Viewing entries in
Spirituality

3 Comments

10 Characteristics of Truly Strong Women

strongwomen.jpg

You've probably seen the meme, "Strong is the New Sexy," usually accompanying a photo of a muscled female in a skimpy outfit. As a competitive bodybuilder and coach who is deeply entrenched in the world of wellness, it can be tough to break free from the idea that strength has anything to do with the way a person looks. In reality, true strength has nothing to do with washboard abs, deadlift PRs or yoga inversions.

Here are 10 characteristics I've observed of truly strong women:

1. Strong women do not let rejection deter them. They push through criticism until they reach their desired destination. Their self-worth isn't hinged on the judgments of others.
2. Strong women honor their inherent creativity as a divine gift. However dark or painful, they dig deep into themselves, mining the unique contributions they have to offer up to the world.
3. Strong women recognize that not everyone has good intentions. They put their intuition to work, they ask the right questions, and they keep both eyes open. They are sharp, quick-witted and discerning.
4. Strong women are able to tell the truth about their past because they've committed to learning from it while guiding others. They view the past as WISDOM instead of shame.
5. Strong women set an example for their children instead of employing, "do as I say, not as I do." They accept their babies as watchful, intelligent and autonomous beings.
6. Strong women aren't afraid to ask for help when they need it. They won't hesitate to reach out to a friend, counsellor or a coach.
7. Strong women respect and take care of their bodies. Their bodies are their homes. They don't flood their homes with booze and drugs and other garbage.
8. Strong women say what they mean and mean what they say without apology. They are experts at conveying the word, "No."
9. Strong women rise from the ashes of their former selves. They are built from the fires of hardship and struggle. They earn every bit of their strength.
10. Strong women carve out their earthly successes by helping other women succeed. They see their life-force as plentiful. Strong women help their friends surpass them with humility, not envy.The big picture is clear to them.

Our strength isn't built in a gym- it's built from the trials and tests we encounter in our lives.

How would you define true strength? What are some characteristics of strong women that you've observed?

 

3 Comments

Comment

Imagination to Reality: Kavita's Vision Board Story

When watercolor artist, Kavita Rajput, attended one of my Vision Board workshops at Woolf Works a few months back, I knew that there was a compelling story behind her words of introduction at the beginning of the session. Recently, I spotted a Facebook post announcing Kavita's first upcoming solo exhibition and so, of course, I had to ask her to share more about her experience with Vision Boards. Here's what Kavita had to say: 

"I think I made my first ‘vision board’ without realizing it. I was still studying finance while nursing secret dreams of doing something more creative. My ‘vision board’ was a newspaper article about famous people who had successfully changed their careers to follow their passions. Doctors-turned-musicians, accountants-turned-award winning movie directors and so on… This little newspaper cutout was taped on the inside of my cupboard and I used to see it every single day.

Almost a decade later, while still working in finance, I made another one, this time, more consciously. It had amongst many other things, a picture of an art exhibition and another picture of a business card that read ‘Kavita Aras Rajput, Artist’.

And here I am, 4 years later… waiting for my first solo exhibition to open in two weeks, having made that transition from finance to art.

It’s not magic. But after you have experienced it, it does seem pretty magical! Having a vision board and keeping it in a place where you see it most often helps remind you of your dream on a regular basis. Your subconscious mind starts focusing on possible paths or people or actions that can help you get to your desired destination. And then, what’s most important, is to act on those ‘inspirations’. Make plans, set small goals and do all that you can with what you have. Taking consistent action, however small, in the direction of your dreams is really important because it’s these small determined steps that make big dreams come true!

I recently attended a “Creating your Vision” workshop by Aimee Barnes and I absolutely loved how she has organized it. She is a truly inspirational woman and her own story of achieving her dreams is nothing short of amazing! Aimee guides you to gain clarity on your goals, create your own vision board and to form a plan to make that vision a reality. I would have really treasured this guidance when I first started making my vision boards!"

Many thanks, Kavita, for sharing your Vision Board story. Kavita will be showing her work in her first solo exhibition, "Moments in Watercolour by Kavita Rajput," at the ION Art Gallery from March 14th to the 20th. Her work can be found at 
www.facebook.com/KavitaArasRajput and www.kavitarajput.com

The Vision Board workshop at Woolf Works is back this month on Saturday, March 14th. If you want to create a clear picture of your aspirations and design a road map to get you to your goals while sharing laughs, inspiration and good company, then I look forward to seeing you there! Secure your seat at http://createyourvision.peatix.com/

Do you have a compelling story about Vision Boards? Email me at aimee@tangramfitness.com or share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you at Kavita's exhibition and at the upcoming Vision Board workshop.

