Getting Back in Shape with Impulse!

It's been a really long road that's brought me to Impulse, and let's put into perspective why it's such an awesome way to get back to my fitness regimen. 

On June 30th of 2011, I ended my last chemotherapy session and a month after that, I got back to running (my favourite sport in the world). By August, I participated in my first 16.8km run for Adidas King of the Road.


[Adidas King of the Road - 16.8km]

This was merely training for the two half marathons I had planned to embark on later that year. In October, there was the Putrajaya Night Marathon, and in November, the Penang Bridge International Marathon.


[Putrajaya Night Marathon - Half Marathon]

By the time PBIM rolled around in November, I was already feeling the strain of running upwards of 10km on a daily basis, and once I made it through that, the situation got progressively worse. What happened was that chemo had weakened my knees because it runs through your bone marrow as well, and it led to severe deterioration to the point where my lifestyle became increasingly more sedentary. It meant no more yoga, no more kickboxing, and no more badminton. I wasn't any good at any of them (coordination problems), but I will religious about going!

Fast forward to 2015 when I got pregnant and my attempts at reinstating a less rigorous running schedule and incorporating yoga came to a screeching halt because I had such a tough pregnancy. Funnily enough, I actually lost 15kg through the duration of my pregnancy. Unfortunately, the monstrous nature of a newborn led to gaining it all back, plus a little more in the 5 months post-pregnancy. It wasn't exactly helpful that I had a c-section either, because at this point my core strength was completely non-existent. 

Enter: Impulse. 


So, why is Impulse the choice I've made over a regular gym? First off, with a baby at home, I don't have the luxury of hours of free time. With each session taking just 20 minutes, I'm out the door and back home within an hour and a half (and this includes a shower at the studio!). I kicked off Impulse at the right time too. Before this, Pinata started work at 7am daily, which meant he was out the door no later than 6:30am. Since he's switched jobs, I can go in for 8am sessions and be home by 9am for him to get to work on time. This, coupled with the fact that my knees still bother me with high impact exercises, makes it the perfect solution. As an added bonus, you don't need to take anything with you. All the workout gear is provided, and there is a shower with shampoo and body wash provided. There's even deodorant. All you need to take with you is your face wash, skincare and makeup.

What exactly is Impulse then? It's a revolutionary system using Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) to replicate the body's response to voluntary muscle contractions. Essentially, you are doing weights without the actual weights. Further, because of its use of electric impulses, you are at lower risk of injuring yourself, unlike what frequently occurs at the gym. Even if you're doing it wrong, you won't cause irreparable injury to your body. 

Of course, they don't tout this as the cure all. Obesity and lack of optimal fitness are a resulting combination of dietary issues and exercise. As such, when you go in, they keep tabs on your body composition as well (something we'll go into in a bit). Interestingly, Jinie (the mightly lady in charge) explained that we can use on-the-go portion sizing to ensure we're doing it right. Essentially, you need a fist-sized portion of carbs, an open hand portion of protein, and a fingertip's portion of fat in every meal. Naturally, the intake has to fit in with your dietary and caloric requirements as well. I also love that she doesn't advocate cutting out all the joys of eating. She made it plain that you can have everything in moderation, and within your dietary requirements. This really does help avoid the feeling of deprivation you get on a traditional diet. 


[Body Composition Analysis]

On your first visit, you will be weighed using the machine that analyses your body composition. This means we're not just looking at weight. It charts out the levels of your fat, muscle, protein, water, BMI, etc. Basically, all the components that make up your overall health. 

Every two weeks, you are measured again to keep tabs on the changes of your body composition so that you know whether you're on track or you need to make adjustments. 


[All Set!]

The suit (it doesn't hurt that it looks cooler than any workout gear you will ever have) is integral to the process. It is sprayed down with water to help conduct the impulses through to your muscles. There are contact pads which correspond to the major muscles on the body to ensure that there is the right level of stimulation for each area. The suits come in various sizes, so there's something for everyone. They're also thoroughly cleaned regularly, so for those of you who are traumatised by germs like me, don't fret!

You're then hooked up to a machine that maintains records of your workouts, and the intensity of the impulses is controlled through the terminal. Since workouts are appointment-based, you don't need to wait for machines, and you don't need to figure out how to use them. Impulse is essentially the perfect combination of having a personal trainer and ease of use. Each trainer will only work with a maximum of 2 people at once, so it really does feel like it's a personal training session. Most of the time, when I go in at 8 am, it's just me. 


[The Impulse Terminal]

The machine radiates impulses through your major muscles, and the trainer ups the intensity as s/he sees fit. As I'm on the weight loss programme, my sessions are a combination of upping my heart rate, and strength training. How does one up their heart rate in such a manner? With on-the-spot sprinting and jumping jacks while the machine emits impulses! 

