UFIT Urban Fitness, Singapore's Leading Independent Fitness Provider – Fitter, Leaner, Stronger!

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UFIT is growing!

Welcome to UFIT’s Blog! This is Dean, Technical Director here at UFIT HQ, 88 Amoy St, Singapore!

As we usher in the new year, we are looking forward to bring you cutting edge information in health, fitness and lifestyle

Our trainers here at UFIT are a different breed because we have ongoing technical training sessions weekly which means we are always keeping abreast of the latest developments in fitness and physiotherapy.

We adopt a holistic approach with all our clients and we have a variety of screening processess that allows us to tailor a specific program for each and every individual client. We understand the needs and goals of every client before recommending a training program. And our multi talented staff ensures that there will always be a trainer that can meet the training needs of every client.

Before we proceed, I would like to touch on our new space, which is 88 Amoy Street.

The new space features an open concept to allow our members to perform multi-planar movements with our equipment without the worry of running into another member performing a set of barbell squats!

We also have a Reformer, a heavy kicking bag, an uppercut bag, 2 TRX Rip trainers and a Bulgarian bag as additions to our current equipment list.

The space also allows us to conduct “Lunch Crunch” classes more effectively and also introduce kickboxing and grappling classes to our list of services offered.

Please make time to drop by and say hi and take a look at the new space if you havent already!

So without further ado, here is my first post!

One of the more recent transitions that has taken over the fitness industry is the term ‘functional training’

This is generally a good thing as we see a lot of developments in strength and conditioning and we have a more holistic approach to designing training programs. A lot of trainers and professionals in the industry have benefitted from learning from bright and talented coaches and even sports doctors who are sharing information and exchanging thoughts on the industry.

The only problem as with all new developments in the industry, many trainers jumped on the bandwagon and ditched the traditional solutions and methodologies. Some have even made their clients perform single leg bosu balances with bicep curls to supposedly increase propioception while under load on an unstable surface!

Functional? Maybe, if the client was a performer in Cirque de Soleil.

Many lazy trainers think that by making clients perform fancy moves that look different, it was ‘functional’. While the newer equipment that allows us to train in multiple planes are great, a lot of times performing basic compound lifts with weights is more ‘functional’.

It all boils down to proper application of exercise selection and clients’ goals.

Another problem that I see is with fads, usually being a new piece of equipment or a training system. The fad becomes so popular trainers will make clients spend their whole 1 hour session doing it. This worries me!

Not absolutely wrong but we need to understand that every equipment has its benefits when it comes to training. It should be a tool in a large toolbox in which the trainer will decide which tool will have the most benefit for their client’s training goals. In many situations, having a mat and performing floor exercise progressions can be much more challenging and beneficial than any fancy equipment.

Which is why understanding movements is a big part of fitness training and we need to understand that the body is a complex and integrated system. No muscle in the human body works independently. A squat pattern might not seem like much but with many of us, the complex muscle firing pattern in that movement might not be efficient which could lead to poor posture, poor performance and injuries in the future. Training in all 3 planes of movement is just as important because our body was designed to move in these planes. Every individual and especially athletes in many if not all sports require the mobility, stability and strength in the body to perform their movements efficiently.

Therefore, exercise selection plays a crucial part when designing a training program. We also utilize our equipments in a systematic way according to our clients goals and training levels, not just because we think its cool!

Here at UFIT we utilize a training pyramid that starts from (depending on the client)

-Neural re-education, proprioception

Every client will have to undergo a static postural assessment and the functional movement screen. As mentioned earlier, movements are the basis of every human being and it would be a mistake to overlook this important aspect before embarking on a new program.

Stay tuned for more entries in the next few weeks from James, Darren and Alex and also from some of the more Senior UFIT Training Team!

Dean Ahmad
Technical Director
UFIT Urban Fitness PTE LTD

Welcome to Nathan!

