Xtend Barre – The Women-Friendly Work Out

It’s been a while that I explore new classes or new studios/gyms in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, just for fun. I am glad that Malaysia is slowly catching up with worldwide fitness trends, there’s loads of new work outs for you to try!  Last weekend, I attended an Xtend Barre class at Urban Spring, Bangsar, KL.

I wish that’s me, but this is just another google image taken from Urban Spring’s website

  • What is Xtend Barre?

According to the website of the studio that I went, the definition given was:

The premier ballet barre workout. Xtend Barre brings in elements of dance, ballet and Pilates to create an adrenaline-fueled workout that strengthens, lengthens and chisels the body.
“If Pilates sculpts your body, Xtend Barre™ chisels it.” Meet you at the Barre®

Taken from: http://www.urban-spring.com/xtend-barre.html

In short, imagine ballet combined with pilates and body-weight exercises. Ladies will love it, because there are elements of choreography as well.

  • Why is it women-friendly?

Body-weight work out

For beginners, you don’t need heavy weights to tone up. The movement in this class relies on your own lunges, leg raises, or body elongation, very much like pilates.

So, what do I do with this baby weights?

Graceful and elegant choreography

If you are familiar with ballet, you will learn to appreciate the athleticism that is involved in the movement. From the first position to plie and every basic ballet movement in between, there is never a dull moment in this class. You will feel like you’re dancing, while doing pilates at the same time.

Getting ready to work out.
Notice the ballet barre on the studio walls

Small movements, big results

Most of the movement were about high repetition of small pulses. No complicated movements involved. To increase the burn level, the instructor used resistance bands.

  • Overall Review

Difficulty: 2/5

This depends on your fitness level. If you are used to body-weight work outs or have basic yoga/ pilates knowledge, then it’s an easy work out for you. If your body is used to high-repetitive work outs, you will need more sets to see results. Alternatively, join the intermediate or advanced classes.

Sweat level: 3/5

Don’t underestimate the small movements or the easy work out. It will still give you a good sweat and leave your arms shaking, but not sore. It elevated my heart rate slightly, but I was not panting and gasping like mad.

Instructor: 4/5

The instructor has background in ballet and choreography, so she has many years of experience within the industry. We love the studio too. It has a relaxing, spa-like vibe to it. It is also well-equipped with accessories required for an Xtend Barre class, so you don’t have to bring anything besides non-slip socks.

In the studio’s changing room


Ladies, if you are looking for a stress-free, low-impact work out, Xtend Barre is for you.



CrossFit at a new Fuel Athletics gym!

A few weeks ago, I had a great experience at the weight lifting introduction class in Fuel Athletics. Recently, they opened their doors to a new outlet in Shah Alam and invited me plus a few friends to try CrossFit after iftar (breaking our fast). I immediately said yes because I was drawn to CrossFit’s high intensity; I can get maximum amount of work done and calories burnt in a short period of time.

CrossFit can be roughly defined as varied high intensity functional movements, while combining certain aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. (source: https://www.crossfit.com/what-is-crossfit). Based on this definition, CrossFit is not new to me. I had similar experiences before at Revelation Republic and a few LesMills GRIT classes, under various names such as Body Conditioning or GRIT Strength. To me, the principles and movements are pretty similar so experienced athletes (or in my case, athlete-wannabes) will have no problem transitioning.

However, what makes Fuel Athletics different is its location and spacious design. Currently, Fuel Athletics is the first CrossFit certified gym in Shah Alam, attracting crowds from as far as Sungai Buloh and Puncak Alam. The location at Menara Naza TTDI is strategic, with a nice mix of working adults and student crowd. The gym has 2 floors, an outdoor space, and a pool with changing room and surau.

IMG_4607CrossFit space and equipment on the lower floor

IMG_4620Spacious upper floor, with future plans for yoga classes

IMG_4621Plus point: This gym even has an outdoor pool too!

