Monday, November 30, 2009

Kiasu Gym

Last Saturday I visited Celebrity Fitness in Subang Parade and I was truly taken a back by one of the comments the staff made to me. You see, a friend of mine was interested in turbulence training but was not quite sure how to go about it. So I downloaded one of the turbulence training workouts from the net and printed it out. We met up in the gym so I could show her and her cousin how everything works. Just as an FYI, all 3 of us have a membership with Celebrity Fitness.

Anyway, while I was showing this friend of mine the exercises, I noticed one of the PTs giving me “the look”. I just ignored and continued showing my friend the exercises. Shortly after that, the front counter staff came up to me and said:

Counter Staff: Sir, I am sorry but you are not allowed to give personal training sessions in our gyms. We do not allow external trainers to use our facilities for personal training.
Rajan: But I am not giving personal training sessions. I am just showing my friends here how to do some exercises. We are all members.
Counter Staff: Yes, but my manager said you are giving personal training sessions and you have to stop.
Rajan: Is it wrong for one member to show another member how to exercise?
Counter Staff: No, but you have a progress sheet over there which is what personal trainers use. I saw you writing down notes on it and my manage says you can’t do that. You have to stop.
Rajan: I printed this from the internet and just jotted down some notes for my friends. If you don’t believe me, you can google it yourself and see.
Counter Staff: Yes, that’s exactly my point. You are not allowed to print out and use it in here.
Rajan: So you are telling me that I am not allowed to surf the internet, print out a routine and then perform it in your gym.
Friend #1: Are you saying that it is wrong for me to read a magazine and follow the tips your gym.
Friend #2: So you are basically telling us that we are not allowed to read up on information about fitness, and even if we do, we can’t use that information in your gym.
Counter Staff: But you are not allowed to perform personal training sessions here. You are not allowed to write notes and train people.
Rajan: I told you once, and I will tell you again. We are all members here and we are friends. We downloaded this from the internet and we are just sharing this information with each other. Is it wrong to do that? Are we not allowed to talk to each other in your gym? Are not allowed to look for informtion on fitness?
Counter Staff: What is it exactly that you printed out. It looks like you designed the program.
Rajan: No I did not design this program, I told you I downloaded it. But even if I did, is it wrong to show a friend something I know. Are we not allowed to share our knowledge on fitness with each other.
Counter Staff: But you are not allowed to give personal training sessions and it really looks like you are giving personal training sessions.
Rajan: But I am not, I am just showing a friend this workout which we downloaded from the net. I think we have explained this enough.
Counter Staff: Let me show my manager your print out and let her decide if its OK or not.

So this guy took our print out and went to see his Manager. While he was gone, we were discussing with each other how stupid the guys comments were. In my head, I was wondering what to say if he came back and told me that it was not allowed.

Finally after a couple of minutes, he came back and apologized and told us we can proceed.

Now, I totally understand him suspecting me of giving personal training sessions, but the conversation should have ended when I told him I downloaded it from the net. His comment on we are not allowed to print it out and use it was just wrong. I also totally understand that gyms are out there to make money. After all it is a business and yes, they deserve to earn profits. But don’t-lah be so kiasu. My guess is, it was the PT who was giving me the look when we started that complained to someone.

Just for your info, the gyms charge members RM 130 per Personal Training session (which is 1 hour) and the Personal Trainer themselves only walks away with RM 35 and the gym makes RM 90… almost 3 times the amount. That is just a riddiculous amount of profit that the gym makes. And lots of PTs don’t even have a basic salary, which means they are not a liability to the gym. Truly a case of the pimp and the prostitute, where the pimp makes far more money for doing nothing.

Anyway, please do share your thoughts on the dialogue above and look forward to hearing your comments.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hot Wing Recipe

I have always been a big fan of Hot Wings, but as you can only get it in places like TGIF (which is too expensive to enjoy), I decided to experiment until I finally found the best recipe for hot wings. Now this recipe will not taste exactly like the hot wings in TGIF, but I think it tastes better than that. So give it a try.