Just a quick note to welcome Nathan Williams as an author to our blog. Nathan has recently joined UFIT and is already making a massive contribution. His own blog is a great read – http://nathanwilliamstraining.blogspot.sg/

Nathan and I have been trialling Intermittent Fasting in recent times with pretty interesting results. By interesting I mean highly successful! We have been sharing the ideas with some of our clients and they are also getting great results. There’s a bit of fine-tuning to be done but we will have a nice little package we will be marketing soon. Expect to lose a lot of bodyfat, quickly.

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Posting again!! After a massively long absence I am back posting with a gentle return to our online presence.

“Our” because it is now a big group of us whereas before it was just Dean and myself full-time and Selina, Prescille and Clara part-time. James Forrester joined me as a managing partner bringing with him the awesome Salveo Lifestyle range of nutrition programs. In the Personal Training Dept Dean’s brother Alex Salihin joins as PT Manager together with Phil Aziz, Dan Hammond, Lorne Peart, Husaini Ahmad (Mr H) and more recently Nathan Williams. Stephen Greenan is our fulltime Physiotherapist, Maria Hussain our top-class deep tissue therapist and Cheryl Lin is working on the Salveo Lifestyle business (the UFIT nutrition side of things). Citira Corrigan is now UFIT Bootcamp Manager overseeing a major refurbishment of that side of things and doing a fine job! Finally Dean has stepped into a role as UFIT Technical Manager ensuring we all stay current (and even ahead) of developments in this massively dynamic industry!! The administration is being handled by Lyana Rahman. That’s 17 of us, WOW!!!

And the BIGGEST news, we have our own Studio in the heart of the CBD at 87 Amoy St!!

UFIT Studio 87 Amoy St

UFIT Studio 87 Amoy St

And guess what, we are soon to be 1!!! Indeed when we set up the Studio we also re-established the entity UFIT Urban Fitness from a sole-proprietership to a full Private Limited company. And in November we turn 1!!! We’ll have a party so stay tuned!!

Band Sprints in Fort Canning (Blue session)

Band Sprints in Fort Canning (Blue session)

Push-Up Claps in Fort Canning (Black Session)
Push-Up Claps in Fort Canning (Black Session)

A lot has happened in the first year……we have launched the UFIT Games and our second UFIT Games comes along in January 2013. We have gathered a lot of loyal and satisfied clients and take an additional space on Amoy St, very shortly, doubling our floor space! We are getting bigger with new hires in recent times and more to come! We successfully delivered our first big corporate event, in Phuket for Catlin Insurance and that included a 6 hour Amazing Race, charity work and some excellent food in great locations around Phuket! Our Bootcamp continues to thrive, increasing its membership and range of sessions that now include dedicated Core, Running and Circuit classes. As our awesome Team expands so does the knowledge and passion of our Trainer’s and this benefits you guys, especially in Bootcamp where you can access so many of our expert group!

There are many great things happening at UFIT! I’ll be posting more very soon!!



Vibrams V

So this is the fifth installment of my Vibram’s experiment and I so love my recent purchase of the Vibram Komodo Sports! Here they are –

Thanks to Carmen and Jamie for bringing them back from the US saving me 60 bucks in the process! They also brought me back a new pair of Bikila’s (lace ups) that Nate has up there in HK. Also very cool 🙂 I’ll be running in the Bikila’s and using the Komodo’s for the gym.

So how is the “experiment” going?

I have just about eradicated all achilles problems. After a lot of running I still wake up sore but after a bit of mobilisation and rubbing it’s all good. I have also read “Born to Run” and that has been awesome and I am now reading “Barefoot Running” by Michael Sandler. I am beginning to completely change my running technique going to a fully fore-foot strike which I have now realised is the ONLY way for us to run. Seriously. Heel striking is only possible with the massive heal cushioning that most running shoes provide and the evidence is mounting that heel striking is ultra-damaging to the proper functioning of our posterior chain.

The simple fact of the matter is as humans we were never designed to heel strike.

Just watch a baby walk and then a child start to run (in barefeet). They are in a controlled forwards fall before reaching out with the ball of their foot and steadying themselves and continuing.

