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.


Friday, April 28, 2017

One-on-One Personal Training - The Beginning | Operation 健康アップ

Been 4 months since I left Genesis Gym and started one-on-one personal training with Superman. In the last 4 months, I've lost the 5kg I gained during my HK trip where I went crazy over 鸡蛋仔 hehe and nearly 3% body fat #yay

But not only that, I've made improvements in my upper body strength and the last time I tested in February, I was able to pull at least 15kg for my 1 rep max weighted pull-up ( ᐛ )و Maybe even more now since I managed to pull 5x2 13kg pull-ups on Tuesday..

It's pretty amazing because I haven't been able to train as intensely as I did last year due to old... and new injuries {I had a freak fall in March which hurt my left wrist & temporarily dislocated my already weak knee so I couldn't work out on my right leg for a while}. Also, my job's workload has increased and traveling to/from the new gym takes a longer time so I can't train as often too.

The recent results really just reinforce the fact that for any fitness-related goal, not just for fat loss, what you do outside the gym matters as much as what you do in the gym. Since I can't train as hard in the gym now, Superman has been making sure that I focus more on my nutritional diet and sleep to maximise my post-workout recovery and gains.

Gym Workouts
I haven't been following any of the popular strength training programs like Wendler's 5/3/1 or StrongLifts 5x5. Basically, I've been doing what Boon used to call my "hospital programs" where I train mainly my upper body because I can't do much lower body or compound exercises like deadlift or squat due to my lower back injury.

Actually my back got better for a while around February and we started doing really light Hybrid Deadlifts.. but then I injured my knee and we had to stop that. Again ( ˃̣̣̥ω˂̣̣̥ )

When that happened I was pretty sad and frustrated as we just started getting back on track with my deadlifts and Superman was coaching me on a new stance {slightly wider, more Sumo-ish}, which I was just getting the hang of. Sigh. But then, sh*t happens and if there's anything I've learnt from the past few months of being injured.. it's that we mustn't give up and we can train around our injuries to come back fiercer, stronger, better.

Over the past 4 months, I think I've changed my workout programmes 2-3 times before I even completed one full cycle {8 sessions per workout programme} whenever I couldn't follow-through with most of the exercises due to my injuries that came back on and off.

Thank goodness Superman is patient, thoughtful and professional enough to make constant adjustments and design new programs that are customised to my needs at those moments. He could always take the easy way out and make me finish the programs even if they weren't helping me to maximise my full potential... but he didn't. #thankyou

In the latest programme that I just completed, I was doing a 2-day workout rotation where I trained 3 times a week with Superman, and once on my own in the club gym or climbed stairs.

Workout A with the latest weights I lifted:
A1. Semi-Supinated Chin Up, 5 sets, 5 reps - 12.75kg
A2. Romanian Deadlift, 5 sets, 8 reps - 51kg
B1. Wide Grip Pull Up, 5 sets, 2 reps - 2.75kg
B2. DB Low Incline Bench Press {Pronated}, 4 sets, 6 reps - 19.3kg
C1. Seated Cable Row, 4 sets, 12 reps - 27kg
C2. BB Flat Bench Press, 4 sets, 12 reps - 25kg
D1. Pronated Lat Pulldown, 8 sets, 8 reps -  28kg

Workout B with the latest weights I lifted:
A1. DB Seated Supported Shoulder Press, 5 sets, 5 reps - 17kg
A2. Elevated Skater Squat, 4 sets, 8 reps - Body weight
B1. BB Shoulder Press, 4 sets, 8 reps - 12.7kg
B2. Glute Hip Thrust, 4 sets, 15 reps - 35kg
C1. Incline DB Supinated Bicep Curl, 4 sets, 12 reps - 6.1kg
C2. Banded Lateral Raise, 4 sets, 12 reps - 2 red
D1. Lying DB Neutral Tricep Extension, 4 sets, 10 reps - 7.8kg
D2. Lying Rear Delt Raise, 4 sets, 12 reps - 3kg

Workout B {club} with the latest weights I lifted:
A1. DB Seated Supported Shoulder Press, 5 sets, 5 reps - 17.5kg
A2. Elevated Skater Squat, 4 sets, 15 reps - Body weight
B1. Seated Arnold Press, 4 sets, 11 reps - 12.5kg
B2. Hip Thrust, 4 sets, 12 reps - 60kg
C1. Inclined Dumbbell Neutral Bicep Curl, 4 sets, 12 reps - 7kg
C2. Dumbbell Lateral Raise, 4 sets, 14 reps - 5kg
D1. Lying Neutral Tricep Extension, 4 sets, 10 reps - 9kg
D2. Lying Rear Delt Raise, 4 sets, 12 reps, 5kg

Food Nutrition
Because I can't go as hard as I usually can in the gym, Superman has been anal about my food nutrition. Like, hardcore anal haha.. but of course, if I didn't believe in the process and want to work on this myself he can't make me do anything.. 

