Zumba Sisterhood written by Joanne Wong

Every once in a while, you have that extra special something that you look forward to in life. Hard days don’t matter. You forget about all the petty stuff around you and just charge on counting the days till your happy moment comes.

It was exactly like that for me when I first found out that Loretta Bates was going to be in Abu Dhabi. As a young Zumba Crew back in 2015, I followed her pages on Instagram and Facebook to learn choreographies and read her inspiring messages every day. I could not believe she would be coming here.

As the days came closer, I was wondering if I would get a chance to attend her masterclass event and wanted to know how to get tickets. I told Nada it’s my dream and I would give anything to go and to my biggest surprise, Nada made my day, no not just day … she made my year….. When she handed me the ticket and said – “Yallah Jo, you’re coming with me!” I was overjoyed. This is real. I am going!

At class that evening, with the ticket in my purse, my moves were sexier, my jumps were higher, and my screams were louder, still in disbelief as started my count down. Nothing was going to keep away from Loretta’s Masterclass.

I followed Loretta closely on social media as she made her way to the Middle East, Lebanon, and Turkey and … here she comes, Abu Dhabi.

Going nuts that the weekend was so close and I had nothing to wear. Fretting and panicking. Yeah, nothing to wear at all. Although I have 2 large basket full of Zumba wear, I had nothing to wear. I was careful, looked after my health and made sure that nothing would go wrong on that the beautiful Saturday. Woke up early that day, had an amazing breakfast, stayed home, didn’t accept any lunch dates with anyone and kept watching the clock. I got ready as early as I could and waited for the perfect time to leave the apartment. Yes, that being said about having nothing to wear, I finally found something to wear. An old Hip Hop Honey Pink top and a black Zumba legging. Nothing to shout about, pretty simple but comfortable. Hoping it was enough.

Arriving at the Westin Spa and Resort in my old Zumba wear, feeling like most beautiful woman on earth, to be greeted with racks and racks of new Zumba wear, made me cringe. I looked for my purse and I was in Zumba heaven. I picked out a few tops and went over every single item on display. To be honest, I wanted to get one of each on the display but had to remind myself that there were other commitments for the month and practiced deep breathing as I took only one piece to buy as a keepsake for the event. In my excitement, I forgot to inform Nada that I have arrived. Nada caught me in action and we greeted each other the usual way we do every time we see each other, not caring who is watching us, we kiss, we scream, we shout and jump for happiness, it makes sense to us as we have that z- connection although you make think it’s absurd if you knew we were together the day before, it just made sense to hug every time we met. This ladies, is what I call the amazing sisterhood in Zumba. You don’t have to be of the same ethnicity, same nationality or age, but you just connect through Zumba.

Time just froze for me that evening and as we waited for the masterclass to start, heart racing – palms sweaty, we took photos and took in as much as we could of our surroundings. My first masterclass with a Zumba Public Figure, no idea what to expect. Could I follow her dance steps, will I be able to see her? Will she see me? What if I can’t find a spot to dance?

Sharp 5, Loretta appears on stage, glowing and as beautiful as ever. The energy in the crowd – was a hundred Zumba classes put together!!

She made it a point to remind everyone in the room to not judge each other and have fun. I was feeling on top of the world when her playlist started and was in awe that her steps were so easy to follow. She is real, down to earth and full of energy. The crowd went wild with moves and we had so much fun. Imagine sweating just as I would at a normal Zumba session and here we were more than 300 people dancing and I am able to break such a sweat. Amazing. We danced for an hour and half and she ended the class with an apt song “This is me”. A song with a powerful message. Loretta is an inspiration and I will always remember what she said and the message will stay with me forever.

Thank you Nada for this amazing experience. One word – awesome. Time just went by with each song and the ZINs made the event even more fun when they joined Loretta on the stage. Zumba is all about fun. Loretta was right, no one is better than the other. We are all different and we all have our own talents and that makes us unique.

I remembered the day I fell in love with Zumba. My first attempt was frightening, I was not able to coordinate my hands and feet and could not tell the difference between right and left. The experts were giving me the looks … I bumped into the ladies and may have annoyed one or two of the gym members. I was ashamed but kept at it, from the back of the class I have I worked my way to the stage, who would believe that!

One day a few weeks later, I decided that I would laugh at myself when this happened. Although no one was laughing at me, I laughed when I went to wrong way or bumped into someone. Soon I had people laughing with me. I started to make friends. I started to request for songs that I loved. Zumba is about smiles, it’s about fun. Zumba does not judge. It was not so bad and before time, my body started to remember the moves and coordination happened!

