Friday, May 26, 2017

My 33 Candles 🎂 #YOLO

Last year I went for my first solo trip to celebrate my 32nd birthday at a Muay Thai camp. It was a very challenging and exhilarating experience where I trained 3 times a day for 8 days straight... and which I have sadly not blogged about yet #oops BUT you can see videos of my training here, here and here.

I was probably at the peak of my fitness then and as crazy as it was, the Muay Thai camp is definitely something I want to do again. 

And I would have this year too if I wasn't so injured but oh well, it is what it is. #nexttimethen

I still decided to take a solo birthday trip to Bangkok this year again though to rest and relax. It's been a crazy first half year with our new family & work schedules.

I know some people think it's weird that I'd want to spend my birthday alone but like I mentioned before, being alone doesn't necessarily mean you are lonely. Sometimes it's good to be alone to give you time to be yourself and to find yourself.  

As mums, daughters, sisters, friends, we can sometimes find ourselves so overwhelmed by all our different roles and expectations. If possible, it is worthwhile to have little time-outs to rediscover your sense of self, and to make an effort to care for yourself. It is not about being selfish or self-centered. It is about loving yourself, and letting yourself know that you are worth giving yourself 100% of your precious time and concentration. And I can think of no better time to do this than during my birthday.

In taking care of our own needs and wants first, we are happier and in a better position to fulfill our other roles as mums, daughters, sisters and friends.

This time, I disconnected completely from social media for the whole trip {hence zero updates for the past week!} and barely used my mobile to chat to anyone too. Probably told like less than 10 people I was even away haha.. Spent most of the time sleeping, massaging, eating, exploring and reflecting... a week of just me, myself and I.

It was a very relaxing, soul-searching trip and I came back feeling more alive and energised to take on the rest of the year. Even the boy noticed how refreshed I seem and suggested that I take another solo trip in September perhaps heh..

I really want to thank my family, especially the boy, for supporting me and letting me enjoy this birthday trip without worries. If he wasn't such a good, reliable and hands-on dad to Lil Pumpkin all the time, I wouldn't have the heart to leave too ♥

Thanks Poogeo, and Happy 33rd birthday to me!! o(^∀^*)o


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gym Review :: Hard Rock Hotel Singapore @ RWS

Last weekend we had a family staycation at Festive Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa {RWS} to celebrate Lil Pumpkin's and the boy's birthday. And as per our usual practice, whenever we travel, even for short staycations, I made sure to check that there was a gym {or even a CrossFit box} that we could use to work out at as the boy and I need to keep up with our regular training somewhat.

No no.. it's not about being "hardcore" or "gym rats".. it's more about being consistent and making sure that as much as we eat hard and play hard, we still get to train hard too.

Anyway while I was searching for more information on Festive Hotel's gym, I realised something... there's usually heaps and heaps of hotel reviews and photos, but negligible, if any, proper reviews and photos on hotel gyms. Sometimes there might be a paragraph / photo or two.. but that's it. And that's pretty frustrating for people like me!! I want to know if there's a proper gym available for me to complete my programme! haha..

I mean ya, I understand.. gyms are not usually top of the list when reviewing hotels. Most people prefer to cover other amenities & facilities like restaurants, pools, kids room etc.

Previously if I wrote reviews about hotels or our accommodation I probably did not say more than two paragraphs on the gym too but I think I will start something new and review hotel gyms in detail based on our personal experience now since we tend to be going to gym almost daily during our stays, and I reckon it's useful for health-conscious tourists like us who like to work out during their travels too. I'd even rate them like I did for my Singapore Playgrounds series.

Sooo.. I'll start with our recent staycation gym, then go dig out some photos and memories of the other hotel gyms we've visited in the past.

Festive Hotel does not have a gym / fitness center of its own. Hotel guests, however, are able to use the gym at Hard Rock Hotel Singapore and it is accessible 24-hours a day by tapping in with your hotel key-card.

Hard Rock Hotel Singapore is less than 5 mins walk away from Festive Hotel by a covered walk-way, so even though the gym is not within Festive Hotel itself, it still is convenient for Festive Hotel's guests.

The gym is located at lobby level, just opposite the famous pool with a man-made sandy beach {accessible only for Hard Rock Hotel's guests} and next to the Kids Club {open to all RWS visitors at S$12/hr or 1-for-1 hour at S$12 for RWS invites members}.

Hard Rock Hotel Singapore's website describes the gym to have "contemporary interiors, state-of-the-art cardio and weight-training equipment" but to be honest, the boy and I found it to be rather disappointing considering that it is located within such a luxurious hotel in the renowned Resorts World Sentosa, and is shared by guests from FIVE RWS hotels - Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Festive Hotel Equarius Hotel, Crockfords Tower and Hotel Michael. Yes, the other 4 hotels don't have their own gyms so everyone has to flock over to Hard Rock Hotel Singapore if they want to use a gym.