In case you're wondering, the impulses don't actually hurt. They just feel like you're carrying weights. 

In the following series of pictures taken by Carol, you see Steven at work trying to kill me. 


[Demonstrating The Movement]


[Correcting My Stance]

The trainers are there to put you through your paces and motivate you as you go. They demonstrate the exercise and then watch you as you do them to ensure that your stance and motions are correct. As I've mentioned, I have serious issues with coordination and they do help to modify the exercise so that I can do it right. For example, when I was getting mixed up with my elbows meeting my high knees on the opposite side, they told my to just keep my arms held up over my head so that it was less confusing than adding the motion of lifting the appropriate arm. 


[Checking on the Motion]


[Notice that I'm not the one smiling?]

As you go, they watch how you're doing and up the impulses as they see fit. Sometimes it gets brutal, but it fits with the theory that you should be failing at the weight you're carrying or you're not doing it right. The intensity (or pain if you will) level should rate at 9 on a scale of 10. 


[Noticing That I'm Not Suffering Enough]


[Upping the Ante]

You would think that 20 minutes isn't so bad, but it's a truly brutal workout. By the end, you feel like you've been at the gym for 4 hours (which is precisely what those 20 minutes equates to), and you feel a sense of accomplishment. It's really nice that the session ends with a few minutes of impulses running through your body to simulate a massage. 

Once you're done, there's a lovely locker room for you to sort yourself out in as well. 


[Locker Room]

As a general rule of thumb, it helps to go with a friend because it motivates you.


[The Buddy System]

However, even going on my own in the mornings hasn't been an issue. I've been at it for a month now and I can safely say this is something I'm definitely on board with. From the second session, I could see a difference in overall fitness. I was less out of breath walking up stairs and less exhausted overall. I am also a lot happier on days that I go in (twice a week), and I do miss it since I haven't gone for a week now (you can't go in when you're on your period or sick). 

I did my weigh in a couple of weeks back, and I'm glad this is a system that's in place. I found out that I had lost just under a kilogram, but it was the wrong kind of weight to have lost. I lost muscle instead of fat, and if it were just a regular weigh in, you wouldn't know this. My water level was down, as was my protein, and my fat had gone up despite cutting my calories and taking protein powder. Far from killing my motivation, it made me realise that I just needed to tweak what I was doing, so I finally compromised and made the switch from full fat milk to low fat (my love for milk made this a real toughie), and I increased the amount of lean meat I'm eating as well as a switch from rice to quinoa. We shall see how this fares.

Beyond the numbers however, I've realised that I've been feeling a little horrible about myself simply because I haven't been trying to fix the problem. In getting on board with a regimen, it's given me back a bit of confidence on that front, pushing me to dress a little better and actually make an effort. It's so easy to slip into being frumpy when you've had a baby and can't seem to shake the comfort of yoga pants and maternity jeans. 

Here's to Impulse for the long haul! I'm really excited about my next workout with them, and the rest that's to come!
Afternoon Tea at Newens Tea House, Starhill Gallery

What used to be Starhill Tea Galley in the heart of shopping heaven has been revamped, and is now Newens Tea House. Steeped in history and quality, we find that this is a true Cinderella story where tea houses are concerned. 


[In The Heart of Starhill Gallery]

While the decor has been completely redone, it still maintains its resplendence, while somehow creating an air of privacy in the middle of a mall. While TWG suffers the same fate, Newens has managed to overcome the problem with their feel of a Victorian drawing room and soft lighting. It's truly an enviable balance to have achieved. 

They've done such a great job of transporting you to your own little world that my friends manage to plan an Alice in Wonderland themed baby shower for me there earlier this year. 

Being associated with such an esteemed name, you see very personalised and decadent touches littered throughout your experience. 

And it begins with the tableware. While Newens is still under the YTL umbrella, there is a departure from the signature China we have at their other afternoon teas. The design is more pared down, lending a classier touch to it all. Couple this with the gold monogrammed napkins, and you know you're in for quite an experience. 


[Monogrammed Napkins and Distinctive China]

What's lovely is that there is also a full tea menu that truly makes you feel like you're at a tea auction. There are prices listed for purchase because they truly do have tea of exceptional quality. What's so special about the tea then? It's not your run of the mill range that's available. It's a selection that is specially chosen by a dedicated tea sommelier from a very reputable merchant. 

Do take note, however, that tea for two comes with only a single pot of tea (non-refillable), so you will have to order a second pot. I find this highly odd, but don't skimp on the tea here when you drop by.


[The Tea Menu]

The Starhill Jewel came highly recommended, and while I am not an avid fan of regular green tea, I do enjoy the finer versions of the brew. This particular tea is a mango-flavoured sencha. 


