Conscious Fitness

Photography: Tim Trad Words: Tamara Kisha Tan

Photography: Tim Trad
Words: Tamara Kisha Tan

We held our second salon (and the first one of the year) at The Co. Duxton on 25 January 2018. The salon gathered folks from all walks of life to engage in ‘Conversations on Consciousness’. PAUSE is glad to have worked with lululemon Singapore to make this session a success.

PAUSE had the privilege of having four very esteemed experts on the mind, body/fitness, nutrition and living, who lent their time to the discussion with the intention to share their wisdom with all of us present.  

They are, in order of speaking, as follows:
1) Milena Nguyen – Life-design & Women’s Empowerment coach
2) Myren Fu – lululemon Singapore Ambassador & Director at G1RYA training centre
3) Lisa McConnell  – Functional Nutritional Therapist at Integrative Physio 
4) Stephanie Dickson  – Founder of Conscious Festival, Green is the New Black Asia

This report will cover what Myren shared with us about being conscious of our body and fitness regimes:

Being conscious of the body – briefly, what does this mean to you?

In my opinion, it’s about setting the right foundations and seeking perfection in them. There are many who rush into the latest fads and workouts, thinking that finding the 'best workout' and following it to a 'T', will change their lives significantly. But before you do that, I believe that you should first consider if you are able to do a simple mobility assessment upon which all exercises are built upon.
For example, can you execute a full squat? i.e. with your butt toward the ground? Are you able to raise both your arms with elbows straight up towards the ceiling, parallel to your ears, without arching your back? Can you sit on a chair and rotate your upper back 45 degrees with your arms crossed on both sides? Can you, when standing up straight, bend down to touch your toes with your knees locked out? If you can’t pass these base line markers, then there really is no point thinking about complex workouts or what is 'hot' out there. Work on your mobility first.

The human body is an amazing thing, and most of us are capable of powering through workouts without thinking much about it at all i.e. working out whilst in a 'zombie mode'. Would you agree?    

Absolutely. Examples of this include taking a long walk on the treadmill, or doing hundreds of burpees, one after another. Of course, I am not insinuating that it is 'wrong' to do these forms of exercise – if your goal is to finish a targeted number of repetitions in an allocated time to work a particular energy system, then yes, shut your senses and go for it. But otherwise, it's not what I would call a holistic workout. 

How much are we benefitting from just ‘going through the motions’ of a fitness program? What do you think keeps people going back to the gym to repeat workouts with poor results, while avoiding professional guidance like a plague?

If the goal is to get better at a certain skill (e.g. handstands), or to get stronger (e.g. deadlifts) or to run faster, you will need to be conscious and pay attention to every single repetition done, every set executed, every stride and breath taken. Each training tells you a story of whether the previous routine made a difference. I believe that the main reason people choose to avoid professional help is due to (a) ego, (b) costs and perhaps (c) a fear of obligation. If you're clear about where you want to be in a certain period of time, do yourself a favour and seek professional guidance.  If you wanted to learn a certain form of dance, for example, you'd be inclined to go to a dance class. You can watch some videos and dance at home, no doubt, but I'm sure we'd all agree that it's not quite the same, and that if you wanted to advance in that from of dance, you would have to attend class and learn from those who are more experienced at the craft. It's the same with customised training – 'no cheap things are good, and no good things are cheap'. To achieve what you want at a high standard, you need to accept nothing but the best into your life. 

From your experience as a fitness expert, is there a ‘template’ to getting fit and being conscious at working out?

No, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all workout out there. There is no ‘best workout template’ and there certainly isn’t a ‘best modality’. This is the truth. No two people are alike, although they may share the same fitness goal. Essentially, no two programs should be the same as there are many considerations such as training age, mobility scoring, individual stress levels etc.
We have well-over 100 active clients at G1RYA and all of them have in some way or another, a variation to their respective programmes. However, I would have to emphasis again that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' when it comes to defining what you want to achieve fitness-wise, but there is, of course, more than one way to skin a cat.

How can we bring consciousness to our workouts? What are some 'baby steps' anyone can start with? And from there, how can we progress?

Borrowing a quote from StrongFirst, 'methods are many but principles are few'.
I think bringing 'consciousness' to workouts and/or training starts with being specific in what you want to achieve. After you're clear about where you're headed, you then ask yourself, "is what I am doing now, bringing me closer to my desired goal?" 
Principles: they are what keeps you on track and grounded in your training.
From my experience, I have found that the best way to be conscious about your personal fitness journey, be it early on in your commencement of training or twenty years into training is to have a log book, is to have a direct reflection of consciousness in your trainings. Diligently keep a log book of your workouts/training schedules and against that record, record how you felt after the work out, what your heart rate was like, whether you completed a set faster or slower etc. That is how you calibrate your workout, and it is ultimately how you will progress.

What, in your opinion, is the epitome of conscious fitness? When will one know that they have reached?

Conscious fitness boils down to asking yourself these three questions:
(1) Where are you now, in terms of fitness? 
(2) Where do you ultimately want to be (has to be quantitative)?
(3) How exactly are you going to get there? 
Basically, you will only know you have 'reached a summit' when you realise that you have something to asses and evaluate. Professionals like myself have spent a large part of our lives perfecting the 'know how'; all you have to do is drop the ego, be ready to commit to your principles and embrace the present.

Myren Fu is a lululemon Singapore ambassador, as well as the Director and Founder of training centre, G1RYA (pronounced, ghirrr-ya). He is currently the only StrongFirst certified instructor in Singapore, and constantly is on the go travelling to learn and gain more insights, so as to serve his clients better. Myren is also a fitness educator to corporations and fitness magazines, sharing his knowledge on nutrition and training.