Are health buffs this decade’s heartthrobs? Zee Lifestyle introduces some of the city’s trainers, instructors and athletes whose tireless efforts at the gym, studio or field have garnered head-turning results.
Studying Sports Science in college, Pio Solon had an outline of what he wanted to be doing for the rest of his life. As an age-group swimmer as well as teacher and personal trainer, you can bet that he knows his stuff. However, that wasn’t enough; he was working on owning his own gym and being able to provide people with the chance of a lifestyle change.
In January of 2012, he started Epic Performance and Fitness Solutions. He describes what they do as “functional training,” meaning all workouts are tailored for each person. “I envision this workout as a part of everybody’s fitness regimen. We all should do some sort of strength training as there are countless benefits to our bodies besides looking good,” Pio says. And since opening Epic, he has never heard anyone say they feel worse when they get stronger.
Although he struggled when he first opened Epic, being a swimmer who wasn’t used to working on land, he stuck through it and became stronger. “People should be consistent with their workouts. Beginners have to be consistent as it’s the fastest way to achieve progress and meet your goals,” he adds. In the end, all Pio strives for is progress—it’s part of the package when you begin your change at Epic.
“I was in Brazil on the Rotary Student Exchange program and looking for a martial art to study. An old man told me that Brazil had its own martial art, created by the African slaves, that was a blend of dance, music and acrobatics,” says Jensen Chow of how he got into capoeira. The idea intrigued him, and now 17 years later, he’s brought the rhythmic art to Cebu.
A capoeira class involves lots of movement—kicks and hand strikes, partnered drills, acrobatics—all done to the steady beat of the accompanying instruments. “Capoeira is fun, but even more than just moving your body, the art exercises the spirit too,” says Jensen, talking of how it’s also become a form of self-expression through the various movements. As a holistic body workout, capoeira is a great way to get lean, although that’s not purely why you should get into it. “Rather than doing it only for the sake of losing weight, a practitioner will also enjoy themselves,” he says, although he’s quick to remind beginners that weight loss can only achieved when matched with the proper diet, reduced stress and enough sleep.
Watching the various movements might make capoeira seem daunting to take up, but Jensen reassures that you shouldn’t be intimidated. “Enjoy every part of the art and don’t compare your progress to anyone else but yourself,” he advises beginners. “The goal is not to become phenomenal athletes, even though that may happen; but rather, the goal is to lose yourself in the art and explore all aspects, from the music, song and movements. It can be done by any age, weight or fitness level, and helps increase flexibility, strength, endurance, rhythm and reflexes.”
Growing up playing American football, yoga was the last thing on his mind. But when constant injuries pushed him to engage in an activity that didn’t involve getting pushed down and shoved across a field, Robert Vecchioni turned to yoga to help him push through the pain from injuries and strengthen his muscles again.
Robert practiced yoga in Manila, where he was licensed to teach. He has since remained in the Philippines and is currently working as a yoga instructor at Yogahub in BTC. “Many think that yoga is for girls, that it doesn’t give you enough exercise. It actually strengthens your core and is one of the best ways to build up your muscles,” Robert says.
He wants readers to know that yoga is an exercise for all, and many would be surprised to hear that quite a few professional tennis, soccer, and basketball players regularly do yoga to enhance their skills. “It prevents injuries because of how flexible and agile it makes you,” he adds. Although it may not be enough to just do yoga, Robert says incorporating it into your routine, along with sports or working out, is more than enough to help you get in shape.
The journey began when this man participated in The Biggest Loser—weighing in at 309 pounds. After coming out of the camp weighing 240 pounds, Alan Choachuy incorporated fitness into his daily routine; he made it a goal that he strived to achieve.
At a current weight of 184 pounds, Alan has come a long way. He owes his strength to his mentor, Coach Jim Saret, who was alongside him every step of the way. In May of last year, he took control of booting up the FITFIL Fitness Boot Camp that drew in over 200 people. Due to the success of the camp, Alan had the idea to start his own camp—METAFit Fitness Boot Camp.
