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March 24, 2002
The Malaysian Today
By Sandra Gill


Whether you are a seasoned athlete or one who has not exercised in year, your first visit to Fit 4 Life - The Functional Gym, can be experience in itself. One can immediately feel at home with the pleasant exercise environment and be under the charge of this enterprising individual.  

For Tatiana, this has been a labour of love and it is her intent to wholeheartedly contribute to the awareness and momentum of the health and fitness movement by providing resources ans support that will cultivate happy, healthy and fit lifestyle.

Talking with Tatiana is in itself an uplifting experience Brimming with determination, focus, faith in herself and her abilities, her personality is infectious. Describing herself as “ an intensely private persona “, she is quick to smile and even quicker to laugh. You cannot help but be impresses with her straight talk and knowledge pf her sport. A co-owner of Fit 4 life, The Functional Gym, Tatiana can proudly attest to the fact that she is a C.H.E.K. ( Corrective Hight- Performance Exercise Kinesiologist ) Level 2 Practitioner. In addition, she is a FISAF (Federation Internationale des Sports Aerobics Fitness ) certified Personal Trainer, Aqua Instructor and Group Fitness Instructor as well as a certified PIA ( Pilates Institute of Australasia ) Pilates Matwork Instructor. She has been instructing for eight years and is currently pursuing her Corrective Hight-Performance Exercise Kinesiologist Certifcation ( C.H.E.K ) with the C.H.E.k Institute ( USA ).

Once an ardent group fitness participant, Tatiana, who was born and bred in Kuching, says that she has been lucky to have came across many inspiring mentors.

And as to how she ventured into the fitness business, she describes it as a “ journey” towards total fitness. “ An instructor friend was taken ill and she asked me to help her out with her classes for a short period while she recovered,” says this 34-year-old mother of two sons Louis, aged 10, and Sean, six.

“ This was the initial start of my journey as a part-time instructor 1990,”she says, adding that it was then that her interest grew rapidly. The 90's saw the introduction of the “cross-training concept” for group fitness formats. Aerobics as we knew it in the 81's was being overtaken by equipment based workouts. Let by Reebok University with her birth of she Step Reebok, Slide Reebok, the Fitball & their most recent addition the Reebok Coreboard, they introduced the many ways their equipment could be used.

Being inspired by the trainers in the many fitness conventions & workshops attended, in 1999, Tatiana found a need to further improve her understanding which prompted her to become a FISAF certified Group Fitness Instructor.

“ The encouragement and inspiration of the trainers, namely Irene Nazira Lee & Xen Angelides led me to further become both a FISAF certified Personal Trainer & Aqua Instructor,” she says. That same year, at a Fitness Convention in Melbourne, Tatiana had the opportunity to meet the world renowned Corrective Exercise Expert & Kinesiologist, Paul Chek.

After attending his lectures, she was convinced that he could have the answer to her nagging non-specific lower back pain which sometimes would radiate pain into her lower belly. “ All tests conducted by various doctors seemed normal,” she continue. “ It came a time when a doctor told me it all in my head! As a certified Personal Trainer myself, I could not understanding what was the underlying cause, since I was following technique to the finest detail.

Paul agreed to take me on as a client and i have not looked back since!” According to Tatiana, C.H.E.K diagnosed the scar from previous surgeries was the answer to her nagging pain.

“ Finally I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was nit in my head, after!”, she says. It was this chance meeting with C.H.E.K which changed her life and prompted her to seek a further challenge. “ I was at cross-roads-fitness till 2000 was a passionate part-time interest.”she reveals. “ I had a full-time job with an international project attached to a local government agency at that time and with two young children, I managed to complete the seven examinations to be certified by FISAF, had spent an enormous amount of time and money for a part-time passion,” she adds.

The question was if she should switch careers when she had already reached her thirties. after a serious discussion and with the encouragement of her husband, whom she describes as a passionate man who allows her to live her dreams, Tatiana decided that she wanted to further her studies with C.H.E.K.

It was only last year when she said goodbye to the world of desktop and web publishing and was accepted into the C.H.E.K. Institute as a Level 1 Intern and the passage to FIT 4 LIFE began. This "journey" as the describes it has been her greatest personal challenge and today, she intends to complete her C.H.E.K. level 3 & 4 Internships that would further enhance her skills and abilities to help others.

“ My business partner, Elizabeth was actually one of my first personal training clients,” says Tatiana. “ She is unique individual. Her enthusiasm is unsurpassed and I will always be grateful for her belief in me.”

Apart from managing the gym on a day-to-day basis and teaching group fitness classes, the role that she enjoys most is being a C.H.E.K. Practitioner which describes a highly trained exercise, strength and conditioning specialist. “ C.H.E.K. Practitioners must complete four intensive certification courses taught in small group settings, plus several rigorous written and practical examinations,” she says. According to her, there are four levels of C.H.E.K. practitioners as the entire certification program is four years in length. A C.H.E.K. Practitioner would then begin a consultation with a comprehensive evaluation of which the process is used to accumulate the information necessary to design a client's on unique exercise programme and personally guide the individual through the regime until they obtain their goal.

Admittedly, there are many challenges in this line of work and Tatiana can certainly name a few. “One of the challenges is to change people's future. Perception of what “ fitness” is really all about and to bring the awareness importance of functionality over aesthetics to convince people that the methods of training are all the time evolving with the emergence of new research,” she says. Another challenge, she says, is that of practising as a Kinesiologist ( which is the study of body movement & biomechanics).

