31 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 2-1

Yay! More videos of me flailing hopelessly around!

Video recording date: 27 July 2007

Track 1 & 2:
Warmup (Paris Hilton - Stars Are Blind (Tracy Does Paris Remix))
BodyJam 39 Isolations (PCD - Buttons)

I contemplated for a while whether it would be wise to post this video full of bloopers, but I hope the boringness of watching me warmup should make you sleep before you see them. As a bonus, there's the isolations track from BodyJam 39 - one of my all time favourites! I think I did that one pretty well. At least, better than her. But it doesn't excuse the mistake I made near the end. More proof that instructors are error-bound humans too!

Track 4: Hi/Lo (Cascada - Ready for Love)

This choreography is a hybrid of "Miracle" from BodyAttack 50 and "Everytime We Touch" from BodyAttack 54, both from Cascada. So it was only fitting that I used one of their songs too. Interestingly, most of their songs are set to the same beats and structure...

That's all for today! Hang around for more dance-based videos. I'm really busy at work, and the Deathly Hallows is not making it any faster! I finished the book yesterday, and I agree that Rowling kept the best for last.

30 July 2007

RM599 Brick

If my new phone says "Low Battery", you had better believe it. During lunch I got the notification and 5 seconds later it shut itself down and refused to start, even though I plugged it into my laptop's USB port. I'm not even sure if it IS charging at all! I'll have to wait till I get home for a proper AC supply charge.

27 July 2007

Motivations of A Group Fitness Instructor

The most popular question I'm asked is, "Why did you become a fitness instructor?" For a guy who lingered around during Pendidikan Jasmani and showed no disposition towards exercise, this has been a 900-degree turn.

However, for those who know me well, this doesn't seem like a wrong step at all. I have always stated my ambition to be a lecturer one day, and this is a logical stepping stone. With my current job I don't have much opportunity to teach, but as an instructor I get to do what I love (though in a different subject matter).

On whether I might one day drop everything and become a full time instructor, I highly doubt that. The instructor pool is becoming saturated, and it'll be unlikely one can teach enough classes per week to live comfortably. But it's my safety net, something I *could* do if all computers died tomorrow night in a worldwide EMP attack by overzealous aliens.

Perhaps people won't be too keen on BodyStep in such trying time but I hope the aliens might want to stay healthy while dominating Earth.

26 July 2007

Maha Sanghikadana 2007

Last Sunday I helped out at the 17th National Maha Sanghikadana at the Che Hoon Kor Moral Uplifting Society building. It's an annual event that brings together hundreds of monks and nuns for a lunch dana (offering).

When all was still quiet...

I arrived before 8am even though the actual lunch started closer to 11am. Lots of waiting and briefing. A lot of students from Penang Free School came - there seems to be an endless source of young helpers from that school!

Going through the things to do

By 9am the crowd started coming in, but after the briefings all we could do was sit around and wait...

Jastin, HM, CK, WK

As the monks start to arrive, the catered food is brought out. They are arranged into little plates and spread out on the long tables...

Devotees waiting while a human chain places out the food

Here's a look at the vegetarian dishes served this year. They are quite tasty, but I don't know who's the caterer who cooked all this. There's always leftovers and at the end of the event after the monks have left, we turn into greedy cretins and swoop up whatever's left. I would have taken some photos of us eating, but my hands were dirty from picking up the food...

Sambal "prawns", curry "fish", cabbage stir, brocolli + cauliflower stir, "fish" fillets, fruit platter, and vege appetizer

We finished at 12pm and I went home to get a good rest. Last weekend was quite a whirlwind and I didn't get enough rest!

25 July 2007

Warts and All

Seems I have enough health problems to warrant a new label. But I'll have to be brief. Workload is up to my neck right now.

For those of you gym rats, let me ask you, "Do you wear sandals when taking a shower or changing out of your filthy clothes?" If your answer is no, I recommend making it a yes.

I didn't know any better, and as a result I have an annoying and painful viral wart on my right heel. And somehow it got on my left index finger too. As I know, it spreads by touch so now I am very very careful with where I lay my finger. I've also resorted to wrapping it in plaster before I go to work.

I've been treating it with salicylic acid for months now with varying levels of success. I recently visited a dermatologist who did some probing and digging and it resulted in much less walking pain, but more wallet pain (RM80 for that session!) I even tried some traditional healing (think: drinking burnt paper). ANYTHING to solve this problem. Will blog about it when I have more time.

