Polar FT60 from Athlete’s Circle (M)’s Polar roadshows

I wanted to get hubby something useful as his birthday gift. While thinking “hard”, I thought of a fitness watch. Why? Well, I always see him jotting down his workout plan in a diary and do some maths in order to calculate how much calories he has burnt off.

So, the “high and low” search began slightly more than three weeks ahead. My initial budget was RM300 to RM400. Initially, my research shows that “Timex” could be a reliable brand. At that point, I was really clueless about the functionality of the watch.  Tried asking some help from friends who do regular workout, but in vain.

So, I took the initiative to visit “Fitness Concept” at Ikano Power Centre. It was then I saw and knew about another brand “Polar”. Well, the salesman there did a good explanation to me about the different functionalities of the different model of watches. He also told me about the difference between Timex and Polar. I am really thankful that he gave me a good explanation. With the help of the Polar brochure given, I was able to make comparison of the functions that I want.

I finally found out that to get a useful watch for hubby, the budget RM300 to RM400 is really not sufficient. It has to be at least RM600. Going back to the desk, I did more research and finally got the final two choices – TIMEX T5K214 (U) IRONMAN Road Trainer HRM and Polar FT60. I managed to search for an online seller, who can offer a better price than the retail price. The former is going out at RM562 and the latter is at RM552. The online retailer, DAVis seems to be a reliable seller from what I observed in the forum. However, my concern was “what if the watch gets missing during the courier”. DAVis does offer insurance, where buyers need to add extra +1.5% to the cost of goods sold. [From external look, actually I initially preferred the former]

Being indecisive, I took the “courage” to ask my superior (who is very active in sports) about the watch. After her assurance that Polar is the better brand and that she has one for herself, I have decided on Polar FT60. She offered to help me get a better discount.  At the end, I was introduced to Jolene Hong of Athlete’s Circle (M) Sdn Bhd. Coincidently, they were doing Polar roadshows and one of the venues was Fitness First in the Curve. I was told that if I could get there on March 23; she will be able to give me a 20% discount of the normal retail price (RM649). Not much information was given to me and I could not message Jolene on her facebook because I did not add her as friend. So, I was crossing my fingers that the roadshow is for real or else, I risk going home without a present – when the date is so close to hubby’s birthday.

On March 23, I actually went to Fitness First at the Curve, but the booth was set up yet. I was told by the Fitness First receptionist to come around 5pm.  So, I went there again after office hour. I finally managed to get hold of Jolene. I was given three choices, but choose the male model (of course). Great explanation was given (though I have forgotten most of it). However, some of the more important stuff like warranties and battery life – I actually prompt her before she did the explanation. Therefore, I think it is good to have some knowledge about the watch or whatever you want to ask in mind before you want to purchase such items.

Besides the watch, it comes with a stripe and a transmitter. Jolene also explained to me on how to use it. Fear that I would forget, I asked if an instruction book is given. She mentioned that a simple guide is inserted in the box and I would need to download the more comprehensive manual over the internet. She also talked about how intense workout needed for different age, body weight and height.

At the end, I paid RM519.20 for the watch. It was about RM30 cheaper than what we could get online. Also, payment via credit card was allowed. The watch came in a box that resembles a box that we get when we purchase a phone. Jolene asked me to keep the receipt but for any problem, I can actually bring the watch over to their office in Jaya One, PJ, as they just need to check the serial number stated on the watch.

Well, for this, I was more delighted to get the watch on hand rather than the discount given because – it was for my hubby! Hope he likes it!

Anyway, it was really an experience and would definitely conclude that getting Polar watches from Polar roadshows is worthy. The setback is that we do not really know WHEN the polar roadshow will be, unless we are in the circle of friends who are friends to those in Athlete’s Circle or being part of the members of the club where the roadshow is going to be held.

Home yoga practice via you tube videos

I had my “last” yoga practice with Manasa yoga before the Chinese New Year break. And, I decided to stop my practice there. Just for one simple reason – they weren’t responsive to my query on whether an extension of class could be given for the one week Chinese New Year break (through their facebook). I won’t be offended if they answered me no, nor would I mind if they could have private message about the issue. I don’t think this is the kind of “customer service” that they should be giving to their loyal students.

Nevertheless, I still have great respect to the yoga master and some teachers there. They (the administrators) definitely need to learn to answer their students’ queries over facebook. And, it wasn’t that they weren’t active at facebook. To cut it short, I have stopped my practice at the centre currently and went into home yoga practice.

One benefit of home yoga practice of course is it is FREE. And, I found great short videos, usually at the length of 20 minutes. The better ones are from Yoga Journal and psychetruth.net videos.

Well, I think one can do such home practice if one just want to maintain the current flexible and already know the basics to yoga practice. This is to ensure that you do not hurt yourself. Also, one has to have the self-discipline and ensure that there is no distraction at home. I would suggest that one start by one video at one time, maybe twice or thrice a week. Then, add one or two more videos as you go along. Well, it works for me. And, I was indeed surprised that I have the motivation to go along. In fact, I have been practicing longer time compared to the previous once a week class.

I hope to continue this for as long as possible. However, I still have the itch to get back to yoga classes, if not the same yoga centre – I don’t mind a new centre too! I think at times some coaching is necessary. This is especially if I have the itch, time and patience to further improve my yoga flexibility.

Intermediate 2 at Manasa Yoga, SS2

I previously reviewed on Basic Class at Manasa Yoga, SS2 and mentioned that I have moved on to Intermediate 2. I started attending the Intermediate 2 classes since end March or early April 2010, for once a week at RM 90 per month (of four classes), which is affordable to me. My usual class is on Wednesday. I did attend some Thursday classes, and at times, when I missed my weekday classes, I will attend the Saturday’s Intermediate 1 class or Basic class as replacement.

