Saturday, 24 May 2008

Indoor cycling class

I wouldn't want to miss a Spinning class for the world. Whenever I feel the need to exercise but feeling reluctant to do so, I would just join any two of my favourite group fitness classes namely spin & body pump in the local gym here. I would just let my body to go with the flow and before I realise, it's all over for a good 45 minutes workout on a stationary cycle in the spinning/cycling class. My usual time is on Tuesday morning in the 7:15 - 8:00 am class and also on Thursday evening in another form of more intensive spinning class called RPM. This class is taunted as Taking the ultimate ride! that combines cycling, choreography and cycling techniques that give aerobic and anaerobic adrenaline ride of a music driven group exercise. Under the guidance of an Instructor I experience slow climbs, fast climbs, short sprints, fast sprints and recovery spins as if I am in the pack in the Tour de France or Tour de Langkawi back home. The variation of speeds are made possible with adjustable resistance on the stationary cycle. I could burn up to 900 calories in a class which is needless to say, great for fat burning and general body toning. You see, I like to eat dairy products like fresh & full cream milk, eggs and chicken with skin on and that's one reason i need to exercise. I could tolerate low fat margarine & have been reducing intake of commercial products such as biscuits,chips, pastris, cakes & muffins but I cannot miss my 'nasi' at least once a day intake during dinner. I also do not forget to fill up on my fruit & vege but most of the time are bananas, salads and cucumbers. In short, i just can't stick to a low fat diet and getting into exercise is the only way forward for me to be fit and healthy. After all, I enjoy sweating profusely to get me going for the week.

***A mad spinning instructor***

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Historical York and the Jorvik Viking Centre

The city of York was one of the great cities of the medieval europe. A historic capital in the north of England. Among the attractions are the viking city of York called Jorvik (pronounced as Yorvik), castle museums, magnificent architecture of churches & towers.

According to history, the city was first ruled by a group of Celtic tribes and then by the roman invader and later, annexed and ruled by the Anglo Saxons in the 5th century of which these german tribes (Angles, Saxons & Jutes) were the ancestors of the modern english.York was conquered by the Danish Vikings in the 7th century. Later, it was ruled by Norweign Vikings and then by the Normans in the 10th century (The tribes who lived in Normandy in France at the time). Actually Normans invaded England, not just York. It took only people in one region of France to conquer the whole England, how powerful they were!

We went there on easter monday, 23rd Mac 2008, almost a month ago, the whole clan, to the city of York, in northern England, in a county called North Yorkshire. I had wanted to write about the trip much earlier but I was such a lazybone with a big M (Malas). So What I did was writing bit by bit because I really need to make some references and write in this blog of mine so that the story will be forever immortalised. The journey took two hours and It was during the previous school holidays where schools were closed for 2 weeks (easter break). I drove up north along M1 motorway traversing through five counties namely Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire (sheffield is the county city) , West Yorkshire (where Bradford and Leeds are) and North Yorkshire.

The Jorvik Viking Centre is actually an exhibition centre built over the excavation land in the area that was discovered in 1970 at the heart of York. Many artefacts have been preserved since viking times due to soil conditions. Most part of Jorvik is underground. On entering the building and after paying for the tickets, we walked downstairs and past a 'soil wall' showing the layers that have built up on top of the Viking settlement.

We then came to a holding area where a guide told us briefly about the Viking history.In this area we were told that we would be travelling back in time to the Viking era. We were then guided to make our way through to a room where we will be transported back in time (A ‘time capsule’ machine). We were asked to remain seated and were shown on a LCD projector screen, a series of pictures of a couple whose clothes changed over time from the 1980s, 70s, 30s and so on, back through time to finally arrive in the Viking age. Each time the pictures changed there was a slight judder of the floor to give the time travelling effect, something akin to the TV series, Dr Who’s time machine. Dr Who is a very popular tv series here with kids and adults alike.

Once the time machine was over, we were guided to board the ‘time cars’ (something akin to cable cars), which took us around the Viking Centre. Each car can hold 6 people maximum and have speakers for the commentary as visitors go around. (There’s a children’s commentary also). We had one car all to ourselves. The time car took us gently past a variety of recreated street scenes and houses. These range from a market place, to a blacksmiths home, past a butcher, and even past someone going to the loo. The commentary stops in places to allow visitors to experience the noises that would have been heard. There are model people in each area, and they are wearing typical Viking dress. The replica buildings have been made with knowledge from the actual excavation of the site. The shops and houses have been laid out in the way that they would have been in vikings time. The final part of the time car tour took us over a reconstructed archaeological dig where it was shown to us how skeletons would have been uncovered, and took us past some of the actual timber from a building to show how well preserved it was.After leaving the time cars it was into the museum where we spent our time looking at helmets, wielding swords, other weapons etc on display. A guide was on hand to explain how battles would have been fought in Viking era etc.

Before exiting the Centre, we were taken through the gift shop. The shop sell souvenirs ranging from coins to little replica Vikings and books. So if anyone is interested to know more you could browse to this site. We enjoyed being there and also the sight seeing in York. It was a such a great day.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Spring is definitely here

A typical English home would normally have a back garden and last saturday I felt that it's about time I had the grass cut and washing lines relocated in the garden. The weather was sunny and mild with temperature between 11 and 14 degree Celsius.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

A snowy easter sunday

It was snowing last sunday. The video here which I have uploaded today to YouTube shows what it was like in the morning of 23rd March 2008, in the back garden of our house. The snow did not fall heavily. It was such a lovely sight but not slushy and enough snow on the ground to warrant a snow-man. A beautiful change of scenery from the bedroom windows.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Shariah compliance

Remember all the hullabaloo over remarks made by Archbishop Rowan Williams last February with regards to Shariaah law? He was merely saying that Muslims should be able to choose whether to have matters such as marital disputes dealt with under shariah law or the British legal system. He also said that giving shariah official status in the UK would help maintain social cohesion because some Muslims do not relate to the British legal system. His statements caused an uproar in the press in UK.

