17 UFIT highlights of 2017

And just like that, 2017 is done! We're excited about what the new year will bring - but just before moving on, can't help but reflect on what an amazing year 2017 has been.

There have been so many highlights and exciting developments over 2017 - far too many to mention - and here we've chosen just 17. 

We thank our wonderful community of clients, partners and friends for your amazing support and congratulations to all of you on reaching your personal goals and milestones over the year. We have loved working with you and are really excited about getting you Fitter, Leaner Stronger next year.  Stay tuned as we continue to pop up in exciting new places in SG and beyond!

Opening of UFIT Orchard gym, with UFIT's 50 staff

Opening of UFIT Orchard gym, with UFIT's 50 staff

Team UFIT dominates team events  

Team UFIT dominates team events  

Fitness Fest mass workout for 1,000s

Fitness Fest mass workout for 1,000s

England rugby pro Dan Norton coaches UFIT kids

England rugby pro Dan Norton coaches UFIT kids

Launch of UFIT Performance in Hong Kong and Vegas

Launch of UFIT Performance in Hong Kong and Vegas

The expansion of Bootcamps team WeFit

The expansion of Bootcamps team WeFit

UFIT  heavyweights at mass staff workout

UFIT  heavyweights at mass staff workout

Singapore's Fittest CrossFit PT Couple at UFIT

Singapore's Fittest CrossFit PT Couple at UFIT

UFIT appointed in-house LinkedIn gym provider

UFIT appointed in-house LinkedIn gym provider

Continuation of UFIT staff professional development

Continuation of UFIT staff professional development

Amazing personal milestones reached

Amazing personal milestones reached

Launch of Personal Training @ UFIT Tanjong Pagar 

Launch of Personal Training @ UFIT Tanjong Pagar 

UFIT Bootcamps wins Best Outdoor Class award

UFIT Bootcamps wins Best Outdoor Class award

UFIT Clinic awarded Asia's Best Rehab Facility award

UFIT Clinic awarded Asia's Best Rehab Facility award

UFIT Clinic opens 2nd branch at one-north

UFIT Clinic opens 2nd branch at one-north

UFIT Retreats welcome guys at Phuket Retreat

UFIT Retreats welcome guys at Phuket Retreat

And Mok and Maire our physios win half marathons 

And Mok and Maire our physios win half marathons 

And that's a wrap for 2017 -  now with nearly 100 staff.

And that's a wrap for 2017 -  now with nearly 100 staff.

Kicking off 2018 on Clean & Lean 18

The UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge is much more than a controlled diet program. It's a major milestone towards a changed lifestyle. It will enhance the detoxing processes in your body, introduce you to better ways of eating and better food choices, and help you become leaner.

Importantly, as you begin to enjoy the taste of real food and the feeling of it in your body, you will develop new eating habits before you know it. We are creatures of habit after all. 

Our most important guiding principles are to base our food intake on fresh products, as close as possible to their natural state. It includes lots of vegetables, good sources of proteins, good fats, limited carbohydrates and no refined sugar whatsoever. On top of that we encourage you to challenge yourself with physical activities and fun fitness.  

Photo: Sofia bon Foster

Photo: Sofia bon Foster

Photo: Vincent Chan

Photo: Vincent Chan

The changes you see in the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge are amazing. After overcoming sugar withdrawal symptoms and detoxing side effects such as tiredness, grumpiness and headaches, you will suddenly feel so much better.

YOU WILL START NOTICING THESE IMPROVEMENTS IN YOUR WELLBEING AND APPEARANCE:

  • Your blood sugar levels will stabilise - Drastic changes in blood sugar levels are caused by excessive consumption of carbohydrates, which in turn are responsible for food cravings, drops in energy and mood swings. At first, when we reduce our carbohydrate intake we might feel tired, hungry and grumpy, but after a few days once the sugar levels are low and the body has the opportunity and ability to use fat storage to create energy, all the symptoms will have disappeared.

  • You'll feel less hungry - You will control your food intake and the food will not control you!

  • You'll have much more energy throughout the day - Stabilised energy all day long, without massive energy drops and need for stimulants.

  • You'll have more energy during your training sessions - Once your body is trained to create energy from fat storage, it can do it faster and more efficiently, prolonging long term energy throughout your training sessions.

  • You will feel more balanced emotionally - Mood swings are often affected by our sugar ups and downs. At the beginning of the process, the limited carbs might lower your serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for our happiness. However, when your body gets used to lower sugar consumption you will experience a much more balanced emotional state.

  • Your weight will drop - At the beginning of the process your weight loss will be mainly due to loss of fluids, as carbs attract fluids. After a few days you will experience real weight loss, mostly from fat storage.

