on pace, while going down takes 1.5 hours.

Mt. Capistrano’s peak is laden with more sharp rock formations and some morning glory flowers on the side. Cool breeze welcomes those who reach the top and on time, too, for the sun to rise.

It is imperative that at this point of the hike, travelers must whip out their mobile phones and cameras to take hundreds of selfies and photos. This is what any normal human being would do.

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After the photo ops, hikers are given time to hang out at the peak to rest, maybe have a bite, and to take in the scenery before the descend.

On the way down, we met fellow travelers about to begin their journey up. They ask us if it’s still a long way and if it’s worth the climb.

I'm tired and I've run out of English 😂

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We answer yes to both questions as we walked (almost limping) back to our base for some well earned breakfast.

I’m sore but I’m still breathing

I’m writing this blog entry to let you know that I’m still alive and sore.

Newswriting fried my brains today 😭 #partylikeajournalist

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The first few weeks of January in the newsroom have been crazy (as usual) but life in the gym after work always gets me excited. I still attend my usual Monday night Pilates (although I missed the first ever class of the year) and Tuesday aerial yoga. I mix things up by doing some HIIT on Wednesdays or Fridays.

I’m looking forward to Strong by Zumba, which Davao instructors have hinted to launch this month.

Friday Buti yoga is pretty fun, too!

But what kicked my ass this week was Holiday Gym’s Mega Fit series. It’s the gym’s signature HIIT class but on steroids: instructors design a 1.5 hour class with 24 workout stations instead of the usual dozen.

The circuit comprises strength, cardio, and endurance drills that build a unique and challenging workout experience. Charot. PR kaayo.

Holiday doesn’t have a regular schedule for Mega Fit Series and that’s great because it shakes things up, giving clients a class to look forward to, breaking whatever plateaus they may be having.

My experience with Mega Fit Series this week was funny because I arrived late and wasn’t able to warm up properly, almost injuring my left knee from weighted squats. Note to self: brisk/panic walking to the gym doesn’t constitute as warmup.

The workout was fun but after the first round, I instantly felt the laziness kick in. LOL I was whining in my head halfway through the class but my station buddies (two ladies; isang fitness instructor at isang triathlete) were inspiring!

They kept me going until the finish line! Round three–the last round ever–is the most difficult kasi you have to like pull out all the stops. Wee! (Shoutout to my gym buddy Ms. Andi! I finished the workout in honor of you! LOLJK)

Nag-Buti yoga pa ako after for the LOLs. Excited to be doing it again as I share my playlist to Phil for the next class. Hehe

In other news, I’m pretty excited for June. Stardanz in Manila will be holding an fitness camp in Boracay and they’ll be flying in instructors from Dubai, Hongkong and Australia.

I haven’t booked my plane tickets yet but I’ll be sure to attend! Until then, I have to work on my splits.

Karen, one of my classmates in aerial yoga class, is obviously not human.

Karen, one of my classmates in aerial yoga class, is obviously not human.

Your aerial fabric stinks!

I have a lot to say about aerial silk classes because I love the craft, and I have been to many classes–both good and bad.

I have also experienced some injuries to know well enough how to avoid them the next time. This is perhaps the reason why I have grown to become a total bitch about judging the quality of instructions that I get from the classes that I sign up for.

The reason? I don’t want get bruised, fractured, burned, or sprained/strained at the end of every class.

Aerial silk, after all, is a dangerous activity. Its risks increase when there is no professional instruction at command.

Earlier this year, while I was in Manila, I attended an aerial class in XYZ.

Based on their Facebook, which features photos of their awards and achievements, I am led to think that their instructors experts.

True! They’re highly proficiently in performing.

However, teaching 101s is an entirely different discipline.

I wasn’t exactly given a warm welcome by instructor 123 (not a real name, duh) when I arrived. First impressions matter! Especially when I had to walk some blocks to get to the studio. At least diba like make me feel welcomed and all. Tell me where the changing area is and blah blah. 123 was leading the class that afternoon and we’ve long been acquainted in Facebook because I like the Idea of adding aerialists in my network.

I expected some good instruction from the award-winning studio. However, 123’s teaching proficiency could only go as far.

123’s warmup and stretching sequence has a lot to improve on. Kulang ng description. It was the “look at me and follow me” kind of warmup. No biggie. Baka tired lang talaga si 123. I didn’t feel “warmed” enough before the actual climbing started. Ugh. I also wished that more time was dedicated to conditioning and strengthening before practicing tricks.

Sometime in the middle of the class, while we were doing ankle hang inversions, I asked which muscles should I strengthen to hold the wrap in the right form (the fabric binds the ankles; these hold the entire body weight). The instructor nonchalantly replied that I should just get in and out of the pose repeatedly until I get used to the pain.

Hala! Red flag!

I don’t find that answer satisfactory. Explain more, 123, please!

Or ako na lang mag explain?

Ankle hangs require strong calves–especially the tibialis. I wish I were told to do reverse calf raises. But parang kebs si koya about that. These things matter!

I put up with the teaching methods the entire time. I wasn’t going to push myself or do something new anyway. I don’t want injuries.

123 taught me a sequence with little verbal description. It was another “I’ll show you, follow me” kind of instruction.

Like, ganito, and then ganito, point your toes, ganito and then unwrap” kind of instruction. Who likes to hear that crap?