I could have taken some pics, but the ones on the Internet should suffice to make sure your feet is adequately covered when walking in a shared bathroom (swimming pools included). As for me, I now embody the saying, "Loving me, warts and all".

24 July 2007

Day Off

I woke up at 3am with a strong desire to... diarrhea! Same thing at 5am. Now I'm a bit off the mark, and I've already taken the rest of the day off to recuperate.

23 July 2007

Orange... Milk?

It was after lunch and I suddenly had a hankering for orange juice. So I went to the convenience store in my company (yes, it's big enough to have it's own mini mart) and got the only box of orange drink left. I've never tried this brand (Goodday) before, but it was the only one around. As I walked back to my cubicle farm I glanced through the ingredients and saw... "Susu Lembu". WTF?

I thought it was just a typo, but it was indeed mixed with diluted milk. The funny thing is, if not for the ingredients list I wouldn't have known it had milk. Sure, it looked milky but it tasted like any other artificial orange juice. I suspect this must be a conspiracy by the company to increase milk usage! Goodday sells pasteurized milk too, after all.

(I wrote this post before I bought my new phone, so no pictures of the offending item.)

20 July 2007

Misbehaving Eyelashes

I have eyelashes that are longer than usual for men. It's not a choice, and I have been teased for having girly eyes back in primary school. I know, I know... they're just jealous.

But it comes with its downfalls. Due to it's length, it can sometimes bend down and get stuck on my eye. And oh, you don't want that to ever happen to you. I spent the better part of this morning trying to wash an irritant out of my right eye, only to discover I can't because, well, it's ATTACHED TO MY EYELID?

I had to force myself against my subconscious impulse to close my eye in order to stroke that misbehaving eyelash up to it's proper place. Ugh, if I knew which strand it was, I would have plucked it out. But I think it had CIA training and managed to blend in with the crowd. My watery eyes weren't helping at all either.

19 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 1-4

The last two videos of the class are all ciplak from Les Mills programmes.

Track 9: Step Recovery ("Sexyback" by Justin Timberlake)

One of my favourite recovery tracks from BodyStep (since it's so easy) is set to Justin Timberlake's Sexyback. Warning: boring video, nice song.

Track 11: Pilates Core ("I'm Not Missing You" by Stacie Orrico)

This is quite a nice song from BodyBalance 36 with easy moves that most people can follow. Especially me. Even as a participant, I usually peter out during the final abs track, so it was vital I chose something easier to teach (what with all that shouting). For the next release I'll be doing something more challenging.

I guess that's it for this week! I missed out 3 videos because I didn't have enough memory cards. One was a Mixed Impact track (original choreo), the other was a Recovery/Upper Body Conditioning track (original choreo), and finally the cooldown song ("That's My Goal" from BodyAttack 54)

18 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 1-3

This entire week, I'll be posting 2 videos of me instructing my class every day, along with commentary. This is Part 3. Tomorrow's the last part for the week.

Track #7: Mixed Strength ("Voodoo Child" by Rogue Traders)

This is heavily inspired by BodyStep 65's "Run It". I just love the "squat-squat-3 knee repeater" combo and how it goes along with the music, but I couldn't find this particular remix/cover by ColorBox. So I found that this song by Rogue Traders does pretty well too. Trivia: "Voodoo Child" was used in BodyStep 63 as a killer recovery track.

Track #8: Step Peak ("Summer Rain" by Slinkee Minx)

This is my favourite track so far. It's used in BodyPump as a Chest track but I found that it's equally great if I convert it to a Step Peak track. This is also an original choreo from my first release, but "original" is a little misleading. With such simple moves it's not hard to do one at all. This is one of the only track where I can see the participants really breaking a sweat, so I do it any chance I get.

17 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 1-2

This is a continuation of yesterday's post, obviously.

Track 4: Modfied BodyJam 28 Bongo Song

I was a bit blur and moved off center so you can't see me very well. Anyway, this was the exact same song I did at the children's camp (check out earlier videos). The full Bongo Song from BodyJam 28 was quite long and frankly quite tiring. It's a good dose of cardio, but I decided to trim it down a bit and make it simpler.

Track 6: Love Today

This is another original choreo from my first release. It's a simple step warmup routine but since it's already halfway through the class I make them do power knees rather than tap repeaters.

16 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 1-1

This entire week, I'll be posting 2 videos of me instructing my class every day, along with commentary. You can get to the videos directly at my Vimeo page, but this is the only place I'll actually comment on it.

