Exercise? On a Sunday night? Aren’t Sunday nights usually reserved for chilling and relaxing and unwinding in preparation of the long week ahead?
That’s what I usually think, anyway. Sunday nights are usually spent mentally and physically preparing myself for the work week ahead. Normally, I wouldn’t dream of physically exhausting myself the night before the beginning of a work week.
But that was exactly what I did last weekend.
On Sunday 28 September 2014, I joined a global movement initiated by Lorna Jane, called Active Nation Day. The movement, going global for the first time this year, was held in several countries including Australia, Malaysia, Phillipines, South Africa, Dubai and Amsterdam, all on the same date. The aim of this movement is to help women live an active and healthy lifestyle.
Okay, truth be told I wouldn’t normally sign up for an event like this. It was Elisha who invited me to join her and her friend Suwena in attending this event. I didn’t really know very much about this event except that there would be yoga (and later I found out also had Zumba).
The Malaysian chapter of the Active Nation Day, organised by Believe Active (sole distributor of the Australian brand of workout clothes Lorna Jane) was held on The Roof, which is at the top of First Avenue. Open to ladies only, the tickets were RM50 each, and they managed to sell about 180 for this night – which is a lot, given the space on the Roof!
BEFORE WE EVEN GOT STARTED
Elisha, Suwena and I arrived very early on Sunday, in order to avoid the jam, and to get parking (which is normally a hellish experience at a mall on a Sunday night). So early that we were in fact the first ones there! We arrived at 5:30pm. Registration was supposed to start at 7pm, but the organisers were so efficient that they were already ready when we got there. I think they had been there all day preparing the goodie bags and the registration forms, but still, everything was ready very much ahead of time.
The three of us had pre-purchased our tickets online, so all we needed to do was provide our names. We each got a pink MNB (MoveNourishBalance) bracelet worth RM50 each, as well as a goodie bag. Inside the goodie bag was a bottle of Ostania Premium mangosteen concentrate (which I know is very expensive), a LifeJuice voucher, a card that entitled us to classes at Yogaonethatiwant studio, vouchers from BodyTone Studio, a MAKNA pamphlet, RM100 Lorna Jane gift cards (applicable only for purchases above RM500 nett), and of course a Lorna Jane catalog.
We then made our way to the Roof – which was literally the roof! None of us had ever been there before, and it was an experience just walking up the staircase to the top. There were lifts that connected the top floor to the roof, but we decided not to take it as were were still young and able-bodied. The staircase was very well-built and sturdy, and though it was out in the open (we could feel the strong wind), it was not a scary climb. We could see the view of PJ from the staircase, and of course from the Roof itself.
The stage was set in the middle of the Roof, which was covered in grass. It was a lovely setting for parties and events, and in this case, outdoor exercise!
Being the first ones there, we got the chance to speak to the beautiful and talented songstress Atilia Haron! She is the owner of Yogaonethatiwant studio with which Believe Active was collaborating for the night. We even got to take photos with her. Atilia was very humble and sweet when we chatted with her. There were no airs at all about her. She was so down-to-earth that she didn’t even seem like a celebrity.
As others started trickling onto the roof, we decided to set up our mats to get a good spot in front of the stage. However, we didn’t set up in the front; we decided to set it up somewhere in the middle of the field, while still making sure we had a good view of the stage. We were joined by three other ladies whom Elisha and Suwena knew from Surya Yoga – Jaime, Cecilia and Zyhpr.
Many of the other participants came early as well, with the same view as us – to get good parking. Everyone was so early that the hostesses wanted to start the event early at 7:30pm (it was supposed to start at 8pm) but the organisers insisted that we stick to the schedule as planned.
SELFIE AND WE-FIE TIME
Anyway, because we were so early, we just lounged around at the Roof, lying on our mats. The organisers allowed everyone photo opportunities with their signs and makeshift frames. Lots of selfies and we-fies were taken while we waited for the event to start!
We were also provided a very light dinner of charcoal noodles, with compliments by sponsors Little Wonton. I recently discovered roasted sesame dressing makes everything taste good – and that was what accompanied the charcoal noodles. To be fair, the noodles with the chicken and egg were quite nice. The roasted sesame dressing just made them taste better.
LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED
The event kicked off with hostesses Aishah Sinclair and Daphne Iking warmly welcoming everyone, and they explained what the night was about. Raffle tickets were also on sale at RM25 each, out of which 100% of the proceeds would go to MAKNA, which is the National Council of Malaysia. MAKNA is a non-profit organisation that aims to fight cancer and help all cancer patients regardless of age, sex, or creed.
Speeches were made by the Daphne and Michelle, the owners of Believe Active who were also the organisers of the event, and by a MAKNA representative. I’m sorry I don’t remember his name, but hey this isn’t a news report.
We started with a simple warm up of the LJ moves – basically, we jump on the spot while repeatedly forming the letters “L” and “J” with our arms à la cheerleading. Err, and that was it for the warm-up.
We were then treated to an acroyoga performance. It’s basically one person doing yoga moves while being balanced on another person’s legs and/or arms. The couple that performed slipped up at one point, but then acroyoga is difficult, so of course mistakes can happen. In any case, it was a beautiful performance, and I am simply amazed at their core strength!
