Just when you think you're tough enough

Tough Takes

Learning the Basics of Lifting at Honey Badgers

Michelle learned the ropes to the deadlift pretty quickly as a newbie
Michelle learned the ropes to the deadlift pretty quickly as a newbie

Yes, I’m a girl who likes to lift weights. Walk into a gym, and the first thing I will notice is the weights / free weights section and not even give the treadmills and cardio machines a second glance.

Although I’ve been doing my own weight training for awhile, I was enthusiastic to join the Basic Lift Workshop at Honey Badgers (HB), coached by Luke Lango and Kelvin Yeoh. Basics are important for a strong foundation, and I figured I could learn more pointers, brush up my skills and get any corrections to my position and posture. I’m geeky that way, I like to get technical aspects right. The amount of weights I lift are secondary to me.

Honey Badgers Coaches
Check out the cool Honey Badgers design

Once you get your technique right, you also prevent injuries, attain good posture and increase bone density. Win win win!

When you stand around in a queue or look at a crowd of people, you will notice a lot of people standing in different postures. However, if you see a person standing straight, legs shoulder width apart, shoulders back and head looking right ahead, chances are that person lifts weights. It puts you into a good posture, automatically *snaps fingers* and almost right away. This is the biggest change that has happened to myself too.

Honey Badgers HQ has a minimalist feel to maximise your workout
Honey Badgers HQ has a minimalist feel to maximise your workout

First glance at Honey Badgers, they have a minimalist one shop-lot space going on but they utilise it very well to maximise your workout experience. Barely into a year of operations, they find themselves needing to expand their space which is a ‘good problem’ to have.

Ample weights and racks from Rogue, the provider of CrossFit gear line the walls around HB. Various equipment can be moved easily to create a training area or a wide space as required. Love at first sight, yes I’m secretly loving this place and I think it’s showing. There are weight bars for ladies too, so yes, this place caters for both genders.

Richard learning the finer techniques of the squat

Reach for the Invisible Chair

The Basic Lifts Workshop was limited to 16 pax only for the coaches to give personalised attention. We were divided into small groups between coaches Luke, Kelvin with Felix helping out as well. Conducted over 90 minutes, we started with basic movements i.e. the squat.

As basic as it sounds, many people still do not know how to squat similar to trying to sit on an invisible chair. The coaches drilled each of us individually with the correct postures, and positions before introducing first the empty bars, and then adding weights to the bars.

As much and as many times as I’ve performed the squat before, I still managed to learn something new and add to my skill. Tightening the lower back is not easy to do nor control, but it did help with the movement. Another lady in my group had never done the squat before but coach Luke helped her out patiently, giving her pointers and tips on how to overcome the fear of falling over backwards.

Coach Luke also pointed out that placing the bar on different positions of your back also changes the muscles you use to power the squat. For example, placing the bar on the lowest part of your upper back enables you to use your glutes aka butt muscles. This might work for people with big butts like Kim Kardashian.

Coach Felix Tay demonstrating the Strict Press
Coach Felix Tay demonstrating the Strict Press

Lift that baby up!

Strict Press or otherwise known as Shoulder Press came easily for me as I love my shoulder workouts. The position of your wrist is worth pointing out to prevent injury and to also enable you to transfer your power from your shoulder to the bar. Control your movement slowly downwards before accelerating to the top. Parents have been practising this without realising it by lifting their babies up in the air! Weightlifting has incorporated into your daily life if you haven’t noticed it already.

Deadlift does not sound as intimidating as it seems. I personally feel that it is empowering as you can lift a lot more weight than you think. Coach Luke demonstrated the various start positions like having your shoelaces under the bar, which I’ve never noticed before. You can also opt to stand with your feet wide, next to the weight plates to shorten the distance of the deadlift. Not many urban dwellers are into gardening, but most gardeners often lift pots with the deadlift movement.

If these movements seem basic to you, perfect them for it builds up and attributes to other movements like the Clean and Press, Push Press, Push Jerk, Split Jerk and many more.

Coach Luke Lango demonstrating the Strict Press
Coach Luke Lango demonstrating the Strict Press

After a 90 minute session, we regrouped for a Q&A session where the coaches laid to rest any questions: How to stretch certain muscles, how to increase movements, how to improve from here – were some the participants had in mind.

‘Play with more bars, than just the barbell’

Two extra features stand out at HB. Hidden in a corner, a physiotherapy area is manned by Fred who will assess you and help with your niggling aches and pains. Right next to it, there’a small pantry with a bar (no weights here) where you can store your food and heat it up right after your workout to refuel your needs. Pretty cool, eh? This place aims to create a ‘home away from home’ vibe that keeps Badgers coming back for more.

Malaysia’s first Bespoke Fitness training center

So what sets Honey Badgers apart from the plethora of gyms mushrooming all over the city? Coach Luke Lango explains that HB emphasises on bespoke fitness, which they assess you and create a program personalised towards your fitness goals and your abilities at an affordable price. They also believe in having a 1 to 1 consultation session where you get to ask any and all questions you may have about fitness with the coach.

Coaches from Honey Badgers
Coaches from Honey Badgers

Why lift?

I’m excited once again to rekindle my love for weights and to explore with more movements. Why lift? Strong is the new sexy, and I’ve always loved a tone body (not those bulgy muscles) to go with my curves. It will help to increase bone density and prevent your bones breaking easily, especially as we grow older. And I love my cake, so you can lift weights and have your cake too!

For more info, follow Honey Badgers on Facebook.

To view more photos, click on Tough Asia’s photo album here.

Jyn YeowMore about the author

Jyn Yeow loves exploring new ways to gain the adrenaline rush and can never sit still. #adrenalinejunkie Follow Jyn on Facebook or blog.