Rob, before and after Clean & Lean 16  - he lost 11kg - the first time  in over 15 years he weighed under 100kg                                     

Rob, before and after Clean & Lean 16  - he lost 11kg - the first time  in over 15 years he weighed under 100kg                                     

  • You'll lose body fat and become leaner - Once insulin levels drop, the body will burn fat to create energy. We aim to lose body fat as opposed to losing body mass.   

  • You'll notice your skin is clearer and your eyes brighter and whiter - You might experience some skin rashes during the detox period, but once this phase is over your skin and eyes will shine.

  • You'll experience improvements in your blood lipids and blood pressure - Lower triglycerides, higher HDL cholesterol for example.

  • You'll learn more about your body - The clean diet will help you eliminate foods that are suspected to cause indigestion, gassy stomach, heartburn or any other problems. It is a good way to learn which foods suits you the best.

Photo: Melanie Lim

Photo: Melanie Lim

Sweat it out Sunday at Tanjong Beach Bootcamp

Sweat it out Sunday at Tanjong Beach Bootcamp

Finally, at the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge, you'll meet great people and form a supportive team, sharing ideas, recipes, difficulties and achievements.

You'll also have a set deadline to achieve your goals within, and get great ideas and support from our community via the closed community Facebook page.

This will help you to be accountable and stay on course, and eventually help you achieve your goals.  

There is no better way to kick-start your new year than with the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge - starting Saturday 13 January! Sign up right here.

Why clean eating done right is good for you

Clean eating has been getting mixed press lately, and like anything in life, taking things to an extreme can make it bad for us. Being too restrictive with our diets and paranoid about what we eat can cause more issues than it solves.

At UFIT our approach to clean eating is much less harsh and more exclusive, it’s about taking things back to a more simplistic way of eating and as fresh and whole as possible. Here are some simple tips to eat cleaner:

1. Load up on fresh produce

When it comes to vegetables, most of us aren't getting enough. We should be aiming to get in six portions of vegetables and one of fruit each day.

Eating more vegetables can significantly reduce your risk for a number of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer. The fibre in whole produce also helps keep good bacteria in your tummy happy, which can reduce your risk for autoimmune diseases, fight off pathogens and infections and even improve your mood.

Get those greens in over Christmas, it should be easy with seasonal greens such as Brussel Sprouts everywhere.

Photo: Sofi Bon Foster

Photo: Sofi Bon Foster

2. Whole grains are our friends

Carbs are not the enemy, it’s about getting the right type with the highest amount of nutrition. The best whole grains are the ones that have been touched the least by processing. Think whole grains that look most like their just-harvested state—quinoa, wild rice, oats. 

Don't get duped by "whole-grain" claims on labels though, to eat clean, packaged whole grains you're going need to take a closer look at the ingredients. Whole grains should always be the first ingredient, the ingredient list should be short and recognizable, and it should have minimal (if any) added sugar.

When you swap out refined carbs (like white pasta, sugar, and white bread) for whole grains you'll get more fiber, antioxidants and inflammation-fighting phytonutrients.

3. Pick the right processed foods

Not all processed foods are really bad, look at amazing ranges such as The Whole Kitchen products.

Technically when we chop, mix and cook at home we are processing foods. The problem is that so much processed food at the supermarket is processed beyond the point of recognition. Keep an eye out for anything with lots of sugar and refined grains, super-long ingredient lists with foods you don't recognize and anything with partially hydrogenated oils.

Clean processed foods exist like plain yogurt, cheese, grainless granola, seed crackers and nut mixes. Just be sure to read the ingredient list and know what you are buying.

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 4. The biggest “rule” of Clean & Lean - limit sugar

Most people eat too many added sugars. The Singaporean Health Board recommends no more than 8 to 11 teaspoons of sugar a day for adults. The average person gets about 2 to 4 times that amount per day. To clean up your diet, cut down on added sugars by limiting sweets like soda, candy and baked goods.

But it's more than just desserts—keep an eye on sugars added to healthier foods like yogurt (choose plain), tomato sauce and cereal. Look for foods without sugar as an ingredient, or make sure it's listed towards the bottom, which means less of it is used in the food. We usually recommend no more than 5g of sugar per 100g of product

5. Consider the environment

Clean eating is better for you and the planet, and eat seasonal and locally grown foods where possible. Foods that are transported not only increase our carbon footprint but also will need to be preserved for the journey. The longer the shelf life of the food the shorter our shelf life. 

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So how to take clean eating to an effective, safe step to a healthier you? The next UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge starts 13 January 2018, where under Wendy Riddell's  guidance you will learn how to detox safely from sugars and eat clean, healthy food to start new eating habits to sustain you and your family for the rest of your life! 