Here is what you will need:-
· Chicken wings and Chicken drummets - I recommend throwing away the skin as the sauce doesn’t stick too well to the skin. Plus it’s healthier to throw away all that excess fat and skin.
· Hot Sauce – This is not chilli sauce, but the one similar to Tobasco sauce, but of course this is the milder version. I do not recommend using tobasco sauce.
· Tomato Ketchup – Just a bit for that extra taste.
· Chilli Pwder – Not necessary, but for those hardcore people who love spicy food, go ahead. Knock yourself out.
· Brown Sugar – It is better than white in terms of calories (less calories than white sugar) as well a better for grilling as it doesn’t get burnt as easily.
· Salt, Pepper & Garlic powder for taste.
· Lime

Clean your chicken wings and dry them out by dabbing it with a paper towel. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. If you are using chilli powder, this is where you will want to dust the chicken with your chilli powder.

Next, make the hot sauce marinade. Mix 1 part hot sauce, to 1 part ketchup to 1 part brown sugar. Mix up these ingredients well. You may want to put the mixture into the microwave oven for a few seconds to heat up so it helps with the sugar melting. Have a quick taste. You might want to add more hot sauce or sugar or ketchup depending on your own taste.

Put the wings and drummets into a bowl and pour this marinade over. Make sure you make enough to completely cover everything. Alternatively, you can also put everything in a zip-lock bag. Let everything marinate for at least 2 hours. For those with a busy schedule, you can marinate it overnight. So prepare the sauce on Day 1, leave it in the fridge overnight and roast it on Day 2. That’s what I usually do.

Pour everything into an oven dish. Again ensure there is enough marinade to cover the chicken pieces. Set the temprature at 230Celcius. Put the oven dish into the oven and let it roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the whole dish. Remove the chicken pieces and place it on the grill so it dries out. Ensure you have another pan or something at the bottom to collect all the drippings so it doesn’t mess up your oven. If you are doing a BBQ, then this is when you want to put it onto your charcoal grill. Do not throw away the remianing marinade. Use a brush and brush on some more marinade onto the chicken while it cooks and dries out. I usually give it a good paint every 10 minutes.

After another 30 minutes, the chicken will be done and ready to be served. Squeeze some lime onto the chicken and voila, your scrumptious hot wings are ready.

Try it out and see. This recipe is easy to do, tastes great and best of all, it is healthy. I usually eat loads of chicken wings with some toasted bread or strip the meat and make a sandwich. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments and if you have suggestions to make this taste better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Biggest Loser Asia

Now I am sure everyone has heard of the reality TV show called The Biggest Loser which airs on Hallmark. If you are not familiar, it is basically a reality TV show where participants compete with each other to lose weight. The 2 participants with the lowest weight loss will be up for elimination. Due to the success of the original show, they are now launching a local version, called The Biggest Loser Asia. Last Thursday, I was invited to attend the Biggest Loser Asia’s launch in Ascort Hotel and I had the opportunity to meet the trainers Dave Nuku and Kristy Curtis and ask them few questions.

To be honest, when I first found out who the trainers were for the Asian version of the show, I was a little disappointed. Reason being you call the show Biggest Loser Asia, but both the trainers are Australians. I am sure we have many Asian fitness talents that could fill up these shoes easily. But after meeting the trainers and speaking to them personally, I must say that I am impressed with them as trainers and the values that they hold. Still a bit disappointed that they are not of Asian origin, but nonetheless, I truly like them and respect them as trainers and people. If its any consolation, Dave Nuku has been in working and living in Malaysia for the past 6 years and is very familiar with Malaysian culture, foods and of course out eating habits.

Here are some of the questions I asked and the Dave and Kristy’s response. I have kinda summarized the contents but you will get a jist of what they are saying

Do you guys have any bad habits which is contrary to the fitness image?
Dave: I love to eat and though I maintain a healthy diet most of the times, every once in awhile I have to indulge into things like Nasi Lemak and Roti Canai. Its important for people to recognize that there is everyday food, food which you eat 90% of the time and sometime foods, foods which is only consumed once in awhile. As long as the unhealthy indulgences don’t become everyday food, you are OK.
Kristy: I can’t say no to chocolates and ice cream. Ben and Jerries is my favourite.