Comment

1 Comment

Create a Digital Vision Board... and Spend Less Time on Social Media!

My 2015 Digital Vision Board 

My 2015 Digital Vision Board 

December's workshop "Creating Your Vision for 2015," was a big hit! Twenty more vision boards were constructed, and we mapped out action plans to go along with our aspirations. I'll be leading another Vision Board workshop in January- the details will be announced soon, so watch this space.

If one of your goals for 2015 is to spend less time on social media and more time going after your dreams, I may have just the solution for you.... A Vision Board Facebook cover and/or SM profile pic! By creating a Vision Board that is prominently displayed on your social media sites, you're reminded of what's really important whenever you log on. This also provides your loved ones with an opportunity to keep you accountable- and vice versa- while giving the universe a little nudge to help you along the way.

A few scenes from the December "Creating Your Vision for 2015" workshop at Woolf Works. 

A few scenes from the December "Creating Your Vision for 2015" workshop at Woolf Works. 

Here's how to create a digital Vision Board 
1) Log onto picmonkey.com. 
2) Choose the "Collage" option
3) Select and upload photos and words that represent your aspirations. Don't be afraid to go wild, big and bold! 
4) Choose the appropriate template- FB Cover or Square Deal for profile photos
5) Upload and share! 

You can tailor this digital vision board for your mobile phone, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and wherever else you have an online account. 

Worried about any potential naysayers or nonbelievers? Embrace them! Let their words fuel your fire. Consider these words of wisdom:

"Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson 

"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen." - Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Here is my online Vision Board for 2015. My husband and I are building our personal Vision Boards together on date night this Friday, and they'll get a nice piece of real estate on our wall. 

1 Comment

Comment

Event: Creating Your Vision for 2015

Creating my new Vision Board for 2015 and assessing the old one. I accomplished a few biggies this year! 

Creating my new Vision Board for 2015 and assessing the old one. I accomplished a few biggies this year! 

Around this time each and every year, millions of people all over the world begin thinking about what they want to achieve and what they could be doing differently to have a more authentic and meaningful life. Some lament about opportunities and goals that have passed by unfulfilled, while others focus on resolutions and new beginnings. Have you ever said to yourself, “next year will be different”? The truth is, without a vision of our dreams, as well as a process to make them come alive, it's extremely challenging to achieve our goals. 

As you may already know, five years ago my life and my health were in the gutter. I came to realize that if I wanted to change my reality, I needed to be clear about what my desired future looked like. So, I began the practice of visualizing, crafting stories that represented the me I wanted to be through pictures and words. My life has changed remarkably from those many years of being trapped in the gutter, and that change was due in large part to the ladder I built with my imagination, which allowed me to finally climb out. Visualization tools like Vision Boards were the rungs of that ladder.

Whether you're aiming to complete your first half marathon, launch a business, improve your health, build your dream home, trek around the planet or bring more mindfulness into your daily life, having a clear picture of what you want can help you develop a more positive frame of mind, map out your desired future and set you into forward motion. A Vision Board— a collage of images and words that represent your aspirations— is a powerful tool for goal setting and transformation.

On Saturday, Dec. 6th, I’ll be holding a 3-hour workshop that will teach you how to create your own Vision Board for 2015.  We'll also explore how you can set your vision into motion through process creation. This workshop is back by popular demand and space goes fast, so sign up early! All supplies, coffee and tea are provided.

The link to register is here: http://rock2015.peatix.com/

I wish you a bold, brave and bright vision for 2015! Hope to see you on Saturday, December 6th.

Comment

Comment

Strength Training for Life

- Hurdle over your fears. Close your eyes if you need to. When we walk alongside fear as our companion, we are on the wrong road. You’ve heard it before- “what you’re looking for is on the other side of fear.” That’s true.

- Forgive and release. Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning or accepting someone else’s issues. It means recognizing our shared humanity and connection, and honoring yourself enough to release your heart from resentment.

