By SAMANTHA CHOW, SHANJEEV REDDY and VIVIENNE WONG
IF your everyday kinda sports don’t get your adrenaline pumping no more, fret not! There are a whole lot of new and exhilarating fitness options you can partake in.
We’re talking about hardcore sports like jump aerobics, powerlifting and paintball, where you get to have loads of fun while burning calories.
We’re highlighting these unconventional sports in a special series in conjunction with Hari Sukan Negara (on Oct 10) to inspire you guys to get out there and be healthy. Read last week’s stories on capoeira, pole dancing and rock climbing at rage.com.my!
If you told Khairul Marzuqi, 24, he would one day be an aerobics instructor, he would’ve laughed in your face. As a music student majoring in violin, his ambition was to play in an orchestra.
But four years on, he is a jump referee and jump aerobics instructor at Jump Street Asia Trampoline Park, Petaling Jaya.
It’s a big change, he agreed, something his younger self would not have imagined.
His friend, a fellow parkour enthusiast, invited him to work at Jump Street Asia when it first opened over a year ago. Marzuqi was also involved in the parkour scene at the time and he could do impressive stunts – a useful skill when working at a trampoline park.
Marzuqi accepted the post, thinking it was only going to be something he would do while waiting for a music-related job. Today, he is still actively involved at Jump Street Asia, working five days a week and conducting jump aerobic classes twice a week, including weekends.
While you would normally associate trampolines with children jumping in the backyard, but Jump Street Asia has interconnected trampolines over 39,000 square feet.
It is the largest indoor trampoline park in Asia and third largest in the world.
Being able to bounce around all that space is certainly fun, but as with all sports, it can be dangerous.
“Trampolining is not an extreme sport, but there are dangers,” said Marzuqi.
The company recognises this, which is why they have at least 25 jump referees watching the entire facility.
There are also strict rules and regulations on safety, which includes a no handphone policy on the court. So yes, #trampolineselfies are not allowed.
Marzuqi is a lean ball of energy, constantly encouraging his jump aerobics class, which includes young kids, college students, adults coming in after their nine-to-fives and even elderly folk.
And then there were us R.AGE journalists, who almost passed out from exhaustion after about 30 minutes. We were told 10 minutes on the trampoline is equivalent to 30 minutes on the treadmill – but it felt like more.
At the end of an hour-long session, you would’ve burnt 550 calories, equivalent to a Big Mac. The intermediate or advance classes help you burn 700-1,000 calories.
Trampolining also strengthens the core, improves your sense of balance and builds back and leg muscles. It’s a full body cardio workout that helps to burn fat, and Marzuqi finds great satisfaction when it helps his clients meet their fitness goals.
“I feel happy seeing them get fitter,” said Marzuqi. “You’ll see results in two to three months if you attend weekly sessions.”
If you want to give jump aerobics a try or simply spend a fun hour trampolining, check out jumpstreetasia.com.
Hanna-Rose Abdul Jalil, 29, is a training course developer for the oil and gas industry who has dedicated most of her Sundays to her favourite sport – paintball – for the past two years.
“Many people have the perception that playing paintball is very painful and violent but it actually isn’t. It’s all about teamwork, fitness and knowing for yourself that you can handle the equipment you have on you,” said Hanna.
Although relatively new to paintball, Hanna has been actively participating in sports her entire life. A track runner in school and later a black-belt in Ninjitsu in college, Hanna first came to know about paintball while watching a corporate team-building video.
“I love playing first person shooting video games and have always wanted to be in that kind of a situation where you are with a team, planning out strategies. I’m not saying I’m violent or anything, I just enjoy the intensity!” she said.
She finally gave it a shot (pun intended) about two years ago, after much persuasion from an ex-colleague.
“She pressured me to join her team’s training session for fun. Her excuse was that she was the only girl in the team, but I’ve been hooked ever since.”
According to Hanna, paintball is different from other team sports due to its quick bouts as well as the method of communication between teammates.
“It’s extremely noisy and the way you talk to your teammates in this sport is very different. You have to keep instructions very brief and only speak in codes.
“For example, if someone yells ‘Hanna, run there!’ You’d be like, run where? So before a match we discuss as a team and memorise the codes. I don’t think any other sport practises this – especially in this type of high speed environment where each game lasts about two minutes,” she explained.
The type of paintball game Hanna plays is called speedball. It’s typically played on a flat field with inflated bunkers. Each team has a coach who oversees the entire field from just outside the playing radius, relaying the positions of their opponents.
Hanna’s team, Platinum Paintball, is made up of a group of close friends and family members. The team trains every Sunday for up to six hours when preparing for a tournament.
The highly-motivated bunch are slowly earning their stripes.
Their latest achievement was finishing third at the Paintball Asia League Series in Bangkok last March. The tournament saw some 20 teams participating from all over Asia and Australia.
The team has also gathered nearly 10,000 followers on Instagram.
According to Hanna, paintball can be a good source of side income – either from coaching or conducting corporate team building workshops. But above all, the sport has helped her maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
“When you train regularly, you are more conscious of your fitness and diet.
This sport also gives women a sense of empowerment, not just because we have to overcome the fear of pain but also because we are able to be as athletic as men,” said Hanna.
When Athiyah Abu Bakar, 26, first started powerlifting three years ago, there were usually less than five other women at powerlifting meets.
At the 2015 Malaysia Powerlifting Alliance (MPA) Championship in March, there were 12 female lifters. Athiyah won the women’s under 52kg category.
“People have this common misconception that female powerlifters can’t lift as much as men. But we can do squats with weights double our body weight and deadlift triple our body weight!” said the primary school teacher.
The runner-up in the same category, Fiona Ho, 27, said when she first picked up the sport, she was worried her muscles would get too big.
“It depends on your definition of an ideal body. For me, I like an athletic physique and I think there’s an increasing number of girls who are okay with being a bit more muscular,” said Ho, who trains at District 13 in Petaling Jaya, one of several gyms in the Klang Valley now offering powerlifting.
While Ho credits the growth of the scene in Malaysia to the popularity of CrossFit (a fitness programme which has elements of powerlifting), brand manager of clothing company Pencil Produce Lim Feixiang, 26, added that the increased exposure of the sport internationally has led to an appreciation of raw body strength.
And FYI, weightlifting and powerlifting are two different sports.
According to Lim, a weightlifter has to have a good balance of strength, speed and flexibility to complete the two lifts – snatch, and clean and jerk. And they have to know the technique of moving the barbell from the ground to above his/her head.
Powerlifters, on the other hand, train their bodies to move the heaviest barbells through the three lifts – squat, bench press and deadlift.
“They are both barbell sports but it’s a different ball game altogether,” said Lim, who started powerlifting before getting involved in weightlifting.
Though powerlifting is physically demanding, it also helps with the lifter’s overall well-being.
“I like how powerlifting challenges you. You need to be mentally and physically prepared to do this. To achieve your goal, you’ll need a positive mindset. If not, your training will be wasted,” said Athiyah, who trains five days a week.
Ho added: “There’s always a lesson to be learned. If I fail my squats, I’ll analyse to see what’s wrong – my technique or whether I’m physically or mentally tired.
“That gives me a sense of accomplishment and happiness.”
But that’s not all that you’ll get from the sport. For Lim, it’s also about the people you meet.
“You’d think that the lifters are rough because they’re big, but they are some of the nicest people I know.
“They are really dedicated to the sport and are always willing to teach and learn from others. That’s how the community grows.”
Tell us what you think!