Lifestyle & Fitness

Why Fitness is More Fun with a Friend!

One fool-proof way to keep yourself engaged with your workout is to pair up with someone! Just imagine…it’s 5.30am, it’s dark outside and there’s a light rain pattering against the window. All you want to do is stay lying in your comfortable bed, roll over and go back to sleep. But you’ve promised your friend you’ll join them at that new bootcamp this morning. You can’t let them down, can you? So up you get, get dressed and head out to meet your friend.

Now, imagine you didn’t have that friend you were going to meet, how much easier would it have been to just roll over and go back to sleep, just put it off until tomorrow. Tomorrow it’ll be so much easier. And then tomorrow never comes.

This is just one reason why your fitness journey is better and more successful with a friend. Here are four more reasons!

1. Accountability and Support from Others

Having accountability and a social support network are two of the biggest factors that lead to a successful lifestyle change. Knowing you have made a promise to someone else will make you much more likely to follow through and not bail on that bootcamp session. 

The importance of a social support network can easily be seen if you have ever taken part in one of our Clean & Lean Challenges. The support offered within the Facebook group, at the bootcamps and seminars is second to none. Having people around you who are going through the same experience is a great way to stay on track with whatever task you have set yourself.

2. Have Fun and Push Harder

The support doesn’t stop there. Once you are actually at a class, you now have a partner in crime to sweat with and suffer through anything that our coaches can throw at you. Bring a friend along and see how much harder you can push yourself. Working out together is a great way to strengthen any friendship, and gives you something new to discuss when going for that coffee afterwards.

3. Meet New People and Make New Fitness Friends!

Bootcamps are also a great way to make new friends. Get chatting to those sweating around you and before you know it, you might have some great new friends who share similar interests and you can push each other harder each session. 

Exercise is also so much more fun when you have friends to share the experience with! I know from personal experience that training alongside friends just adds another level of enjoyment to the whole experience and you end up working twice as hard with people around you than you would on your own.

4. Train Together, Stay Together

Why not bring your significant other along! Research shows that those who train together, really do stay together! Working out together can strengthen your relationship and enhance sexual attraction! If that’s not a good enough reason to get your partner along, I don’t know what is!

So what are you waiting for? Grab a friend you think would enjoy our UFIT Bootcamps, drop an email to bootcamps@ufit.com.sg and get them signed up to their first class! We hope to see you and your friends at a session soon!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robynne Smith.jpg

Robynne's passion lies in strength training, conditioning and nutrition. Robynne is a competitive power lifter, currently holding 3 national records in Singapore and aims to build on her own experiences of training when training others. 

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Why do Powerlifting by Robynne Smith

In August 2015, someone made a comment to me which has changed my outlook on training ever since. Up until that point, fitness to me was something I did for fun but with the goals purely being to lose fat, get leaner and just be generally all round fit but with no real performance goals. As a result of this comment, I decided to investigate powerlifting.

What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a sport that involves lifting as much weight as possible in three lifts: the back squat, bench press and deadlift. There are two types of powerlifting: equipped, which, as the name suggests, uses more equipment to help you lift as much as possible; and unequipped or classic, which involves minimal equipment. I compete in classic lifting.

Powerlifting is a weight-class based sport, just like Olympic Weightlifting. You compete directly against the lifters in your weight class for who can achieve the highest total weight lifted. A best overall lifter is also awarded, using a ratio between your body weight and total weight lifted.

My Experience

Following a move to Singapore in September 2015 to pursue my Masters degree, I decided I needed to find a coach who could help me get into, and learn more about, powerlifting. Enter UFIT. I started training at the newly opened one-north studio with Tom Clarke. I don’t think he knew quite what he was letting himself in for at the time! After our first few sessions, we decided it would be best if I had a specific goal and therefore found a competition to enter. This would also give me the opportunity to discover if I even enjoyed competing. So together, we worked towards my first meet, which due to recurring knee issues, was a Push-Pull (Bench press and Deadlift only) meet in KL. Tom was meant to be accompanying me to this meet, however, thanks to the wonders of Air Asia his flight got cancelled so there I was heading off to my first competition with no coach and no support, in the back of beyond, in KL. It was an incredibly long and stressful day culminating in a slightly disappointing bench score, a PB in the deadlift and a bronze medal.