Well, Shariah implementation has already taken place in the banking sector here. Anyone can open a shariah approved account in Lloyds TSB,not just moslem. Lloyds is one of the high street banks in UK. They have the facility where one could issue a directive to Lloyds to have all one's direct debit & standing order transactions, from other banks transferred to the islamic account.

Meanwhile, If you know anyone who will be coming to uk to study, please advice them to open HSBC islamic Amanah account back home in Malaysia. A standing order to transfer some amount of money every month from one's salary could be done so that one could use any HSBC teller machines in UK to withdraw when necessary, esp when running out of scholarship money (as back up) or whenever feels like wanting to go for a shopping spree (easter holiday now wink! wink!...emm nak jalan ke mana ya)

This is very convenient since HSBC is all over UK, in fact all over the world. You would normally be charged RM 5, plus currency exchange rate for each transaction(urusniaga) when withdrawing some money via HSBC ATM teller machines here in UK, from your account back home.

One interesting fact about HSBC is it offers islamic mortgage. See here for the news.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

In retrospect - commuting

I can still remember this time last year how i was tied up with teaching and all. At the time my son had just finished his SPM and was awaiting his SPM result. He was a fourth and fifth former in Sekolah Menengah Sains Alam Shah in Bandar Tun Razak back in 2005 & 2006 respectively. Driving to work in Klang valley can be very distressing. Commuting from home in usj subang jaya to gombak was hectic & dreadful. It involved taking Kesas Highway to get to work driving past puchong, bukit jalil on Kesas Highway and then, MRR2 (Middle Ring Road 2) drivng past Bandar Tasik Selatan, Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras, Pandan Indah, Ampang, Ulu Klang and Gombak. Mind you that traffic in that Pandan Indah stretch of MRR2 would get worsened by every minute of the day particularly during rush hours. It could make anyone suffers from bouts of insanity.

And just before reaching my usual destination in Sg. Pusu Gombak I had to drive past Taman Melawati, Wangsa Melawati, Taman Melati before taking the flyover at the Gombak interchange (or intersection as brits would say). In retrospect, i could see that more time wasting on the road could be mitigated by moving to a new home closer to work. Yup will do that once I’m back home in 3 or 4 years’ time....ohhh shoot! still a long time to go but on second thought, I kind of like it here. Going to uni is about 5 to 10 minutes’ drive. Heading back to dept lab etc after dinner at home, is just a breeze.

A tribute to a friend who lives in wangsa melawati, I present ‘Against all odds’ to you, blogosphere friends & passers-by. Just for your listening pleasure.

***My all time favourite karaoke song***

Thursday, 24 January 2008

About Muscle & Fitness

When it comes to muscle tone; use it or lose it is the name of the game, particularly as you get older. Until the age of 25, life’s a breeze (in fitness terms at least) and strength and endurance improve naturally. Sadly it tends to be down hill from there. The ageing process itself will contribute to a decline in general fitness and lifestyles tend to become more sedentary as we age, which doesn’t help. Muscle strength and power also tend to decrease with age. This is due to a variety of factors, particularly muscle wastage caused by a lack of use. Just as a muscle grows in response to strength training (workout using dumb bells, bar bells & machines) it will become sagging if it is not trained (sag in his or her arms, esp. the body of those prone to cellulite piles fat on the thighs and hips, giving them an orange-peel look...etc. ). When we are young we tend to get away with it; As we age we don’t. Learning how to exercise properly and then developing the physical strength, flexibility, agility & habit to perform it well is a priceless gift that you give yourself when you work out regularly.

Bear in mind that the heart is a muscle too and although there is no weight machine for the heart, we use cardio equipment such as treadmill or just running & jogging outdoor. This helps to create a leaner body which in turn decreases the risk of heart disease. The bottom line here is that regular strength training will enhance the quality of your life as you get older, so lay the foundations of good health as young as you can. Actually resistance or strength training can have a longer lasting impact on metabolic rate than aerobic workout. I read somewhere in a magazine that regular weight training boosts BMR (basal metabolic rate) by about 20%, which means that for every extra pound of muscle you put on, your body uses around 50 extra calories a day. (BMR is the rate at which the body uses energy while at rest to keep vital functions going,such as breathing & keeping warm).

Strength training produces a 'soothing' biochemical change in the brain in such a way that it also helps to mitigate depression as what anti-depressant medications would normally do. One of the key drivers of muscle growth is the Testosterone hormone. Levels of testosterone vary from person to person but as a rule women cannot produce anywhere near as much testosterone as men and therefore it is much harder for females to gain muscle mass when strength or weight training. Just as well really, because most women don’t want to gain muscle anyway. It all goes back to hunting and gathering versus nest building. So in one of those handy quirks of nature, we have a win:win situation. Men who work out with weights get to build bigger biceps, triceps, back, chest etc. while women get to shape and tone what they’ve already got. Can’t say fairer than that can you.

***shoulder press***

***bicep curl***

***chest press***