Start up your 2018 on Clean & Lean 18 - our 18th challenge - by signing up right here:

Triathlon training: overcoming mental and physical challenges

Triathletes face the daunting challenge of training for three disciplines - swimming, cycling and running. To do well they need to master all three forms of exercise and use all major muscle groups effectively in a single race.  

And after all that swimming, cycling and running training, a fourth element, strength training places the triathlete at a huge advantage. It makes their entire movement system stronger to make them a better all-round athlete - faster for longer and more powerful - whilst reducing fatigue and injury as they race their way around the course. 

This worked well for Gavin Mortlock, who has done strength training for the past four years with UFIT Orchard Personal Trainer Nathan Williams  to prepare him for his busy triathlon schedule. Gavin has scored podium places at all his events this year and qualified for major international championships. We asked him to tell us more about his personal training and how he did it ...

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What led you to training at UFIT?

I asked an old football teammate (Darren Blakeley) for advice when I injured my back some 4 years ago. He recommended the UFIT physio Stephen Greenan, who in turn recommended I do Personal Training with Nathan post the initial treatment to focus strengthening for injury prevention.

How has Nathan helped you prepare for your training, races and recovery? 

Nathan and I discuss what races are coming up, what we need to focus on for injury prevention and how to augment the triathlon specific training I do (swim, run, bike). We build some periodisation into the training to match race schedules and mix up the exercises based on what training I am doing outside the gym.

I really appreciate the thought he puts into the personal training he has me do and working with him every week for 4 years means that he understands how I respond to sessions and therefore how to tailor the training.

GAVIN'S RACE RESULTS, BY CATEGORY

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How do you prepare physically for your races?

I leave the thinking around this to the professionals. I have a triathlon coach who is based in Australia. He sets me a program to follow that we discuss weekly. Each session is recorded and future session adjusted based on the data. I find being accountable to someone for completing the program they set, and being able to discuss training, nutrition and racing with a pro, really useful. He also adjusts my sessions based on travel commitments and helps set realistic goals and expectations.

 
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How have you balanced your strength training with Nath with ALL the running / cycling / swimming?

There are two main things we do:

  1. Nathan pointed out to me that triathlon training was all straight-line focussed – so in our personal training we do the opposite and focus on torsional strength and stability. Sounds counterintuitive but the logic is that being stronger through a range of motion means that I am able to hold a static cycling and running position far better
  2. Nathan has added in high intensity & weight/low volume exercises to help build strength without the fatigue associated with higher reps.  For example he has me on the aerodyne bike (chunder bike) or the sled at the end of each session. Nathan referred me to research that highly recommends adding high intensity/weight training into the program because muscle loss and reduced bone density rates increase with age. Both of these are best addressed through high intensity and weights rather than long, slow training.
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HOW HAS NATH PREPARED YOU MENTALLY FOR YOUR RACES?

Training is a physical challenge, racing is a mental challenge. 70.3 races last around 5 hours so you have plenty of time to find yourself in dark places, and time to come out of them too. The training I do with Nathan at UFIT is all about building confidence through preparation. Being fit, strong and injury free is the best way to establish the confidence to perform.
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Confidence is established by doing the personal training with Nathan, because knowing I have done the work provides the confidence that I will race well. If I am  anxious I will go back and review how much training I have done, even comparing it to previous races.

Goals is about setting realistic expectations based off the training. I keep this simple and limited to one or two things and my goals focus on the process not on the result. For example my running is weaker than my bike or swim so my goal for the run is to start with good form, build into the run managing my pace, then try and get “lost” in the zone – in other words don’t think, just relax.  I keep cycling through this mantra of Form/Pace/Zone throughout the run. This means I focus on the process, letting the result take care of itself.

Composure means not rushing and being able to adapt to changing circumstances – DON’T PANIC!  If I drop a water bottle, think my way through the impact and what I can do. This might mean backing off the pace to limit dehydration. Being composed to me is being calm. I use a simple (perhaps silly) trick if I feel this slipping away – I smile (a genuine smile, not a grimace, gritted teeth smile) then my head lifts, my shoulders relax and I actually think more clearly and I am more composed.

What do you enjoy most about your training with Nath?

Turning up at 6am every Wednesday ready to go for 4 years takes a huge commitment from both client and trainer – Nathan gets it, and is always well prepared. His commitment provides me the necessary incentive not be late, or miss a session, or just go through the motions once I am there. I would never be as efficient or effective training on my own, Nathan’s knowledge, expertise and commitment means the results I get from training are worth far more than the cost of a personal trainer.