We expected it to be bigger, better-equipped and honestly, more well-maintained {like what Marriott has, perhaps?}. It's not like falling apart, but each time I used the lats pull-down machine and pulled the bar down.. I nearly fainted. It was so stinky!! (◞‸◟;)

I guess if you are just looking to get some cardio and stretching done, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore's gym is sufficient. But don't expect to do any proper barbell lifting or CrossFit WODS there haha..

The gym is only equipped with 3 exercise bikes, 1 elliptical cross trainer, 1 stair-climber, 3 treadmills, 2 benches, 1 leg press machine, 1 lats pull-down / row machine and a set of dumb-bells {2kg - 20kg}.

There isn't even any pull-up bar available! Superman passed me his weight belt & pin to take to my staycation so that I don't skip my heavy pull-up workout but unfortunately, I didn't get to use it even though I brought the heavy/ bulky pin along for my trip  (⁎˃ᆺ˂) I went to the gym 4x during our 3D2N stay and did these 3 simple workouts {about 1 hr each},

Workout 1 with the heaviest weights I lifted:
A1. Flat Dumb-bell Bench Press, 4 sets, 8 reps - 20kg
A2. Single Dumb-bell Row, 4 sets, 8 reps - 18kg
B1. Flat Dumb-bell Bench Press, 8 sets, 12 reps - 16kg
B2. Lats Pull-down, 8 sets, 12 reps - 9kg

Workout 2 with the heaviest weights I lifted:
A1. Seated Shoulder Press, 5 sets, 3 reps - 18kg
A2. Skater Squat, 4 sets, 10 reps - 6kg {left} & 2kg {right}
B1. Seated Arnold Press, 4 sets, 15 reps - 12kg
B2. Dumb-bell Step Up , 4 sets, 15 reps - 6kg
C1. Bicep Curl {Supinated}, 3 sets, 15 reps - 6kg
C2. Lying Tricep Extension, 3 sets, 15 reps - 8kg

Workout 3 with the heaviest weights I lifted:
A. Lats Raise, 10 sets, 10 reps - 2kg
B. Skater Squat, 10 sets, 10 reps - 4kg

Hubby used it once with me when we checked it out for the first time on our first staycation night, then decided he'd rather drive back to use our own home gym the next day before work haha and since the third day was his birthday, he rested and didn't use the hotel gym either.

If the boy can't be bothered to use the gym when there's one right at our doorstep, I think it says a lot about the gym actually.... (¬д¬。)

Like I mentioned above, we expected more from Hard Rock Hotel Singapore's gym given its prestigious location and since it's supposed to cater to guests from 5 hotels, but although we found it slightly disappointing, it is still a decent gym since it is clean, air-conditioned, has a water dispenser & TV with limited cable channels, and isn't crowded at all in the early mornings and late nights.

Since it is conveniently located next to the Kids Club, parents with kids can also easily drop them off next-door under supervised care while you work out with a peace of mind #winning

And oh, if you come early enough in the morning, there's a basket of free fruits for you to pick from too. Do remember to bring your own towels though as none are provided.

☆ Gym Star Rating for Hard Rock Hotel Singapore Gym
Overall satisfaction: 3/5
Equipment: 2/5 
Atmosphere: 3.5/5
Cleanliness: 4/5
Accessibility: 5/5
Staff availability: Nil

Other weekend getaway ideas: 

One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training


Friday, May 12, 2017

Happy Happy Birthday Weekend! σ(≧ε≦o)

May has always been my favourite month of the year what with so many birthday celebrations this month... including mine, of course (*^▽^*)

We've been to Sentosa sooooo many times, but this weekend will be the first time we are going to have a family staycation there!! As always, Lil Pumpkin wanted to go to Universal Studios for her birthday {if we aren't traveling during this period we'd usually bring her too} so I had a look at the Resorts World Sentosa {RWS} staycation packages and decided to book one for the weekend as a surprise gift for the boy and her! ♥ And yup, we'll be staying there for 3D2N and be going not just to one theme park.. but to THREE - USS, Adventure Cove AND Sea Aquarium!!! Woohoo!!!

It' a long awaited rest-and-relax time with the family as we haven't gone for any holiday overseas or staycations this year yet... considering that we used to travel at least once a month, even for short weekend trips, this has been quite a record! But oh well.. we've really been busy juggling our new work, school and extra-curricular activities for the year so this break is long-awaited and very welcome.

Lil Pumpkin will be celebrating her birthday today, and on Sunday will be the boy's special 40th birthday!!! Woot woot!!! What a milestone! 

I really wanted to do something extra meaningful for him, so I gathered some of our friends and families to wish him happy birthday and printed giant posters of the messages to put up on our wall, and encourage him for the future as a reminder that he is loved and respected not just by his immediate family, but by everyone he meets too. There's a positive and inspiring glow within him that touches people.. and the most wondrous thing is, he doesn't even realise it. And I really wanted him to know it.

It was a pretty impromptu idea because it took me a long time to figure out what to give something to a man who seems to have it all.. I only started on this project last week {!!!} so I'm very grateful to those that answered my last-minute request & took the effort to think through and write personal and meaningful birthday wishes to him. Thank you.