[The Starhill Jewel]

Being someone who doesn't enjoy the taste of mango or most green teas, I must say that I am a huge fan of this particular brew. It was such a delicate flavour with the citrus notes of the mango cutting through the grassy nature of green tea just enough to lighten it to an enjoyable experience on the palate. I really do love this tea and I would go back just for it. 

This brings us to the rationale behind why tea at places that take their tea seriously isn't refillable. Each type of tea undergoes a different time frame of brewing to ensure its optimal flavour. Therefore, if you leave the tea leaves in the water any longer than that, it continues to brew for longer, altering the flavour and thus your experience in consuming that particular brew. Chinese tea is specific to a tea that is meant to undergo multiple brews, thereby releasing a different taste for each subsequent pot, but the majority of teas are not. 


[Afternoon Tea for 2]

While the afternoon tea at Newens looks like your standard affair, tucked within the tiers is one very special addition that you will feel compelled to return for. We shall get to that shortly.

But first, let's talk savouries!


[Cheese and Smoked Salmon Sandwiches]

The sandwiches are delicious, and I was partial to the smoked salmon. The salmon was extremely fresh and very tasty. Alongside it were cheese sandwiches, which are a nice touch if you go with a vegetarian (which I frequently do). 


[Delectable Smoked Salmon]

The second tier brings you to the hybrids: Scones and tarts. 


[Scones and Maid of Honour Tarts]


[Raisin and Plain Scones]

I am not a fan of raisins in any incarnation, so I went with the plain scone. 


[Plain Scone]

A nice touch is that it is served with strawberry preserve as opposed to jam, as it should be. Essentially, preserves are thicker, chunkier versions of jam. 


[Strawberry Preserve]

Of course, there is also clotted cream. I love that Newens has replaced Starhill Tea Gallery because it used to make me livid that they insisted on sweetening their cream. Not only is that redundant, but it completely ruins the entire experience. 


[The Decked-Out Scone]

The scones here were less dense, and slightly more crumbly than most, but they were still a little too dense for my liking. In any event, you don't really have afternoon tea at Newens for their scones. You go for their Maid of Honour Tarts!


[Maid of Honour Tarts]

In essence, these are the best egg tarts you will ever have, partially because they come with a scandalous history involving Henry VIII, which you can read about here


[Revisiting History]

These pastries are so good that having to let someone else eat the second one may actually ruin your friendship. I strongly suggest ordering extras on the side. It's a necessity because sharing is for losers. Seriously, if you touch my tart, I will cut you. 

As mentioned, the tea for 2 comes with a single pot of tea, and that is decidedly not enough for 2 people to go through the three tiers of food with. For our second pot, we were treated to a custom blend to suit both our palates: A peach oolong. 


[Peach Oolong]

The tea was absolutely fantastic, and I must say that I'm inclined to make my way through the tea menu at Newens! 

It's really hard to compete with the Maid of Honour tarts, so making our way through the dessert tier was merely a formality. Not that they weren't good desserts, just that they paled in comparison. 


[Desserts]

If you've read my other afternoon tea reviews, you would have seen some of these desserts featured at Majestic Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton. This stems from all three of them being under the YTL group, thereby having the majority of their desserts stem from the same kitchen at Starhill Gallery. 


[Apple Crumble Pastry]

The apple crumble pastry was delicious. It was neither too sweet, nor too heavy. It has a lovely fluffy base with a deliciously crumbly top. 


[Raspberry Jam with Cream]

I wasn't too fond of this particular pastry because I am not a huge jam lover. It tasted like straight-up raspberry jam lightened up with cream. The outer shell tasted a touch too wholemeal-esque for my liking as well. 

However, the macarons were absolutely terrific. I loved the orange chocolate macaron (I could have scarfed down a dozen), and the rose macaron got good reviews as well. The shell was crumbly, yet chewy, and the ganache was just perfect. 

As my dining companion, Carol, is a fan of fruity tea unlike me, she gave the raspberry tea a shot and loved it with a touch of honey. 


[Raspberry Tea]

It is a rather tart concoction, and if I were a fan of fruit teas, I would recommend it.

Tea for two at Newens Tea House will run you RM120 nett, but you will want to order more tarts and an additional pot of tea, so do leave room in your budget for that. 
Baby Sensory

Baby Sensory was something I hadn't heard of until Tollyjoy's Baby Day. Since there is a branch near my place, I decided to give it a shot, and I've been going back ever since. 

As the name suggests, they provide a group-based play session whereby all the senses are activated to help babies discover themselves. The use of colour, music, tactile sensations, etc. is definitely something that will stimulate your baby. If nothing else, it's an hour of someone else entertaining your baby while you participate. 


[Reception Area]

The waiting area is decked out in colours and activities as well so that you can occupy your baby as you wait. The space is shared with Toddler Sense and Mini Professors (science-based learning for 2-5 year olds), so there is an array of toys for different age ranges available. 