-Develop unbreakable, non-negotiable, rock solid habits and practices. Running. Prayer. Weightlifting. Meditation. Writing. Gratitude Lists. Start with one and do it for at least six months before you add another. Make it yours.

- Cultivate kindness. Some of us were born kind, raised in kind families, and treated kindly throughout our lives. Most of us have experienced our share of unkind experiences. Don’t let that make you bitter. Practice kindness each day. Be especially kind to the vulnerable- children, animals, the elderly, the disadvantaged and disabled, the unkind, the angry, the hateful.

- Find a creative way to express that brilliant, revolving kaleidoscope within you: painting, writing, sculpture, singing, violin, beadwork, photography, dance, what have you. Get it out and let it fuel something uniquely splendid.

- Go out and explore the world. Hang with people who are very different from you, break out of your own social comfort circle. Learn as much as you can about the places you go. Taste the food, try the language, soak up the sites, and appreciate the diversity of the world while setting any judgments aside.  

- Learn as much as you can, as often as you can. Feed your mind and your soul with books and experiences that will broaden your conception of what’s possible and open your imagination up to new possibilities. Commit to continuous growth through lifelong learning. Keep your brain fresh and alive!

- Do the hard things. We evolve and expand by cultivating our strength, grit, tenacity and bravery. Cry through it if you have to, but do the hard things. Running the marathon. Having the tough conversation. Starting the business. Writing the book. Letting it go. Being there. Speaking the truth. Walking away, and towards. 

Light and Lifting,

Aimee 

Comment

2 Comments

HOW I RADICALLY CHANGED MY LIFE.

It's 1993, and I'm in the parking lot of a Gold's Gym with my Dad, dragging my heels all the way to the front door while flipping through one of his muscle mags thinking, "this totally sucks," and with the next breath, "maybe I could be one of those bodybuilding chicks." I'd just emerged from a program for troubled teens and was a few months out from my first stint in an actual rehab center; Dad's last ditch effort to save me from total ruin was to get me into fitness. After all, it had helped lift his mood post-divorce, why wouldn't it help me with mine? 

It didn't.... then. My senior year of high school was marked by hospitalization and homelessness. I spent most of my twenties hooked on pills and booze, in and out of doctor's offices, a walking smokestack of negativity and nicotine who believed, above all things, that I had no worth or future. And so, I acted accordingly until, at age thirty-one, I laced up my sneakers and ran my way into a new life, breath by labored breath, step by leaden step.

Five years later, and my present reality is unrecognizable to the past. I have been free of antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, booze and cigarettes since 2009. I have a wonderful marriage, great friends and my fur-kids- a dog and cat. I no longer suffer from all of the immune- and reproductive system issues I used to deal with. I have a successful, fulfilling business with clients who drive me to be a better person. And, I'm on my way to the US in two weeks to compete as a NPC figure athlete following a first place win at the Singapore National Bodybuilding Championships (remember that girl in the parking lot, looking at the muscle mags?)

Look, life could change in an instant and it could all go to pot, but the fortifications built within that have supported all of these awesome things are pretty darn strong now and THAT IS THE REAL DIFFERENCE. "I can't believe you're the same person from high school!" one former classmate messaged me recently. I'm proud to say that I get that a lot now... which brings me to the first thing I did to radically change my life: 

1. I DECIDED THAT I'D HAD ENOUGH. My soul had hit rock bottom and I clearly decided that enough was enough. Change occurs only when you're good and ready, and when you've absolutely had it with your existing state. Period.

2. I PUT MY OWN WELL-BEING ABOVE ALL ELSE, recognizing that without physical, mental, and spiritual health, I would be unable to move forward and build a new future. This is a challenging one for many people to accept- placing one's needs above one's partner, children, colleagues, friends, and work and family life. But, by putting your own well-being before all else, you'll eventually be able to share the best version of yourself with the people you love. In some cases- whether it's addiction, depression, heart disease, cancer or obesity- placing one's own well-being above all else means having the opportunity to LIVE.

3. I ASKED FOR HELP and accepted that I would not be able to heal on my own, enlisting the support of a qualified counselor, a mentor, and a fellowship group. There is no shame in asking for help, especially when the alternative is continuing behaviors that harm oneself and others. 

