Grunts and and clinks of heavy metal fill the air, occasionally interjected by dominating cries – “just one more minute, push!” Welcome to the room of transformation, where athletes are imprisoned by nothing but their goals, personal bests, and strict records.
We were at the newly-opened Fitness First platinum club on the top floor of Bugis Junction last Saturday. We’re here for a purpose – to meet experts who’d share the secrets of their craft. They said experts are none other than former pro triathlete and founder of ‘Coached’, Ben Pulham, and Blackmores’ in-house Naturopath Chua Kay Tse.
A strong believer in building a strong foundation to sustain a longer run (literally), Ben shared tips on how to engage the body to effectively generate energy from fat. Ben mentioned several ways in which runners track their performance. Yet to Ben, the most efficient method remains monitoring the heart rate. If you’re not linked up with a heart rate monitor, Ben suggests using “180 – your age” as a rough gauge to know the general heart rate you should be maintaining during training.
The reason for using the heart rate during training is to ensure that the body is focusing on using fat, rather than sugar, to fuel the workout. This means your body is working twice as hard for you, and increases your metabolism. It came to a point during our conversation when Ben asked what our purpose of exercise was – weight loss, overall wellness, or to run faster?
Like many in the room, I raised my hand, confessing that my goal was weight loss. Ben was horrified – “No, that should not be the ultimate goal!” He explained how it’s a process, and a matter of how we frame our thoughts.
The main goal should be health. An outcome of health, is the strong core you have, and the healthy heart rate you’d have achieved from proper training. Ben shared how looking fit on the outside did not necessarily translate into a healthy inside. Athletes are guilty of this too, so if you’re feeling a little guilty at the moment, fret not. You’re not alone. The rest of the session saw us trying out some form-efficiency, low-intensity drills that aimed at improving the running technique and stride.
“Disclaimer: you’ll look ridiculous – but we’re all in this together” – Ben promised not to laugh at us, but acknowledged the possible embarrassment and suggested doing this in the wee hours of the morning or really late at night “if you’re self-conscious and afraid people would see you.”
Such testing is a way Ben helps amateur runners to better understand their body and track progress. “It allows them to optimise what they’re doing, to ensure all the time invested training is being put to best use.” At Coached, Ben and his team look at all aspects that effect your ability to perform to your potential. These include things like training, nutrition, stress management, race execution, and mindset, amongst other things. Often, we’re too anxious to see quick results, we forget to focus on the current moment – and the little ridiculous drills in between. This negates the hard work and hours put in at the gym. Ben and his team firmly believe in getting basics right and working upwards from there.
He’s not one to just talk the talk and not walk the walk. In 2004, Ben won the vertical marathon in Singapore and packed his bags for New York, to run up the Empire State Building. Amongst several other cool races during his professional career, Ben counts that as the most memorable.
Supplementing the session, was Blackmores’ in-house Naturopath, Kay Tse – who is the first and only Singaporean trained and certified as Instructor and Designation Certified Iridologist in the US in Comprehensive Iridology! Naturopathy employs natural practices to promote self-healing. She believes that this is complementary to regular Allopathy medicine, since natural medicine helps to prevent and maintain health.
Kay Tse debunked myths about exercise and health – did you know that a 15 minute brisk walk daily can curb your cravings? Did you also know that you are solely responsible for your weight – yes, it’s got nothing to do with bad genes or heredity- stop blaming your mother.
Kay Tse emphasized the importance of fueling your body with the right food. Personally, she counts Kale, and organic brown rice as staples that she could have for every meal if she had to pick only one food for the rest of her life. Ok that’s two types – but let’s give the lady a break ok? She’s already smashing it out on the professional front, including pursuing her PHD.
Food and exercise are inextricable threads in the fabric of life. To rip them out, by not eating right, or working out conscientiously, would be absolutely destructive. Nutrition, training efficiently, and consistency – spell the the holy trinity of fitness.
Keep at it and you’ll be just fine.
Keen to find out more about Ben & Kay Tse? Hear what they have to say here!
Photo courtesy of Shaun Tay