After some dynamic stretcing and warming up indoors and outdoors, we proceeded to the highlight of the night – the WOD (Work Out of the Day). For tonight’s session, the WOD was simple, yet effective: partner up, and one person does burpees while the partner holds weight plates above his/her head. Then switch roles after the partner completes a few burpees. Do this as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes. Do not underestimate the lack of fancy equipments or movements, because burpees are advanced enough to be considered as a full body work out. So after a few rounds of burpees and holding up the weight plates above my head, my arms were already shakey. I even hesitated if I should decrease my weights from 10kg to 5kg so I can ‘survive’ all 10 minutes of the WOD!

IMG_4596Warming up outdoors with some sprints

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe WOD got me like… (in a good way of course)

I can see that these series of WOD will definitely complement my marathon training programme. It will build up my legs muscle strength so I can run longer, faster, and less prone to injury. As for my upper body which has been neglected for some time, needs a lot of work as it has gotten flabby and weak. Perfection is still a long road ahead, so for the mean time, I just need to strike a balance between strength work outs and clocking in enough mileage.

For more info and registration: http://www.fuelprimecrossfit.com/

For more reviews on other types of cross-training and gyms:

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner


5 things I wish I told myself when I started running.

I consider running as a new, serious hobby for me, since I’ve been doing it for only 2 years. However, through out my journey, there were some things that I wished I told myself 2 years ago, such as:

1. Read, research, don’t be afraid to ask questions

 Processed with VSCO with acg preset

This book should be in every runner’s library!

Running – a simple act of putting one feet in front of the next, yet it has been heavily researched with many school of thoughts about training, form, style of running, and culture. In short, there is no clear, definitive line dividing between what’s wrong or right in the world of running. So read up and do some researches to verify what you read, because there is always something new to learn everyday.

2. Invest in the right gear

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What you wear is equally important as what you put on your feet 

A good pair of shoes is the most important gear for every runner. I wish that 2 years ago, I took my time to search for the right shoe to save myself from the infamous runner’s black toenail and provide the right support for my foot arch. Arguably, the 2nd most important thing for me is my hijab. Thankfully, I discovered Nashata’s range of sportswear early in my running career. Thanks to Nashata, my hijab is never an excuse or a disadvantage to my performance in any sports.

3. Take your time to train, but be committed


It’s your own race, so run at your own pace

I took up running as a serious hobby with one goal in mind: Complete the full marathon distance of 42km. So for the first 2 years of my running career, I was relentlessly chasing the mileage until my knees were starting to hurt and it took me longer to recover from a common cold. I was going too fast until I burnt out. However, if I did not set a deadline for myself, I might end up losing focus or get demotivated easily. Looking back, I realised that I should have balanced my trainings better so I am consistently training with smaller increments in mileage.

4. Cross-train, cross-train, cross-train


 Stronger muscles = less injury

As stated in No. 3, I was caught up in a relentless pursuit to clock in enough mileage until I was too exhausted to cross-train. My muscles became weak, my upper body and core were not toned. If I could turn back time, I would have told myself that it’s ok to lift weights once in a while, or do some yoga to stretch out those sore muscles. Click here to read on why runners should cross-train.

5. There is more to running besides just running


Some wonderful people I met through out my running journey

The running community in Malaysia is filled with people with many backgrounds. I’ve expanded my social circle, and this has helped me open new, unexpected doors. I appreciate whom I’ve connected with right now, but I wished I took the time to connect to even more people and treat races just like another conference or networking event. You may never know who you can meet along the way, or how you might end up supporting or helping each other.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner

The Weekend Runner: Hot Yoga at Hot Yo Studio

I’m hanging up my running shoes for this weekend because:

1)     My back, neck, and knees were hurting, so no high impact workout.

2)     Running was starting to feel like a routine, so taking a break for a few days will be a good way to mentally reset myself.


I knew the right remedy for this was a good stretch, and I immediately thought about a hot pilates class that I used to go at a boutique gym/studio called Urban Spring. Unfortunately, the class that I wanted did not fit into my timing. So, out of curiosity, I stumbled across an app called KFit (it might not be available worldwide yet, but it is available in Asia), where you can find thousands of drop-in classes for gym, yoga, bootcamp, TRX, etc. and you can redeem one free class per month. And that’s where I found the perfect alternative – a hot yoga class at a new studio called Hot Yo Studio.


