Sam's YP Get Fit Blog: Week one - Let's get it started!

Sam's YP Get Fit Blog: Week one - Let's get it started!

Throughout September, sub-editor Sam will train at Epic MMA Club in antigravity yoga and Muay Thai cardio. What will be more effective for him? The exciting intensity of Muay Thai cardio? Or the antigravity yoga that appeals to his hippy nature? Check in with Sam's blog posts every Tuesday for an update on how he's doing and where he's aching

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Just like the Karate Kid, only much, much older ... and with more vomiting.
Just like the Karate Kid, only much, much older ... and with more vomiting.
Photo: Sam Gusway/SCMP

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Wrapped and ready for action
Wrapped and ready for action
Photo: Sam Gusway/SCMP

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Sam's body scan chart was encouraging.
Sam's body scan chart was encouraging.
Photo: Sam Gusway/SCMP

After a lovely summer of lounging and eating out, it’s time to get started with my share of the #YPGetFit challenge.

The whole process started with a full body scan. Tom, the big boss at Epic MMA, took a look at the printout as it came out of the machine.

“Very good. Nice job, Sam,” he said, scanning the page. “Here’s what you want to worry about is this number right here. This says you are a little high in visceral fat. Not dangerous, but a little high.”

Visceral fat is the dreaded fat that coats your internal organs. You can’t always see it (I look pretty skinny for instance), but it’s not a good thing.

Fortunately the scan said I have a metabolic age of 23. That’s closer to my mental age of 13 than to my real age, so I must be doing something right. Still, we can probably improve on that, right? So, on to the workouts!

 

Antigravity yoga

The good news for me is that I think I got the easiest of all the workout plans. While my colleagues are off lifting car tires and sprint-cycling in a sweaty gym, I was lucky enough to be assigned to antigravity yoga.

Now, I love yoga. I’ve been doing it for the majority of my life, although sometimes I go for long periods without doing the exercises. But, whenever I get my butt off the couch and do them, I am extremely happy.

I find that more than any other exercise or sport I’ve done in my life (and I’ve done a lot, from judo to gymnastics and swimming to circus), yoga really helps me understand how my body is put together. I love that I can do it at my own pace and that makes it very relaxing for me. The laziest version of yoga I’ve ever done was called “bliss yoga”, which involves a lot of moves where the main challenge is not falling asleep.

Antigrav yoga seems equally lazy. After all, you’re basically stretching while you’re swinging in a hammock. How hard can that be? Isn’t that what sloths do all day?

Shhhh! I'm "exercising"!

So, is AG yoga as lazy as it seems?

No, not a bit.

It’s not physically intense like power yoga, where your muscles ache the next day, but draping your belly over a hammock offers its own type of exertion. You feel a bit of pain on the skin of your hips or lower back when the cloth digs into them. And don’t forget about the pressure of all that blood rushing to your head as you swing back and forth, upside-down.

There’s also the issue of fear. I’m not super confident yet on how my body balances on the hammock, so I don’t quite know how much I have to hold on or how much I can let go and relax into the stretch.

My trainer, Tamer (pronounced like “lion tamer”) Begum says that that’s normal for the first time. “What it comes down to, is a word we us a lot in antigrav yoga: trust,” he says. “Trust in your equipment, trust in your body, and trust in yourself.”

Here’s a video of Tamer teaching AG yoga at a fitness conference:

He looks a little more graceful than I do, but I'm still getting a tonne of benefits from this.

Trust me, it's supposed to look like that ... sort of.
Sam Gusway

The first class dealt with decompression, allowing our spine to stretch out after a regular schedule of sitting at a desk every day (followed by sitting on the sofa each night). And when the class ended, I felt an immediate difference. I felt less pain in my lower back. I stood differently. Straighter. Taller.

So far so good. I’m loving the antigrav yoga portion of my training plan.

But of course I couldn’t get off that easily…

 

Muay Thai Cardio

The flipside of my new age fitness is the dreaded cardio session. Wednesday morning I’m up bright and early and back at Epic for a Muay Thai cardio class.

Cardio is…not my strong point, to put it mildly. There’s something slightly uncomfortable about being so out of breath that I’m on the verge of vomiting. Hopefully, the martial arts twist with the cardio should keep me inspired to keep going.

My trainer, Jordan Watson, is a very nice guy…unless you happen to be facing him in a tournament:

He’s tough in the ring, and he’s tough in the gym. Class started out with a tonne of ab-work: crunches, leg raises, the bicycle, etc. When we were finally out of breath and our stomachs were too cramped to breath e, that's w hen we started the cardio, skipping rope and running laps around the mats, dropping for the occasional burpie or push-up.

Let me tell you, I was grateful when we stopped running and turned our attention to the heavy bag for some punching and kicking.

First combination: a one-two, left-right combo, followed by a head kick. Sounds easy enough, unless you’re not flexible enough to kick an average sized adult in the head (or maybe I’m just too peace-loving). When I swung my leg up for the first kick, the momentum swept me off my feet and I tumbled over backwards in a somersault.

The important thing is, I immediately jumped up and went right back at it, though not before someone noticed. “What happened there?” asked Jordan. “Did you kick yourself in the head?”

Class had its share of embarrassments, but there were also quite a few things that I got the knack of right away.

It’s very interesting to work out with a group of people and see how everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. Maybe I’m not as flexible as that girl, but I’m faster than she is, that guy might be stronger than I am but maybe I have better stamina. After a while you stop comparing yourself to the others and start appreciating that you’re all there for one thing: to make yourself stronger and healthier. It’s something that deserves respect.

At the end of class I limped off to the shower. I wasn’t injured, but there were a lot of muscles I hadn’t used in a long time that were screaming with pain. They kept crying for the next day or two, but thanks to combining my classes with the AG yoga, I'd stretched out all the aches by the weekend.

Tomorrow I am back for round two of Muay Thai cardio. I’m a little afraid, but also a little excited, to see if I’ve improved from last week.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates!

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