I watched YouTube videos, danced in the shower (don’t judge) and anywhere I could to practise and soon there I was with Nada on the stage. I was also doing Zumba in my head all day (now you know why I have been smiling without a reason in my office). Only those who Zumba will know what I mean.

I started remembering the song titles and worked hard to remember the choreography. If you asked me what my talent is, I’d say screaming and shouting and adding to noise in the class. I love motivating the ladies to keep on moving until the song ends.

I made good friends at class and shared many happy moments and smiles with these ladies. We became Zumba sisters, no one was better than the other. We are all special in our own way. This is for you Moon, Rouba, Maisoon, Maysoon, Mona, Sara, Noor, Marwa, Tahrah, Nass, Ghanya … ❤ just naming a few as my list can on for pages! Christine Wong – my one and only sister who shares my love for Zumba, it is a joy to share this passion with you ❤

As women in the world today, there are days when you just want to stay in your pajamas and not do anything or just get lost and go away for 3 months or more falling off the face of the earth. Just to get away from the drama that keeps hitting you from all corners of the world. Drama that sometimes you have no idea why it came your way. You pick up mess and try to sort it out. You get ignored by family members for no reason, you get people keeping away from you for no reason and you wonder why? You feel alone and you cannot understand the people around you.

Well, just so you know, it’s not you, it is them. Don’t get disheartened. My suggestion is, we find our happy place, be it McDonald’s or the gym and we let ourselves get lost there, we let the world take care of itself.

For me to get away from it all, is that one special hour every other day at the gym dancing my stress away with my sisters. Life always seems better after Zumba. Sadness goes away and we are stronger and we are able to pick ourselves up to face another day. We are no different from each other when it comes to experiencing life, we fall, we get up, we laugh and we cry, that’s just being human. But how we treat each other makes a difference, don’t give grief to one another, be there for each other, always remember, you may think you don’t matter to anyone but out there in the world– you always matter to someone.  Much Love! Joanne Wong

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HSN21KM 2018 Race Review

The Terrible, the horrible, no good run

To say I was waiting for this day all year-long is an understatement. You’ve put in hundred of miles and looked forward to this day, expecting to be celebrating, but end up feeling bitter and let down. It’s not fun, but it’s part of racing. Well, this definitely wasn’t the race I was hoping for and not the recap I really wanted to write but sometimes races don’t go the way we’d hope.

On Saturday, I was primed to have The Most Awesomest Run Ever.

I’m a competitive person – put me in a dodge ball court and it’ll get ugly – but for me, running isn’t a sport. It’s a sanctuary – a sweaty, beautiful hour of my life that is just about my feet and the ground.

You can do everything right, and you’ll still have runs that go poorly. For every few runs that make me feel like I’m on the top of the world, another one will come around that tests my resolve and shatters my confidence. And sometimes, on the surface, it doesn’t make much sense. But as I get more mature in both my real life and my running, I realize more and more how many aspects there are to running. It may be a physical act, but it requires a degree of mental and emotional strength – many would argue that these are even more important than the ability to put one leg in front of the other. Bad runs happen to all of us – and as they pop up, I am trying to use the opportunity to reflect on potential causes. Is there is something going on in my life that is affecting how I feel today?

And fine maybe I’m taking my word of the year a little too far to say I LOVE bad runs, but really they don’t bum me out the way they used to when I first started running. Now I kind of embrace them because I’ve learned that a bad run is a great teacher.

At 7.45pm, the 21KM runners were asked to gather at the starting line- we were briefed by the emcee (however, announcements were not clear, due to the echo- it was difficult to hear/understand) To what I observed, this race had many elite runners as well as first timers and beginners. Let me also give you a picture of the course…..downhills…….downhills……..wind at your back…..darkness….rain……..slight up hills……turn around…….u-turn…..and run back up these damn hills!

The atmosphere:

This was one of the best part of this run- best feeling ever, standing at the start line in the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil. You could just feel the energy pulse through the crowd. It’s positive. It’s up beat! It’s anxious and it’s simply awesome!

The flag off however was delayed because the organisers had to wait for the green light from the police before they could proceed , they needed time to clear and close the roads before the could start the race. Then, we sang the ‘Negaraku’. After 15 minutes later, the elite runners were flagged off, followed by the runners five minutes afterwards.

The music was pumping, the energy was high, and we literally danced to the beat as we approached the Start Line. As people made it closer and closer to the start, the race commentator shouted “You are a hero”; “You are amazing”; and “This is your race, go for it”.And on that note, we were off!

Along the way, there were many hydration stations, however, to my disappointment, it was badly manned. I had to skipped three hydration stations to avoid being pushed and shoved. The paper cups were just stacked up and was empty, runners had to wait for the volunteers to pour into the cups. Eventually, paper cups ended up flying everywhere.