Fast forward to April 2016, and I had set Tom the joyous task of preparing me for not just one, but two powerlifting meets in as many weeks, followed by a CrossFit competition, Asia Championships. The first meet was back up in KL, this time successfully accompanied by Tom, and was a much more enjoyable experience, hitting PBs in all three lifts and finishing as the second best female lifter. The second, the School Yard Classic in Singapore, went about as well. Although I only hit a slightly lighter squat, I succeeded in setting the bench, deadlift and total records for my weight class in Singapore. I also finished as the best female lifter overall, my first competition win!

A week later however, due to an e-scooter accident, I ripped the cartilage in my left knee and was sentenced to crutches for 2 months.

During this time, I cannot say enough how much training at UFIT and being coached by Tom kept me sane and on track. While being on crutches shrunk my left leg dramatically, it did wonders for my upper body strength and within about 2 weeks of being allowed to apply force through the leg again, I had broken my previous best bench press by 5kg!

So, to the present day. After 6 months of focussing purely on protection and rehabilitation, I was more than ready to start having another competition to train for. I am now 1 week out from meet day and cannot wait to step back onto the platform, but the prep hasn’t been without its ups and downs. 

Getting Competition Ready

Dropping Weight

As powerlifting is a weight-class based sport, it is necessary to achieve a specific weight on meet day. With weigh-ins being 2 hours before your first lift, and with still being a fairly novice lifter, I want to be happy that I can hit weight a week or so out from competition so I don’t have to stress about water manipulation and so forth. This has meant that since January, while training to increase strength, I have also been trying to drop weight. To do so, I have to carefully track what I eat to ensure that I am fuelled for my training sessions but still in an energy deficit to facilitate that weight loss.

Training

As for training, I am still working with Tom, although remotely, to keep my training as focused as possible. Training includes hitting each of the three competition lifts about twice a week followed by accessory work.  To start, training includes higher volume, up to 10 sets, and more accessory work. As training progresses, volume is decreased while intensity increases and accessory work is reduced. Sessions can easily take up to 2 hours, with an hour alone being spent on the main lifts, inclusive of warming up to the working weight. Rest between sets is also an important factor in strength training, hence the length of the sessions. 

Why do I do it?

Powerlifting gives purpose to my training beyond just training for training’s sake. I am someone who wants to be good at everything, and when I see something I can’t do I want to learn how to do it. Having set goals and a set timeframe, gives me the focus I need to stick to a program and not get distracted by each new, cool technique I discover. I have days when I can’t be bothered and everything just feels super heavy, but I know I need to get the work done. I have days where I want to eat everything in sight, but knowing I have to hit a certain weight helps me to keep controlled, most of the time! Valuing the long term goal over the short term pleasure has been the biggest learning curve during this prep. Sure, I’ve slipped up. I’ve had that piece of cake or cookie but then the next meal I’m back on the plan and I don’t fret about it. I find it much easier to stay on track when I have a definite time line and goal than when I just used to have vague thoughts of “I want to get fit and get abs”!

Finally, getting stronger and seeing my body change through the training cycles has changed me in ways I never could have imagined. I am so much more confident than I ever used to be. I believe in myself and it is much more about what my body can do rather than what it looks like that is important to me. My advice to everyone would be find something you love to do, and then set yourself some goals to keep you on track. Whether that is to run a 5K or a marathon, participate in the CrossFit Open, go for the prize in the UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge or something else entirely, find what motivates you, it really does make all the difference!

If you are interested in what a powerlifting meet involves, how it runs or just how much some of the people there can lift, please feel free to come along and watch the Singapore Powerlifting Open at HomeTeam NS Multipurpose Hall on 1-2 April, admission is free. More details can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1835334903380959/ and I will be competing from 2.30pm on 2nd April

Oh sugar! How cauliflower became our third best friend with UFIT's Clean & Lean Challenge

Our amazing dynamic duo Mike Thornton and Trine Kaehler took on the Clean & Lean Challenge in January as a couple to give each other the motivation to stick to the program and avoid any temptations. Hear more about their journey of the four weeks right here. 

 Why UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge?

For both of us, coming off the back of a strong festive season, neither was happy with how we looked in the mirror and we knew it was time to make a change. Mike had undertaken the first C&L challenge back in 2013 and achieved good results so we thought it would be a fun challenge to do by starting off 2017 in the right way and also allowing us to spend more time together in an otherwise busy working schedule. Both of us had our goals in mind however achieving them would take serious commitment!