Of course as trainers, you are expected to look your best all the time. Is there any part of your physique which you wish you could change?
Dave: For me, fitness is more than just looking good. I am into fitness because I love the energy that I get. I like it that I have energy to run around and play with my children and not run out of breath. I love that I have the energy and flexibility to do all the things I can do.
Kristy: Of course when you are younger, you may have goals to look your best, but now as you get older, the importance of fitness is to maintain your health and energy. Like Dave said I just want the enrgy to do all the things I do. I cannot imagine not being able to be energetic and fit.

What are you doing to ensure that the participants don’t put back all that weight once they leave the competition?
Dave: Instead of just churning out tough work out routines for the contestants, I am a firm believers of breaking bad habits and re-programing the contestants. These eating habits which they have learnt and kept for the past 30 or 40 years, so we have to systematically break it down and once they see it working and see the results, they automatically have more motivation to do it themselves.
Kristy: On top of that, we also make it a point to get the contestants engaged with preparing the food… so its not just eating healthy because someone gave it to you. If we did that, once someone stops giving them the food, they will revert to their old habits. This is why we get them engaged with the whole process from A to Z so they understand what goes on in helping them lose the weight.

This is just a snippet of the interview I had with them. The whole interview will be appearing in “The Critique”, a new lifestyle magazine which I am free lancing for. Sorry don't mind sharing, but if i put everything here, this post will be way too long. So do check it out when you get the chance. Look forward to hearing your comments on this show and what you think you can expect for the Asian version. I am truly looking forward to it now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Poll Results

It’s time once again to review our poll results. Really interesting results if you ask me and I am surprised with the results. The question that was asked this time around was: “Would it bother you if your personal trainer was over weight / out of shape.” I really thought the results would be similar to the previous poll which asked “Would it botther your trainer was a smoker” but the results were quite different. Surprise Surprise.

A whopping 76% of people said “Yes” it would bother them if their trainer was overweight and out of shape. I was one of them who voted here as well and reason being that if you are in the industry of helping people look fit, then you have to look fit as well. Another point to add is, it is a legal matter as well. What do I mean? I heard about this Industrial Court case where an employee was fired from her Company because she put on weight. Being appalled by this, the employee goes to the Industrial Relations Office to make a complaint. The issue goes up to court and in court, the judge ruled in the favour of the employer, meaning that the employer had full legal right to terminate the employee for putting on weight. Reason being, the the employee was working as a consultant for a slimming center. How is she going to consult people about weight loss, if she herself looks like she needs to lose weight? So because of this reason, I voted for this.

5% said “it’s OK as long as their trainer knows their stuff”. Again, these people felt that as long as their trainer can help them shed their unwated weight, then who cares what their trainer looks like themselves. Or some may have the fantasy of knowing that the student has surpassed the teacher – too many olden day kung fu movies.

2% said its OK if they are older. OK, here is where I am a bit more compassionate, because I know some people who used to be fit when they were younger, look a little out of shape now that they are much older. But you can still see some semblence that the person was fit at one time. Like a lot of ex body builders out there. Of course their body is not at it’s peak, but at the same time, one look at their body and you know they used to be fit at one point. Of course one may argue that there still are old people out there who look fit, so what’s the excuse for these people? No excuse, but they could have an injury or illness which we don’t know about - which prevents them from being fit today, but since they have years of experience and knowledge, why can’t they be a personal trainer today? I guess for me is, how unfit do they look today.

