Monday, December 31, 2012

Flexifitness Chen Ming Ming - 2nd in MR25 Ultramarathon 2012

 Chen Ming Ming -Brilliant performance from a dedicated athlete

Pic 1 -Chen Ming Ming wearing the no 8 number tag, posing with her friends.

Women's Open

Chen Ming Ming joined Flexifitness a few months back. Over time, I have seen Chen Ming Ming, 31, having very good cadence in running, naturally. She improved that more over time. However, there are some trouble spots which, I believe will bring out excellence in her in time to come as long she stays consistent in training. 

With improvement to do in some of the physical components, I believe that she will be able to come in top 6, maybe even top 3 in the coming Stanchart 2013. This is my observation. I notice that she is very talented and if these physical components get corrected, for example technique in running for a good running economy, her performance will see the 'sky is the limit' effect. 

She has done 3hr 59min in Gold Coast Marathon 2012, where at the same race Ashley Liew did 2hr 35min 40sec. Over time, she ran in the Singapore Marathon this year doing a 4hr 01sec. For all the races, that I have run in Singapore, in the past, I realise that I could run 10min or faster in overseas races, where the temperature is much cooler and the humidity is lower. Hence, my prediction is that she is capable of doing a 3hr 50min, currently, and she is capable of getting faster over time. 

For this year, yesterday, while I was doing my own 61.2km run in MacRitchie Reservoir, I realised that Ming Ming was doing very well in the MR 25 Ultramarathon race, which is from 7am to 7pm. Flexifitness athletes were impressed with Ming Ming's performance and cheered her on during the race, especially towards the last portion of the race. Flexifitness is very happy to have an athlete like Ming Ming who shows courage and determination and to do the best even though she could have run 7 rounds to come in second position. Let us listen to her upcoming interview, where from 8th position, last year, she emerged 2nd , yesterday, Women's Open doing 83.4km altogether.

Friday, December 28, 2012

How to Balance Studies and Training - Sara Ng's Sharing with Flexifitness Athletes

 Sara Ng - Balancing Studies with Sports ( Sharing session with Flexifitness athletes)

Picture 1 - Sara Ng, winning in a local Singapore Aquathlon

Recently, Ashley Liew, our local champion of Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon, told our Flexifitness Young Champions Programme athletes on the finer points  on how he balances studies and training. As a coach, who have known him for 4 years, I find that he has done his training and studies with a lot of determination. He has obtained his degree from the reputed Singapore Management University and is now going for his doctorate studies in chiropratic practises in USA. I feel that people can learn from Ashley on how to balance sports with studies. 

Ashley gave his salient points on why putting one's energy and effort in training and studies from day one is important,  and it is important not to wait and procrastinate, as this will affect academic results and running achievements, eventually. He also told us the value of sacrificing time, money and effort so that one can achieve their goal. There was also the need to discipline oneself in order to focus on training and this may results in less contact with friends, for the benefit of excelling in studies and training. 

As for me, in the past, my own friends used to scold me for not spending time with them when I was training seriously. Nevertheless, right now my friends are still intact with me and I have gained a lot of friends. Hence, it is worth it to sacrifice my time, money and effort in running and it has taught me a lot of things, especially on values like humility, sincerity, faith, believe, honesty etc. 

The real challenge came this year as Ashley wanted to do well in Stanchart marathon this year. Eventually, the end result came to us when Ashley came in first in 2012 Standard Chartered Marathon which was organised here in Singapore itself. He knew that getting a good time of 2hr 35min 40sec in Gold Coast Marathon 2012, in July, was not good enough. He need to get his victory in Singapore as well to prove his worth as a local champion of Singapore. That was his challenge. He had to slay the inner dragon in him first. 

As a coach, I feel that he has crossed one milestone and there are more to go. I can only say, "The sky is the limit," when I observe on his real capability to improve in running. There is more room for improvement.

At the same time, I would like to draw some readers to my former athlete who is still competing and studying in Singapore. Her name is Sara Ng. I would like to say something about her.

As I know Sara Ng, from the past, as a Hwa Chong student, I remember the day when she came to see me to join Health and Fitness Club when I was in that school. At that time she was doing very little activity per week. One of the reason for this was because she of her travel to Indonesia to and fro several times of the year. 