As indicated previously, I'm a serial copycat, but an ethical one! Those songs which are learnt from Les Mills programs (most notably BodyJam tracks) are properly attributed. It's a really really great class - if you have access to a gym who features it, make sure you go and support. Over here in Penang the BodyJam scene is very lacking, and my gym (Fitness Studio) has only one BodyJam class per week! Pathetic, I tell you! Well, I'll certainly be ranting about that again later. But for now let's get to the good part - watching me flail around!

Class recording shot on 13 July 2007
Track #1: BodyJam 39 Warmup ("Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai)

When I first did this track as a participant, I loved the arm wave and 'car wash'. But after teaching this track myself for 6 classes straight, I'm getting a bit bored by its lack of 'oomph' musical structure. My favourite BodyJam warmup so far is from Release 40 (Luther Vandross' "Shine"). It has very simple moves, great musical opening, and it really sets the mood for a great class. Unlike "Canned Heat" which is quite muted. My other favourite warmup track is Janet Jackson's "All Nite", though I've only done it once.

Track #2: Isolations ("Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head" by Kylie)

This is an original choreo inspired by Kylie's MTV and various BodyJam songs. This was the absolute first song I choreographed myself. I actually think it kinda sucks, but for nostalgia's sake I put it in my first release anyway. And if you laugh at my hip turn, I'm never talking to you. Again.

Wow, I just looked through what I wrote, and I'm quite the harsh critic! As a note, the participants do not magically know what to do. I've been doing these songs with them for over a month, and I usually refresh their memory with a bit of pre-cueing. This is something you don't see in the videos due to memory constraints.

Tell me what you think.

13 July 2007

Blockbuster in the Works?

I didn't take too much notice when it was first reported, but I must admit I've gotten engrossed in the courtroom drama that is the Altantuya trial. Who knew I could indulge in daytime soap opera at work without having to open up YouTube? In fact, I'm just waiting for Hollywood to begin writing a script for this trial. I imagine that they create two versions of the script and use whichever turns out to be true.

And what do I think about Abdul Razak Baginda? Seriously, the press reports are so skewered that we never get a true picture (which makes it so much more tantalizing). Personally? I believe whatever the last witness was saying. It's easier, and with less moral ambiguity!

12 July 2007

Faltering Temptations

We have a monthly communication session with our Senior Manager where he goes through how the department is doing and other organization-y stuff. Today, due to some scheduling oversights, it ended at 12.30pm, wayyyy beyond the optimal lunch time. Here, our optimal lunch time is 11.40am because that's when the cafeteria has most food. Yes, you read that correctly - We have our lunch before 12! So really, who can blame me for taking extended tea breaks at 3?

So anyway, we ended at a time when there were no more food so the three choices we had were:
  1. Eat the leftover cafeteria food
  2. Eat at the in-house deli restaurant
  3. Eat out
After seeing the leftovers, I quickly chose Option 2. The in-house deli was called Temptations, and they're like the love child of Starbucks and Secret Recipe (I shudder at the thought). And as usual with most love childs, they're slightly retarded. Except the cakes. They have nice cakes! So anyway we had the set lunch (my first time) and I was so disappointed. I paid 10x more to eat what is essentially their version of leftovers. I had their Teriyaki Chicken which tasted more like Bland Soya Sauce Chicken. In fact, I would rather have his Teriyaki Chicken. Next time, I'm sticking with the leftovers. But most of their cakes are still nice, especially the Pineapple Carrot brownie. The molten butter cheese topping on top is to die for.

As a side note, it's kinda impressive that the company has its own deli and mini mart. Now all it needs are a post office, a laundromat, and a budget airline to be a self-sufficient entity!

11 July 2007

John McClane Kicks Optimus' A$$

This is Part 3 of the 070707 post.

After the mixed-reaction Cardio Dance class I went home to shower and went out for dinner and movie with friends. If only it were so easy.

We planned to watch Die Hard 4.0 at Queensbay Mall, but when we reached the first entrance it was blocked, and traffic policemen were diverting traffic to the other entrance. I started to get a bad vibe as the weekend traffic can be a little daunting to navigate even without any road blocks. And we didn't even book any tickets to the show yet!

Heading towards the 2nd entrance, I saw many cars parked along the highway and flyover. "Oh, this is NOT good," I thought out loud. I had a feeling the 2nd entrance will be blocked too, so when I saw a gap along the side, I quickly slid my car in. Luckily there weren't any speeding cars behind me...

We walked the rest of the way to the mall and quickly made our way to the cinema. It was barely an hour away and I was afraid we wouldn't be able to get good seats. I needn't have worried - there was barely a crowd in the mall! I was puzzled. I looked down at the big atrium and it was similarly deserted. Why all the road block then?