“ My training enables me to train sports specific movements without having to know the professional skills of that particular game,” she explains. As “ A Kinesiologist looks at the biomechanics of the movement required, for example, like the various swings in golf. It's definitely a task to convince people that the quality of movement is no important, whether it's in a sports specific movement or the simple task of walking,” she says.

Admittedly, Tatiana also faces many disappointments is her line of work such as the “ Quick Fix mentality” of many people.

“Clients who are non-committal to their corrective exercise programs is a big disappointment as I can see what's going to eventually happen to their bodies,” she says. “In a lot of cases,permanent injuries and costly surgeries can be avoided but they don't understand the long term benefits, as they do not have the patience.

They want quick fixes- like the many”wonder drugs & diets-that have no lasting effects, which in many cases cause long-term damages. Health is a journey that lasts a lifetime it is not a once a year clean up!” she believes.

The most rewarding aspects of her work, she says, is clearly observed when clients come smiling because their pains are lessened or the numbness in their arms or legs are non-existent.

Or simply the fun and active participation of the group fitness clients as they go through the routines! According to Tatiana, the general perception towards fitness locally is until superficial.

“ The general public still thinks “aerobics” means “ jumping up and down” and that going to the gym is only for the purpose of “pumping iron”. However, she admits this perception has, over the years, changed slightly.

Her involvement in the fitness industry in last 10 years gave her a more insightful understanding that people are still looking at health and beauty as “skin-deep”. Very few people know the true meaning of “health is wealth”, she says in all seriousness, adding.

“For the vast majority of people, they only want to be slim at any coast with no regard to what's going on within.” As to she sees her business heading ten years down the road, Tatiana is hopeful Fit 4 Life will be known as the place in Malaysia for corrective exercise and functional training for all age groups and specific needs.

For Tatiana, fitness is not just exercise it dills your soul and it is both a mental and physical workout that fosters on sheer exhilaration is an insurance for a healthy life now and future.

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December 3, 2001
Sarawak Tribune

Pilates Matwork available at Fit 4 Life


One of the fitness centres in Kuching, Fit 4 Life now offers the world famous Pilates. What is the Pilates Method? Don't we often read it as being the workout preferred by the Hollywood stars? 

The Pilates Method is about movement. It is not about aerobics or bulking muscles . It is to get muscles that you work during the routines to work for you in your everyday movements;it's about enhancing your mental and physical beings in unison, and producing the ultimate balance and harmony for mind & body.

The main difference of the Pilates Method is that not just the exercises, but also the intent of the exercises. Often the journey through the movement of the body parts hods more importance that the destination. Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Method originally called his body conditioning “ Contrology “ and the intent of the work is reflected in the name it was first given.

According to Tatania C. Ling, Malaysia's first Accredited Pilates Matwork Instructor from the Pilates Institute of Australasia, to simply go through the motions as many people do when they hit the gym or aerobic classes is not enough when you partake a Pilates workout. It is similar to Yoga in that awareness of breath is a centre part of the flow of the exercise. It relates to Yoga also, in that the mind should be fully engaged with the activity of the body, not just zoning off and letting the arms and legs get on with it. Pilates offers a trimmer waist, flatter belly, better posture based on balanced muscle tone and awareness, more regal carriage, less fatigue and lower incidence of back pain and injury.

The Pilates Matwork Routine is a series of continuous exercises for every part of the body. One principle strongly apparent during the exercises-no movement can be performed correctly without having a strong centre and total concentration on the movement being performed.

The key to the Pilates method is a strong abdominal care, from in deep inner layers of muscles to the surface. Combined with pelvic stability these areas are the origins from which to create a strong mid section of the spine, both front and back, thus stabilizing the torso. From this stable and firm central area all movements can flow with less effort and more grace.

The initial challenge is trying yo focus on more than one thing at a time:keeping the abdominals firm, relaxing the shoulders, breathing correctly with the movement, iso-lating a particular muscle – it all seems a bit overwhelming at first. As you progress through the sessions it all begins to make sense and you find that you are able to perform movements,which once seemed clumsy and awkward, with fluidity and ease.

Toning, conditioning and controlling the weak muscle groups require some effort. They usually do not work when you want them to; they are the ' flabby ' ones you never though you ******( it always happens to someone else! ) These weaker muscles, usually the abdominals ( especially the area below the navel ), the back of the arms, the buttocks and back and inner thighs ,will not work even at the gym! With Pilates, focusing on these smaller muscle groups may not produce immediate results, however they do last longer once achieved.

Weak muscles in same parts of the body also have an opposite effect. Opposing muscles may be too tight, creating imbalances such as poor posture, scoliosis or even a twisted pelvis. For example, poor posture with rounded shoulders would indicate tight chest muscles ( pectorals ) and weak back muscles between the shoulder blades ( rhomboids ). The muscle lengthening movements for the tight chest muscles in each exercise work on strengthening the weaker back muscles so control is gradually achieved in both front and back during the same movement.

Pilates has also become a tool for improving sport performance. As the body extends its range of movement and attains strength in these extended ranges, injuries become less frequent.

As an example, female classical dances are very mobile and flexible, with lean muscle fibers, however their strength in the full range of their movement is somewhat limited; at the other extreme, a tri-athlete may be very tight with short, bulky muscle groups therefore reducing their flexibility Pilates attempts to correct these imbalances by giving greater strength to the dances without reducing their mobility nor creating bulky muscles: and by improving the flexibility of the tri-athlete without reducing the strength and endurance required for their performance.

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