Later on, she joined Health and Fitness Club when I was the teacher in - charge In Hwa Chong, a few years back. She was at first a passive person in sports.

Initially, she was hesistant to commit more days for Health and Fitness, except  for 1 or 2 days per week. Over time, she was starting to get interested in running and she commited herself to training to the point that she was coming for all the days for our running training. She was invited to join  our School Cross Country group as she was getting fitter in running. At the same time, while studying in Hwa Chong, she also attained 8 'As' for GCE 'A' Levels. That, I felt was a great feat by this former student of Hwa Chong Institution (college), to balance studies with training.

From a member of Health and Fitness, Sara rose to become a Vice - Chairperson of the club and finally became the chairperson of the club. She became a good role model for others to follow, especially for the next two leaders Haidee Chiu and Michelle Peh. The latter two learnt good values from her and brought the club to another level by increasing the group to three fold. 

Having said, I had earlier on, a few months back, had asked Sara to speak to our Flexifitness athletes on balancing running and studies. The last time she gave a talk was a year back. This was her second time. She gladly volunteered to do this. 

Recently, Sara had in fact come in first in local triathlon race in Singapore. She also has represented National University of Singapore for the Asian University Triathlon Team Championships this year. Flexifitness would like to congratulate her and share some of the content spoken to the kids of our group. We believe that this will benefit all those who want to balance studies with running. We would like to say, "Keep going Sara".

Picture 1 - Sara Ng, the swim, cycle, and run section in a triathlon race.

Balancing Sports and Studies

The rigourous education system often calls for a large amount of time and focus to be dedicated to studies. For those who have sporting aspirations, a lot dedication and time is also required to pursue this goal. Balancing the two is not always easy, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes very much a lifestyle.

1.       Identify your goals

It is always useful to know exactly what you want to achieve in both your studies and in your sporting endeavours. Some have big targets for their academic pursuits, while others may be chasing lofty sporting goals. Identifying precisely what you want to achieve in both sports and studies will help you decide how much time and resources to dedicate to each of these goals.

2.       Identify what you need to do to achieve these goals

After knowing exactly what you want, you have decide how much time and work you need to put in to achieve these goals, while taking into account how much time you have currently. You may need help from your teachers of coach to help you with this. Come up with a schedule that allocates the right amount of time to each activity, don’t forget that you need time to rest and to also spend time with friends and family. You need to know your habits and what works best for you – some people study better at night, and so prefer to train in the morning. Others prefer to get a run in before the sun rises, leaving the rest of the day free to do their work. Knowing when your body performs best for sports and when your mind is most alert for periods of study is extremely important – it may take some trial and error to find out – but once you do, plan your time according to this and you will find that your time is used more productively

3.       Chasing your goals

This is the part when you actually put your plan into action. I believe that achieving your goals ultimately requires 3 things: a hunger to succeed, a driving force that keeps you going, and self-discipline.

You need to be hungry for success; you need to really want to achieve your goals.

You need a driving force – usually the hunger drives you to succeed, and acts as your motivation, but you need to know ultimately why is it that you want to achieve these goals. You may want to challenge your physical limits in sport, you may want gain as much knowledge as you can through your studies and push your own intellectual limits. Sometimes, there is someone who may have inspired you, or you may want to be an inspiration to others - going back to why you want to do this would serve as your driving force.

Discipline ­– the stumbling block for many. This is however not always the hardest part – once you have the desire to succeed, discipline comes naturally. If you want something, you need to do what it takes to get it. Surround yourself with people who are a positive influence and who share similar goals. If studying with others help you, form study groups and fix a regular meet-up schedule. As for sport, training with a group of highly-motivated individuals will help you push the limits in training. Having people to train or study with would also ensure that you do the work when you need to – when you are tempted to skip revision or training, it helps that there is a group of people waiting for you to turn up for the regular study or training sessions.

When you have a choice between sleeping in and training, think about that PB or the spot on the podium that you have been working so hard for.