In Genesis Gym last time, although Jen checked every now and then that I kept to my recommended calorie intake, because I worked my butt off in the gym and still got results, he didn't keep that close an eye on my nutritional diet. I also thought that I was kinda ok in keeping to my recommended calorie intake most of the time too but boy oh boy... I know now that I must have been pretty off in eyeballing my portions and tracking calories haha.

Since training with Superman, I've made major changes to my food nutrition that has shocked even hubby hehe. For the past 4 months, I've been,
  • weighing my food with a scale {yes, I bring a cute Hello Kitty one around with me!}
  • paying more attention to food nutrition labels 
  • meal-planning and meal-prepping every week  
  • eating much more vegetables and fibre
  • tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal every day
  • hitting my protein count every day
I'm actually pretty proud of myself that I've managed to keep at it for the past few months *grins* Previously at Genesis, after a while, I'd kinda slack at my food tracking and meal-prepping as it was just too much effort haha.

Of course, there are days when I succumb to my inner foodie {usually happens 1-2x a week #oops} and eat wayyy over my daily calorie intake, but I dare say that I'm on track for 85-90% of the time.

It definitely helps when you have family support and a trainer that holds you accountable and checks to see what you're eating and what's your weight every freaking day. Yup, every day, Superman will ask me what's my weight and if it rises he'll then ask if I kept to my intake the day before haha.. there's no bluffing him!

Oh, I know I've mentioned before that we shouldn't be obsessed with the number on the scale, and I did ask Superman why I had to weigh myself daily. I mean, in Genesis I only weighed myself when it was measurement time. He explained that since it's not practical to measure my body fat composition daily, for now it's still useful to track body weight to regularly check that I'm losing fat and eating well as my body fat composition is still high-ish. 

Anyway, I know for a fact that he actually "friends" some of his clients on MyFitnessPal to check that they are tracking their food and eating properly. I refuse to do that because there are times when I sneak in a little too much unhealthy treats or rely a little too much on protein bars and supplements to help me stay within my limits and hit my protein count, and he frowns upon that. I know that isn't ideal as well but sometimes as a busy mum who can't prep food daily and need a fast, healthy snack.. you gotta do what you gotta do.

Thoughts of the Weeks
Even though I've trained with Superman for 1.5 years at Genesis Gym, at first when I started one-on-one training with him... it still needed a bit getting used to. At Genesis Gym {sorry if I keep comparing to my time there, but that's where I got my first taste of personal training..}, it is the norm for the trainers not to be around all the time, especially if you've been training for some time and know how to get your own weights and keep to your tempo/ rest times etc. They are there to guide and support you during the exercises, but they will also move about in the gym and keep an eye on a few clients at a go too. Also, since they work as a team, at different points in time of your workout session, you will probably get coached by a few different trainers.

However, now with my one-on-one training, Superman is constantly there.. not in a freaky, stalkish way haha but like by my side to coach, look at my form, make sure I'm really keeping to my rest time, helping me to change the weights, reminding me to breathe and drink water etc.

Even outside the gym, he takes his job seriously and is also constantly there {or seems like it} to monitor my nutrition, quality of sleep and injury conditions.

This is how I imagined a personal trainer to be when I first thought of having one. For someone committed to living a healthy lifestyle and keeping fit, it is great to have such constant and strong support from an experienced trainer who is easily reachable to talk to you and act as your guide as you transform your body, lose fat and build muscle. Especially when you're still a "noob" in getting yourself lean and strong.

Of course sometimes it can be a tad stressful too, and we have butted head over certain training issues, especially over me doing CrossFit & my poor sleep schedule, but I respect his experience and knowledge and appreciate his concern on my training and well-being. As time passed by, I do feel more and more confident that I made the right decision to leave Genesis Gym and start my training with Superman as I believe under his guidance, I can reach my fitness goals more efficiently and effectively.

I'll definitely try to update on my training progress more often so please stay tuned! 

P.S. I've been getting a number of enquiries over Superman's freelance PT services and rates. So glad that some of you are encouraged by my fitness journey and are keen to find out more! (^v^) I'm happy to provide his contact for you to discuss it in detail with him so just drop me an email at sakuraharuka {at} live {dot} com. All the best in your own fitness journey too!

One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

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