Crave Magazine

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.

You see I don’t believe in diets & I don’t diet.  The dieting industry feeds off peoples feelings of  inadequacy & glorifies a rare ideal that even fashion models themselves find it hard to achieve without the help of photo shop.
My mother has been on a diet ever since I can remember, I think that she is actually a life time member of Weight Watchers.  I grew up watching her religiously weigh herself, every morning and night. I grew up watching her starve herself, take slimming pills & never truly enjoy a big meal without feeling guilty. Childhood memories of mom were of her picking at our left over food instead of joining us at the family table. She is a beautiful woman and is still looking great yet the energy she spent depriving herself of food could have equally been energy spent on exercising.
The whole reason I became an fitness teacher at 16 years old was because I was a fat kid.  Working out works for me, keeping active, eating healthy fabulous meals is the key to controlling my weight & being happy.  Years of Yoga & positive affirmation have brought me to a point of self worth, confidence & love. I have accepted the fact that I will never be skinny & regardless of my curves I have made a successful career as a fitness professional.  I set the same fitness goals for my clients as I do for myself. To be healthy, active, happy & surrounded by love.
 So I decided to answer Crave magazine questions. Food is one of my pleasures everyday after I pick up my  daughters from school we eat sweet treats . After dark I snack on exquisite cheeses, breads, nuts & olives with my husband, this is our pleasure. We are a vegetarian family so we love Mana .  I love the organic mushroom chocolate from Anything But Salads. My husband & kids are French so our local Crêperie is a part of our lives. This is Hong Kong mostly everybody eats out.  Yoga BamBam is in the middle of so many good cafes and places to eat, going out to lunch is 2nd nature & a true delight in Sheung Wan.
As the day of the photo shoot came closer I started to wonder, if they’d find me thin enough for their fitness model photo shoot. I’m a 42 years old mother of 2 kids, personally I think that my Fitness modelling days are over.
 As one of Hong Kong’s most influential Fitness leaders in Hong Kong would I be the fatty in the group?  I knew that my friend Lucia Tam of Bounce limit  was one of the trainers in the interview. I’d never met Alexa de Fina of Bikini Fit, surely she would be all toned up and ready show as much skin as possible. I began to seriously regret the sad truth that since I became a Yoga studio Owner that I’d basically stopped teaching Yoga and become a pen pusher, glued to my laptop instead of being a personal Yoga teacher as I was in Paris cycling from one students house to the next.
On the day of the shoot I confess that I was so relieved when I realised that Alexa was not a slender bikini clad woman but a hulk of a man. Thankfully standing next to such a huge muscle clad giant made me seem rather tiny.  The interview session with Crave was a blast , I instantly hit it off with Alexa he’s a really awesome guy. All 3 of us shared so much in common, our  love of fitness, sport, health and a motivating force to share this with everybody around us. The photo shoot was really enjoyable I taught Alexa & Lucia a few AcroYoga poses, they both learnt the AcroYoga pose really quickly.
Many Thanks to Crave magazine for introducing Alexa to me & giving all 3 of us busy entrepreneurs a good excuse to have play around on Yoga BamBams deck. Thanks also to Samantha for her photographic talent.
Yoga BamBam 28 Pound Lane Sheung Wan  www.yogabambam.com
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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.

Lucia: Candy.
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.

Lucia: Almonds.

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.