A willingness to work hard would get you where you want to be. A lack of time is not an excuse: you have 24 hours a day, and 168 hours a week – enough time to put in the work to chase your goals, but not enough time to waste.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

How To Avoid High Blood Pressure

By Rameshon

How to win the war on High Blood Pressure
Currently, as I am right 47 years of age, moving towards 48 in a few days time, I feel that the reason for me not getting high blood pressure and diabetes is because of the benefits that I am getting from physical activity, which I do nearly daily every week. I also believe that one should be very active rather than just active in life. In the long term, one will save one's wealth through this action. Mark my words!

Even though, I do not have high blood pressure or other problems, I do go for check ups. High blood pressure is imminent so long we do not take care of the body. 

Also, take note that through exercise, the restlessness of the body subsides and one will become calm. I believe that children who have ADHD and autism can greatly benefit from physical activity like running, swimming and other sports.

We should have this activity forming habit all the time even when we are old,  more so when children are very young, where they are active most of the time, and it is the best time for them to get attracted to physical activity. The key word is getting attracted to physical activity so that they like to do it without hesitation to oneself or encouragement by others in the long run. This itself is a success.

Some parents I have seen in my life are just hoping that the child will focus on studies first, and then later on in life take up a sport. I think that this is a gross mistake that the parents are making in the decision making process. Once a child does not like sports or games, it will be very hard to get them active and they will start to rebel if you insist upon it. 

I have seen successful parents believing that studies and sports are important in succeeding in life. These activity loving parents are very aware that sports will make their children very indepedent and that will them to learn values like hardwork, perserverance, determination, leadership qualities like selfless service and most importantly resilience, the value of rebounding back in life even when they are down. Many studies have shown that sports is one of the best way to increase self esteem in a child. Your child will be happy throughout life, managing life well even in a stressful environment.

Let us look into the article written on 21st Dec that says about high blood pressure. It is by 

If you have high blood pressure, you're in good company: according the World Health Organization, one in three adults has high blood pressure, a key trigger of heart disease. Yet, a few lifestyle changes can help get your situation under control, and even delay or reduce the need for medication, experts say.

On December 19, MyHealthNewsDaily offered a few tips for lowering blood pressure, including avoiding fructose -- a 2010 study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that people who consumed 74 grams of fructose or more each day had a 77 percent higher risk of high blood pressure.

Also eat your bananas -- eating foods rich in potassium has been shown to be as effective as cutting your salt intake in half, says MyHealthNewsDaily. Other foods containing potassium include raisins, prunes, apricots, strawberries, dates, spinach, and tomatoes.

Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic in the US suggests losing weight if you need to and exercising regularly. Losing just 10 pounds, or 4.5 kilograms, of excess weight can lessen your hypertension. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

Also eat a healthy diet and reduce your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day or less. For people 51 years or older, a level of 1,500 mg a day or less is ideal, according to Mayo Clinic. To help keep tabs on your sodium levels, you can keep a salt journal or use a salt-tracking app such as Sodium One or Sodium Tracker.

Be sure to limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Aim for no more than one a day if you're a women or a man over 65, or two a day for men age 65 and younger. Track your drinking patterns, suggests Mayo Clinic, to get a true picture of what you're really drinking, and never binge drink -- imbibing four or more drinks in a row -- which can cause sudden increases in blood pressure.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Inactivity in Children and Obesity

 By Rameshon

Dr Ben Tan (right) author of 'Run for your Life', our athlete who did 2hr 56min in 2008. He wrote an article in Straits times two days ago. He is three times 'sportsman of the year' award winner as will.

My firm believe is that, the only way to enable one's child to do exericise as a life time pursuit is to ensure that a child is highly motivated in sports throughout life in the first place. Without a high level of motivation, the child will leave sports when various distractions in life comes to make them give up in sports and hence parents should take this seriously and be responsible for the well being of their child.

Recent Studies in cities of east and west have the following results. 
(a) Very active children result in active adult later on in life. 
(b) active children result in less active adult later on in life
(c) less active children will end in inactive adult later on in life. 
(d) inactive children will end in inactive adult later on in life. 

Hence, the very idea of making the child very motivated in sports pose as the biggest challenge in life for parents. With distractions like computer, television and video games, life is getting tougher for parents to get the children to exercise. In fact, I have seen children rebel against their parents in order to continue in doing vain pursuits. 