[The Father Hoarding His Child]

You will have to take your own socks as shoes aren't allowed on the premises for hygiene purposes. There is also a changing area as well as nursing rooms to facilitate any requirements you may have during your visit.

Each week, there is a different theme, and there are 5-6 activities revolving around that theme for each session. What's great is that they recommend you try to replicate these activities at home, and so each activity is preceded by an explanation as to its purpose. They even explain to you how to mimic the activity on your own with household items.

Each session begins with a welcome song, and it engages the fact that babies learn signs prior to language. Along with each primary word in the song, there is a corresponding flash card, as well as a sign you use your hands for.


[Welcome Song]


[Flashcards to go with the signs]

As mentioned, the classes are structured in such a way that they stimulate the senses on all fronts. There is music playing in the background which changes with the activity being conducted, and there is plenty of colour to keep babies curious and fascinated. 


[Swathes of fabric for a colourful seabed]

Along with this, there is a tactile element as well, in that babies are encouraged to touch and feel items associated with the activity. Everything is sterilised (before and after the class) of course, and if it isn't safe for them to put in their mouths, you will be informed as much. 


[A Whale of a Time]

For some activities, the lights are dimmed to provide a more focused effect, and the constant disco lighting in the background helps to further stimulate your baby. I don't know about you, but Megatron adores lights!


[An Array of Sea Creatures and Corals]



There is certainly a concerted attempt at involving each and every child, and the movement of these lanterns wielded by the coordinators strengthen your baby's eyes as it forces them to follow the ebb and flow of activity.


[And Bubbles!]

To add a bit of fun, there was the addition of bubbles as well. Which child doesn't love bubbles? It was really amazing how our little circle was transported to the sea during this particular activity. 

As it's a form of play-based learning, there's an element of freedom to it that allows babies to just sit and watch if they're not comfortable participating. It's wonderful that there are also a number of opportunities in each class for them to practice their motor skills as well. 


[Drumming with Household Items]


[See the Ladle?]

In the 4-5 sessions that I've gone in, there's also been an alternate session of a puppet show or story time. Megatron thoroughly loves these sessions, and I've noticed that through experiencing them in her classes she has been more receptive to them at home.


[Puppet Show Time]




[Introducing all the Different Animals]


[Loving the Puppet Show]

As there is so much activity, it's essential that there's a break in between. Parents are given 10 minutes or so in the middle of the class to change or feed the babies, or just give them a break in general. While half the area is dedicated to the circle of parents and activities, the other half is a free play area and the toys and activities placed there are rotated everytime to ensure that there's always something new to discover. 


[Free Play/Break Time]


[Just Chillin']


["Learn to Read! You're Already 6 Months Old!"]


[Channelling Tenzing Norgay]


[When your child thinks she is Cleopatra]


[Making Friends]

What's lovely is that classes tend to be grouped by age ranges and most of the babies in the group tend to be within 3-6 months in age of each other. This ensures that each child is getting something out of the class that corresponds with their development.

After the break, there are 2-3 more activities for your child to enjoy. 

For Megatron's first session, there was a combination of balloons, a big balls and bubbles to entice her attention. 


[Balloons to Delight the Senses]

At 4 and a half months (she was born 6 weeks early, so we waited til she was 3 months adjusted to take her in) at this point, this was her first experience with all three of those things and she was utterly fascinated. 


[Huge Bouncing Ball so Parents Get Involved]


The final activity of the day was an introduction to a frog's ecosystem. 


[A Pond with Lilypads and Frogs]





Between the moving coloured lights, and the butterflies and swirls, Megatron simply couldn't look away.


[Transfixed by the Movement]

As mentioned, the activities change with each class, and a couple of weeks ago, there was even a tea party with teddy bears.

[Baby's Very Own Tea Party]

At the end of each class, there's a goodbye song as well. 


[Goodbye Song]



This is good in its own way because babies are creatures that are assaulted by novelty and it's nice for them to understand that there is a routine to things. 

In going for these classes, I've found that Megatron has become more engaged with each one because she's beginning to enjoy all the controlled novelty in her environment there. It's a safe space in which she experiences all these new things and she can zone out if it's too much for her, which does happen towards the end of the class. 

Don't doubt that these classes will overstimulate your baby, because it's a given that she will pass out for a minimum of 4 hours after each class. It exhausts her, but I'd rather have an overstimulated than understimulated baby.

When I went for the first class, I immediately signed up for their trial package which is 3 classes for RM120. 

Last week Pinata took her in as I had something on and we've just signed up properly. It's really good that they encourage you not to attend classes if your child is under the weather. That truly is the sign of being responsible, and it's much appreciated.

Overall, Pinata and I are both really happy with these classes. If gives Megatron a chance to be socialised with babies her age as well, which is essential to her upbringing.