All I Want for Christmas

Christmas 2007: Nativity SceneChristmas Eve crept up on me this year. Probably because Christmas Eve fell on a Monday: people thought they’d have enough time to get ready for festivities at home. Then, they wake up and realize, “I haven’t completed my shopping!”

pwease can i haz one LOLIt’s the reason my mom, sister, and I were at TriNoma yesterday picking up a few last-minute items, including my sister’s gift to me. (That picture refers to this lolcat.) We had to buy food for snacks and dinner, since our extended family would bring dishes for noche buena, which we’ve celebrated at our house for several years now. This year we had a new addition to the family (yes, we’re still growing!) — another baby girl.

Christmas 2007: I got it from my momma.
I got it from my momma.

Christmas 2007: Family SceneOur Christmases are low key affairs; the loudest sounds are of our laughter and talking over the dinner table, catching up on each other, recycling old jokes and recalling running in-jokes that outside observers might not pick up on. Ü Of course the highlight of the evening is distributing gifts to each other, but really what’s important to me is everyone I love being in the same room.

Christmas 2007: Presents? I gots dem!
The gifts are just a perk.

Merry Christmas, everyone! God bless you all!

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Dream Come True

BODYJAM auditions posterLast Saturday night I had a nightmare that I had agreed to teach two classes on the same day at the same time at two different clubs. I couldn’t find someone to cover the class because I had found out too late that the classes conflicted with each other. In dismay I realized I would be a no-show for one class — and get suspended from teaching for that offense.

I think it was my subconscious mind expressing fears that I might not be able to handle teaching two programs at Fitness First, since I passed the BODYJAM auditions on Saturday. Funny having a nightmare after my dream to teach BODYJAM finally came true. I auditioned last year but wasn’t picked — but that freed me up for BODYBALANCE training last March. I’m a big believer in good things happening in God’s time, so only after more than a year of waiting did I get another chance at BODYJAM. A year of God leading me into situations of dancing while everyone’s watching, learning to manage stage fright, and enjoying the buzz of teaching dance. A year of growth and pruning to enable this vine to bloom and bear fruit.

now I can dance!
Now I can dance!

It all began again with Arnold Warren (BODYJAM program head here in the Philippines) drumming up interest in the auditions by putting up posters in all the Fitness First clubs. He also posted bulletins and blog entries on Friendster and Multiply. Talk about getting the word out: on audition day, almost 70 people showed up! There were so many auditionees that Arnold was compelled to disclaim, “If you’re here because you think this is a class or an event, you’re wrong!” And no one left.

Lining up to hand in our registration forms — I was #17 — I felt like I was auditioning for American Idol, except we weren’t going in one by one. (Whew.) And we weren’t singing either; over the next 55 minutes we would all be dancing and grooving to the same music and set of moves presented by BodyJam instructors. While we did that, three judges would make the rounds and list down who they thought should go to Hollywood go through the training. Our judges were Arnold, Ms. Fhe Manalili-Samia (former BODYJAM program head and Group Exercise Manager for Fitness First Ortigas), and Joseph Regala (GXM for FF North EDSA and Platinum Trinoma).

Simon, Paula, and Randy
NOT Simon, Paula, and Randy.

Our playlist consisted of the warm-up, isolation, and latin tracks from BODYJAM 42, the Candyman block from BODYJAM 40, the recovery track from BODYJAM 35, and the jazz cardio block from BODYJAM 35. Our groove-down was “Rock With You” from BODYJAM 33. Talk about intense! Midway through the warm-up the aircon cut out, ramping up the ambient temperature and causing the windows to fog up.

America's Next Top ModelAfterwards, Arnold, Ms. Fhe, and Joseph combined their lists. Those who had received votes from all three of them would automatically be admitted to BODYJAM training in February 2008. This time, it felt like America’s Next Top Model, starring Arnold as Tyra.

The first number he called? Mine! The funny thing is that I had completely forgotten that it was my number he was calling. Ten other people were called. Those with two votes were then called to dance off for five remaining slots. Arnold and his co-program head Clark Amaba then led these people through BODYJAM 43’s first cardio block, which few of them had seen, much less mastered (ensuring they were all on even footing). Afterwards, the auditionees were asked to stand in front of the assembly, introduce themselves, and state why they wanted to teach BODYJAM. This helped Joseph and group exercise manager for FF ABS-CBN Brian Peralta choose the final five.

Our number complete, some administrative stuff was discussed, but my head was up in the clouds already. February might be a long way off, but I’ve waited a year for this. Two months is nothing! Ü

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When Work is Play

As promised, I took a lot of photos at the Les Mills Quarterly Workshop last December 1, 2007 at Fitness First Mall of Asia.

at the Les Mills Quarterlies

It wasn’t hard to do, considering that almost none of the group exercise instructors I know are camera-shy. (Check out my friends’ photos as well — Kurei, Vanessa, Bon, and Albert.) And no camera lens went unnoticed.

someone says hi!
See what I mean?

I arrived some time before 9am at the venue, trying to beat the Christmas post-payday traffic rush. The first session (BodyAttack) had been canceled on short notice; master trainer Kylie Gates was injured, so she hadn’t flown in. We started the morning with BodyCombat release 34.

ready to rumble
Unleash. Empower. Explode!

It’s the shortest BodyCombat release ever, clocking in at a little over 45 minutes when we blasted through it nonstop with trainer Ben Tang, after a short educational session on innovations in this latest release. I don’t teach this program, but I do enjoy any workout with friends, especially right before pigging out on pizza.

I’d been experiencing muscle soreness in my butt and inner thighs the week leading up to the quarterlies, so I backed out of BodyPump 64 (which I had pre-registered for) and sat out BodyStep 70 (which is a real leg workout!). Instead, I waited for the ultimate dance party workout BodyJam 43, where I could “shake all my stress away, yeah,” as Rihanna has sung.

none of us teach BodyJam. Yet.
BodyBalance teachers can Jam, too!

BodyJam co-program head Clark Amaba had to present by his lonesome because Kylie was absent and our homegrown talent and trainer Arnold Warren was in Vietnam training a new batch of BodyJam instructors.

BodyJam presenter Clark Amaba
Clark chillin’ before presentin’

BodyJam is my first love among Les Mills programs, although I don’t teach it (yet). Let me tell you, release 43 is quite challenging in terms of getting the feel right during the Disco block. (Need. to find. inner. disco ball!) Once the House block kicks in, though, it’s “Please don’t stop the music!”

Last program of the day was, of course, BodyBalance, where our guest presenters Jackie Wong (BodyStep trainer) and Ben Tang (he teaches BodyBalance too! haha) with Ms. Peewee our BodyBalance program head presented release 39. What can I say about it, as an instructor of the program? One word. “Ouch.” But the music is fantastic and motivating, I think, and if I keep training in the weeks up to the launch (mid-January 2008!) I think I can manage this release.

my training batch with the presenters and big shots
We can’t wait to teach BodyBalance 39!

The thing with work that seems like play is that we co-workers — and friends — don’t get tired of each other’s company. Luckily, Mall of Asia on that day was open until midnight, so we were able to wreak havoc at a Wendy’s and a Starbucks into the night.

post-quarterly outfits

I loved every moment of it. Kudos to Joseph, the group exercise manager for Fitness First North EDSA and Platinum TriNoma, for organizing the whole event. It was worth the journey all the way to Mall of Asia.

Until next time!

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