My first (imaginative) guess was that the mall management had somehow ticked off the traffic police boss and they were getting even. But the truth was unfortunately not as controversial. As we left the mall at 12.30am after the show, we saw the roadblock again and saw the sign "Karnival Jom Heboh TV3 2007".

We all gave a collective "Oh...." and couldn't help but snigger at the irony. By blocking off the main entrances for the sake of your carnival, people couldn't make it to your event. Blegh.

And oh, while some will beg to differ, I think Die Hard 4 is a more consistent and enjoyable movie than Transformers. No nagging emo drama scenes. Interesting action sequences. And fights where you can actually see what's happening (I'm looking at you, Michael "fight-close-up-till-you-dunno-who-is-hitting-who" Bay).

10 July 2007

070707 - Part 2

As promised, here are some videos of me teaching a simple 40 minute Cardio Dance class to a group of 50 children (and some awkward adults). If you only have time for one video, watch the last one.

Now, before you judge me on my less-than-stellar performance, keep in mind that I was distracted by making sure the kids at the back could see me. In true minimalist style, there was no stage (the stage behind me was strewn with artwork) and no wireless mic. So the kids could not see my footwork OR hear my cueing, a situation I was not prepared for. I ended up just going through the motions while my mind conjured up ways to signal the moves with my arm and fingers. Still, a pretty interesting experience.

The person next to me (a "shadow" in industry-speak) is Jastin, someone I knew since secondary school. He's never attended a cardio dance class before, so I think it's rather brave of him to be shadowing me. You can also read his blog.

For those of you wondering where I learned the moves (the proper term is "choreography"), check out Les Mills. I borrowed (the proper term is "copied") some of the moves from their variety of great group fitness programmes. I'm also working very hard to create my own choreo set to the songs of my choosing, because I can't be a thief all my life. The easier option is just to get certified by them legally. I'm working very hard on that too.

I'll write more about being a group fitness instructor, but for now, just sit back and enjoy watching me jump around. Feedback is appreciated, but I already know how lifeless I look in some of the songs, so tell me something more constructive.

(The clips are ordered chronologically, and only the last cooldown song is not shown)

BodyBalance 36 Tai Chi at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.

BodyJam 40 Warmup at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.

BodyJam 39 Bollyjam at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.

BodyJam 39 Bollyjam at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.

Modified BodyJam 28 Bongo Song at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.

BodyJam 32 Isolations at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.

09 July 2007

070707 - Part 1

Saturday was a pretty eventful day for me, and I'm going to break it up into 3 posts. I need stuff to fill up for 3 days, and you wouldn't wanna read such a long post anyway.

On Friday night, Mum called me to mention that she's going down to Kulim
tomorrow to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of my great-grandmother's passing. I never wrote about it, but she died soon after my Mum's visit last year (which I wrote about in an oh-so-emo post). I agreed to go along with the condition that I needed to be back home by 4pm (find out why in Part 2!). The last time I visited my maternal side was during Chinese New Year, and hey, I can't let them think I only visit them for the red packets can I?

So we headed out at 8.30am, and the heavy rain slowed our journey as we zig-zagged through surprisingly heavy traffic for a Saturday morning. She had to run some errands first, so by the time we reached the columborium at 10am I was hobbling out of the car.

A priest was hired and while we were sitting down waiting for him to finish his chant, guess what I saw my cousin holding?

Don't be fooled! Look closer, it even has a colour screen! It's actually a Motorola phone modified into a (very, very) retro housing. It's not just an empty shell because the battery is as big as a brick. Extremely nostalgic of the good old days. Nevermind that I never had such a phone before.

I took the opportunity to take some snapshots of Mum, and here's one of the two of us:

I told her, "This angle makes your head look so small compared to mine!". And she said, "That's the point!" -_-"

I also did not miss the chance to take loads of photos of Ivan, my cute great-cousin (twice removed or something). He doesn't know me very well, but I think he has potential to be a camwhore in the future...

And how could a post about family gatherings not be complete with pictures of food? We were already halfway through before I remembered to take a snap:

To most of you that is food, but to me it's 3.5 hours of cardio. Sad.... :'(

The ride home was uncomfortable as Mum's car air-cond broke down. That retro feeling came up again as we drove through highways with the dry wind lashing across my fragile face. We were all exhausted by the time we reached Penang, but luckily I got home before 4pm coz it gave me plenty of time to rest and prepare for my aerobics class at a children's camp at 5pm.