4. I TEMPORARILY REMOVED MYSELF FROM PLACES AND SITUATIONS THAT WERE TRIGGERS. Since I had committed to quit drinking and smoking, I no longer went to my favorite bar haunts. I changed my route to get to work so I wouldn't pass by the stores where I usually purchased wine and cigarettes. I stopped watching depressing, violent shows and surfing news websites.

5. I ASSESSED MY RELATIONSHIPS AND RELEASED PEOPLE FROM MY LIFE WHO HAD A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON ME. This was an extremely difficult step, as I had collected several toxic friends who I cared deeply about and who I'd relied on and confided in. Even more challenging was severing ties with a member of my family. A significant percentage of individuals struggling with health challenges like obesity, addiction, or mental illness have a history of childhood abuse (emotional, physical or sexual). While we should avoid moving into blame or victimhood, it's critical to talk about it, and to heal from it. 

6. I WORKED DAILY ON FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, condoning, tolerating, or excusing. Forgiveness means accepting the past as it is without wishing for it to be otherwise, and lovingly releasing feelings of resentment, which in turn facilitates moving forward-- for both you and the person you're forgiving (and you may find the need to work on forgiving yourself!) 

7. I BEGAN EXERCISING REGULARLY. It started with a shuffle around the block (that was all I could manage after smoking for 15 years). Then, some weightlifting at the gym and a jog, then a run. Yes, it was painful, but I noticed that I usually felt better after doing it and there was something cathartic about sweating out my anger, sadness and frustration. 

8. I KEPT A JOURNAL. Each morning, I'd take twenty minutes to allow myself to write whatever I felt like. At first it was all a jumbled dark cloud, but then the glimmer of a dream or a hope would surface, which pushed me toward asking a very big question, which I'll get to in #10...

9.  I TURNED TO MY HIGHER POWER FOR GUIDANCE. This is an uncomfortable topic for many, especially those who do not believe in a force greater than themselves. I understand this discomfort intimately, since I also began praying again at age 31 as a non-believer. The spiritual road is a very personal one and I have deep respect for people of all faiths. I've included this factor due to the profound impact it has had on my transformational journey.

10. WHAT KIND OF LIFE DID I REALLY WANT? This was a question I asked again and again because I didn't really have a clue. I'd unconsciously chosen a path based on where the river of my life had taken me, which is what so many of us do... with factors ranging from career and kids to where to go for dinner. We go with the flow and sometimes we find ourselves becoming bystanders in our own lives, rather than actually making conscious decisions from the heart. Start from where you already are and move ahead: What kind of life do you really want?

So, there you have it- these are the steps that allowed me to go from a booze-addled, chain-smoking, anxiety-riddled depressive to someone who knows a thing or two about health, strength, and true contentment. Don't get me wrong- I'm still figuring some things out- but every new day is a win for me and I'm eternally grateful for the change.

Are you in the midst of transformation? Are you thinking about making a major change in your life? Is there anything else you would suggest to others on the journey? Leave your thoughts in the comment section- I'd love to hear from you. 

Did you find this article useful? Would it help someone else? If so, please share the love! 


 

2 Comments

Comment

The BIG List: 35 East Asia Adventures For Your Fitness Bucket List (Part II)

In the first installment of "The Big List," we jogged across the Green Corridor, ascended Mt. Kinabalu, cycled from Singapore to Thailand, and explored many more fitness adventures throughout Southeast Asia. In Part II of this series, we head north to traverse the Great Wall of China, boulder over Hong Kong city slickers, and run through the mysterious city of Pyongyang, North Korea... Say what!?! Yes, for the first time in history, amateur marathoners will have their chance to race in the DPRK (if they're fast enough). Read on for fifteen more East Asia adventures and be sure to have your fitness bucket list handy! If you missed Part I, check it out here. 

CHINA
21. Run the Great Wall Marathon   17th May, 2014
Travel 5,164 steps on the Huangya Pass of China’s Great Wall in your favorite running shoes as you ponder how such an engineering feat could be accomplished over two thousand years ago. Completing 26.2 miles at one of the seven wonders of the world- and a vertical wonder, no less- will be no easy feat, so include stairwell runs in your training plans and acclimate yourself to sun-soaked jogs; there’s no shade on this route!
http://great-wall-marathon.com/

22. Sport Crag in Yangshuo
Once a sleepy village nestled amidst seemingly alien-world terrain, Yangshuo has exploded into a bustling tourist destination with no shortage of entertainment for all age groups. Climbers now throng to Yangshuo’s karst formations to explore some of the thousands of limestone peaks dotting the landscape. Sport cragging classes are abundant and serve all levels- just pop into one of the many adventure tourism shops in the heart of the village or arrange lessons through your hotel. One small tidbit of advice- watch out for wasps, which build nests within the nooks and crannies of the peaks.