What’s coming up next after such a huge racing year? How do you keep going between race break periods?

Break periods???  I’ve discovered through painful experience that I need to train consistently rather than take a break and start up again.  I may adjust intensity or frequency, but I need to maintain consistency across all disciplines even when not racing.  The reality is that training for triathlons if often far more enjoyable than racing them, racing hurts!  Not having a race coming up means I can train with a “just go out and have fun” approach rather than completing the session with a focus on the goal of the session.  That in itself is a break.

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How do you fit all this PERSONAL training and racing in with a busy life? 

I train mainly in the mornings on week days as I can control the time I start work much better than the time the work day ends. This takes some discipline to establish the routine, but once it is a routine it is easier to maintain.

I have a “low family commitment environment” each weekend as my wife, son, dog, etc live in Sydney. This has its pros and cons obviously, but allows me some quality training time on the weekends. My wife is an exercise physiologist and is incredibly supportive, although I do wonder if it is because she knows the more training I do the less chance there is that I am out on the lash.

Is there anything about Nathan that surprised you or you would like to share with us?

A lot that surprised me and nothing I can share.

And over to Gavin's trainer Nathan WILLIAMS:

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Training Gav for the past three to four years has been an awesome experience for me. It's great for me to work with such a fantastic masters athlete - and Gav doesn’t look a day over 54!

As he mentioned, 6am every Wednesday we have both turned up consistently to work towards small, steady goals. During this period, I've learned a lot about the art of Triathlon and tried to apply as much of my knowledge of relevant strength and mobility training into each training program.

Firstly, the injury prevention focus worked well and that allowed us to really move forward with increasing strength, particularly in the lower body and posterior chain. We have spent a lot of time on bodyweight mastery and I believe warming up every session with exercises like strict chin ups, L-sits, handstands, pistols squats and bridges have been paramount to building a solid base and are an important part of his training.

Gav has great knowledge of his body and how it responds to every training scenario and that has allowed us to continually improve without any clear side or backward steps. His results for 2017 were phenomenal (4 wins and 2 second places) and I must admit I’m quite proud each time I get a text from him after each race weekend because I know I’ve contributed a small piece to that result and I look forward to the successes in 2018.

Clean & Lean results and tips over the holidays

Once again - the results from the latest UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge have been amazing. 

Well done to our overall male winner Guillaume Augustin who lost a staggering 9.38% body fat, and female winner Hang Nguyen who lost an outstanding 6.88% body fat! What a truly fabulous effort, hard work and consistency always pays off. The runners-up were not far behind, with Bryan Shon losing an amazing 8.41% body fat and Jennifer Gillespie losing an exceptional 6.55% body fat! What a great start to the Christmas holiday season! 

Regardless of the results, we are proud of all our participants in our Clean & Lean Challenges this year. Even the smallest changes count, like thinking twice about what you eat and drink, and embracing healthy new foods that keep the weight off and help you feel great.

Photo by Sofi Bon Foster

Photo by Sofi Bon Foster

Recipe and photo by Sofi Bon Foster

Recipe and photo by Sofi Bon Foster

This leads us to the Silly Season, it’s called that for a reason! The Head of UFIT Nutrition’s Wendy Riddell shares with us her tips for staying relatively Clean & Lean over the holidays:

  1. Watch your drinks - go for wine (red or white) or spirits with soda water, and don’t bulk up over Christmas with beer and sherry. Champagne and cocktails also have lots of sugar in them and it's best to avoid those drinks if you can.
  2. Don’t overindulge on a daily basis, plan your events diary and don’t use Christmas as an excuse to go off the rails for the full 31 days. If you do get off the program get back on it the next day 
  3. Try using the phrase “I don’t eat/drink that” instead of “I can’t” and be strong by choosing what you want to have and not what's forced on you
  4. Load up on proteins and salads first, what's not to love about great turkey and ham combo or a fab bit of salmon! Then have some carbs if you have room. Start with the good stuff, not on the boring old bread sticks 
  5. Pick one dessert and own it! Don’t keep going back and trying everything till you feel nauseous, have that one special something and make it last 
  6. Enjoy the festive period! Don’t blow a whole year of gains on a week off excess, but in the same breath have some fun too
  7. Stay active with your fitness over the holidays - try to make time for it as much as you can.
  8. Remember to sign up for the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge 18 starting 13 January to get the new year off to an amazing start.
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2018 OFFERS AND PRICING

We're pleased to offer you the following promotional rates on your packages, ahead of some pricing changes that will come into effect from 15 January 2018. 

UFIT PRICING UPDATE AND OFFERS

It's on again - special offers on training packages until Sunday 14 January 2018.

