In My Pocket

true tales as told by Noelle

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Les Mills Ultimate Super Workshop Kuala Lumpur

In the grand scheme of things Les Mills, the Philippines hasn’t been a major player. I’ve been instructing for about six years now; up until recently only one gym chain had acquired the license to use Les Mills group exercise programs in their clubs. We were blessed that we had Arnold Warren, a program coach for BODYJAM in Southeast Asia, residing in the Philippines, and twice a year we’d hold our own workshops and invited trainers from the region. At least we didn’t stagnate, but not much was happening with us beyond purchasing the new releases with new choreography and music on DVD every quarter.

Then the advanced instructor modules were introduced, and for long-time instructors like myself it brought us back to why we had started teaching in the first place: because of our passion for these programs that had brought about so much change for the better in our own lives.

We had our first official Les Mills metro workshop in the last quarter of 2012, which made us feel more connected to the whole network of Les Mills events in the region. So a large number of us decided to make the trip to Kuala Lumpur for the Ultimate Super Workshop happening on February 16-17, 2013. It would be the only official workshop held for the first quarter of the year (we have workshops quarterly) and it was an opportunity to represent the Philippines among the other Southeast Asian nations. (more…)

Met Gala 2013 and the Contemporary Filipino Art Exhibit

Metropolitan Museum: Contemporary Filipino Art Exhibit

Met Gala 2013 at the Metropolitan Museum

As a kid I loved visiting museums during field trips. They were an occasional treat to feed our creativity and our minds.

One of my school’s favorite haunts was the old Ayala Museum, which had a permanent exhibit about Philippine history (loved the dioramas!). During my university Spanish class our professor required us to visit the Metropolitan Museum, which had an exhibit on Spanish artifacts found in the Philippines.

At the Met Gala 2013, I encountered a different Metropolitan Museum. (more…)

I Love My Job!

BODYJAM 46 Megamall launch

Let’s dance!

I used to post a lot about Les Mills group fitness classes here, but haven’t in the last few years. This is strange because they’re a huge part of what I do weekly and a huge part of who I am, too. I know thousands of people worldwide attend Les Mills programs in order to get fit and stay fit, and they’re passionate about it.

So I’m going to come out and say I LOVE MY JOB! I love being part of a life-changing experience for my participants — the calm serenity and strength of BODYBALANCE or the madness and euphoria of BODYJAM. I love that by delivering these two group fitness programs in their essence, I’m able to help my participants get the most from their time at the gym. Everyone knows the saying mens sana in corpore sano — a sound mind in a sound body. When someone takes care of their body, the benefits translate to other aspects of their lives. The mature find functional fitness, so they are able to fend for themselves even in their age. Parents have more energy and can give more attention to their children. Yuppies feel empowered and able, so they can make the most of their prime years. Etcetera, etcetera.

These two programs have also contributed to my personal development and I don’t think I’d be who I am without them. And in my effort to become a better instructor, last year I invested in the Advanced Instructor Modules for BODYBALANCE and BODYJAM. They’re meant to help us go deeper into what each program really is and how to give our participants a great experience more consistently.

BODYBALANCE AIM1 w/ trainer Riyo Fukunaga

BODYBALANCE AIM1 w/ trainer Riyo Fukunaga

BODYJAM AIM1 w/ trainer Arnold Warren

BODYJAM AIM1 w/ trainer Arnold Warren

This year I’m taking a big step. I’m going to Kuala Lumpur to attend my first international Les Mills Quarterly Workshop! Workshops are where instructors like myself experience the new choreography and music for the first time. It’s where we also see our trainers (who are kind of like our fitness rockstars) in action so that we can learn from their example.

If you think of group fitness programs as coffee shops, Les Mills is like Starbucks: you go anywhere in the world and the experience and taste are the same. Although the instructor may vary, you get the same high-quality music and choreography (that’s been vetted by movement experts) within a scientifically-designed class structure meant to build your cardiovascular and muscular fitness effectively and efficiently. Workshops and the quarterly instructor’s DVDs are a way to standardize our individual performance to meet that expectation.