Just before discovering that my hand was merely inches away from a wasp's nest!

Just before discovering that my hand was merely inches away from a wasp's nest!

HONG KONG
23. Go Bouldering Over the City Slickers
Hong Kong is quickly becoming known as one of the very top rock climbing destinations in all of Asia, and a very unique one at that. While cosmopolitan dwellers enjoy shopping and dining close to the ground in the central business district, more adventurous souls have the opportunity to dangle over 300 meters above them at Central Crags. If you feel like you need a little practice, climbing gyms and drop in classes are numerous.

24. Climb the Temple of the 10,000 Buddhas
While most of the views in Hong Kong are accessible by elevator, you’ll have to put your legs to work if you want to enjoy the over 12,000 Buddha statues at this temple, in the New Territories district of Hong Kong. 431 steps and over 500 gold icons lead the way to the main temple, and nearly 70 more steps must be conquered if you wish to reach the temple which holds the remains of Yuet Kai, the founder of the complex.

TAIWAN
25. Go River Tracing in Hualien
River tracing, otherwise known as river trekking, is a combination of hiking, wading, bouldering and climbing in and around a river canyon. The sport is increasingly popular among both Taiwanese locals and tourists alike, who head for outdoor exploration in Hualien, which offers waterfalls, caves, hot springs, clay baths and clear aqua waters. Guided treks are available for people of all fitness levels.

26. Hike Jade Mountain
Rise before the sun beats you to it, fuel up on an oyster omelet, and conquer the highest mountain in Taiwan- at 3,952 meters- in a single day. To summit Jade Mountain, a permit is required from the park administration and it is also recommended that all mountaineers spend the night at Dongpu lodge to acclimatize to the high altitude. The best time to go is in April and May, Taiwan’s prime hiking season.

MACAU
27. Hit the Trails on a Mountain Bike
Skip the blackjack tables and save yourself a strong dose of remorse! Macau has much more to offer than just gambling, catering to health-conscious early birds and wild night owls alike. Rent a mountain bike and explore the unpaved, hilly trails of the southernmost island of Caloane, an old pirate hangout. Be sure to pack your swimsuit and take a dip at some of the best beaches the island has to offer.

MONGOLIA
28. Run the “Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Ultramarathon”   6th August, 2014
Has typical distance running become a walk in the park for you? After a few dozen marathons, are you just plain bored with it all? Then the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Ultramarathon has a racing bib just waiting for your name! Soak in big sky, nomadic life and the most beautiful backdrop you’ve ever laid eyes on at Hovskol National Park. 100k and 42k options are both available. Be sure to book some time to explore Mongolia either before or after the race- consider having some R&R in a yurt, and don’t forget to hydrate on some airag, otherwise known as fermented mare’s milk!
http://ms2s.dk/

Run with the horses in Mongolia

Run with the horses in Mongolia

JAPAN
29. Run the Tokyo Marathon   23rd February, 2014
Scramble through central Tokyo with over 35,000 other dedicated runners and nearly two million spectators as the wind whips through your skimpy shorts. Yes, it is quite cold in Tokyo in February, and historically, on marathon day, bad weather has become an annual tradition. Participation is granted by lottery, as there are usually ten times the number of applicants than available slots. One runner claimed that one of the toughest aspects of this particular race was actually getting in!
http://www.tokyo42195.org/2014en/

30. Climb Mt. Fuji
Gobble down a sushi breakfast and head out to Mt. Fuji on a clear morning in July or August, the only two months when there usually isn’t much snow. At 3,776 meters, it is Japan’s highest mountain peak and is considered an active volcano, last erupting in the early 1700’s. While the slopes are steep, smooth terrain and clear markers makes this climb relatively beginner-friendly.
 
31. Go Skiing!
Hitting the slopes isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of athletic activities in East Asia, but the powdery peaks of Nagano and Hokkaido offer some of the best snowboarding and skiing on this hemisphere. Contrary to popular belief, skiing in Japan can be quite affordable in comparison to a winter getaway in Europe or the States. Just don’t expect much in the way of a post-ski lodge scene- the locals, it is said, are just there to ski, eat and enjoy the onsen- nude bathing in near-scorching hot pools.