Please be aware that from 15 January 2018, we are standardising our pricing across UFIT to reflect the introduction of GST in some of our businesses, which may result in slight rises to your package prices from that date.

Please talk to your community manager, trainer, CrossFit coach, physio or bootcamps manager for more info regarding your package details.

We are pleased to offer you the following promotional rates before the new pricing is implemented and these offers apply to all existing prices until 14 January 2018.

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MRI scans and your back: the scary truth

As a physiotherapist in Singapore, I see two things very often: patients with back pain, and patients with recently acquired MRI results (usually the same people). Why? Well, the prevalence of back pain in Singapore is often because the patients have combined a high pressured, desk-bound job with a lack of exercise and movement in their daily lives.

And their envelope containing their MRI results?  This is usually because the first thing their doctor has done when they reported back pain is to send them for a scan to see ‘how bad it is.’

This is because in Singapore, as in most of the world, MRIs and related high-tech imagery have ballooned into a multi-million-dollar industry to both the providers and the referrers. Indeed, in the United States last year, Medicare paid out over $14 billion dollars for MRIs alone.

 
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The problem is that most patients and many doctors still perceive MRIs as an easily accessible commodity that will provide the answers as to where the pain has come from, and therefore the solution to getting rid of the pain. However, this relies on two massive assumptions:

Assumption 1:   MRI scans are always accurate

The Truth? MRI scans are surprisingly difficult to read, and different radiographers looking at the same scan will often report different findings!

Assumption 2: MRI scans’ findings are always related to the problem

The Truth? Issues found by an MRI scan are often completely misleading, can have nothing to do with the pain you are feeling, and can be a completely normal part of ageing.

Let’s dig a little bit deeper.

So how accurate are MRI scans?

A very recent study conducted by Herzog et al, published in the Spine Journal in April 2017 assessed the accuracy of MRI imaging and reporting, by asking a 63 year old patient with current pain, and a long history of lower back problems to visit ten different MRI centres in succession, and get a report from each one.  The results?

1 Patient

10 MRI Scans

49 different ‘issues’ reported

0 of these ‘issues’ seen across all 10 scans.

This is a scarily clear demonstration that MRIs are not the clear snapshot that patients often believe that they are.

So why is there a difference between different MRI centres? First of all, like with physiotherapists, you can get good, skilled radiographers, and you can get inexperienced or under-skilled radiographers.

Secondly, just like your TV and computer, imaging technology is constantly changing and improving. So an Ultrasound or MRI machine from 10 years ago is going to be very low quality compared to a machine produced in the last two years.

Finally, an uncomfortable aspect of the medical industry: many doctors now own their own imaging machines, and will charge a premium for potentially unnecessary scans to ‘confirm’ their diagnosis. Is there anything a patient can do about this? Not much besides trusting your doctor to refer you to a trusted imaging centre, and hoping for the best.

Are MRI scans even relevant?

In most cases, no. A large systematic review conducted by Brinjikji et al, in 2014, assessed the MRI findings of 3,110 people with No Reported Back Pain. The findings? A significant number of these perfectly fine people were found to have problems, issues, or ‘degradation’ within their spines, which became more common as they got older.

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One third of normal, healthy 20 year olds have ‘degenerative’ signs in their lower back! And two thirds of perfectly healthy 50 year olds were found to have disc bulges! So what does this tell us? Spinal changes are a NORMAL part of ageing. Disc changes are a NORMAL part of ageing. And more importantly, negative changes in your spine are not always associated with pain.

Does this mean we should just throw all MRI machines in the Singapore River, and never speak of them again?

Of course not! MRI machines are an important diagnostic tool, but should not be used alone to figure out where your pain is coming from. They should be used as one element of a thorough assessment by your physio or doctor to figure out what is wrong with your back (or shoulder or knee), and figure out the best treatment strategy moving forward. As the physiotherapy expert Adam Meakins succinctly says, ‘Treat the Man, Not the Scan.’

The good news for you as a back pain patient in Singapore (or anywhere else in the world)?

Even if you have MRI findings that say that you have disc bulges, disc degeneration, and all sorts of issues going on – it is not a death sentence, and you do not need to go under the knife to ‘fix’ the problem!

Find yourself a good physio (quick plug: we have great ones at the UFIT Clinic), or a good doctor (ask us, we know many!) and complete your assessment with them to see what other factors might be contributing to your pain, and what we can do together to get you back on your feet, and back to being fit, healthy, happy and pain-free as quickly as possible!  

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Back and neck pain? Doctor or physio?

Back AND neck pain - doctor or physio: Who should you choose?