In a few weeks I’ll be reporting back from KL on what you can expect next quarter from the Les Mills programs. I’m so excited!

Social Media Reporting on the #Megamall Robbery

My mom and I were just finishing up dinner that Saturday when I checked Twitter. I spotted a tweet from MMDA that said there was an ongoing situation at the mall.

Soon, my timeline was abuzz with retweets from supposed eyewitnesses about what was happening: that shots had been fired, people had stampeded, and shops had shut their roll-up doors for security. No one was allowed in or out of the mall.

Then I started seeing tweets about a hostage situation, but something felt off. It was like listening to a story becoming more elaborate the more it was told.

By that time we had tuned in to AM radio to see if they had gotten ahold of more concrete details. I was wary about trusting too much to Twitter because you never know if your source saw it with their own eyes or is relaying a story someone had in turn told to them.

Then DZMM tweeted that their reporter had interviewed someone who told him a woman told him the hold-up had happened at a jewelry store and the perpetrators were wearing cosplay costumes. Yes, you read that right: the reporter reported hearsay!

This hearsay started spreading as fact, and opinion turned ugly against cosplayers. There was really a cosplay event happening at the mall on the day, but I believed that had the perpetrators been in costume, they weren’t really participants at the event but had just taken advantage of it.

After an hour of us breathlessly awaiting more news, finally SM Megamall and the mayor of Mandaluyong released statements.

There was no hostage-taking.

Only two shots had been fired, not five and not repeatedly as tweets had reported.

The suspects were in plain clothes, not costumes. (Nakuryente ang DZMM dun.)

And the suspects had gotten away in the first two minutes during the initial panic and confusion. They’re still at large.

#Megamall trended, but the hashtag perpetuated a lot of the initial wrong reporting. It wasn’t just a Twitter problem, either: Philstar.com reported it too (and still hasn’t retracted the article). The next morning I found myself still reading reactions from people especially about what the suspects were wearing and whether there had been a hostage situation.

Yes, Twitter and Facebook provided a lot of real-time updates at a time when people were desperate for more information. It’s also during those times when it’s most important to discern what is factual and what is not. The nature of the internet and social media being what it is, wrong information sticks around longer (due to search engine caching of uncorrected articles and tweets). Because I’ve been an internet user for a long time, I’ve learned to turn a critical eye toward “news” I see spreading on social media. However, there are thousands of Filipinos who are new to this and don’t know how to fact-check for themselves.

I think it’s important for people to start educating themselves on how to use social media properly so they aren’t swept up and carried away by every trending topic.

Red Ocean, Blue Ocean

In 2009 when I took an improv acting workshop, our mentor Jourdan Sebastian told us about “red ocean, blue ocean”. This was adapted from a business strategy book called Blue Ocean Strategy, which posits that instead of attempting to compete within the existing market (a red ocean full of sharks in a feeding frenzy), a business should create new demand in uncontested market space (a blue ocean).

Improv Acting Workshop 2009

improv workshop activity


Instead of business, though, we applied it to ourselves as actors, performers, and artists. What could we offer that was new to the industry? What did we each have that nobody else did?

After the workshop period ended, we each went our ways. My batchmates went on to make (bigger) names for themselves:

  • Abby Asistio, musician and alopecia awareness advocate
  • Gee Canlas, speed-talking TV host and Amazing Race PH contestant
  • Miko Pepito, spoken word artist
  • JB de Leon, professional photographer
  • Teddy Corpuz, musician of Rocksteddy and co-host of It’s Showtime
  • Roxanne Barcelo, actress

To tell you the truth I felt out of my depth in that workshop. Everyone there had a “blue ocean”; for instance, Abby could sing and rap, and now that she’s open about her alopecia it to set her apart. Gee could talk a mile a minute, which attracted attention from TV networks that cast her as a host.

What was I good at? What did I have that nobody else had? Looking back now, I didn’t turn out the way I thought I would in 2009. But I think I’ve found my blue ocean, and it’s online. It’s not going to be without difficulty that I make my own mark; I’m not the first female running blogger, nor the most famous. But I do have my own unique skills that no one else has. I’m hoping that makes the difference for me this year. ;)