SOUTH KOREA
32. Go White Water Rafting
Thrill seekers rejoice- between bungee jumping and white water rafting, South Korea has you covered. Rafters descend upon Gangwon-do Province in the hot summers to tackle the bubbling rivers in traditional kayaks and inflatable rafts. Rowing against strong currents provides a great upper body workout- tipping over is another story!
http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=260563

NORTH KOREA
33. Run the Pyongyang Marathon
A friend of mine recently alerted me to this latest marathon addition and honestly, I’m very tempted! For the first time ever, amateur marathon runners will be allowed to participate in the Pyongyang Marathon in 2014. You better be speedy though- according to some rumors floating around on running web forums, marathoners will be expected to either finish or quit at the 3:00:00 mark. Last year, only elite athletes were allowed to participate, with a minimum completion time of 2:40:00. Say what!?! Well, it’s something to shoot for!

Everest- the ultimate fitness bucket list experience

Everest- the ultimate fitness bucket list experience

INDIA*
34. Participate in the Hyderabad Triathlon
Swim, bike, and run your way through the capital city of Andhra Pradesh with about a thousand other participants. While this event is fairly new- just completing its fourth year- it promises to be an annual tradition, adding a new category, “Half Iron” for extreme athletes who are ready to brave the heat and the distance!
http://www.hyderabadtriathlon.com/

TIBET*
35. Take an Everest Tibet Training Climb
Prepare for the ultimate of all climbs as you ascend 7,000 meters up Everest on a training climb expedition. Set aside a month for the entire climb, which includes some serious altitude adjustment, as well as lessons on ice climbing. It is advised that all participants should have previous experience with high altitude climbing and be a highly fit and active winter walker. 
http://www.summitclimb.com/new/default.asp?vid=59

* Ok, so we traveled a bit more West than the East intended. I couldn't pass up the last two adventures! 

So, there you have it- 35 wildly fun fitness adventures in East Asia to add onto your bucket list... just be sure to cross them off as well! Where will 2014 take you? Have I missed anything? If you could pick one fitness adventure to accomplish in the next twelve months, what would it be? Leave your comments; I always love hearing from you! 

Looking to prepare your body and mind for a turning point or fitness adventure? Consider personal training and health coaching with Tangram Fitness! I specialize in turning "no way" into "heck yeah!" 



 

Comment

5 Comments

The BIG List: 35 East Asia Adventures For Your Fitness Bucket List (Part I)

“It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before…to test your limits…to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” - Anais Nin

Too often, we play small, we remain within the confines of our comforts, we doubt our ability to become anything other than what we already know. And yet, every single year around December, most of us dare to think about what could be, as we pen New Year’s resolutions in our minds and allow ourselves to consider, if only for a moment, “what if”? Well, what if I told you that those things deemed "impossible" are quite within reach, and that all it takes is a push- a push beyond the familiar, beyond the shelter of routine, beyond muscular inertia? Many of us have a standard bucket list- a list of places we want to see and activities we'd like to do before we die- but what about one designed to expand your physical and mental limitations? Part I of the BIG list details 20 Fitness Bucket List Adventures in Southeast Asia, designed to inspire both body and soul, and Part II marches northward to Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, India, Nepal and Mongolia. Let your imagination roam and then commit to playing BIG. Pick one, two, four or eight adventures to tackle and make 2014 the year when “what if” is replaced with “hell yeah!” 

Cycling from Singapore to Bangkok, anyone?

Cycling from Singapore to Bangkok, anyone?

SINGAPORE
1. Run the Green Corridor 10.5k   18th May, 2014
The Green Corridor Run offers a rarely seen side of Singapore, where lush greenery and thick woodlands offer a brief reprieve from the high rises and bustle of city life. Due to the rustic terrain, remnants of track ballast and the occasional muddy puddle, this trail run is a bit more challenging than your average 10k.
http://www.greencorridorrun.com.sg/

2. Participate in the OCBC Singapore Cycle Race   28th-30th March, 2014
OCBC Cycle Race is a mass participation cycling event held at the F1 Pit Building for riders of all ages and levels of experience. 
Bring the kids, your friends or significant other, and cycle along Marina Bay- there are categories for all levels, including a 59km Super Challenge.
http://www.ocbc.cyclesingapore.com.sg/

3. Hike from Bukit Timah to MacRitchie Reservoir
Trek through lively tropical rainforest while keeping an eye out for macaque monkeys, monitor lizards, and various splendid species of fish, birds, snakes and insects. The hike from Bukit Timah to MacRitchie is moderately difficult, spanning approximately 15k and taking anywhere from 3-7 hours, depending on how often you stop to enjoy the rare sights and sounds of nature. Hold on to your sports drinks and snacks! The monkeys like to steal them.

