Push your fitness boundaries with Instagram challenges

Since I joined Instagram two years ago, I have taken part in about four Instagram challenges. They were all related to yoga poses but there are also other challenges for general fitness, such as those hosted by @blogilates, who posted a 30-day challenge for her followers. By taking part in this challenge and using the appropriate hashtag, people can follow the progress of other people and motivate themselves! It’s like having a virtual exercise buddy.

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Taking part in yoga challenges on Instagram has forced me to practise poses that I normally avoid and also allow me to document my progress over two years. Here is how it works:

1. The host shows a preview of 30 poses to be done daily for one month. There are usually a few hosts per challenge and sponsors that will give out prizes, such as yoga leggings, at the end of the challenge to a few people.

2. To enter the challenge, you have to follow the daily poses and include the names of the hosts and the sponsors in your Instagram post so that they can take a look at your entry. Do this for the next 30 days or 10 days, depending on the length of the challenge.

3. Take a pretty picture! Get a friend to place the camera at a low angle if your pose is close to the ground. Choose a nice background. The beach is a good choice.

4. Use the hashtags provided by the host, which should allow other people to easily find your photos. It is very encouraging to get nice comments and words of motivation on your photos!

When I started on one of my earlier challenges, I couldn’t straighten my legs in firefly pose. One year later, I looked less like a cockroach and more like a firefly! I dare say that my photography skills have also improved – I became more fussy about lighting and background when I took photographs.

In this case, the firefly pose was something that I would never practise on my own if I wasn’t forced to. Indeed, I went on YouTube to search for instruction videos. I fell on my bum many times and tried different variations before I figured out the right way to carry my weight. I also learnt the various stretches to prepare for this pose.

Firefly pose

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Green Corridor 10.5km Run 2014 – more like a Brown Run

This May I took part in the Green Corridor Run – a trail run extending from the Tanjong Pagar railway station up north to Bukit Timah railway station. My favourite kinds of runs are trail runs and they are so much more fun than just pounding up and down the Marina Bay area, where most runs in Singapore seem to be held.

I was not disappointed with the Green Corridor Run. I ran on grass, gravel, clay and mud and things  became more exciting when the downpour started 1km into the run.

The start point was right at the start of the train rails, where the now defunct train from Singapore to Malaysia used to run. Apart from being beautiful and green, there’s also some nostalgia and a lot of history behind this stretch of land.

green corridor run

The Green Corridor 3

The organisers gave us four waves to choose from to start our race. The quicker you were, the earlier you would start the race. I chose the second timing of 920am. Continue reading Green Corridor 10.5km Run 2014 – more like a Brown Run

Xtend Barre class at Upside Motion

If you have been following me on Instagram (@Paleorina) you will know that I have been moaning about my knee injury. I have been unable to run without a throbbing soreness in my inner right knee and it has been driving me mad. Without running to help me expand my energy and keep me from bouncing off the walls, I needed something else to do that was low impact and interesting.

Yes, I have yoga but yoga was something very familiar to me. I wanted to try something different and exciting. Enter Xtend Barre. This is a pilates cum ballet workout that was created by an ex-ballerina in the US. The aim of this exercise was to create the long lean lines of ballerinas without actually having to take a ballet class. I mentioned in a previous post that my favourite body types are that of gymnasts and dancers so I was quite excited to try these classes!

I signed up for a one-week trial at $55 with Upside Motion that allowed me to take not only Xtend Barre classes, but also aerial yoga and pilates. In that one week, I managed to take three Xtend Barre classes under two different teachers, Laura and Saniya.

Xtend Barre Singapore

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Sugar vs fats – which is worse for us?

A new BBC Horizon documentary starring twins on different diets aired in January 2014. For one month, one twin went on a high-fat diet, while the other ate high-sugar meals with little to no fat. The idea was to find out if one food group can be held responsible for the obesity epidemic. Who would emerge healthier, have more energy and lose more weight?

bbc sugar vs fat

Both of the twins were British but one lived in the UK while the other had moved to the US. They noted that in the US, sugar was regarded as the main cause of obesity, whereas in the UK, fats were the culprit. When I thought about it, I realised that low-carb diets, such as the Atkins diet, were popularised in America first.¬†I was in the UK recently and I checked out Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. There were very few low-carb items but there were a plenty of low-fat food for sale.¬† Continue reading Sugar vs fats – which is worse for us?

Hiking in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

My new-found enthusiasm for trail running has seen me planning more trips that involved hiking in nature. While it’s quite difficult to find friends who want to run with me in the forest, it’s much easier to find people who enjoy walking. So it was with incredible excitement that I started my recent December Taiwan trip with a hike in Taroko National Park. This is one of the country’s eight national parks and is located near Hualien City in the east of Taiwan.

We spent three days and two nights at Taroko. This trip was arranged by a freelance tour guide Ricky, who was introduced to us by a friend. I usually don’t like going on tours and being escorted around by other people but Ricky was passionate about hiking and was not your usual conventional tour guide on buses.

