My bridal bootcamp
In his glory days, not so long ago, Chalothorn Vashirakovit was a Lycra-clad road racer with nary an ounce of fat on his 1.75-metre frame. Then life - as many of us know it - happened in 2007: work stress, lack of time, good food and the irresistible draw of social outings.
The bike rides ground to a halt. Since then, Chalothorn, 30, has gone from 68kg of mostly muscle to 74.3kg and a lot more fat. By Asian standards, his body mass index of 24.3 puts him, according to the World Health Organisation, in the 'moderate to high risk' category of an undesirable state of health.
'When I started having breathing problems or my clothes wouldn't fit I would go back to the gym again [but it would only last] for two months,' says the Thailand-born investment associate with a global investment firm, who moved to Hong Kong from Singapore last year.
'Then, after losing 2kg or 3kg, I'd stop going and put the weight back on again.'
This has created something of a wardrobe problem, particularly with office wear. Chalothorn says he can no longer fasten the top button of his dress shirts, and that with a 5cm wider waistline, squeezing into work trousers has become problematic.
Still, he hadn't felt a pressing need to work out, eat more healthily and lose weight. Until now. With an impending wedding in six weeks, Chalothorn is determined to look his best for the big day. His goal: 'I want to be lean and to lose 5kg.'
To help him achieve this, Health Post has teamed up with Pure Fitness to put Chalothorn through a six-week exercise programme, working out four times a week at the Admiralty branch under personal trainer Matthew Ha and boxing coach Jimmy Leung.
The first session two Fridays ago was easy enough. As with all new clients at Pure Fitness, Chalothorn had to complete a questionnaire on his general health and exercise history and habits, and personal targets and goals.
He then went through a body composition assessment that not only analyses key fitness parameters such as strength, flexibility and body fat, but also calculates his so-called body age.
The result: his body is 27 years old, 'but you can be even younger - about 23', says Ha.
Lowering his body fat percentage from 19.69 - measured through the pinch test - to 14 per cent and below will slash off two years. Boosting flexibility - improving his sit and reach test score from 31.7 centimetres to at least 38.2 - would cut another two years.
Other areas to work on are abdominal strength (he managed 34 crunches in 60 seconds; the ideal is a minimum of 53) and muscle endurance (he held the squat with back against the wall for 71 seconds; the ideal is at least 121 seconds). He did perform well in one test: his bicep strength was considered 'elite'.
Based on these findings, Ha and Leung have devised a fitness programme for Chalothorn.
The first week focuses on circuit training to work the cardiovascular system and promote effective fat burning, particularly around the abdomen. The training will also lay the foundation for the upcoming Bulgarian Bag workout, a relatively advanced exercise tool for developing power, strength and muscle endurance.
Chalothorn did three sets of a series of between nine and 12 exercises - using body weight, free weights or the weight machine as resistance - that worked the body from head to toe.
'The programme is certainly a good check on how unfit I am,' says Chalothorn.
'After the first session, I was exhausted and my body was aching. It gradually adjusted and I felt better at the following sessions, but there's still much work to be done.'
Though physical changes are not apparent yet, he says he feels mentally refreshed. '[He has] good cardiovascular fitness, thanks to his background in cycling,' says Ha. 'But he needs more abdominal and core work, as well as general weight training.'
Chalothorn's diet is also set for a makeover. He typically skips breakfast, declaring it 'a waste of time', has roast meats with rice for lunch, and finishes off with a big dinner because 'I work long hours and by that time, I am so hungry'. Vegetables and fruit don't get much of a look in.
Ha advises reversing his diet - starting the day with a good breakfast and ending with a smaller, carbohydrate-free dinner with a balance of protein and vegetables. 'Chalothorn is highly motivated,' says Ha, 'he's on the right track and has made a strong start.'
So what keeps Chalothorn going, when it starts to hurt?
'The first thing is wanting to be in better shape for the wedding,' he says, 'and the second - and almost equally important reason - is the fact that my progress is being published here.'