The article below shows that inactivity is on the rise for children and as I have predicted the children are more inactive now than ever before. It is getting worse over time. Only parents can save their children. The only way to save them is to make children like activity at a very young age, somewhere between 5 and 9. I have worked with children and it was great working with them. I also noticed that actually at this age, children respond to exercise more than anything. (Many parents have failed to see this. I was brought up that way, that is why until now, at the age of 47, I still run at least 5 to 6 times per day, running an average of 7km per day).

Finding ways to interest the children to exercise is very important. That is why our company Flexifitness has taken some initiatives to introduce programmes, that has been interesting children, to generate great interest in children and have this passion growing in children so that they can excel in one chosen sports and take sports as a life time pursuit. Since the inception of Flexifitness last year July, 10 people, children and adults, have lost weight and are having an ideal weight now. Apart from the government efforts, we are willing to work hard, having qualified coaches, so that many in Singapore are not obese. We are doing our part. Study done in Singapore showed that 50 per cent or more of the people of Singapore are obese. The trend may increase if inactivity persist in children. 

Exercise is known as one of the eight forms of health as mentioned in Yoga books. One can save on doctors' bill and not spend half of one's wealth on medical bills. This is a truth.  Continuous activity in life will ensure that one will keep away from spending a lot on medical bills. Besides that, one will enjoy life with a better quality of life.

Dr Ben Tan, 3 times sportsman of the year award winner, as a runner who once joined our group for training to achieve 2hr 56min for 2008 marathon, and who came in 3rd local individual runner, has written an article on exercise in Straits Times on countering obesity that is prevalent in Singapore. It will be a good read for many. 

Benedict Tan Chi Loong (Dr)
Exercise is Medicine Singapore Task Force

DR ANDY Ho ("New media may offer escape hatch for unhealthy food ads"; Dec 6) has raised important points concerning the growing prevalence of obesity among children and the factors that have contributed to this public health problem.

The Health Promotion Board's proposed guidelines on limiting TV and print advertising of food and beverages high in fat, sugar, or salt to children are a step in the right direction. As multiple factors contribute to the obesity crisis, a holistic approach is necessary. This approach must also educate the public more effectively about healthy food choices and the importance of incorporating regular physical activity as a part of people's daily lives.

Children are more physically inactive now than ever before. They are spending an increasing part of their day sitting in front of the television and/or computer.

A study in 2002 showed that children between nine and 15 years of age exercise an average of 31 minutes on weekdays. This drops to 5.4 minutes on weekends.

A national health survey in 2010 showed that 48 per cent of adults do not exercise regularly while another finding suggests that adults spend on average 100 minutes daily using electronic devices.

The Exercise is Medicine Singapore (EIMS) task force acknowledges that physical inactivity is a fast-growing public health concern, as it directly contributes to the societal burden of chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease.

Launched last year, we aim to educate and empower health-care providers and the public with the tools to make exercise and healthy eating part of maintaining health and managing chronic health problems.

We also commend the Education Ministry's new physical education (PE) curriculum, which will commence in 2014. This will include an extra hour of PE on top of the current one to 11/2 hours a week for primary school pupils and an hour a week for secondary school students.

Aside from the health benefits of physical activity, sport is important for learning life skills such as teamwork and stress reduction. Studies have found that children have improved concentration and perform better in school when they exercise regularly.

If we can get our children to spend less time sitting in front of the TV and/or computer every day, this would not only help address the obesity crisis but also expose them to less of the targeted food and beverage advertisements in the first place.

Note : If anyone wants to reduce weight through exercise and are looking for professional help, you can e-mail flexifitness when you go to the CONTACT link of

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Aerobic Training or Resistance Training for Weight Loss

Fat loss - Using my own experience

 By Rameshon

Picture 1 - It is important to know the truth by finding it out by yourself

Resistance training is not a good way to reduce fat. I gained this knowledge through experience when I was 73 kg in year 2005. I found that by doing 600 sit - ups and strength training, my fat level did not go down, until I started doing more aerobic running, walking and other training in the gym like the treadmill, cycling and elliptical machines. Simply, by doing this activity, I made one guy to come in third in marathon in year 2005 and I was 6thfor that year before I came in first in the year 2008, at the age of 43.  With this training, I reduced my weight to 66 kg in 6months. I did a 10km race in year 2005 in 55min and it was not good for all the efforts that I was putting in to lose weight. The next couple of months, I lost a total of 6 kg in 6 months, I was able to go to 60kg with aerobic training alone. I told myself to continue with the aerobic training and I finally brought my weight down to 55kg, in year 2006. I followed a very structured way of training to reduce my weight using my own experience as a coach and an athlete as well as using Sports Science and use a step by step approach to weight loss. .