The massive problem for most of us is this. For most of our lives we have been in shoes that envelope our feet in a mass of rubber, plastic and (sometimes) leather. Our feet and subsequently our lower limbs have all compensated in various ways to allow us to move in these horrible monstrosities. So when we take them out of the equation and ask our feet and lower limbs to work like our maker designed them to, they struggle!

I am reliably informed our feet have a quarter of all bones in our bodies. We also have as many sensory receptors in our feet as we do in our hands and these 2 parts of our bodies, along with our genitals, are the 3 most sensitive parts of our bodies.

As I have mentioned in previous Vibram posts, wearing shoes cuts down the ability of our sensory system in our feet to function correctly and in turn, dramatically decreases performance. How? Well if all the muscles, connective tissue and bones need to function optimally they need correct stimulous and this stimulous is created by the feedback loop between the sensory receptors and the brain via the nervous system. No stimulous (the feet can’t “feel” anything), no feedback, no proper function.

What then happens is as we use our feet, we twist, we jump (we land!), we stop, change direction, change pace etc etc, nothing in our lower limbs is working optimally. Nothing actually can!! It’s probably a bit like trying to play the piano in heavy snow gloves!

But worse, as the feedback loop is compromised, stability particularly becomes difficult. Ligaments aren’t receiving proper feedback and aren’t activating correctly and ankles get strained, so do knee ligaments.

There will be a lot of research come to the fore in the near future proving wearing heavy “protective” and “restrictive” shoes are actually doing a heap of harm to us. Just wait!

In the meantime get into some Vibrams! Get into the Vibe! And if you want to get an awesome “intermediate” shoe so to transition into the Vibrams, I highly recommend New Balance Minimus! I am wearing a pair now and they are great fitting, light and make you run properly!

If you want a pair let me know, we can approach NB and make a bulk purchase and get a discount. I want a second pair! The first pair cost me just $125 with a 20% Citibank Credit Card discount, a bulk order should see us all get that kind of deal or better!

Lastly I want to get right into barefoot running. I will be teaching myself how to do this great activity and then I want to help any of you get into it too! I’m not advocating barefoot all the time, but something to do from time to time to help our feet and lower limbs get stronger and perform better! Keep it here folks 🙂



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Vibrams IV

Hello folks, it’s good to be back! It has been a long time since I posted anything other than a UFIT Run update so it is high time I re-started! And what better way to start than with a Vibram’s update, the fourth 🙂

It was November 1 when I last wrote about my “experiment” with the Vibram’s. I am now onto my third pair, another pair of Bikila’s but this time the red version.

There have been several issues with wearing the shoe –

  1. I developed an achilles tendon problem due to overusing the shoe. I don’t believe I have an ankle mobility issue and as I had never had such a problem before I’m assuming it was due to the Vibram’s.
  2. On wet surfaces they are very slippery and I mentioned this in Vibram’s I but I want to reinforce it. You will need another shoe for rainy days.
  3. Smell……..

Ok so one by one lets have a quick look 🙂

The achilles soreness was a result of several factors. One is the Vibram’s are flat, so our achilles tendon and in fact all the muscles and connective tissues around the foot will start to behave differently. The feedback mechanism discussed in Vibram’s III activates this region differently to how it is activated wearing a conventional shoe. Muscles and tissue that have been a little “sleepy” are suddenly woken up and have to pull their weight.

By this I mean by wearing conventional sports/training shoes our feet get enveloped in the mass of the shoe, the rubber, the material, the plastic etc. Our feet get “cosseted”! The sensory nature of our feet (Vibrams III again) is inhibited, even shutdown and muscles/tendons stop functioning the way they were intended by nature (as in going barefoot a.k.a the “barefoot running movement”). In fact as far as the achilles is concerned, the high heel support in a lot of sports shoes shortens it.