What flipped my switch is how stinky the fabrics are. It has a strong musk that’s just repulsive. It made climbs and hangs more difficult for me because then I had to hold my fucking breath.

Amoy vinegar the fabrics. Ew.

The studio stays true to their branding that alludes to strength and the state of being feral. Pati amoy ng fabric, strong and feral din.

I think that teaching aerial classes requires high levels of communication skills and expert proficiency in the craft and the science behind it.

Based on my experiences with the aerial classes that I’ve attended so far, only three instructors have set the bar high. I’ll write about them in another blog post.

Unfortunately, 123 of XYZ studio isn’t one of them.

Throughout the entire class, I never heard him say the most important aerial class reminder ever: engage your shoulders.

My classmates, who were beginners were hanging with relaxed shoulders. Not a good habit to develop, says every aerialist in the universe.

My limited experience with XYZ reinforced the idea that students have to have some aerial background from Google, at least, before signing up for their first class ever. Read Laura Witwer, Rebekah Leach, or Jill Franklin.

Maybe I also came in the wrong day, in the wrong class, with the wrong instructor. Maybe 123 was just being lazy that day and couldn’t give great instruction. I understand. I’ll sign up for another class next time. Maybe.

Barre3 is a leg day workout that I didn’t know I needed

Here’s the long story shortened: I paid 700 pesos for a Barre3 session so that I couldn’t walk the next day. Bye. JK.

It’s a funny story, really. And I enjoyed every minute of the class. This was how it went down.

I was in Manila for Selena Gomez and I had a lot of time to kill before the concert. I tried Barre3 out of curiosity. And because I didn’t want to shower in my hostel. LOL Didto na lang sa gym after the workout.

Promdi in @barre3ph 😆 I can feel my legs! 😭

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It was a little past 10 AM and I had the delusion that I was going to make it to 9th in Bonifacio High Street before the 10:30 AM class. I wound up being a little late. Nagbaktas ko from my hostel thinking I would make it. It took me about five minutes to realize na dapat nagtaxi na lang ko kay basi kapuyon na ko. Da. Yawyaw.

The front desk was accommodating and allowed me to get in class. Everyone was in the middle of their warm ups. Burgis akong mga classmate kay naka Nike studio wrap sila. Ako? Nagtiniil. haha

I think many people underestimate studio classes and think that these are for sissies. But I would like to make it clear that Barre3 is a badass.

Barre3 combines yoga, Pilates and ballet in the workout. It is designed to workout muscles to failure. It’s low impact and I think that’s fantastic.

As I caught up with the class’ pace (it was an open-level session with a teacher named Raech), I already felt my legs burn. When we were done with the dynamic stretches, we did squats and plies.

It took me some time to realize that I was going a little too deep with each rep. And I wasn’t going to last the class in that form if we were to be doing like infinite reps until failure. Yikes! Lesson learned: never, ever underestimate body weight exercises. Ten reps of plies are easy. But repeating that to death is basically armageddon.

selfie with teacher Raech kay FC man ko

selfie with teacher Raech kay FC man ko

With Pilates as its foundation for strength training, Barre3 sequences are characterized by high repetitions of small movements and tons of isometric holds. This lit up my legs like crazy.

Halfway through the class, I kind of wished that I didn’t attend and stayed in bed instead. (It was a cloudy day.) But I persisted knowing that I was paying P700 for the session. Lord. Mahal sya. Lugi ko kung mag-inaryat ko.

We did yoga stretches in between; they’re great momentary rests. But there’s no escaping leg day with the barre.

As the class continued with more plies and releves, I felt my legs shake.

“Are your legs shaking?” Raech asked, saying that its a good thing.

“The quaking sensation is an indication that your muscles are being put under a new kind of stress that they aren’t used to and as a result they are getting stronger,” matud pa sa Barre3 website.

I like it when instructors talk to me. “You’re going great.” “How about we try this?” (when suggesting modifications and correcting form) “Good job, Jesse.” Hearing these keeps my mind focused in the class. Ganahan pud jud ko og motivation ui. Lain kaayo’g kebs lang ang teacher.

My favorite set would have to be that one where we did plies with lifted heels together (like holding a piece of paper in the middle). That lit up my hammies.

After barre work, we got on the floor to work on our core. It was pretty intense. I love how low impact workouts with high reps result to surprisingly diabolical workouts. We worked on our core and glutes. And more stuff for our hamstrings. Pierce the ceiling with your toe stuff while prone.

We did low impact burpees pud diay! I didn’t think they would be crazy intense but they were.

I swear I couldn’t walk the next day.

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That was my first Barre3 class. The second one was this 10-minute workout online with Barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln. Diabolical, too. I did it at home. Hangak sya if you do the full expression of the movements. But I like that it perks me up after. Singoton kog taman pero kanang dili hags ang feeling.

My limited experience with Barre3 cemented my love for yoga, Pilates, and ballet. It also made me realize that I have an inclination towards low impact exercises that are high in repetitions. They’re pretty addictive. Low impact exercises are officially my thing. Char.

They’re little devil workouts. They seem easy because they’re portrayed to be graceful as fuck in the media. But studio workouts like Barre3 are from hell. The fun kind of hell. Okay, forget the imagery.

I would go for another Barre3 class when I get the chance. But di sila ka open sa Davao oi, kay overs ang presyo, bes.

(Visit Barre3.com.ph for the list of studios in Manila; walk in rate is at P700; 3-class beginner package that’s valid for two weeks is at P1,500)