 

With Intermediate 2, the usual guru is the “headmaster”, i.e. Manoj. Occasionally, when he isn’t around, other teachers would replace. Either way, I can still feel the authentic yoga experience. I have great respect for my yoga teachers who are very dedicated in their teachings. Compared to basic class, there is more “preaching” and also theories, which the teacher tries to relate. More Sanskrit words are used (to a certain extent, I find it difficult to grasp even after translation). There are also more difficult poses, not totally new to me though, in the class. An honest review would be that Manoj goes abit faster (the speed), making it a little difficult for people like me, who transited to his class, in the early days.

 

One setback that I feel over the year is that there could be a fine line among students who just joined/ transited and advanced students (those that went through the teacher training course or have been long with the headmaster). I still struggle when it comes to pairing up with the advanced students (not all, but some), who made me feel “intimidated” for not being as “capable” as their body (while they supposed to be “humble” in their practice). While the advanced students who are teachers themselves (though being in the same class) are willing to help and teach me, I find it difficult to pair up with some who actually look highly upon the teachings of the headmaster. I have never felt so “discriminated” before, before yesterday’s (September 28, 2011) class, as the student who has no “partner”, wasn’t willing to partner me and not even wanting to help me up to my pose (even though she did not need my help) because she wanted the headmaster to adjust her body. I really felt disappointed but was relief when the teacher who replaces the headmaster previous week (Susan), came to me and offer me her help. This wasn’t the first time I feel intimidated in class.

 

So, for newer students who cannot blend well with the more “experienced” ones, you could likely to encounter such situations. And, for this, I actually miss my basic yoga class at the same centre, where students are friendlier and more willing to help one another – where sometimes we have laughter together.

 

Also, over the years, I find that increasingly Manasa Yoga has become more commercialized (while maintaining their authentic experience) with more yoga workshops or coming out with booklets/books. However, given the affordable fee structure, it is one of the tactics for them to survive as a yoga centre (I think).

Basic yoga class at Manasa Yoga, SS2

I used to think body flexibility is something cool. I first read about yoga from The Star in the last quarter of 2007, and I visited one of the yoga center featured in the article. I have forgotten the yoga center name, but I remembered it was located in Bangsar. After getting the first taste of yoga, I looked for a yoga center located nearer to the place I stayed, which previously was in SS2.

I dropped by at Manasa Yoga after work one day, and was “entertained” by a senior student, who described to me the packages. So, I started my first class on Feb 1, 2008. When I first joined, I took the once a week basic class package, which cost me about RM 60 for 4 classes (if I don’t remember wrongly) at that time. As a new student, I was sent to the middle of the class so that I can follow the steps of the regular students. My first teacher was Annie. She was real patient in explaining to me the steps and poses. I vividly remember how she asked me to “open up my heart” when doing the poses (because it resulted to real chest pain the next day). I actually felt quite enlighten in my first class.

On my subsequent second class, it was when I got “hooked” to doing yoga. My second teacher was Sook Yee, who also explained patiently to me as a new student. She cares a lot for her student, in the sense that she will always advice her students not to “overdo” the poses, as it would hurt our bodies. At one point, when she accidentally touched my cold feet (which is normal to my body), she thought I wanted to faint. And, I had to comfort her that I was fine.

It was after I completed the 4th class (or 8th class); I started to take on the unlimited classes, which previously was priced at RM 100 per month.

Also, at that time, since my ex-boyfriend (now husband) was busy at work and has a lot of overtime to do, I had nothing meaningful to do (and wanted to find something more meaningful to do), wanted to do something that also does not cost much (as we were still saving for bigger life goals), needed some motivation and it wasn’t that “exciting” to stay long night hours at a renting place, I thought daily yoga would be the best thing to do. During some days, I even went for 3 hours continuous classes. It was also through the hours of practice that I came to understand more about my own body, finding focus and cultivate a positive way of thinking (open up my mind). I gained a lot of body flexibility during those days when I do daily practice. It also helped me build my self-confidence, as I managed to do poses that I used to think it was impossible. The daily practices went almost for two years.  [So, my period of review is between 2008 to 2010]

I have went through most (if not all) of the Manasa Yoga’s teachers’ classes – Penny, Mei Leng, Julie, Lily, Jean, Senli, Rouxin, Kwan, Sandhya and Manoj. Each teacher, though follows a “schedule” or steps of teaching (if I am not mistaken), has their own personal styles and this makes each of them unique. For instance, Lily teaches in a very enthusiastic way on a Saturday morning while Jean teaches in a very subtle way – carefully thinking, observing and adjusting her students’ pose.

The fees charged are at affordable level (which you may want to check with them, as it was revised since I last left the basic level since last year, 2010 after we moved into our new place, which is located slightly further away from the center).  It is value for money especially for unlimited package – and if you are a regular who goes there almost everyday. Currently, I am still with Manasa Yoga and moved on to intermediate level two (not that I am that good, but because I have less time for yoga now – and why not a “higher” level?).  Honestly speaking, I still think daily (basic) practice is better than once a week intermediate level 2 practice, given that I feel I lost some body flexibility.

I have not been to any other yoga center after I started there, and thus I may not be able to make a good comparison. But, I do think Manasa Yoga is a good place to start yoga practice because the teachers provide an authentic yoga experience for students, give personal touch/ coaching (even after yoga hours – i.e. after class) and bring (non-offensive) humour into class. Sometimes during classes, the teachers could “preach” or provide insightful tips about body & life. One can find morale values out of the stories given (if you truly listen to it). However, it may not be the kind of lifestyle fitness centre that yuppies may be looking for (for instance, those who aim for luxurious shower and Jacuzzi).