The question I constantly encounter here in Singapore is ‘I have a sore back. Should I come see you, or should I see a doctor first?’

Being a physio myself I am obviously biased, but physiotherapists train for four years to get a degree specialising in chronic pain issues and musculo-skeletal breakdowns. We should be involved from the beginning in the treatment and care of any back pain or neck pain issues.

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Unfortunately, here in Singapore (and in many countries around the world) the medical insurance companies require a doctor’s referral in order for physiotherapy claims to be approved, so the answer is usually ‘Go see a doctor, and ask them to refer you to me.’ If that seems like a complete waste of your time, and the insurance company’s money, then you would be correct. It now appears that we have good reason to be frustrated by this out-dated approach:

A recent study conducted by Cook et al., published in October 2017, investigated the amount spent and the overall recovery outcomes of patients with back or neck pain who went to either physiotherapists first, or to their local doctor. In total, they reviewed cases for 603 patients who reported neck and back pain between 2012 and 2014.

The results? Those that selected to see the physiotherapists straight away saved BIG on medical costs. In fact, each patient saved an average of $1,543 USD a year (over $2,000 SGD) compared to their counterparts who chose to visit a doctor first. And their outcomes one year later? No difference between the two groups. So, in effect, the group that went to see the physio got the EXACT same outcome, for significantly LESS cost.

Why is this? It may be due to the doctor’s reliance on imaging. For more on this, check my blog on the topic here.

So back to the question: ‘I have a sore back. Should I go see a physio or a doctor?’  

The answer: A physio – we’ll help your back and your wallet. The science says so…

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To discuss an issue with your friendly local physio in Singapore, please contact us here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DECLAN HALPIN, UFIT CLINIC DIRECTOR

Declan is passionate about helping his patients achieve their long term goals by identifying their weaknesses and imbalances, and developing a strategy to eradicate them. Declan has always maintained a strong sporting interest, and previously worked as an Academy Physiotherapist for Crystal Palace Football Club (a professional football club in London), and as a Rehabilitation Coach for the Western Province Stormers Academy (professional rugby club from Cape Town). Within Asia, he consults to the Indonesian Athletics Association as a Performance coach and physiotherapist. In Singapore, Declan has worked as both physiotherapist and strength and conditioning coach to the Singapore National Rugby team (who achieved bronze medal at the SEA Games). 

QUALIFICATIONS 

  • BSc Sport and Exercise Science 
  • MSc Physiotherapy 
  • AAP Dry Needling Certification 
  • L1 Crossfit Trainer 
  • Senior Medical Educator World Rugby 

Do you actually train your core?

Here at UFIT we aim for you to be strong and functional in every situation you are placed in, whether it's in a gym setting or an every day one. So many people train themselves to lift a weight in one position, but they are missing a trick!

Loaded carries are awesome for true core development as well as being one of the most versatile lifts in the gym and can be used for anything from conditioning, strength or even a warm up. Whether you are wanting to build muscle, loss fat or get stronger, loaded carries will increase your overall performance.

Core anatomy

To clarify, your core does not refer to your six pack. Your ‘core’ refers to 360 degree strength around your spine. Here’s a image of your core:

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We also need to understand that we don’t just have a six pack we have a band of muscle around our spine called our ‘Transverse adominals’ which provide your ‘core’ with most of its strength. Using a variety of carries we can target the core from all angles, thus building 360 degrees of strength thoughout the body.

The Aim

The aim when training with loaded carries it to place the body under enough load to illicit a training response (strength, fat loss, conditioning) whilst being safe. There are many variations of a loaded carry and these include:

Farmers carries

Pick up two weights that are 50% of your body weight + and walk. Easy! The aim is to be able to walk with body weight in your hands for 20m. So you can use this for building grip strength or use it as a loaded conditioning element in a circuit.

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Zurcher carry

This lift is used to train the core muscles on the front. By having a weight in your arms will work your abs and core muscles to keep you in a upright position. This lift will teach you to be able to maintain a stable spin through a movement.

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Suitcase carry

The aim is to keep an upright position whilst holding a weight with one hand. This will train your core from a lateral (side) perspective. This is a great exercise to use if your side plank is week and or your core hasn’t been conditioned to be strong whilst fatigued.

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Overhead carry

This carry is ideal for someone who has shoulder stability issues. Being able to carry heavy weights above your head will train all your balancing and protective muscles in your shoulders as well as build strong traps and delts. If you guys are practicing handstands this is a must as you teach your body to be able to keep a effective position whilst loading your upper body.

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When should they be used?