Lastly, there were about 14% of people who said they don’t really care what their trainer looks like. I am guessing that some people feel more comfortable around a trainer who is a little overweight compared to a super ripped trainer. People who are overweight can feel a little self conscious with someone who is super ripped and toned. Also, trainers who are overweight are more likely to understand the obstacles you face as another overweight person and will be more compassionate about it. I am not sure about these points, but I am just guessing. Perhaps some of the people who voted for this answer can share why they chose this asnwer.
So what was your vote and what was your reason. Do share and as usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Monday, November 2, 2009

You can eat healthily anywhere - Crappy Cafeteria Food

OK, as I keep hearing people complain that if your only access to food is a cafeteria, then it is impossible to stay healthy. Hence, I took it upon myself to check it out and see how crappy, can crappy be. I admit, options are not much, but you still can eat relatively healthy if you want. Which “crappy cafeteria” did I visit or choose? Well I think all of you will agree that nothing gets worse than Government Hospitals Cafeteria, so I visited one recently and had a look at all the stalls that were available. Yes, lots of unhealthy stuff out there, but you still have options to stay decently healthy even if you eat there everyday.

Here are the stalls I saw:-

1) Nasi Campur
2) Goreng Goreng outlet
3) Kuih Muih
4) Western
5) Drink & fruits

OK let me give a brief overview of each stall.

Nasi Campur is going to be one of your best bets here. If you remember from the previous post, keep your rice portion small(roughly the size of your clenched fist). You want to take as much vegetables as you can. The leafy ones which are just stir fried are the best ones to choose. You can also take “telur rebus”, but avoid the small “telur puyuh” as that is high in Cholestrol. Fish is a good option, but most of the time, the fish is fried. Finding the fish in a curry or sambal is much healthier, but if there are no options, then you have no choice but to go for the fried fish. Chicken in curry or sambal is great, but please avoid ayam masak merah if you can. Most of them deep fry the chicken, and then roll it around in Tomatoo puree and other spices till it becomes ayam masak merah. The more watery the curry is, the healthier it is. So use that as a guide when choosing. Sometimes you can even find tempeh mixed with taufu. If you do see this, fill your plate with this as this is as healthy as it gets. High protein with little fat – sure is a bargain. Some shops even like to serve sardine curry, another great choice. So as you can see, there are many possible choices out there as long as you make the right choices.

Goreng Goreng Outlet – Please stay away from this shop as far as possible. All they serve is variations of nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng, Kuay Teow Goreng and such. It may be cheap, but it sure as hell ain’t healthy. Won’t bother finding a healthy option here, coz there really isn’t any way this can be healthy.

Kuih Muih – Of course these shops do well in the morning and evening, but just because your best buddy goes there in the mornings and evenings, it doesn’t mean you have to follow. The food items here range from Curry Puffs to Kuih Lapis to Kuih Seri Muka to Kuih Sri Ayu. Now I am not saying don’t ever eat any of these kuih’s, but if you are serious about weight loss, then you need to stay away from these as much as you can.

Western – this is not a stall that is available in all “crappy cafeterias” but if you do find it, whether or not it is healthy depends on what they serve. The one I saw only served deep fried chicken, deep fried fish, deep fried sausages, deep fried fries. So it wasn’t anywhere near healthy coz everything was just deep fried. Even the bun they serve on the side was deep fried. They also serve burgers, but unfortunately it was your Ramly burger which was loaded with Mayo. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ramly burgers and indulge in one every once in awhile, but again, if you are serious about losing weight, then you have to sacrifice this as well. When do you know if a western food outlet is healthy? When they have grilled meat and grilled fish. If they do, then this is what you need to get.

Drinks and fruits – OK, here is where you can really make a big difference. Take less of the rice and curry as mentioned above, fill up on some fruits and drink water. If you can do this, I guarantee you will see weight loss. The fruits here range from papaya’s, jambu, pineapples etc. All good for you and best of all, it fills you up. You can eat half your normal portion of normal food (like rice & curry), and fill up on fruits for the rest of the way. It’s a great tip to eat healthily without starving yourself.

So there you have it. Even the crappy cafeteria food isn’t as bad as it is made to seem by many. I admit, the options are very limited, and isn’t the best of choices out there, but like I always say, try to cut back wherever you can. It’s better to be vigilant this way than to just go all out without caring about anything.

Is there a cafeteria worse than the one I described above? If there is, please share what morbid dishes are being churned out by their kitchen. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.