I’m not being dramatic, when I say this, but at the Selangor Turf Club, I was so impressed by those running around ( and past) me. It was drizzling, dark muddy and pot holes everywhere, I even got hit by a stroller (Gang Runners’ Stroller) Oucchhhh……but even though it was evidence we were all struggling , everyone pushed on! It was like a scene of a herd of cows and goats being ushered into the ‘kandang’. Eventually, runners had to walk along this route to avoid from being injured. While walking through this route, I observed that a few runners were injured though, some fell into the ‘longkang’, sprained their ankles due to have fallen into the pot holes, I even saw a runner collapsed by the side, awaiting for medics to arrive. ( hope and pray that he is alright). At this point of time, the medics and ambulance were working non-stop on their tippy toes….

What perhaps wasn’t so positive (but ultimately maybe is in the hands of the organisers- the lack of marshals and the number one priority- Runner’s safety!) Now, it’s not like I was the only runner out there suffering. Everyone I passed or passed me was working incredibly hard. It was like a trail run! There were no smiles, laughter or jokes. It was all hard work!

After the 10KM marker, I just wanted to give up! I shed a few tears…..it was a terrible feeling. I have trained so hard, I wanted to do my PB. I was hoping for a better time tonight. (Sorry, coach Adli) We are runners and we expect more of ourselves after all that is why we do it and that is what fuels the fire to keep training……but I ‘hit the wall’.

However, on a more positive note, I was touched by all the cheers from passing runners, it made me feel positive even though I was struggling! I appreciate each and everyone of them and I am sorry I did not cheer back, I did in spirit, as always, though…..! Somehow, I was just focused on keeping one foot in front of the other, so that I won’t fall into any ‘longkangs’ or pot holes. I hope you enjoyed my stressed out pain face…lol…

The route just got tougher in the second half of the race that headed into the Technology Park Malaysia (MIMOS), I know that Halloween is coming soon, but do we really need to practice running in darkness for the occasion? This section was hilly, dark and it was drizzling too. It was like in a movie scene “Hantu Kak Limah” where the three main characters were running in the ‘kampung’ (village), running ‘lintang-pukang’ (run for your life!) because ‘Hantu Kak Limah’ (Kak Limah’s ghost/spirit) was chasing them. Indeed, the runners made it a point to stick together in groups in this particular section. A creepy, spooky feeling crept inside of me and it sent chills to my spine….eeeeeekkk…

Then at one point, we were led and were running on a pretty busy highway-Sg Besi highway. Even though, it was a short distance about 500meters but somehow I felt that the runners’ safety were put on high risk. There were cones and barricades to separate the traffic and runners, but somehow I felt ‘malang tidak berbau’ (That’s why it’s called an accident) Thank God there were no unwanted incidents reported.

Anyhow, the route was altered slightly after that. The hills are alive……The hills, how do I put this, stairway to hell! I could actually feel runners around me going, “ohhhhhh Noooooooooo!” as we climbed out, but we soldiered on. After winding around through parts of Bukit Jalil, traffic was in a stand still. At the junction of Calvary Church, there were lots of unhappy road users that were stuck for hours! Lots of the drivers were honking. Runners were terrified at this intersection. Then, I suddenly felt something shift in my body…If you’ve ever heard a runner talk about ‘hitting the wall’ or ‘bonking’, it was what exactly happened for the second time! My body just quit on me. Then, I’d switched gears in my brain…it’s now mental and endurance! I got this! I am not going to quit! Not now! Almost there…..I can! I will!

The first hill was easy and the first long incline was rough but I made it through it. Many runners passed me and I passed a few as well. We came to the turn around point which I had never run before and it was rolling HILLS! I ran up and over the first two sets and finally saw the turn around point and said (while pointing with my finger) “WE have to run all the way there?” I plowed through the next hill with strong legs and felt pretty good but wasn’t quite ready to push it. Then came the longest, flattest straight stretch of road that one could run on – a causeway/bridge with a long hill at the end. The straight stretch killed me and the hill was easy – go figure! Yeah right!

20KM went by in a bit of painful blur. I was just focused on keeping my legs moving. Then I saw, the magical creature……My unicorn…..ehhhhh, I meant the magical number 500 meters to go…. That moment…pure joy and happiness……but wait, a u-turn! OMG! It ain’t over, till it’s over….runners had to make a u-turn to get into the stadium and to the finishing line..