In my situation and it’s not uncommon, David H had a similar experience, the “shortened” achilles gets overworked, lengthens and gets inflammed. Regular massage and specific warm-up stretching prior to training has solved the problem for me. I also alternate the use of the shoe with Nike Free’s 3.0. Yes I never thought I would ever buy a pair of Nike’s again but I did! And I really like them, the link is of the ver2 model, I can’t wait to get a pair! The Free’s aren’t really a barefoot running shoe, Nike say they are but they’re just cashing in on the craze but they are very lightweight AND they have a minimal heel lift.

Point 2 regarding the slippery nature of the soles of the Vibram’s is a concern. No matter what the company literature says, they are slippery!! Only in the wet mind you so it’s not all bad 🙂 I am sure they are aware of the issue and are attempting to rectify it.

What will be hard to fix is the smell!! They do stink after a while. Some of my female friends say they wash them after every use but that is hardly sustainable and I don’t see too many guys doing that 😉 What I did is buy the socks. That is helping a lot. It does add to the fiddle factor (e.g. getting toes into little sock compartments and then toes with socks into toe compartments of the shoes…lol).

But for all that Vibram’s are GREAT!! And I don’t mind Nike Free 3.0 either (be sure to buy 3.0 and NOT 5.0/7.0, the heel lift is higher in the others).

Ok so post 1 of 2011 done, more to come on food, exercise and the path to becoming fitter, leaner, stronger 🙂



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Why am I not seeing change?

Today I’m going to talk about change and how YOU can promote it. Actually it’s usually more a case of why you aren’t promoting change as you will read.

First up however thanks to all of you that reported the link to an article on my previous post wasn’t working. It is now so please revisit the post and check out the link – Strength Training.

I meet a lot of people who tell me they are training this way or that, they have a Trainer now or they saw a program on TV on a new training method and they’ve been doing it for 6 weeks but nothing has changed. I have had the occasional UFIT member also say to me, “Darren, I come to UFIT twice a week and have been for 8 weeks but don’t see too much change” (actually this hasn’t been said to me for a while now 🙂 ).

My answer to the last one is, “so what else have you been doing?” I mean does anyone really think 2 hours of exercise a week will stimulate change? For most people that will only slow down the weight gaining process it won’t stop it. It certainly won’t help someone lose weight. I’ve had some members coming to 5 UFIT’s a week and they lost weight. It’s likely most people that do 5 UFIT’s a week will but what works for one person may not work for another.

The key here is balance. A balance between a number of variables primarily exercise, nutrition (food and water) and rest, these variables being to my mind the pillars of a healthy lifestyle.

Within these 3 variables it’s important to understand the role each plays with a view to prioritising each. In turn this prioritising indicates the importance of each variable. I’ll pose the following scenario to illustrate the point. Think of an experiment on a group of individuals that I could set up like this –

Group A: Nutrition; Skip breakfast, coffee and bagel going into the office, late lunch, hawker or takeaway food, a few coffees through the afternoon and a late dinner at home and absolutely famished! Exercise; 3xUFIT’s a week

Group B: Nutrition; Cereal or a couple of eggs and a glass of water, packed sandwich (prepared at home) and a piece of fruit for a lunch in the office or sitting outside, protein shake mid-afternoon and a salad with tuna or beef upon getting home. Exercise; 3xUFIT’s a week.

Whom of Group A or B would lose weight more effectively? Clearly B and why, because they’re prioritising nutrition. By eating earlier and in a more structured way they will sleep better as well.

Now if Group B also reduced nutrient volume as well, i.e. ate less (an easy task completed by trial and error) and kept up the exercise they would lose even more weight!

Just this past Wednesday evening during the UFIT session at the Botanics I bumped into an old gym mate of mine. He was running through the park and saw the group and came over. He’s clearly lost a lot of weight recently and I commented on that. When we were training together a few years ago (ok so about 10 years ago!) we were always discussing the various training issues at that time. I wasn’t at that time involved in the industry, I was just a regular gym guy and my mate and I trained with a couple of other mates one of whom was a competitive bodybuilder. The bodybuilder said that Arnold Schwarzenegger was well known for saying that training successfully required a balance of 75% diet, 20% exercise and 5% rest. Now you all know bodybuilders are not my favourite athletes, if indeed they are “athletes” but Arnie is close to the mark in prioritising nutrition. A rider of course is what Arnie considers to be nutrition and what really is nutrition may be an interesting debate, if you know what I mean…. 😉 The point of this story being my mate is running a bit, in the gym a bit but has changed his nutrition considerably. And it showed!

