Wellness Trends I Learned from the Asia Fitness Conference 2018
Last October, I attended a three-day Asia Fitness Conference (AFC) in Bangkok, Thailand with over 1,000 delegates from 36 countries, with the most sought-after experts from around the world and speakers who are always present in international conferences like the IDEA Fitness Convention in the United States. As a health and fitness professional, it has always been my duty and passion to attend fitness conferences and workshops to upgrade my skills and knowledge, to be of better service to my clients and to keep my certifications updated. Every year, a tremendous amount of research about diet, exercise, health and other aspects of wellness are released and worldwide fitness trends are being updated. Health and fitness professionals must not rely on the old learnings and social media alone, but should always be open to the latest and most effective methods and programs available, backed up by science, expert insights and latest trends.
In 2009, Suzanne Hosley, the founder of AFC, started the very first conference convention in Thailand with only 15 presenters and 300 delegates. She had the ultimate passion of helping her graduates an opportunity to experience a huge fitness convention like the IDEA, so she invited some international speakers, who all agreed to bring the whole fitness conference experience to Bangkok. Suzanne mentioned in our email chat about her new plans for next year, which marks the second decade for AFC, “we are bringing in a medicine stream because trainers need to understand more about how fitness can help individuals prevent, reverse and recover from chronic disease and also how sports medicine can contribute to improving one’s performance. Given the popularity of running and outdoor extreme sports, we will also include speed and endurance training.”
For 2018, Suzanne noticed the greatest attendance of AFC delegates in sessions like bodyweight training, dance, nutrition and interests were focused more on training approaches rather than fitness equipment. There were almost a total of 200 sessions for three days, excluding the pre- and post-conference sessions and delegates could only choose up 18 sessions. I really had a hard time deciding on which lectures and workshops to consider. In the end, the basis of choosing the sessions came from my interests, work, trends, future plans and choice of speakers. Here are the highlights of my learnings:
I attended several classes without the use of any special equipment like Bodyweight Barre, Yogafit and Animal Flow. The moves can be done anytime and anywhere with the guidance and direction of a qualified fitness coach. This shows how bodyweight training can be as interesting and effective, just like any regular programs using special equipment.
Bodyweight Barre class presented by Trica Muphy-Madden, one of the founders of Barre Above program showcased the dynamic exercises with variations used in a usual barre class like squat, pile, lunge, butt work, plank, bridge and abdominal crunch while applying motivation and musicality.
Beth Shaw, the creator of YogaFit, who established yoga-based fitness program for more than two decades already, presented different types of classes during the whole conference (Yoga ). When I went to a fitness convention in Hong Kong in 2000, I joined one of her unforgettable YogaFit classes with an excellent playlist. That’s how I fell in love with mind-body fusion classes. This time, I attended the YogaLean, a very dynamic class applying basic yoga, core training and meditation. The class inspired me to explore more about classes applying mindfulness.
Animal Flow is a ground-based fitness program that mimics the movement of various animals in a fluid and multi-planar pattern. I got to try some basic, but challenging skillful moves of the master instructor Alisha Smith during the Animal Flow Interval Class like crab reach, side kick through, beast and ape that can really challenge the core, full-body strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and cardio fitness.
I also chose some workshops using the most effective exercise equipment available like TRX, battling rope, kettlebell, foam roller and exercise bands, which are popularly used by gyms, small specialized studios, sport-specific centres and fitness trainers to challenge and improve the clients’ over-all fitness level.
Jonathan Ross, a multi-awarded personal trainer, presented different body leverage training methods and moves using TRX, applied in a group setting.
The well-attended Battle Rope Mastery workshop by Dan Henderson, a master trainer and co-founder of the Functional Training Instittue in Australia, showcased the proper exercise execution and effective exercises using the battling rope.
Steve Cotter, who popularized the use of kettlebell presented, a circuit type workshop using various kettle bell moves combined with challenging, but effective body weight training for an ultimate full-body workout.
Fabio Comana presented a movement preparation workshop showing a different, but more effective approach to warm-ups using the foam roller.
Peter Twist presented an integrated functional training session blending balance, strength and movement using the Bosu and exercise tubing.
Exercise and Science
- My favorite presenter Len Kravitz, a professor an researcher, discussed the science of fat cells and the most effective ways to combat the unwanted fats. Consistent cardio exercise dramatically improves fat burning capability of body, but the best kept secret in resistance training and fat loss is about the extra amount of calories that you can burn even two hours after a workout.
- Len’s 10 rules for longevity include cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, getting 8,000 or more steps per day, eating a heart-healthy diet, optimal sleep of 6-8 hours per day, stress management, limiting alcohol intake to not more than two drinks/day, no smoking, fall prevention (by improving muscular recruitment, power and function) and health awareness (by preventive medicine and early disease treatment). He also discussed the most common things about the four blue zones around the world, which are are consistent physical activities, sense of mission/purpose of living, balance of work/recreation/family, eating less, eating more fruits and vegetables, healthy social network and strong spiritual bond.
- According to Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist and a professor, to achieve effective cardiovascular training, weight loss and heart rate training should be applied on exercise training sessions. There are a lot of factors to be considered when it comes to identifying the correct heart rate zone training for each individual aside from age (resting heart rate, genetics, sports, medications, fitness level and size of an individual) that’s why a simple formula of 220 minus age is not considered accurate. Health professionals should explore other heart rate zone training options. Wearables are good indications of training heart rates, but mostly accurate on steady-state workouts than interval training and resistance training. This is why we notice the sudden heart rate drop or increase during a run-walk program (work and rest intervals).