IMG_1290I prefer small, independent, boutique gyms/studios over franchises. They make me feel right at home because the crowd is smaller and more intimate.


I love how they put thought into the design, continuing on the monochrome theme from the studio, to the receptionist, changing room, and even the shower.


As soon as I sat down on my yoga mat in the 38°C studio, I can feel my muscles and joints starting to relax. There was a range of flexibility and experience from today’s crowd, so the instructor focused on some really basic ones such as tree pose, cobra pose, and pigeon pose, but she did encouraged us to follow more complicated poses as well such as half lotus toe balance.

IMG_1291 Warming up


My last experience in hot pilates has taught me to wear as simple as possible. Inner hijab caps are a big no, because the tight fabric will hinder circulation, causing a massive headache from the heat. Thankfully, Nashata’s Iman hijab was sufficient to ensure that my hair stays in place without the help of a cap. It is also advisable to wear something form-fitting yet not too tight, so the instructor will be able to tell if you are doing your poses correctly.

IMG_1293 Nashata’s outfits are not limited to running only. They are perfect for other work outs too!


At the end of the 60 minutes session, I felt ‘light’ and toned because the sweat has helped me detoxified, and the best part was the back and knee pain was gone! It was a good stretch to realign my posture and loosen up the tight muscles. I did not experience any muscle soreness or fatigue, and I am now mentally recharged to start running again. I’ll be back as soon as I can slot in a session between my running schedule!



A cold and refreshing shower after the work out, with complimentary shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and towel.


For more info, head to:

Urban Spring’s website (http://www.urban-spring.com/intro.html) for more info on hot pilates

Hot Yo Studio’s website (http://hotyostudio.com/#home) for more info on hot yoga


Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

The Weekend Runner: Why should you cross-train?

Have you ever woke up one day and you just don’t feel like running, but you feel perfectly happy to cycle? Or that nagging knee pain has been bothering you for months, and your physiotherapist has advised you to replace running with swimming for the mean time until your knee heals? Or you just completed a few series of tough marathons, and you would like to take a break but still keep in shape? Sounds like you could use some cross-training activities!


So what is cross-training? Think of running as the main source of food to keep you equipped with enough nutrients. However, if you want to be in top shape, cross-training acts as an additional supplement to your main diet of running. The most popular cross-training activities among runners are swimming, cycling, hiking, and skiing (if you are lucky enough to live where there is snow).


Some people might disagree, they say that cross-training is distracting from their regular running routine, but I think otherwise because:

Untitled Infographic



Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.




The Weekend Runner: Jungle trekking at Royal Belum Rainforest

Once in a while everyone needs a break from the city. Taking advantage of the long weekend, me and my family packed our bags and head up north to Gerik, Perak which is well- known the second largest man-made lake (Temenggor Lake) in Malaysia and one of the oldest rainforest in Malaysia (Royal Belum Rainforest). We stayed on a man-made island (Banding Lake Resort), and judging from the non-stop crowd this hotel serves pretty much as a rest point for bikers, hikers, and trekkers looking for an adventure. It was a long drive from KL to Gerik, but we were rewarded with a stunning view upon checking-in.

IMG_8630 The view from the hotel. Spot the rainbow!



A few outdoor activity packages. No running package, but jungle trekking was fine by me. Not in the brochure is a 3 day trek all the way to Gua Musang that is available upon special arrangement.


The next day we were looking for an adventure of our own. So we signed up for the Lembah Belum Discovery as no permits were required. I took this opportunity as a low impact, cross-training work out to supplement my regular running routine. Overall the trail was easy (if you have been working out regularly), however the whole trip was long. Temenggor Lake consists of different ‘islands’ (they were actually peaks of mountains before the lower grounds was transformed into a lake), so to get to the next trail takes more than 30 minutes of boat rides.

IMG_8640 A lake as vast as the eyes can see.


To call the track beautiful would be an understatement; it was gorgeous beyond words. It was nothing like I have ever seen before! I was in awe with some of the plants and insects that I saw, because they were new and unfamiliar. Except for a few traces left by loggers and conservationists in the past, Royal Belum Rainforest is still untouched and unexplored.  According to the guide, some wild elephants still pass by the bushes just behind the hotel. The forest was dense and lush, and we took our time taking in the natural wonders along the trail.