Week 1: Oh Sugar!

After the first seminar (which are excellent and very informative) and with the same excitement as a kid on their last day of school, we rushed to place a food order containing all the ingredients on the approved menu. Lunch was already planned out, as we are both working full time, Trine would get a salad from the closest Salad Stop every day and myself lunch from The Daily Cut. The tough part was making a food plan for the week (breakfast and dinner) and think out of our old routine. Eggs and cauliflower became our best friend – cauliflower bread, cauliflower fried rice, steamed cauliflower, roasted cauliflower (you name it). We both experienced dips in the first week due to the sugar withdrawal from our diets, Trine’s was immediate while mine (Mike’s) took some time to work in before crashing hard after a 5 a-side football game. Nevertheless, we powered through with the support of the C&L Facebook group. In week 1 we found out how much sugar we had actually been eating before and that there is a massive amount of meals you can make with limited ingredients

Week 2: Carrot-Gate

With the hardest part, over, we looked forward to the reintroduction of new items to the food menu for Week 2. Without giving away too much information, the reintroduction of carrots to the diet made life much easier…it really is the little things! We noticed that Trine was definitely experiencing a pop in energy in the mornings while myself…. well let’s just say on the 5th alarm I at least acknowledged it. We had both been pushing hard in the first half of the C&L, Trine with her Yoga and PT classes (thanks Wendy!) and myself with lunch time workouts and football. By the end of Week 2 we started to see the first signs of changes to our bodies which was exciting and gave us the motivation to keep going.

Week 3: It’s a complex situation, don’t lose your nut!

After pushing so hard in the first 14 days of the challenge it was inevitable that we would reach a burn out / plateau period at some point in the challenge and for both of us, this was week 3. We found ourselves sticking mainly to the Week 1 and 2 diet plan mainly due to our attempts at adding Week 3 foods into our diet plan had made portion control difficult, something Trine is much better at controlling than myself. Nevertheless, on the workout front we continued to do what we could when we could, a highlight of our days being our evening walks around Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay which kept the clock ticking over while allowing us to clear our minds, evaluate on the day and to discuss what to cook for the next day…. Planning is the key to make C&L a success!

Week 4: Cross the finish line and say cheese!

The final week saw both of us making a big push for the finish line with the intensity of our daily workouts ramped up as the date of our weight out came closer. The introduction of cheese in week four had severely thrown a spanner in the works however apart from a homemade pizza utilising cauliflower crust (this challenge is impossible without cauliflower!!) we did our best to stay away from our favourite snack.

The Weigh Out

Saturday, 11th February, 8:30AM – D-DAY. With the standard “good luck” comments out of the way in our own time we stepped onto the scales…

Trines results:
Weight: 2.6kg
Body Fat: 5.9%

Mikes results:
Weight: 7.4kg
Body Fat: 4.7%

 

Should you do C&L?

That is a question you are probably asking yourself right now, in short, it depends very much on what you are looking to get out of a four-week diet plan. In our opinion the best way to approach it is to view the C&L as the kick start you need to change your lifestyle habits and not simply as an isolated course, this helps you to keep on the straight and narrow when times are tough. Yes, you will experience headaches, tiredness, nausea and dizziness (am I still selling it to you?) from time to time but once you battle through these short-term difficulties the change to your diet and lifestyle will provide huge upside potential. It doesn’t matter if you are 28 or 58 years old, 50kg or 130kg, each person is on this challenge for their own reasons and the coming together of complete strangers into a supportive community network where you make new friends and change for the positive is worth the admission cost alone.

A huge thank you from both of us to Wendy, Noa and the rest of the UFIT Clean and Lean brigade, these guys put in a HUGE amount of work over the four week period to provide support, assistance and in general “feel good vibes” to everyone on the journey in addition to their already busy lives and it simply would not have been the same without them.

Now, if you are still reading this; get online, get signed up and best of luck in your own C&L challenge – we look forward to reading the next persons story.

Mike & Trine


UFIT CLEAN & LEAN CHALLENGE

The 2017 Clean & Lean sessions are happening on March 11 – April 8 (4 weeks), May 20 – June 17 (4 weeks), September 2 – 30 (4 weeks), November 4 – 25 (4 weeks).

UFIT is Singapore’s largest independent fitness community that offers a 360 approach to health and fitness island wide. For more information, visit our website.