Yup! Tomorrow you will finally be able to watch some clips of me in "Instructor" Mode! Don't bother searching YouTube now, I'm keeping it secret till tomorrow :P

07 July 2007

Trying Out Mblogging

Posting this via mobile Gmail. But i'm limited to 1024 characters.
BORING! Recommend me a JAVA mblogging software! I'm on my way 2 Kulim
wif my mum to attend d one yr anniversary of my great grandmother's

06 July 2007

Creativity is Energizing

I'll still be in training today, so no proper post. But here's something we did in the Creativity and Innovation training: balancing 10 nails on 1 nail head.

05 July 2007

Self Improvement Matters

The post title is the most valuable thing in this whole post. I'm in training today and tomorrow. Will try to post some photos to go along later.

04 July 2007

The Search Ends... Introducing the Peanut

Dubbed "the Peanut" by Innocent^^Guy, I finally bought it last night. It wasn't really an impulse buy because the deal was the best I could find. Some shops quoted me RM680 while I got it for RM599 (Mega Sale Carnival price bla bla bla).

I really liked the black front with the orange sides (reminds me of the Walkman phones), but they only had white:

I'll be reviewing the phone as I learn how to use it, but here's what I think so far:

All the reviews I read never failed to mention its great LCD screen and I agree - it's fantastic! It's as sharp and clear as most smartphones that are double its price.

It's not that big. In fact, the photo you see above is probably bigger (depending on your resolution).

The predictive text input system iTap is very good!

Camera, just like most reviews said, is sub-par. Here's an indoor pic at full resolution and quality:

The flash is half-decent. It's not as weak as those useless LEDs ("look! a white spot on your face!") but not as strong as those N95 flashes either. It's actually a coil arranged in a circular manner that lights up when flashed.

Some reviewers complained that the music volume is pretty tame. On the contrary, I find the lowest volume level to be TOO loud (I get earache after 10 minutes). I'm still looking for ways to reduce the volume further.

I'll post more observations as the days go by. I think this phone is a hidden beauty because the OS is pretty usable. And no one ever complains of having a beautiful screen to look at. In fact, the LCD is so nice that the photos you capture look better on its small screen than on the computer.

As an interesting aside, all the settings that include a range (volume, brightness, etc.) only have a value between 0 and 7. Kinda weird for non-tech users, but we geeks know better - this way, Motorola only needs a 3 bit register for each setting. Why the frugality though, I'll never know.

03 July 2007

The Search Continues

My colleague Kelly saw my previous post and referred me to her brother who is the typical teenager who loves following phone trends. I was never such a teenager, hence I consider myself atypical :P

Anyway, I consulted with him and we both agreed the Motorola SLVR L6 is out of the question. But just when I thought that the K510i is the clear winner, he came up with another alternative that is sounding more and more tantalizing.... the Motorola ROKR E2:
It's about RM50 more expensive than the K510i, but it has SD card slot, proper music player functionality, camera 'flash' (if you can call it that), and great display.

Sigh... it's always tempting to keep moving up the price ladder, but I think I have to stop at RM600.

Here's another question: Have any of you found Bluetooth headsets truly useful?

02 July 2007

The Search Begins... Vote for Your Favourite!

Blame it on greed. Blame it on having expendable income. Most of all, blame it on yourself, dear reader. Coz it's your incessant wailing that finally forced me to get a camera phone.

"yada yada yada why so many words wan?"
"your blog looks so dull and boring"
"why so complicated words wan? Can't I just skim through the pics?"

The question is, which phone?

I've been a Nokia user for as long as I've had mobiles, but I realize the Nokia brand comes with a small premium. So I'm willing to take a chance on other makers. Being the cheapskate that I am (that's one thing that didn't change after 6 months), I went to the shop and asked "Which is the cheapest phone with Bluetooth and camera?"

And the guy showed me the Motoslvr L6:
It certainly looks sleek, though its slightly longer and wider than most candybar phones. And at a price of RM368, nothing much to complain. But a few days ago my friend recommended his phone, the Sony Ericsson K510i:
It's slightly over RM500, but it has 1.3mp camera and 18mb more onboard memory. Neither one has a memory slot.

At this moment I'm leaning towards Sony Ericsson, but I'm very fickle so I tend to believe whatever the last commenter says. The RM500 price tag is the only bother I have, but comparatively, it's worth it to pay RM150 more for a better camera and memory (both things that cannot be upgraded).

Please leave a comment, for the make benefit glorious blog of SexyGeek!