The camp focuses on small group mentorship to ensure that every participant gets an equal amount of attention from the trainers. “Fitness is not about losing weight. Fitness is about getting stronger, fitter, and healthier,” he says. The METAFit camp is not only for those who want to lose weight, but those who are just looking to get fit as well.
Last year, Alan participated in Ironman Cebu, which he called a “lifelong dream. It was a very emotional finish for me. I broke down at the finish line while bringing the Biggest Loser banner with so much pride,” he shares. Alan says he just hopes to help everyone achieve everything he has achieved. “I’m living proof that you can be what you want to be as long as you put your heart into it.”
Growing up in Switzerland, a country where ice hockey has always been a stadium filler, Steven Füglister is no alien to the sport. “I like the intensity, physical aspect and the fast pace of the sport. That it’s a team sport is also a big bonus,” he says.
In truth, this isn’t an easy sport. Steven describes his training as four practices and two games paired with off-ice practices every week. However, he doesn’t stop there; he works out in the gym, focusing on full-body workouts that help improve his game. Aside from hockey, he plays golf and basketball, but he tells us those are just hobbies.
“If played competitively, it’s like HIIT Training (high intensity interval training) with lots of stops and gos, so you will definitely stay in shape.” Although the Philippines is a tropical country and time on the ice is limited, Steven says he is surprised to have found so many people—Filipinos and expats alike—who are interested in playing ice hockey. His advice for beginners is to master skating first, as it is a must, before venturing into organized hockey, or any other on-ice sport for that matter.
Being only 22 years old, Paolo Pascual may be relatively young, but he’s already found his calling— soccer. “It was the only club back then so I decided to try it out. I’ve been playing since I was seven years old,” he tells us. Now, he’s the goalkeeper for the Azkals, the Philippines’ national soccer team, and competes in various tournaments here and in other neighboring countries.
One thing he points out is that soccer is no walk in the park. The training is intense; his team trains for two hours a day, with occasional double sessions—one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The training consists of warm-ups, a couple of runs to keep them quick on their feet, and they spend the rest of the practice doing shooting drills. Paolo doesn’t stop there; he tries to go to the gym at least four times a week to maintain his physical shape.
“I love the challenge that the sport brings,” he adds. It’s one that takes years of practice with the guarantee that you learn something new everyday. And even after all that, it’s a sport you can never perfect. He agrees that soccer is a great way to get fit, as you do a lot of cardio and quick bursts. “Just don’t give up. Everything requires time and dedication. Once you are committed to the sport, success will follow.” And we can trust what he says, as his own words have taken him very far.
A workout originally used by Navy SEALs, you can bet that anyone who does TRX professionally knows all about getting and staying fit. Paul Martin Gabatan, the exercise training manager at CITIGYM has been doing TRX for a little over a year now, after taking the TRX Trainer’s Certification in June last year. His decision to pursue TRX was based on it being an all-around system that allowed people to perform hundreds of exercises anytime and anywhere.
However, it wasn’t all easy for him in the beginning. He had a hard time stabilizing his body, which led him to realize he had a very weak core. He says that as a beginner, the user has control over the body resistance, angle, and stability. “I would strongly recommend that you hire a certified TRX trainer to perform the exercises safely and effectively.”
“The TRX Suspension Trainer workouts delivers a fast and effective total body workout, helps you build a solid core, increases muscular endurance, and it benefits people of all fitness levels,” Paul says of the system. He recommends atomic pushups, inverted rows, and single-leg jump squats as they give a total body workout. They’re very versatile workouts, also focusing on strengthening and balancing the core.
TRX is perfect if you are looking to lose weight because it raises your heart rate, thus increasing your metabolism and burning hundreds of calories. “The TRX Suspension Training allows for hundreds of exercises so anyone can reach their fitness goal no matter what level or experience they may have,” Paul adds.