Hong Kong offers a number of innovative ways to get fit – and, more importantly, stay fit – whatever your situation or schedule. Here we’ve rounded up a few options for you if fitness is on your agenda this year, including something for new mums or those who are expecting.
Christmas, New Year’s, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and Easter. So many events to test the willpower of even the most health-conscious Hongkonger. And we are sorry to be the bearers of bad tidings, but the season of celebrations is well and truly over – now it’s time to undo the damage! Daniel Ridders, managing director of body shaping studio HYPOXI, says February and March is one of their busiest times of the year. “The weight is ever so easy and oh so enjoyable to put on, but it can prove difficult to shed those extra pounds!” he says. According to Daniel, the HYPOXI system of targeted fat loss can have you back to your old self in a matter of weeks. The training regime combines gentle exercise (sounds good to us!) with sound nutrition in a fat-burning method that targets problem areas such as the stomach, hips, legs and buttocks to get your body back into shape and improve your fitness. A coach will tailor a training regime to suit your specific weight loss goals and you then use different machines to target different parts of the body. The secret of the HYPOXI method, Daniel says, is that it stimulates blood circulation in problem areas, which makes it three times more effective than traditional exercise. In short, the better the blood flow to specific parts of the body, the better the targeted fat burning. “Generally, our clients see results after six sessions,” Daniel says. “In just a few weeks you’ll be back to your old self and most likely looking even better than before.”
8/F, EuBank Plaza, 9 Chiu Lung Street, Central
Hands up if you feel more stressed than you used to? If it’s any consolation, you’re not imagining it. Pilates specialist Morven Macleod, director of Options Studio Hong Kong, says our bodies are under increasing pressure, thanks to a hectic and stressful environment, combined with long hours in front of devices, creating bad postural tendencies and muscular imbalances. Options has operated for seven years and has a primary focus on Pilates training for fitness, which Morven says can tackle these problems and aid a healthier lifestyle by working on postural muscles, alignment, stretching and core strengthening. “Classes combine strengthening and lengthening of muscles, leaving you feeling stronger and fitter, with increased mobility and flexibility.” Pilates appeals to many people as it’s not jarring on joints. “It works not only on your large global muscles but also on your smaller stabilising muscles that help you to balance and prevent injury and strain,” says Morven. “Essentially, it keeps the body strong and mobile – exactly what’s needed as we age to prevent increasing aches and pains and decreasing agility.” Morven, who is also education director at the studio, says there is a misconception that Pilates is specifically for people with injuries or in rehab, or that it is no more than a method of stretching. “Yes, Pilates can be used to recover from injury or as rehabilitation; however, the majority of our clients do it simply because it makes their bodies look and feel better,” she says.
15/F, 11 Stanley Street, Central
If you’ve been looking to kickstart a new health regime and improve your fitness or have always wanted to try Pilates, then Flex Studio’s March MATness could be the perfect opportunity. And it only requires 20 minutes of your time each day. Flex Studio founder H e a t h e r T h o m a s Shalabi says March MATness is open to anyone, regardless of age or ability. “It’s a month-long focus on daily dedication to your body and state of mind through the beauty of Joseph Pilates’ Contrology – otherwise called the Pilates method,” she says. “Pilates novices or experts will reap the benefits! Plus, it’s free and there are no props required. It couldn’t be easier for those leading hectic lives, and it will bring physical insight and health benefits that last a lifetime.” The programme will see Flex Studio post one new Pilates mat exercise on its Facebook page each day, as well as upload a new weekly mat workout comprising various Pilates exercises on its FlexAppeal blog. These will come complete with a photo and description of each exercise. Heather, who became a devotee of Pilates 15 years ago when she first moved to Hong Kong, says all the March MATness exercises are simple but effective, and are designed to tone muscles, improve balance and neuromuscular control, deepen your breath and increase your peace of mind. Flex caters for kids, teens and adults with packages for private or group classes.
• Shops 308-310, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen | 2813 2212
• 3/F, Man Cheung Building, 15-17WyndhamStreet, Central | 2813 2399
Jeanne Hauguel is passionate when it comes to espousing the benefits of yoga for expectant and new mothers. A mother of four, Jeanne founded Birth Story with the aim of helping other women have a better experience than she herself has had giving birth in Hong Kong. Jeanne says yoga can make a profound difference for a woman during pregnancy, labour and recovery. She adds that pre-natal yoga can help a mum-to-be maintain her fitness, allowing her to stay active while taking the physical changes of pregnancy into account. “Yoga helps to maintain a good posture – it opens the upper body to allow the lungs to expand while breathing, which helps with shortness of breath during pregnancy,” she says. “It also helps to open the hips and pelvis for the baby’s descent and ensures a good position towards the end; and it strengthens the pelvic floor, too.” Jeanne says women who have practiced prenatal yoga are then usually less stressed when it comes to giving birth – and in some cases yoga can mean a faster labour and better recovery. Birth Story also offers postnatal yoga with simple stretches to ease the aches and pains of childbirth and to build up core strength after the six- to eight-week mark with her breastfeeding-friendly classes. “Yoga is a great way to relax, know your body better and understand its needs,” Jeanne says. “If you’re committed and practice regularly – at least one to two times a week every week – you’ll see the difference quite quickly.”
Classes are held at 20/F, Car Po Commercial Building, 18-20 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, or private classes at home can be arranged.
Want more advice on how to get fit?