The question I pose to you all is how much do you prioritise nutrition in your lives? Exercise will provide a lot of benefits but you are minimising those benefits if you aren’t eating properly. The scenario I provided as option B in my theoretical experiment back up the page is an easy way to eat.

I want you all to come to UFIT as much as you can. But if you are only coming once or twice a week and this is your only exercise in the week, you need to have a re-think on your approach. Ideally human beings would be exercising for at least 30 minutes 5 times per week but ideally up to 60 minutes 5 times per week. An interesting site with guidelines on exercise is here.

The great news is UFIT will provide an additional 3 sessions every week as of January making a total of 12 weekly sessions!

Eating well is really quite easy. But what a lot of people know as “eating well” and what this concept really is can be 2 quite different things 🙂 This blog has 10 posts discussing nutrition. Have a read through the “nutrition posts” section reading bottom up, it will take you 15 minutes tops to read them all. There’s heaps of advice about do’s and don’ts.

And if you want some advice on nutrition we can help. We have a “tailored” nutritional coaching service, drop me an email or give me a call!



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Vibram’s III

Ok so here’s the third update on the Vibram’s. I have purchased my second pair, the Bikila, being the running model –

So here they are, GREAT, aren’t they??!! Oh I know there’s a lot of scepticism out there but that’s purely your preprogrammed response to something new. You need to try and work on that preprogrammed response, it maybe holding you back 😉

The Bikila has a different setup to the Treksport. The soles are smoother so when you’re running there is less resistance at the footstrike. They also have a strap that loops back across the top of the shoe in the other direction to the Treksport. The strap is also fixed at the side of the shoe and is not wrapped around the other side first, like the Treksport. The Treksport being an all-terrain shoe probably needs to offer the foot more support.

The other interesting thing about the Bikila is I had to buy a size up so 45 instead of 44 due to not being able to get my foot in and down into the size 44 shoe. The entry area of the Bikila is very stiff but the extra bit of toe room is nice 🙂 Hopefully they won’t stretch too much!

So now into week 6 or so using the Vibram’s and the (now) $429 experiment is going really well!

I believe the feedback loop that has reactivated between my feet-brain-feet has significantly improved my running technique. This feedback seems to be restricted by most shoes. The mass of plastic primarily being the chunky rubber soles of most “typical” running shoes restricts the brains ability to communicate with the feet via the feedback mechanism that we as humans have had as an inherent ability from when we were cavemen (and women).

To understand this further, think of the feet as sensors much in the way hands are. Touching things with our hands tells our brain many things about the object we are touching and we react accordingly. Is it hot, is it slippery, is it heavy?? If we are picking up something heavy, our brain receives the feedback and instructs our fingers to contract more tightly and to recruit more muscles in the forearm. The brain may even instruct us to pull the item towards our bodies to offer additional support. This is sensory feedback at work. Our feet work in a very similar way. Have you ever dipped your toe into a cold pool??

In my previous Vibram’s post, I mentioned in point 1 and 2 that the dorsi/planterflexion had improved, there was greater lower leg muscle involvement and I felt I had better cornering ability. I have realised this is all due to improved feedback and the most significant thing that is negatively impacted by your typical running shoe.

As I have said previously the longer term effects of wearing Vibram-type shoes with their minimal cushioning is at this stage unquantifiable. Maybe the improved biomechanics due to the re-opening of the feedback loop may counter this potential side-effect?

And what about the longer term social aspects of being described as an amphibian or Man from Atlantis by a “concerned UFIT member”….nevertheless, we will press on!!



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