 

Food for thought: how the right diet can boost your training

Let's face it, it’s a topic that we have all struggled with over the years which is not really surprising given the number of conflicting ideas available in the busy fitness market we work and play in today!

I’ve spent at least 5 years jumping from FAD to FAD diet, seeing improvements, taking my foot off the gas and going back to where I started, if not worse. I never performed to anywhere near my highest potential, and spent a small portion of the year in good shape.

 

You want to know the secret? Keeping it Simple...

“If you have ever heard me talking recently you surely would have heard me using the expression you cannot outwork a bad diet, but a bad diet can surely leave you outworked.“

I don’t want to add fuel to the fire, I simply want to explain the basic relationship between food and exercise, performance and recovery

Firstly, what does food do for us?

Gives us energy.

Just as a car requires petrol or diesel to power its engine and generate energy, we need fuel – in the form of food – to power our continued existence, thoughts, recovery from illness, fuel our workouts and help us recover from training. The foods we eat provide us with a range of nutrients: carbohydrates, fat, protein, water vitamins and minerals and fibre.

How does that help with training?

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates are converted into energy the quickest and the human body relies heavily on the stored carbohydrates (glycogen) as its main energy source. These are stored in the liver and muscle tissues, most of us can store around 1200-1500 kcals in the body if eating effectively.

For workouts of higher intensity or for less than 40 minutes, performance will generally drop if there’s nothing in these stores, you may feel lethargic as your body searches for fats or proteins to use up.


FAT

Another great energy source that we have is fat, stored as internal fat and the very visible and annoying external fats. In foods they are also great for keeping us fuller for longer. With fat calories, the body typically likes using these during low-intensity, prolonged exercise.

For example if running a 10km, half marathon or marathon your body will begin to work its way through the carb stores mentioned above. When they are running low it will begin to take energy from our fat stores. If you choose to take a sugary drink or gel along the way, your body will simply go back and use up the kcals from the sugar in those and then transition back to using fats.

If you are an endurance athlete, fats should be at least 30%+ of your diet, as this is a really important source of energy for longer aerobic based sessions.

PROTEIN

This guy gets more hype than a Taylor Swift track. Why is it important?  Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. It is also a pretty good energy source as a back up. Your muscle tissues are made up completely of protein so when you train you are asking them to grow to cope with the new demands on the muscles. Eating more protein will help speed up that process. Simple. 

No need to go mad on it, somewhere in the range of 1 – 1.5 grams per kg of your bodyweight should facilitate growth. 

If your protein intake isn't high enough, you won’t recover as quickly. In the fitness game recovery is key, it allows to you to apply your best self every workout. Underperformance = Lack of development.

WATER

Lack of water causes dehydration in the joints ligaments and muscles, and the body won’t work without it.  Secondly, the body will be fatigued and its systems will slow down. Thirdly, it actually causes water retention (feeling bloated & wobbly). If you aren’t running to the toilet at least 6/7 times a day, start guzzling more water!

VITAMINS & MINERALS

We get different types from different food groups, some of them are essential for energy production, recovery, sleep and keeping your immune system high. Eating a well balanced diet is the best way to sure you aren’t skipping any. Although I wouldn’t say they are performance enhancers, if you’re low on them you will not be at 100%. (Eat Right)

FIBRE

It is the broom of our internals, constantly cleaning our digestive tract. Fibre carries away the waste products of muscle production. If waste builds up in the body it can lead to an increase in fat mass and poor overall health.

So how does that all fit together and apply to your day of training? Once again this is a very simplified version.

In my opinion no food groups are your enemy, however the timing and quantity of those foods is of upmost importance. Have a look at this example of my daily food plan below, it usually has me sitting on somewhere between 10-12% body fat year round.

Interested in finding out more about what you should be eating and why you should be eating it? Would you like to push your performance to the next level with your diet? Maybe you need some more examples of types of foods?

I would love to hear from you with any questions you have I understand it has been a bit of a whistlestop!

Yours in fitness,

Ryan Hamill


About the author

Ryan is a very goal orientated strength and conditioning coach has come from a nutrition background.

Ryan uses a holistic approach to his clients' health and fitness ensuring they have a firm understanding of diet , lifestyle and exercise. Using this 360 degree format it makes him a great Body Transformation Coach whether you want to simply tone up or pack on some lean tissue.

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