As I read through all the wonderful messages that poured in, it made my heart swell with pride and eyes tear with joy. Not meaning to brag or whatever, but honestly, my dear husband is such a well-liked guy that has motivated many others through his kind heart, hard work and humbleness. He is not a man of many words, but his actions speak louder than anything he can ever say and truly, I can safely assure you that if you ever meet him outside, he is the same honest, caring, loving and thoughtful man at home too.

I am so proud to call him my husband, and so blessed to have him take care of me and be a father to Lil Pumpkin.

Happy 8th birthday to our darling daughter, and happy 40th birthday to my dear Poogeo! 
IT'S CELEBRATION TIME!!! (ノ^ヮ^)ノ*:・゚✧

P.S. It's my dad's birthday this Sunday too!! Yup, he and hubs share the same birthday!!

P.P.S. I gave hubby his gift yesterday as I didn't want to lug the huge posters all the way to Sentosa haha.. the boy was truly surprised, touched and adored them too. Mission accomplished ♥

P.P.P.S. These family photos are the recent ones taken by Alwyn at Gardens by the Bay {East}. Check out the rest of the collection here. We love them!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Nestlé Commercial Video Stars for the Day! ✿

Soooo there are times whereby I take so long to blog about some events or holidays that I go "ahhhh forget it... so long ago already" and just give up on writing about it hahaha. I'm sure many of my fellow bloggers can relate to this.

This was probably going to be one of those unrecorded events since it took place last year #oops but recently, I saw it on my FB feed and just like how we shot our first fashion campaign with Glitter Glam, I figured it was pretty significant since it was the first time Lil Pumpkin and I filmed a commercial and I just had to blog about it before the details go really fuzzy due to my bad memory hehe.

Anyway yes, in July last year, theAsianparent {a local digital parenting magazine} contacted me to work on a campaign with Nestlé Singapore to produce an educational video to educate other parents/mums about wholegrain and understand the nutrition that their kids should be taking for breakfast.

Ever since I became more committed to getting fitter and living a healthy lifestyle {check out my Fitness Diary}, I've been more keen on working on projects to promote healthy living and eating as well so this was something close to my heart and I was interested to be part of it.

However, the daunting thing was it involved Lil Pumpkin and me to memorise lines and act in front of a camera. Eeeks! (*≧▽≦)

I mean, I'm kinda ok in front of the camera since I do post videos on my YouTube channel and vlog e.g. about my shopping hauls heehee.. and sometimes give video interviews {like to RazorTV and} but could my mummy brain remember lines? And could Lil Pumpkin remember her lines and survive a day of filming without getting bored & cranky??

I was pretty apprehensive but the boy encouraged me to just go for it and enjoy the experience with Lil Pumpkin. After all, it's not everyday that somebody comes along and asks if you want to be in a paid commercial and Lil Pumpkin does like to act and film stuff on her own... so I accepted the project.

TheAsianparent took some time to finalise the project concept with Nestlé Singapore so we only filmed in October.

Not sure if this is the norm, but we were only given the script and call sheet 2 days before filming.. I thought it was a very packed schedule and lots of lines to memorise given the limited time and was rather worried for Lil Pumpkin.

Since she's so young and not a professional, I don't expect her to have the attention nor energy span to shoot for most of the time {according to what was indicated in the call sheet}, and told my contact at TheAsianparent as much to set their expectation level.

They were most understanding and having worked with a lot of children, assured that they will be doing their best to keep spirits high and make sure everyone is comfortable during filming... which they did that day by providing snacks / drinks, and checking every now and then that we were all right.

On the actual day of filming, we arrived pretty early at the studio and thankfully, Lil Pumpkin was really excited and ready to rock and roll! I'd run through her lines with her and although she didn't memorise them perfectly, she knew what the concept was and roughly what was expected of her.

Most of the time, we were allowed to improvise as long as we got the key words and concepts out. There were no tele-prompters and for Lil Pumpkin's part, if I wasn't in the scene with her, I was usually sitting in front of her behind the camera guiding her line-by-line on what to say.

There were some scenes where we had to retake a few times but despite the long hours of filming and waiting for set scenes to change, Lil Pumpkin did not get frustrated or throw any tantrums. When she got bored during the waiting, I entertained her with colouring or cartoon videos.

A post shared by Ai Sakura  (@aisakuraharuka) on
At the end of the day, I was really glad we did it! At least I can cross out "being in a commercial" on my bucket list?? haha.. And, I am really proud of my little trooper! (⌒▽⌒)☆

So ta-dah! Here's our little 3 minutes 30 seconds of fame (ノ∀\*) Please don't laugh heh.. and if you're interested, here's the informative article on whether you are serving your family healthy breakfasts or not where our video appeared (´∇ノ`*)ノ

In our initial discussion, I was told that 3 videos would be produced but the first video above took 4 months to come out in February this year haha... I'm not sure when the next 2 would come out but I'll update this post again when they do (⁎⚈᷀᷁▿⚈᷀᷁⁎)

P.S. I'm wearing one of my Lark & Peony modern cheongsam and Lil Pumpkin is wearing a Mary Had A Little Lamb dress in the video.