And there it was…….The National Stadium, Bukit Jalil. I did! I made it! I finished it! I was ecstatic! Tears of joy flowed through my cheeks! The most rewarding moment for me throughout this 21 KM Half Marathon was being able to run to the finishing line, inside the National Stadium. I felt relief while I lined up gratefully without any injuries (Thank you, God) and accepted my much deserved 21KM Half Marathon medal, picked my finisher Tee and went off in search for my ‘sole-mate’-aka hubby. We didn’t hang around long. Took off our shoes and walked barefooted to our car. With that said, good job to each and everyone of you for actually being out there running, walking , crawling and even pushing the strollers. YOU DID AWESOME!

The biggest thing I took away from this race was how wonderful the running community is. From the strangers we talked to during the race; the volunteers passing out water, cheering & encouraging us; the organizers; the singers on the course; to every single person who worked the expo and the event–they each played a role in my race. My friends who cheered me on during the race and my friends & family, especially my mum, who stayed until 1am to wait for my wassap message, saying that I have finished the race and that we were on our way home and my sis who was tracking me during the race were amazing. Thank you…. The sign posting for getting to the event was good, parking was plentiful and the signage for the actual race was decent as well with markers pretty much every 3km.

Be realistic! Was it really such a bad race? You are racing no one but yourself, so this time ‘yourself’ lost, next time ‘your other self’ may win……..see what I mean? Take the good runs with the bad, remember the highs and don’t dwell on the lows! Now excuse me while I go and do the happy pappy dance of joy!

Couples that run together,make wonderful memories forever!

Whether you want your partner healthier or you just really want a running buddy, I have some fabulous news for you! Running and working out together will not only strengthen your muscles, but it will also strengthen the bond between the two of you!

If you are a person with inclinations for sports and a healthy lifestyle, you should probably already know that there’s hardly any feeling of satisfaction comparable to crossing the finish line of a long and tiresome marathon or half marathon. And what could be more beautiful and awesome than living that experience with your other half next to you, right??

Like most modern couples, my hubby and I lead a very busy life together plus having three children from aged 10 to 14 years old- hmmmm…..spicing up our lives too! So, sometimes the only “alone time” we get is a run- it’s a chance to get away from emails, children, work, phone and unplug! Running together is an ideal time to talk and enjoy each other’s company….My hubby maybe super faster than me…but the whole moment of running together…and meeting at the finish line, makes it awesome!

Therefore, Hubby and I decided to give a shot and we signed up for our “first virtual Valentine Run”..and we chose a distance of 42 km challenge! Just log into http://marathonmy.com/valentine and sign up……next is, run together forever! LOL

How?? Well, it’s simple. Sign up online with your other half and join the Valentine’s Virtual Run from 19 January to 28 February 2017 now! It’s a combined effort and the results- ONLY FOR THIS RACE, the final distance total will be the combined effort of two runners- the couple. For example, my partner and I joined the 42 km run, I clocked 21 km while my other half clocked 21 km, together we complete the distance of 42 km and we will be awarded the 42 km finisher’s medals. The medals will be posted to the order address.

So, what are you waiting for?? The couples that run together, create wonderful memories forever! Sign up now at http://marathonmy.com/valentine

Kabali Run 2016

When I talked to people about running, I get one of two responses:-

A) Oh wow! That’s so cool! I run too ( and a long long long running story or goal follows on)

B) What??? Seriously?? I could never do that!! That’s crazy!!

Hmmm……”B” always makes me really sad. Sometimes, I will get a more detailed response, with the person saying they “don’t have time” or “it’s just not the right time of the year” for them to focus on a healthy lifestyle. Over the years, I have learned and accepted that you can’t force someone into a healthy lifestyle. You can create challenges, you can go on diets, but ultimately, that person needs to be ready to embark on their OWN JOURNEY no matter what you may say!

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE EXCUSES! THERE WILL ALWAYS  BE REASONS! THE CHOICE IS YOURS!

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So, I challenge you now! Go and sign up for the upcoming most talked Run “Kabali Run 2016”! I love the idea of this run! It is because it combines three of my favourite things:- Running, Charity and A run based on a movie theme “Kabali”.

It’s the first ever run named after a movie. Kabali is an upcoming 2016 Indian Tamil Language film written and directed by PA Ranjith. The film stars Superstar Rajinikanth as the “hero” in this movie, whilst Malaysian actor Datuk Rosyam Nor and Taiwanese actor Winston Chao stars in other pivotal roles.

Apart from the run event, a virtual run category will also be part of this amazing “Kabali Run 2016”. Runners who opted for the virtual run (ehem…ehem…. I am one of them….) may run anytime after registration is complete.