Add one of these variations to the circuit below and use it to finish your workout, and the increase in strength and stamina will be amazing. As many rounds as possible in 12 mins:

1.     Carry variation 20m x 2

2.     Press ups x 10-20

3.     Air squats/goblet squat x15

If you need any help or have any questions on the subject feel free to email me at willfoden@ufit.com.sg and I'll be more then happy to give you some advice.

 

 

Getting ripped in twelve months

We first met Christian Dally one year ago when he was over 98kg and about to start the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge. He won after losing 9% body fat, and a year later is totally ripped, super fit, his mind is sharper and he's never felt better in his life. We all think he's totally awesome.  

Nov 2016 - before the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge

Nov 2016 - before the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge

Dec 2016 - after the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge

Dec 2016 - after the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge

Since finishing Clean & Lean we see him nearly every day at UFIT doing Bootcamps at Sentosa and Metcon at Bukit Timah, Personal Training at Amoy and CrossFit Tanjong Pagar. He's found a family of fabulous fit friends across UFIT, is well-known to our coaches and is an active Spartan participant.

This is what Christian looks like ten months after the Clean & Lean Challenge.

October 2017 - weighing 83kg (down from 98kg in Nov 2016)

October 2017 - weighing 83kg (down from 98kg in Nov 2016)

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October 2017 - pulling 220kg 

October 2017 - pulling 220kg 

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HOW DID CHRISTIAN DO IT? 

We asked Will Foden, his personal trainer.

"He came to me as an empty shell after finishing Clean & Lean and my job was to help him build muscle. He had to go to the extreme to get back to normal, and has now progressed beyond, taking things to new levels. He went from eating no carbs for months and now he's training almost daily and is back on carbs as he needs to be, and losing weight and getting stronger.

He was anxious about reintroducing carbs back into his diet. But after some time figuring out what works for him he can now go out on a Saturday night and eat well and enjoy a drink or two".

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OVER TO CHRISTIAN - WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER Clean & Lean?

"Initially I thought completing Clean & Lean was the ‘goal’ but in fact it was just the jump-start I needed to launch me on this amazing journey.

By the end of the C&L month I’d made such progress, and was absolutely loving the way I was beginning to feel, so continuing with the same nutrition plan was a no-brainer! Removing carbs from my diet had such a fundamentally positive effect, on not only my body but also my mind, bringing a much more stable level of energy and focus that it had by then become a foundation that sticks with me today".

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How has your diet changed since you finished Clean & Lean?

"For the first 9 months or so I stayed pretty much entirely ‘clean & lean’ (bar the occasional cheat meal), eventually though in consultation with Will I did decide to put a little carb back into my diet peri-exercise to allow me to work out harder and build more muscle mass now that I very low in body fat.  

It wasn’t easy psychologically - carbs were the ‘enemy’ for so long that it took significant bravery to reintroduce them, but the trust I have in the knowledgable supportive and experienced UFIT team helped me to get over this unexpected hurdle! And it worked - within weeks I was beginning to look and feel strong & I actually lost more body fat after introducing carbs again".

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How do the UFIT Bootcamps fit in?

"I started UFIT Bootcamps at the same time as C&L and a year later whilst I also do several PT sessions per week, they are still my ‘go-to’, they are available, challenging and fun.  

When I say ‘challenging’ - it doesn’t matter whether you’re fat and slow like I was at the beginning or one of the fittest people out there, everyone can challenge themself to the max, it's a supportive, non-judgmental environment where over the last year or so I’ve watched myself and others achieve levels of improvement we really didn’t expect.  

I love Bex’s FITMAX and HITFIT classes in Sentosa, and the community there is brilliant! Quite apart from giving the opportunity to workout with like-minded people, we’ve made some really great friends there. I've recently also been using Giles’ brilliant Metcon/ORT sessions on Sundays at Bukit Timah to prepare for my Spartan races.

It’s also great to have the option of a yoga session once in a while ... sunrise yoga at Sentosa Marina has to be the best way to start the day!

I attend 2-4 classes per week depending on how much PT/running I’m doing, which really depends on what event I’m training for next ..."

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Why did you start doing PT?

"Part of my prize for winning C&L was some PT sessions, I went in thinking I’d use them up and go back to my Bootcamps, yoga & running but wow the progress I made during those first few sessions was amazing. I use PT for mostly strength-based training and I love it.

Will is a fantastic trainer and coach, he has worked with me on both training and nutrition, building and flexing my programme in line with my progress and to help me set and achieve evolving goals. It’s always fresh, progressive and challenging".

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What are the major gains you have made with your pt?

"I wanted to get strong, but turning up for an hour pumping iron and going back to the office wouldn’t have done it for me.  Will worked hard with me to understand my goals, or rather to help form some goals.  By this point I had progressed so quickly with my fitness that I didn’t really know what my goals should be! I’m pretty sure he always had a longer term plan to make me strong and look strong but I didn’t know that I wanted that yet, my head was still stuck on being ‘fit’.