IMG_8648Class in session: Jungle trekking 101

IMG_8667I have never seen a tree so huge and tall in my entire life!

IMG_8664Hello there, little friend.

IMG_8654There are still some indigenous tribes that call Royal Belum Rainforest as home.


At the end of the trek I was left with a curious feeling that there is still more to explore. There were still several ‘islands’ that we did not go to, and according to the guide these were still unchartered territories or you need to apply for a special permit before entering. There is so much more to discover, and I guess that was the reason why the rainforest was named as ‘Belum’, which roughly translated into ‘Not Yet’, i.e. not yet discovered, not yet explored.


Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.


The Weekend Runner: Squash

It’s a Sunday night and I am sure most of us dread the thought of going to work again tomorrow. I try my best not to think about Mondays by purposely scheduling an interesting activity every Sunday.  For this week, I decided to pick up squash again.



No I was not swatting a fly


Although I am not entirely new to this sport, I still consider myself a beginner because I have not touched a racquet for the past 2 years. The last time I played was during my university days when I get to use the recreational facilities for free. Back then, I did not have any formal training, instead I practiced with a few friends who are already familiar or good with squash. These days I just practice on aiming and running around to keep up with the ball at a nearby clubhouse. But if you are interested to try, I am sure there are plenty of free squash courts around Klang Valley/ KL.


I found the racquet on sale for only RM60, and I could not resist a good bargain. Best impulsive purchase ever!


At the end of the session, squash turned out to be a great complement to my running training. I had a good upper body work out, plus some speed practice because chasing after the ball requires quick bursts of energy.


Difficulty: Depending on your fitness level, and willingness to learn

Fun Factor: Fast pace sport, stress-busting

Recommendation: If you are familiar with badminton, then you are recommended to try squash as well

Until next week,

Ainaa, The Weekend Runner.

P/S: Travelling or working outstation is not an excuse to skip working out. I was in Janda Baik for work purposes, and I managed to sneak in a few, quick morning and afternoon runs. Besides, I have always believed that the best way to explore a place is by foot.

IMG_9001 IMG_9015

The view beckons for an outdoor run. How can I say no to that?


The Weekend Runner: Original Bootcamp trial class

When I am not running I enjoy going to trial classes. They are a great chance to cross-train, plus it gives me a chance to try a lot of different things that are currently trending or new in the health and fitness scene. So upon receiving a promotional email, I did not hesitate to register for a free trial class conducted by Original Bootcamp last Saturday under team PJ Bravo at Padang Astaka, PJ.

We started off by warming up with some basic exercises, such push up, burpees, etc. Then the real work out begins with circuit training. We were divided into 4 teams and placed at the 4 corners of the mini-field, so there are 4 stations consisting of different set of exercises.

After a quick water break we were divided again into 2 groups, where there real fun begins: We had to complete a set of work out, crawl under obstacles, burpee in between the obstacles, and flip a tire with the help of at least 2 team mates. It was a race to see which team can flip the tire to the finishing line first, while the losing team was ‘rewarded’ with an additional 6 burpees.


The tire we had to flip. I was intimidated by its size and I don’t think I would be able to do it without the help of another team mate. Image source: google.


After class, I spoke to a recruit who has been in the program ever since they started in Malaysia. The reason why she loved this program so much was because for the past 5 years they rarely or almost never repeat the same class, so you don’t feel like you are stuck in a routine.



Fun, crazy bunch of people. Suitable for most fitness level and age group.

For more info check out their website: http://www.bootcamp.com.my/index.php

Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Fun factor: Sociable, engaging, outdoor setting

Recommendation: Highly recommended, if you are staying/working in PJ.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner,


P/S: By the way, since most races start at 5.30a.m., is there anybody else who is already accustomed to waking up at 3a.m.? Or have I lost the ability to sleep in; I might be lying down in my bed but my mind is out on the road or in the park. After tossing and turning, I gave up trying to go back to sleep, had breakfast, got dressed, and went out for a short sunrise run.



And I am glad that I did