Sure, your miles on the roads do lots of good- they improve your health, trim your waistline, even boost your mind. But you can get even more satisfaction from running in this run by taking a simple step to help others too….Part of the money will be donated to a charity.

Nothing gives a medal more meaning than the story behind it! Let’s run, walk or roll in “Kabali Run 2016”.

Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate (ehem..ehem…with your Superstar Rajinikanth…..Ehhhhhh, not in person laaa!  But with your bling! bling! The unique, awesome medal!) once you reach the finish line!

It’s time to put your feet to good use!

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Let’s Kabali Run 2016 on 31 July 2016 at Sepang International Circuit, Sepang”. For more information please visit http://www.marathonmy.com or beestorm.com.my

 

MM 3rio 1st Series – Virtual Run

What is a virtual race?

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I’ ll admit- I had NO CLUE what a virtual race was until last year. I kept hearing about them-but just ignored it until someone asked me to run a virtual race and do a write up about it- I figured it was time to learn what they were and how to run one.

So here are the basics:-

What is a virtual race? 

A vitual race is a “race” that can be run anywhere you are- no specific starting time or starting place- occasionally they have specific dates, or sometimes the dates will range a week or two to give you time to finish it. Just pick your favourite running path and RUN!

What is the distance for virtual races?

They can be ANY distance! You can walk, jog or run wherever you may be, and at anytime during the race week or month for a 5 KM, 10 KM or 12 KM. For this virtual race, I have completed 11.7 KM

How much do they cost?

Virtual races can either be free or cost $$$..Normally if they cost $$$, you get a medal, a race shirt or a bag or it means there will be some pretty great prizes involved for the “winners”. Sometimes the freebie virtual races get prizes involved- or sometimes it’s for the sheer motivation of getting you out the door for a run.

What if I am not fast?

It does not matter! Most virtual races do NOT go by time since there is no way to compare courses, terrain, weather or prove distance/times are accurate. Most virtual races will just have you submit a time to show you did it!

Do I need a garmin/GPS or some proof to show my time/distance?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Most work on the honor system-some require you show proof. Photos and plotting your course or showing any watch (even if it’s not a gps watch) sometimes counts- so just check with the race beforehand.

I ran a virtual race, now what?

Share it on social media. After all, what good is a virtual race if you run it and don’t tell anyone! The whole point of a virtual race is share it “virtually”.

There are differences between virtual and traditional races, but both race types still give you a sense of accomplishment when you finish; your friends and family will continue to “like” your facebook post with your finishing photos and race times. Virtual racing has more appeal now that I have three children. Sometimes the thought of dragging everyone out in the morning for a 5.00am race start is so daunting that makes me want to run back to bed. But, I love the atmosphere at traditional races; I thrive off other racers energy and excitement and I love to see my family and friends at the finish line. Therefore, I decided to supplement some virtual races into my calendar and save my family some precious sleep every once in a while.

I have just completed “MM 3rio 1st series” 11.7 KM virtual run and received a very cool “Tiger” medal and an awesome pawsome tiger T-shirt too. My next virtual run- I will Soar like an Eagle and win my Eagle medal for MM 3rio 2nd series virtual run! Why don’t you join me…for more information log in to: http://beestorm.com.my/mmtriorun2

The perfect blend, Malaysia Irish – Shamrock Run 2016

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A person may not be a runner or a fitness buff but participating in this run is a good start, and is, hence, a good habit to develop. It brings out the athlete in everyone that could unleash a greater potential.

It’s a non-competitive leisurely run and back for the second time 2016 after an overwhelming and successful run held in 2014, will be in Malaysian style “Terjulung kali akan dianjurkan di Asia!”  The Shamrock Run 2016. The soft launch of Shamrock Run 2016 was graced by His Excellency Eamon Hickey, the Ambassador of Ireland to Malaysia.

Mr Hafidz Kosai, the president of Malaysian Irish Alumni Association briefed that this is a run that is not to be missed! Why?? hmmmm….Well, It’s for me to know and for you to find out!!

It’s fun! It’s unique! It’s awesome pawsome!

Continue reading “The perfect blend, Malaysia Irish – Shamrock Run 2016”

My first Virtual Run “MM Rantau Green Run”

wp-1454565594558.jpgI must confess- I was clueless…what a virtual race was until MM Rantau Green Run was announced. A virtual run is a race that can be ran at any location. It is a race where you sign up online for a specified distance and then run at your own time.

These runs are on the honor system. You are responsible for submitting your time and running the required distance.

I was really pumped for this one, just because I liked the idea of a virtual race. Unique and something different and this will be my first virtual run medal. Continue reading “My first Virtual Run “MM Rantau Green Run””