It was then time for our yoga class. It is not my first time doing yoga outdoors. Okay I sounded like I do yoga a lot outdoors. My only other time I’ve ever done yoga outside a studio was when I went for a detox retreat last year in Janda Baik. But this is the first time I was doing outdoor yoga at night. It would have been beautiful if the night sky was not so cloudy. Not a single star was seen that night, although I did spot a very bright light coming from an airplane.
Atilia led the yoga class. She confessed that she had only just received her teacher’s certification a few months ago, and she acknowledged that there were probably many people in the crowd who were more experienced than her – advanced yogis and even teachers. I thought it was really brave of her to lead a class at a public event, given how new she is as a teacher – and I don’t mean this in a bad way.
Atilia also shared with us that she has pledged not to charge anyone for the yoga classes that she teaches, and that any money she receives will go to MAKNA. Beautiful, talented, and noble! You can’t dislike someone like that!
The yoga class went fairly smoothly. There were a few errors in her instructions, but no major blunders. I thought she pulled it off really well. If it were me, I might have bungled the whole thing, haha!
And anyway I hadn’t gone for yoga for the past few months *hidesfaceinshame*. I had been so busy that I have been neglecting my personal yoga growth. And honestly it was a little bit embarrassing for me to go with Elisha (who is super flexible) and Suwena (who is a yoga teacher-in-training) to this event, because I thought I’d just fall flat on my face during the yoga session. Fortunately I was able to make it through the class without incident. Atilia had planned a yoga session that was just right – it was a little challenging for beginners, and easy enough for experienced students to follow. At the end, she suggested the experienced ones try the challenging poses like the crow, the tripod, and the headstand to complete their yoga class for the night. I only got as far as the crippled crow, which is my version of the crow.
ATTEMPTED HEALTH AND NUTRITION TALK
Everyone then took a breather after the yoga class, and it was supposed to be a talk on health and nutrition. Note that I said “supposed to be”.
The microphone was taken over by a guy from BodyTone gym (I didn’t catch his name. I’m sorry. I told you this isn’t a news report) who attempted to give a talk on the concept of fad diets and nutrition. If I had any complaints about the night, it would be about this section. It was such a poor attempt that although I felt sorry for him, I could not bring myself to respond to his questions. Yes I know it was not very nice of me! But I couldn’t help it.
After the yoga session, everyone was taking a break, by taking photos or buying the cold-pressed juice or just resting. The guy jumped straight into speech without much introduction. His voice didn’t carry well, and his presence was not commanding enough to demand our attention. He wasn’t even standing onstage – he walked the concrete block path which was not lit up, keeping him in the shadows. He tried to engage the crowd by asking questions (for example “what is a fad diet?”) but few people were paying attention enough to try answering him.
His turn was then taken over by a personal trainer, who evidently was supposed to give a talk on fitness. I think that when she saw his failed attempt at getting the crowd’s attention, she decided to do something drastic. The moment she got hold of the microphone, she threw out the question “Why should we exercise?” and started shoving the microphones into people’s faces to get them to answer. I could see the first face she shoved the mic into went into complete shock, as the lady had not expected it, and was unable to come up with any answer. The personal trainer then started running around, shoving the mic into other people’s faces to try to get them to answer her question.
Then instead of going into a speech, she jumped onto the stage and insisted that everyone get up and start doing squats and lunges. I might be mistaken, but somehow I don’t think this was part of the agenda of the night. My suspicion is that having seen the failed attempt of the previous speaker to get any attention, she decided to force everyone to pay attention to her by making them do some physical activity. Many people were reluctant to participate, but nobody wanted to be seen as a spoilsport so everyone got up and followed her orders as she made us do 30 squats x 3 rounds followed by 30 lunges x 2 sides and then 30 jump-lunges.
Did I think this could have gone better? Very much so. Perhaps if the speakers were more engaging and had topics that were of more interest to the listeners. Perhaps they shouldn’t have had a talk for the sake of having a talk. Perhaps they could have skipped the theoretical side and go straight to the physical activity, which was what everyone was there for anyway.
FINALLY IT’S TIME TO ZUMBA!
Fortunately the Zumba class started really soon after that. Hannah Kamal was the bubbly and lively Zumba instructor who took the stage, and she was good. She was energetic, fun, and very cute in her moves, and she was able to lead the classes well so that even those who had never tried Zumba before were able to follow her. To be honest I have tried Zumba a few times before, and I never really liked it; but Hannah’s class really changed my mind about Zumba. Ah, the importance of a good instructor!
END OF THE NIGHT
The night ended with the lucky draw of the raffle tickets. I did buy a raffle ticket and … I won NOTHING. *sadface* There prizes included high-quality Shakers, more bottles of the mangosteen concentrate, books on nutrition written by Lorna Jane herself, Lorna Jane apparel, and free classes at BodyTone and Yogaonethatiwant studio. The important thing is that the money went to charity, which was the whole idea of raffle tickets anyway.
It was a fun, highly energetic night. Overall it was a great success. Thank you to the organisers for the good work! We really enjoyed ourselves.