- Angela Jenkins, a holistic health expert, discussed how hormones can sabotage fitness programs. Hormonal balance plays a huge impact in an individual’s optimal health and wellness. Aside from weight and behavioural issues, fitness level and nutritional status, fitness professionals should look deeper in creating programs for clients. If someones suffers from excessive stress as a result of past and current lifestyle, disruptive hormones (thyroid, insulin, melatonin, stress and sex hormones) can affect greatly energy levels, appetite, sleep, metabolism and weight, moods, immune system, digestion and detoxification. Management can include a deeper functional assessment, stress management, a lighter approach to fitness training, dietary modification and intervention by health professionals specializing in hormonal balance.
Weight loss and Diet
- Dominique Adair, a nutritionist and certified fitness professional, defines “eating clean” as whole, minimally processed, real foods, that sustainably and humanly raised or harvested, support regenerative agriculture, soil health, water resources, defend farm workers’ rights, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.” Her list includes healthy fats (avocados, seeds and nuts), organic or pasture-raised eggs, organic or grass-fed meats and butter and wild small fish. She advised her clients to avoid processed and refined sugar and carbohydrates, factory-farmed animals, additives, artificial ingredients, hormones, pesticides and antibiotics.
- In another lecture, Dominique gave more insights on sports nutrition. An athlete (or any individual who exercises 2.5 to more than 5 hours a week) should always take into account the importance of balanced eating with the correct amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that can match his/her the needs, goals and current condition to achieve optimum performance and recovery. Carbohydrate is the most important nutrient for fuel, protein is for body repair and recovery and fat is for energy stores and growth. The total amount of calories from each of the nutrients should be well-planned and regulated to avoid unnecessary weight gain and to achieve structural and functional balance in the body.
- Dominique doesn’t believe in restrictive and fad diets. Diets don’t work because there are a lot of physiological and psychological effects that can happen after losing a large amount of weight especially with diet-only or/and extreme weight loss programs. As one loses more weight, hormones like leptin, which controls appetite and metabolism, decreases and ghrelin, an appetite stimulating hormone increases. These hormones are the reasons why cravings and weight gain become uncontrollable for those people who already lost a huge amount of weight. So a careful and well-thought of behavioural weight management programs are extremely important to guide a person throughout the journey so weight long-term weight maintenance can be achieved. Dominique still suggests simple strategies like controlling food portions, food journalling, reading food labels and physical activities as the most effective tools for weight control.
- Teri Mosey, an exercise physiologist and a chef, explained the reasons about food cravings. A holistic approach to eating is important to see the connection between oneself and the food choices and eating patterns. The food can imply something about one’s current situation, thoughts, needs and experiences. Sometimes you should go beyond calories and focus more about your inner self to achieve healing and sustained change. Teri explained how chakra nutrition can play a big role in identifying one’s connection with food. Chakras are energy centres that stimulate our physiological, emotional, psychological and spiritual energies. Any imbalance that can happen in any of the chakras can imply something about food choices and eating behavior. For example, if you always find excuses in life, you have difficulties in committing to your goals (you’ve been experiencing yoyo dieting), there must be something going on with the throat chakra, which is all about truth and authenticity. If you always feel that your energy is low (constant cravings for meat and sweets) and there’s always a feeling of instability in life, there might be issues with the root chakra which is about safety and immunity.
Motivation and Purpose
- We always give time to train and feed our bodies so we can achieve our fitness, health and sports performance goals. However, it is equally important to give focus and effort to nourish our minds to put our goals and plans into action to be able to reach the optimal state. James Beauchemin, a professor, health coach and expert on wellness promotion and lifestyle change, believes there are five cardinal skills that can help people reach the optimal state: relaxation, self-talk, imagery, routines and concentration. These mind-body techniques have become a part of most fitness and wellness programs like stress management, yoga, mindful movement classes, meditation, mindful eating programs, lifestyle coaching and other sports and fitness programs.
- Here are my realizations from Steve Cotter’s session: Manifesting Your Purpose
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to wellness programs. Learning plus experience are the best ways to attain the best program or combination of programs that matches you. But it can still change because you are always evolving, you get older, you modify your priorities and your environment adapts to the changing trends and time.
What always remains the same is your passion to be a purposeful human being- it all happens with change, acceptance and progress.
Use past to bring you fully to the present moment. Let go of the negative feelings from it and just leave the most precious learnings.
Believe in yourself, add a pinch of discipline, so you will have more focus and you can achieve your dreams. Do not compare. Do not be envious. If ever, use the most successful people as inspirations.
Identify your strengths and what truly makes you happy, then connect these with your experiences and goals so you can continue to grow, regardless of the pace, as long as you are fulfilled along the way, which is a long, but worthwhile process.
Fitness conferences like AFC can always renew my motivation to do better and to maximize my potential. At this very moment, I have a clearer vision about my future in the field wellness. My combined education plus years of experience in physiotherapy, psychology, nutrition and exercise will always bring me closer to my ultimate mission of inspiring while being of service to all the people out there in need of proper guidance and direction to achieve their best potential by taking care of their bodies, preventing health problems and living the rest of their lives fully and positively. I look forward to 2019 as I continue to share what I can through actual coaching with clients, networking with wellness people and writing for positivebody.ph