4. Run the Sundown Half Marathon   31st May, 2014
Get out your glow-in-the-dark baubles and don some neon running sneakers! The Sundown Half Marathon begins past most people’s bedtimes and will test not only your endurance, but also your ability to stay awake! Leg cramps and muscle fatigue are common, so train smart by adding in a few night runs during your training and staying hydrated.
http://www.sundownmarathon.com/

5. Join a Dragon Boat Racing Team
Dragon Boat Racing has been soaring in popularity in recent years as awareness through local festivals and associations spreads among locals and expats alike. A quick Google search will reveal a slew of themed teams, many of them representing different countries and clubs, like the British Dragon Boat Team, American Dragons Gaelic Dragons Singapore, and Singapore National Team. Find a team that floats your boat and contact them directly.

6. Go on a Vipassana Meditation 10 Day Course
Seeking enlightenment? Aren’t we all? Perhaps unplugging to meditate in complete silence for 10 days is just what the doctor ordered for your mental fitness regimen. For those of you with monkey minds who can’t sit still for a minute, this may be the challenge of a lifetime. Days begin at 4am and simple vegetarian fare is served; talking is not allowed throughout the course until the 10th and final day. There is no charge for the course, as it is run on a voluntary donation model.
http://www.sg.dhamma.org/

7. Run the SG Standard Chartered Marathon/Half Marathon   Date TBD
You may be able to run the distance, but can you beat the morning heat? Running 26.2 miles in sweltering Singapore gives new meaning to “marathon,” particularly for those of us who aren’t quite acclimated to the weather. That said, completing the Standard Chartered Marathon is an incredible feat that you’ll remember for a lifetime, and no easy task at that. Lots of training and preparation is required, as well as mental toughness to get across the final stretch!
http://www.marathonsingapore.com/

The hubby and me at the the Standard Chartered Marathon finish line feeling spectacular...and sleepy!

The hubby and me at the the Standard Chartered Marathon finish line feeling spectacular...and sleepy!

MALAYSIA
8. Climb to the Batu Caves in Malaysia
Just north of Kuala Lumpur’s city center, the Batu Caves consist of three large caverns atop a limestone hillside, and serve as a home to several cave-dwelling animals, including bats and spiders. Conquer both your fear of creepy-crawlies and 272 steep steps on this adventure! Touring around provides a nice afternoon workout that is suitable for the general population.

9. Ascend Mt. Kinabalu
It may be hot on flat land in Borneo, but once you get up to the top of Mt. Kinabalu, you may just think you’ve been transported to Alaska… if not for the glorious sunrise, that is. Mt. Kinabalu is well known as a somewhat treacherous trek despite what the official website tells you, and provides a good training ground for some of the world’s more famous peaks. If you plan well in advance, you can squeeze in the full climb and trip over a long weekend.
http://www.mountkinabalu.com/

10. Run the Penang Bridge International Marathon   Date TBD
Dash across one of Southeast Asia’s longest bridges, at 13.5km in length, and enjoy a slight breeze from the south channel of the Selatan Strait. Be sure to train in the heat and sun, as you’ll be fully exposed to the rays for long stretches of time. Palm trees are merely a mirage- it’s just you and a concrete cable-stayed bridge!
http://www.penangmarathon.gov.my/

THAILAND
11. Cycle from Singapore to Thailand
I have to admit, I had no idea this route even existed until meeting a group of about six Singaporean cyclists who had made a pit stop in Malaysia en route to their final destination- Bangkok. This trip is now officially on my bucket list and covers an estimated 2,480 km from end to end. You’ll want to set aside a good 3-4 weeks if you’re interested in taking in the scenery and making several tourist pit stops; otherwise, it can be done in about fourteen days if you’re a wild maniac.