We went on two trails. The first was the Zhuilu Old Trail and this was supposed to have the most magnificent views in the gorge. We spent about six hours on this trail, including rest time at the top. The second was the Lotus Pond trail, which took us four and a half hours in total.

To hike the Zhuilu Old Trail, we had to get a special permit from the park that Ricky arranged for us. We started off from a bridge that spanned a valley.

taroko gorge Continue reading Hiking in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

Namaste Yoga Festival in Jakarta – Nov 2013

A weekend of yoga with great teachers, amazing Indonesian food and relaxing hair spas – what more can I ask from a short weekend jaunt overseas?

In late November, I attended the Namaste Festival at Hotel Sultan in Jakarta. This was three days worth of workshops ranging from yoga classes to martial arts to recycle art. The yoga classes were the main attraction naturally. Because we signed up very early for the festival, we paid only S$130 each (it was a one-for-one deal) for the full festival pass. Barbara, who attended a similar festival in Hong Kong earlier this year, paid about S$500 for that event. This Indonesian one was a very good deal indeed.

The festival took place in downtown Jakarta at Hotel Sultan. We were fortunate that we were able to bunk in for three days with our Indonesian friend Rosiva who lived just 10 minutes away and didn’t have to waste money on accommodation.

The hotel grounds were humongous. All the tennis courts were converted into marquees for the yoga workshops. Here we posed at the pool.

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Endurance athletes…I’m a fan

This post was inspired by Dan’s April 2013 post on endurance athletes. He personally doesn’t like the physique of endurance athletes because they look scrawny. Sprinters look better than marathon runners any day, he contends.

Aesthetics is always personal and everyone has preferences but I must say that I’m a fan of endurance athletes. ¬†Here we have US marathon runners Kara Goucher (left) and Shalane Flanagan (right) competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics. They look so sad because they didn’t manage to win any medals.

shalane flanagan Continue reading Endurance athletes…I’m a fan

Salomon X-Trail Run 2013

I had a lot of fun at the Salomon X-Trail Run 2013. This year’s race was at Tampines Mountain Bike Park and Trail, which is an area normally reserved for cyclists.

Barbara and I arrived just minutes before the 730am race start but the start time was delayed by about 15 minutes so we had time to stretch and muck around. She refused to wear the event shirt because she didn’t like running in shirts with sleeves. I thought the shirt was really comfortable and the material was the best out of the event shirts I’ve received so far. I was able to keep cool throughout the run and I really like this baby blue colour. I also wore my football socks to run. This was the singular best decision I made in any race – the socks protected me from itchy grass and horrible mud (more about said mud later).

Salomon X Trail shirt Continue reading Salomon X-Trail Run 2013

Chua Chu Kang BIG Farm Walk & Run 2013

Last Sunday I took part in an 8km neighbourhood run at Chua Chua Kang. This run, unlike the more fancy ones organised by Bloomberg or Standard Chartered, was planned by a number of community centres, including Yew Tee Community Club and Bukit Gombak Community Centre. The entry fee was a mere $8 ($10 if you are a non-PAssion card member).

It took me more than half an hour to drive to Chua Chu Kang in the wee hours of the morning but I was seduced by the thought of running through our local farms, imagining that it would be¬†picturesque with rolling fields (it wasn’t).

The starting point was at Brickland Road. We arrived about 10 minutes late, by which point the 8km runners had already been flagged off. The start point wasn’t clear at all. There wasn’t a big banner or anything. This photo shows the start point.

chua chu kang run Continue reading Chua Chu Kang BIG Farm Walk & Run 2013

Cold Storage Triathlon 2013

Last Sunday I took part in my first triathlon at East Coast Park. Granted, it was a mini¬†event – 200 m swim, 10 km bike and 2 km run – but it could just the mini¬†impetus I need to get me started in the world of triathlons! I think that there is something quite mysterious about triathlons. It’s quite easy to find runners and cyclists in Singapore but it is quite rare to find people who are willing to compete in three events in one go. I think it’s because the swimming portion tends to put people off. I mentioned the event to several of my sporty friends and the response ranged from “I can’t swim!” to “I can swim but not that far!”

I am extremely fortunate to have very close friends who enjoy sports and are willing to indulge in my newfound interests with me. When I ran 10 km for the first time at the Yellow Ribbon Run, Serena accompanied me. This time, it was Barbara who kindly agreed to join me at the Cold Storage Triathlon. This is a friend whom I have known since I was seven years old. Her boyfriend Ivan also came along to take photographs for us so we have amazing shots of us in action!

Triathlons are a lot more complicated than just running events because of the equipment involved. We arrived an hour earlier because we had to stamp our bib numbers on our bodies for the swimming portion.

Cold Storage Triathlon edit Continue reading Cold Storage Triathlon 2013