|How do you keep fit? Visit our discussion board to share health tips, diet secrets and physical activities that help you stay in shape.|
|Video: Exercise with Tess Yong|
By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Mike Gordon
Tess Yong has the kind of fitness routine that elite athletes dream of and the physique to prove she understands sweat equity. She looks bulletproof.
But the former champion bodybuilder is preaching fitness for the masses. The Kailua athlete wants "everyday people" to feel better about the skin they're in.
To do that, you need muscles, flexibility and the ability to breathe correctly.
"I believe that having a strong body is a base, having the overall strength in the body to support anything you want to do," Yong said. "It's the base for everything."
For Yong, fitness is less about goals than it is about creating a habit you can't live without. Athletes are motivated by competition by short-term gratification but everyone else needs to fall in love with the way exercise makes them feel, she said.
"I just love movement and feeling energetic, and feeling the best I can be," she said. "I like to feel strong inside."
But you won't find more sit-ups and endless trunk twists at the core of her philosophy. Instead, Yong stresses "a strong foundation."
"When I am saying foundation, I am talking about everything, the whole foundation of the strong body," she said. "With a strong body, other things become more achievable."
Include an hour of resistance training twice a week, Yong said.
You need to work all areas of your body, but you don't need to have a huge weight set or access to a gym although Yong said gyms will have everything you need. Yong said anything that creates resistance will work: light dumbbells, rubberbands or push-ups for your arms and lunges for your legs.
Plan on two to three days between sessions so your muscles can recover, Yong said.
You should also find a cardiovascular exercise you like and do that on your nonweight days, stretching as often as you can. Yong does 30 minutes of yoga stretching every morning.
Learning to breathe correctly, especially when doing strength training, is the key to getting stronger and feeling better, Yong said. Most weightlifters are either confused about when to breathe or are unaware of its importance, she said.
"It is the connection of the whole body," she said. "A connection to the movement."
Do this consistently and you'll revel in your body's newly found grace, what Yong likes to call "flow." She's convinced you'll like it.
"It's a gift that we can move," she said. "It is a gift that we can breathe. Every time you are working, feel how nice it is to walk and move and you will love exercise."
Profession: Personal trainer/health consultant
Weight: 115 pounds
Workout habits: Runs 4-5 miles three times a week, does 30 minutes of yoga with breathing and mediation every morning, lifts weights three times a week, dances.
The secret of her success: Yong believes that the key to strength training is learning to breathe correctly. She wants people to be aware of the connection between breathing and movement.
For example, exhale on the upward motion of a pull-up and you can strengthen your core muscles. Your whole torso will deflate like a balloon and that will force you to stabilize your core muscles, she said.
The same principle applies when doing a lunge.
But don't contract because you can easily wind up holding your breath, she said. Your motions should be slow and purposeful, she said.
Reach Mike Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.