12. Participate in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon   Date TBD 
One of Asia’s most renowned triathlons for the past twenty years, the Laguna Phuket Tri features a 1.8k swim, 55k bike ride and 12k run through the tropics.
www.challengelagunaphuket.com


CAMBODIA
13. Climb Angkor Wat
The largest religious monument in the world and a UNESCO heritage site, Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap requires an ascent up many dozens of steps in order to reach the main temple, providing both physical exercise and spiritual reflection. Women who want to explore the whole of Angkor Wat will need to cover their bodies- no shorts and tank tops.

14. Run the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon   Date TBD
Looking to enjoy the scenery of Angkor Wat with a different lens? Consider signing up for the International Half Marathon and zipping through the sacred ruins in dusty sneakers as the morning sun guides your way. A bonus- all funds from the race go to Cambodian landmine survivors.
http://www.angkormarathon.org/

INDONESIA
15. Go on a Yoga Retreat in Ubud
Escape the grind, rejuvenate your senses, and travel into your deeper self at a blissfully quiet yoga retreat, where you’ll finally find the time to cycle through rice paddies and dine on healthy cuisine as you overlook a tropical forest… just be sure to squeeze in a few hours of yoga each day as well! Most retreats run from 1-2 weeks and have differing themes, from Yoga & Art to Movement & Meditation to Dancing with Your Shakti. I recommend One World Retreats and enjoyed class with Wayan Partawan, but all of the options look divine. Pick one that tickles your spirit and GO!
oneworldretreats.com 

Bliss out to the view at One World Retreats

Bliss out to the view at One World Retreats

16. Climb Mt. Rinjani
Ready to step into the ring of fire? Mt. Rinjani is an active volcano and the second highest volcanic peak in Indonesia, overlooking the verdant and lesser visited island of Lombok. Ascend 3,700 meters to the crater rim over three or four days with a private guide or tour group, beginning at Senaru. The climb is steep and the last 1000 meters is said to be quite difficult. Be prepared to wake up in the earliest hours of the morning and trek for long stretches without a break!

PHILIPPINES
17. Snorkel with the Whale Sharks in Cebu
I’m not so sure if snorkeling qualifies as “fitness,” but I can guarantee that if you’re at it for a good hour or two with proper fins, you’ll get a killer workout! Thankfully, whale sharks are 10 ton gentle giants- not killers- that feed on plankton and small fish. Oslob is the destination most recommended, and whale sharks are often visible when the weather is good.

LAOS
18. Hike the 100 Waterfalls Trek in Laos
The “100 Waterfalls Trail” in Laos is still a relatively secret gem which only began being promoted for tourism in 2008. The entire hike can be completed in a day and is relatively accessible for most, although visitors warn that if you’re not experienced at scrambling up slippery boulders, you may want to just take a seat on a dry rock and enjoy nature instead.

19. Go trekking in Luang Prabang
This five day hike deep into the forest to visit indigenous ethnic groups begins in the village of Ban Huay Lo. Active trekking takes place for approximately 6 hours per day through mountains and bamboo forests until reaching the Nam Ou River. A good level of fitness is highly recommended, as hiking in the heat can be quite grueling, particularly when you have all of your necessities strapped to your back.

VIETNAM
20. Cycle from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh
Slurp up a bowl of pho, hop on a trusty bicycle, and pedal 1,930 km from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh over the course of a few weeks. There are two major routes you can take- along Coastal Highway 1 or inland on Ho Chi Minh highway; the latter is known to have less traffic and noise pollution. Check out crazyguyonabike.com for lots of cycling tips throughout southeast asia, including highlights from this particular epic journey.

This list details a mere twenty adventures in Asia that will get your heart pumping, clear your mind, and motivate you to push yourself beyond your limits. There are hundreds of others, from surfing to skydiving to ultramarathoning, so go forth and explore! Check out Part II here, which covers China, Japan, North Korea (say what?!?!) and more. Do you have a favorite East Asia adventure? Add it in the comments section- I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

Looking to get in shape before tackling your fitness bucket list, or seeking training for a specific event? Drop me a note at aimee@tangramfitness.com for tips and information on personal training packages. I take an integrative approach to help people reach their health and fitness goals, combining personal training, health coaching, and nutrition education.


5 Comments

© Tangram Fitness 2013