Yoga BamBam was the location of a photo shoot by Crave a glossy gastronomic magazine in Hong Kong. Crave was interviewing 3 of HK’s most influential fitness coaches for an article called Perfect Fit. I was some what wary of an interview based on, the diets of fitness professionals as I am also wary of diet trends. The questions of the journalist hit a raw nerve. They were asking about our our Guilty food pleasures, dieting & snacking habits.
It’s possible to tell what some people do for a living just by looking at them. That certainly holds true for fitness coaches, with their toned bodies, confidence and high-energy attitudes. So even though we’d never met before, it was easy to spot our three interviewees, who each run one-of-a- kind fitness businesses: Melanie B of Yoga Bam Bam, Alex de Fina of Bikini Fit and Lucia Tam of Bounce Limit.
Yoga Bam Bam is a boutique yoga studio with a difference on Pound Lane, Sheung Wan. Founded by B, it has a semi-open ground floor that allows classes to connect to nature (breeze, trees, sunlight) and the neighbourhood, plus classes that combine yoga poses with Cantonese lessons.
Alex founded women-only Bikini Fit
in 2012. He organises cycles of up to six training sessions a week including yoga, boxing and suspension training in outdoor locations such as Hong Kong Park, Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park and Kowloon Park, often at sunrise. Pictures of the events are all over Instagram, often captioned with exclamation marks and smiley emoji.
Lucia is the instructor at Bounce Limit, Asia’s first rebounding studio where participants exercise on individual trampolines. It’s a high- intensity, low-impact exercise, guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping and said to burn up to 1,000 calories an hour.
It is not surprising that they all lead a healthy lifestyle, however, they are aware that not every Hongkonger is health-conscious.
“In Hong Kong, there isn’t enough awareness about the importance of exercise, and people don’t realise
that most aches and pains are quite preventable with the right exercise and food,” Lucia says. “Long working hours and eating out all the time have taken precedence over a healthier lifestyle. But then there’s the other extreme, where people feel they need pain to gain, and engage in extreme workouts that end up hurting them permanently.”
Alex agrees that extreme lifestyles are a problem in Hong Kong. “There is a massive population of people who work crazy hours, and trash their body with poor diet, excessive drinking and push the limit with everything they do. It won’t be long until the cracks appear with physical or mental health,” he warns.
Melanie arrived in Hong Kong from Paris only 18 months ago and believes the city is going to be out of balance. “Hong Kong is an intense city. It has a really powerful energy both positively and negatively, but problems will arise if
the energy is out of balance. It’s a wondrous city, but it’s also misaligned,” she says. This belief partly inspired the layout of Yoga Bam Bam. “We are here to empower the teachers, students and the neighbourhood. I deliberately chose to build the studio at ground level so the whole neighbourhood could benefit from our good energy,” Melanie says.
The three have strong opinions about the impact of diet on health.
“Fad diets disgust me,” Alex says. “We focus on eating to optimise health and offset illness and we always educate our members to walk away from quick-fix solutions and gimmicky exercise regimes. Once they have created a framework of healthy eating, we share more specific topics such as vegetarian nutrition, ketogenic diet, gut health and elimination diet.”
Lucia also says she doesn’t believe in diet plans. “I believe in a balanced diet,” she says. “All types of real food have vitamins and minerals that help our body. The only one that is a big no-no is junk food – we should only eat it once in a while.” While all three enjoy seeing positive changes in people’s life, there are inevitably some frustrations. “I am upset when my students don’t take my advice and refuse to make lifestyle or workout changes,” Lucia says. “Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to get fit, you have to put in the effort.”
Melanie wishes she could teach more. “Now I am a studio owner, I spend more time behind my laptop than on the mat. I am not able to teach as much as I’d like to. Hopefully, I will soon get back into doing less clerical work and more Yoga.”
Alex says, “My biggest frustration is people who are trapped in a negative state try to sabotage other members’ progress. I call them energy vampires.”
So what should we do to be healthy and happy?
“Eat in moderation,” Lucia says. “Eat frequently, don’t starve. And stretch more to keep the muscles and body supple.”
Alex suggests investing time, energy and money in your health and fitness. “It will improve your quality of life,” he says. “There’s no point being miserable to look good, and there’s something wrong if you need to have a poor lifestyle to feel good about yourself. The goal should always be about slow, consistent and positive steps forwards.”
Melanie’s suggestion : “Everybody should live the life they love with respect.”
1. Your go-to restaurant for a fulfilling and healthy meal?
Alex de Fina: Tango Argentinean Steakhouse on Wyndham Street. Large orders of bovine with a side of greens is simple and always on point.
Lucia Tam: Mana! Fast Slow Food. Melanie B: My family is vegetarian so we love eating at Mana! too.
2. Your guilty pleasure?
Alex: Frozen yogurt and confectionery on Saturday nights. It’s non-negotiable.
Melanie: My guilty pleasure is perhaps that I don’t have any (guilt).
3. What snack do you carry in your bag?
Alex: I tend not to snack often as my meals are prepped with frightening precision by my helper.
Melanie: I don’t snack, but I do join my kids eating cookies and desserts after school every day. The sharing of sweet pleasures is the joy of being a mother.
4. Your favourite energising drink?
Alex: Coffee. I am a strong supporter of its liberal use.
Lucia: Just water.
Melanie: I recently became the Hong Kong ambassador for Cocomax. I offer the drinks to students after class and find myself drinking it when I’m hungry and in need of an energy boost.
5. Your music playlist when you are working out?
Alex: Anything aggressive and loud helps me focus.
Lucia: All types of music with strong beats.
Melanie: I sing with my kids on the way to school we usually make up our own songs or I teach them the pop, rock & electro classics.