These three Hongkongers can help motivate you to stick to your New Year’s fitness resolution

Check in with us over the next 12 weeks for the #TopfitMorning challenge, in collaboration with boutique gym Topfit, and get inspired by a local trio facing familiar struggles to get fitter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 February, 2016, 2:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 February, 2016, 10:24am

Chances are, like a lot of people, your New Year’s resolution was to get in shape. And, like many, you’re struggling towards that goal.

The phenomenon of New Year’s fitness plans falling by the wayside is so common – and predictable – that one international gym chain has announced the date of the so-called “fitness cliff” every year since 2013.

For this year, Tuesday, February 9 was when gym check-ins would drop off. They will never be as high again for the rest of the year, according to proprietary research by the Gold’s Gym chain.

If you’ve found yourself fulfilling that prophecy – the Lunar New Year festivities and feasting surely didn’t help – we’ve got the motivational kick you need to get you back on track.

SEE ALSO: No excuses now – Hong Kong online fitness passes make exercise easier

Today we launch a 12-week fitness challenge called #TopfitMorning in collaboration with boutique gym Topfit, involving three Hongkongers who face familiar struggles: the lack of time, a dearth of motivation, and a love of eating that’s inversely related to exercise.

Each of the three participants will be guided through a structured and progressive exercise regimen by a personal trainer, along with receiving nutritional advice, to achieve their individual goals.

We’ll be tracking the participants’ journey every week and provide instructional workouts so that you can follow along, too. Document your transformation on social media and hashtag #TopfitMorning so that we can follow your progress, too.

Ready to sweat with us? Here are our three participants – pick one whose fitness goal is similar to yours and work out with them for the next 12 weeks.

Elizabeth Wu, 28, account manager and digital consultant at PR company Buzz Agency

Instagram: @lizzabutt

As a high school student, Wu was petite and often wore tight clothing. She could eat as much as she wanted and not gain weight. Unfortunately this all changed after university. These days she shuns any tight or revealing outfits, rarely showing even her arms. She’s terribly unfit – even walking up the Lan Kwai Fong slope leaves her panting.

Baring her midsection for the “before” photo for this challenge was highly uncomfortable for her. And just posing with the 4kg weight for the photo left her muscles feeling like jelly.

“Sad to say, I haven’t had a regular fitness regimen since physical education in high school,” says Chinese-Korean Wu. “Entering the dark side of my 20s, I’ve realised it’s about time to take better care of my body and health.”

This challenge, she says, is the kick-start she needs to get back in shape. Personal trainer Heanney McCollum hopes to help Wu feel comfortable in her own skin again and set her on a sustainable active lifestyle.

“First of all, we’ll work on kick-starting a routine because Liz doesn’t work out very often,” says McCollum. “We’ll set fixed days and times for her workouts so the routine becomes mindless and we create a habit.”

McCollum plans to put Wu through a mix of strength work – including weightlifting and squats – and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Wu isn’t intimidated by the prospect – she says her strength is her dedication. “When I set my mind to something, I go all in.”

Lee Tsui, 33, product designer and business developer

Instagram: @leetsui

A former model, kickboxer and gym junkie, Tsui has let his healthy lifestyle slide in the past two years due to work and stress. He goes to bed at about 3 or 4am every night, and as a result often snacks at midnight. Along with a weakness for food (Italian and chocolate especially), this has resulted in a weight gain of about 11kg.

Tsui hopes to lose 14kg by the end of the 12-week challenge and keep it off, thereby dropping from 86kg to 72kg – his weight at 26 years old.

“I’ve walked into this really committed,” says Tsui. “I think it’s about your mind more than anything.”

His personal trainer, Louis Doctrove, will be using a training method called German Body Composition that’s known for torching fat and building strength and power, while working the heart at the same time. Lower-body exercises are paired with upper-body exercises with relatively high reps and little rest to quickly raise blood lactate levels, triggering the greater release of growth hormone that signals the body to grow muscle and burn flab.

Doctrove will also put Tsui on a balanced diet: 2,500 calories a day for a start, eventually dropping to about 1,800 calories a day.

“It doesn’t have to be miserable,” says Doctrove. “It’s actually quite a lot of food; I don’t think he’ll be starving.”

Janice Lee, 33, lawyer
Instagram: @janicecylee
Lee’s list of sporting achievements would make many envious: multiple podium finishes in triathlon races ranging from half-Ironman distance (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21km run) to sprints, and a 10km run personal best of 45 minutes. But the one that got away is a pair of shorts that she hasn’t been able to fit into for three years.

At the end of this challenge, Lee hopes to slip on the shorts – as well as be able to maintain a routine which fits into her daily schedule without feeling burdensome. She also hopes her poor posture, caused by weak core and back muscles and sitting down all day at work, will improve.

“I’d like to focus on parts of my body that are not getting worked out and to achieve better performance in triathlon through strengthening my core and other muscles,” she adds.

Personal trainer Arnold Wong will be putting Lee through a strength programme consisting of weighted compound movements and prowler work, a variety of body weight/weighted core and stability exercises, plyometric HIIT sequences, and plenty of agility, stability, balance and reaction training.

“Janice is a triathlete who spends a lot of time working on her cardiovascular strength and endurance, as well as focusing a lot on her technique for swimming, biking and running,” Wong says. “Therefore, if she increases her lean muscle mass, strength and core, it will inevitably benefit her performance and ability to recover after long bouts of exercise.”