This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Working Out in Asia

I bring workout gear on all my business trips. 99% of the time, it comes back unworn, and the only use I get out of it is the incremental 2 calories I burn carrying the extra weight around in my luggage. On my latest trip to Asia, however, I worked out almost every day!

In Hong Kong, I ran along a path near where my parents live that has very little traffic. Coincidentally, it's the same dreaded course I used to run in high school that we referred to as "The Second Pagoda". It was named such because we'd start running from our school, and from there, we'd go past the first pagoda, and then turn around when we reached the second one on the trail. We would do this course three times a year as part of our physical education class. I was slow (well, still am actually) and my fastest time was 17 minutes. If I recall it's supposed to be a 2 mile run... I guess it's possible that I used to run an 8.5/min mile back in the day. Second Pagoda was D's worst nightmare back in the day, and the last time both of us were in Hong Kong last year, he made a point of sprinting the course to banish his demons and prove to himself that he isn't the same weight challenged kid that he used to be.

One of the prime challenges with running outdoors in Hong Kong during the summer is that it's so darn humid. It's bad enough that it's hot (30 Celsius in June - I can't remember what the equivalent temperature is in Fahrenheit), but the humidity makes it that much worse because I end up sweating up a storm, but the sweat doesn't evaporate. Under those conditions, there is a real risk of overheating, especially when you factor in the air pollution. Under such adverse conditions, I needed extra motivation to get moving, so I listened to my iPod (I run without music in the U.S.).

I recently bought a pair of Sony MDR-G57G S2 Sports Street Style Headphones with Reflective Ear Piece for the express purpose of listening to my iPod while exercising. They stay on extremely well. A bit too well actually because they're too tight and they hurt my ears after about 45 minutes. I'm quite surprised about this because I have a relatively small head and tiny ears. If they hurt me, I imagine "normal" sized people must experience excruciating pain after wearing them for any extended period of time. A reviewer on who owns these earphones recommended this: "The second you take them out of the box, TEAR OUT those little D-shaped plastic wedges that are supposed to dig down behind your ears. Just grab ahold of each one tightly and tear it right out of the headphone arm. The headphones will stay on just as firmly, and your ears will be MUCH more comfortable. Did this with both pairs I've owned and they have yet to slip off." I like the idea of improving comfort without compromising functionality so I'll need to give this a shot.

In China, I worked out in the hotel gyms. Some of them are quite small, but even those have at least a few elliptical machines and treadmills. I expected to use my iPod while in the gym too (I hate using cardio machines, talk about boring), but most of them actually have individual TV monitors. One of the best gyms I've seen so far is the one at the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai. It's called Club Oasis, and you don't have to pay extra to use the facilities. I was most impressed with their swimming pool which is absolutely gorgeous. The ambiance is that of a tropical rain forest. Having said that, I didn't investigate the layout, so it's possible that it's more of a wading pool, and not suitable for laps.

The trick now is to maintain some sort of workout regimen when I'm back at home...

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