He built a really unthreatening progressive plan for me which he evolved/changed every 4 weeks or so - just as I am beginning to get comfortable - he switches it up!  It’s brilliant - always fresh, interesting and challenging - and I feel like I’d make progress in almost every session.

As time went by, he flexed my program to prepare me for upcoming events - spartan, half marathon, this photo shoot etc ..."

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"Right now we are working towards the Spartan Beast, 40 obstacles over 21km which requires both conditioning and upper body strength. I didn’t have to ask for it ... we know each other well enough that he knew what was next after the half marathon and magically my program changed to match.

Will also very gently helped me to amend my nutrition, encouraging me to try the reintroduction of some carbs to help with muscle building. He could see I was scared to do so (I didn’t want to put on weight/fat) he coached me through it, and it worked!  He knew I needed strict guidelines and support to be confident in eating more carbs & calories in general, so he set specific macro nutrition & calorie goals to match my training and help me to monitor and evaluate progress".

How have you found mixing both BootCamps and PT?

"Great - I really enjoy the Bootcamps, they fulfill my cardio and conditioning needs as well as being great fun. PT is more specific and the 1 to 1 coaching has allowed me to progress to a different level".

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What have your friends said about your physical changes? 

"When I see people I’ve not seen in the last 12 months or so, the reaction is hilarious ... people can't quite believe the transformation. To be honest, neither can I!

More importantly though, I’m more than likely going to live a little longer and in the meanwhile, I can be a much more better dad and husband with this new found energy and motivation! I also feel ‘sharper’ mentally - I’m sure this has helped me to progress my career over the last year more quickly than I may otherwise have".

How DO YOU FIT fitness and HEALTHY eatiNG into a busy life? 

"I’ve not really thought of it as integrating this into my life - it’s become a way of life. I just make better choices now, my second pair of shoes for work trips is a pair of trainers and I carry a bag of protein powder in my suitcase! I only made the mistake of repackaging it in little ziplock bags once after getting a few funny looks for airport security ...

Seriously though people around you get used to the small changes, more of our friends now are of the more active variety and some who used to be less so have been inspired to join the journey!"

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What’s next?

"Better, faster stronger! I’ve absolutely loved the Spartan races that I’ve competed in, I’ll have completed all three distances by the end of the year (with luck) and now I’d like to focus on being competitive in my age group. I’ll carry on with the UFIT Bootcamps and PT sessions and am adding some CrossFit - there’s a competitive edge to it and it’ll be great training for the adventure races. I can't quite believe I’m even thinking it (having never really run more than 5 or 10km a year ago) but maybe a marathon...not sure yet.

I’d like to find a way to give a little back to the UFIT community ... it’s given me so very much".

What's Will like as a coach? Any inside stories?

Yes, don’t tell anyone, but he really cares.  Broken nose, cauliflower ears and all, he’s an extremely knowledgeable, caring and committed coach, he really held my hand through the second part of this 12 month journey ... there were times when I wondered how he put up with all my stupid questions over WhatsApp at all hours of the day and night! He invests way beyond the 1, 2 or 3 hours a week we spend together, technically he’s great and he’s a good motivator but moreover he’s always well prepared and thoughtful, you don’t always get that.

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How ABOUT FROM WILL's PERSPECTIVE?

"We focussed on the basics. Then brought some intensity to it. I taught Christian to understand what food is, and what to eat post-workout, to be realistic it will take a year.

I understand Christian personally and know what drives him. We both believe that life's a challenge, and you have to work hard for what you want, and I didn't try to wrap him up. He comes to every session for a purpose - life is too short and you need to make it work.

What pushes Christian is him, rather than me. He told me "I need to do this" rather than "I want to". 

AND THE FINAL WORD - OVER TO BEX HIS BOOTCAMPS COACH

Rebecca Dickson his Sentosa Bootcamps Coach tells us: "I’m blown away by the transformation Christian has achieved over the last year. He’s got such remarkable drive, determination and commitment to want to achieve his health and fitness goals. He’s an integral part of the Sentosa bootcamp community with an infectious spirit, always encouraging other bootcamp members to train harder, but also have fun along the way.

He’s a true inspiration and just goes to show what can be achieved when you put your mind and heart to it, he just needs to work on his skipping :-) Looking forward to smashing some new goals with him over the next year ... next stop Spartan Beast Elite in December. Aroo!"

Photo credits: Melanie Lim, David Belmonte, Rebecca Dickson, Jacqui Browne