My conclusion was that nothing can beat aerobic training for weight loss. It is a sad mistake that one wants to bring in resistance training to lose weight where a person's weight usually goes upwards and not downwards. I knew that it will be a waste of time doing resistance training if the purpose is to lose weight. 

It was only when I brought my weight down to 55kg that I started to do resistance training so that I could run much faster. The key word for people, who are overweight, who want to run a marathon or any distance race, which ranges between 1.5km to the ultra marathon, is to bring the weight down first and then focus on fitness next. By bringing the weight down in fact one's fitness scores actually goes up instead of going down. However, I have met many impatient people who want to do resistance training at all cost. I believe that they do it for two main reasons. One of the reasons cited frequently by some people is that they find that many people are doing this. Hence, they feel secured that they are doing the right things by following the norms, and they feel that following the norm is the best. This is like blind leading the blind, to my observation. One will not go far because of this action. The next reason cited by them is to get the 6 packs at the abdominal area and to get mascular etc. As Wilson Kipketer, former World Record Holder for 800m, had mentioned last year to middle distance athletes of Singapore that one may indulge in weights training and may get lost to a point that they have in fact, without their own knowledge, actually have chosen another sport, like weight lifting, throwing events, instead of running. He asked us to be careful with resistance training. Knowledge of Sports Science is important if one wants to succeed. 

In the past, as I can remember vividly, I have trained some people to reduce weight through an aerobic activity and felt, using my experience, that it will be a good idea to tell people to focus on cutting down on weight as a person gets fitter, in fact by doing this action. Many as I had known did not believe in this and I found that I was not in a position to help them to lose weight. I was in fact firm in my believe not to waste time in resistance training as no significant results will accrue.

In 2005, only when I saw my weight not going down significantly by resistance training that I mustered all my energies and efforts to predominantly aerobic training, armed with the knowledge of Sports Science and intuition. After reading this article below, I am now convinced that what I did for my runners were all right. Hence, it is good for people to read article and know that it is important to reduce one's weight first through aerobic training. I hope you have a good read.

Remember, only when you have reduced weight to ideal weight that one can focus on resistance training once a week, in order to get fitter. This is, I feel strongly, that forms the key to improve fitness, which forms as the next target on ones journey to health.


Quality time on the treadmill may be a better way to fight the flab compared to weight training or a combination of the two, a new study finds.
The study comes from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and was published last week in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

"Given that approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight due to excess body fat, we want to offer clear, evidence-based exercise recommendations that will truly help people lose weight and body fat," says Leslie H. Willis, MS, an exercise physiologist at Duke Medicine and the study's lead author.

Researchers enlisted 234 overweight or obese adults in the study. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: resistance training three days per week (three sets per day, eight to 12 repetitions per set); aerobic training (walking/jogging 19 kilometers per week); or aerobic plus resistance training (three days a week, three sets per day, 8-12 repetitions per set for resistance training, plus 19 kilometers per week of walking/jogging).

The groups assigned to aerobic training and aerobic plus resistance training lost more weight than those who did just resistance training. The resistance training group actually gained weight due to an increase in lean body mass, the researchers noted.

Interesting, while the combination exercise group worked out longer than the other groups, their results were mixed. Participants did lose weight and fat mass, but the loss wasn't as significant as those who just trained aerobically.

"Balancing time commitments against health benefits, our study suggests that aerobic exercise is the best option for reducing fat mass and body mass," says Cris A. Slentz, PhD, a Duke exercise physiologist and study co-author. "It's not that resistance training isn't good for you; it's just not very good at burning fat."

The Duke team published a second study last year in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism that found that vigorous aerobic activity trumps lifting weights when it comes to trimming belly fat.