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Yoga instructor and fitness trainer Ocean Bloom shares with Meera Murugesan her opinions on exercise and finding balance
SITTING cross-legged on the padded floor of a fitness centre, a slim Caucasian woman in black workout clothes holds court. Her audience, the majority of whom are men, listen with rapt attention as she talks about exercise and staying in shape.
Many linger long after the session for further tips and even ask to pose for photographs with her.
Ocean Bloom (yes, that’s really her name) obliges every request and even signs autographs for members of Sparta Muay Thai & Mixed Martial Arts fitness centre.
Her name may not be familiar to the average Malaysian but those in the fitness industry know her well. Bloom is the winner of several world championships in fitness and works internationally as a personal trainer and fitness and yoga instructor. Her areas of expertise include power yoga, Thai yoga massage, nutritional counselling and life coaching.
She was here recently in her capacity as fitness consultant for Sparta, which opened its doors in Ara Damasara, Petaling Jaya last year. The centre has programmes targeted at men, women and children and hopes to encourage the public to embrace the wonders of martial arts, learn self-defence and improve their fitness level and self-confidence.
SETTING THE STAGE
Bloom, who grew up in Vancouver, Canada, says that, as a child, dancing was her first passion. She took up ballet and jazz at 3 and by 8, had already joined a dance company.
In her teens, when she was no longer in regular dance classes, she turned to the gym, discovering in fitness, the same discipline she had enjoyed in dance.
“The gym became like a dance studio for me. It was another place to connect with my body,” says Bloom who has been featured in numerous fitness and lifestyle magazines.
She also has 25 years of experience in theatre, film, dance, yoga and martial arts and over 14 years as a fitness competitor and fitness model, nutritional consultant, life coach, author and speaker.
Her training philosophy emphasises practical and functional physical fitness and this involves taking people through workouts, classes and physical and mental journeys that she describes as “transformative, inspiring and limit-breaking”.
Bloom believes in creating a balance between high intensity, explosively powerful training and deep relaxation techniques that allow the body’s nervous system to unwind.
A SOURCE OF COMFORT
While many of us view exercise as a chore, Bloom finds strength and comfort in it. She always feels better after a workout and especially when she’s facing an overwhelming or challenging time in life. Exercise for her, is an effective way to deal with stress and emotional pain. “It gives me peace of mind and I really see the ability to move and to be physical, as a gift.”
During her days of active competing however, it was a different ball game. Bloom says at that time, she was very judgmental about herself and how she looked. If she felt she had gained weight, she had to “punish” herself by exercising.
When she was competing, training was also very much an individualistic process. She worked out by herself but these days, as a fitness trainer, she gets to connect with people in her classes and share her love and passion for exercise.
And instead of counting calories and stressing over food as she once used to, Bloom now aims for balance and makes healthy food choices. “I know that if I have a salad, I will feel more energetic and alert than if I eat a big bowl of pasta, so it boils down to how you want to feel. Lots of food that is not good for us, don’t make us feel good either so the choice is up to us.”
She also believes that while looking good is important in terms of being fit and healthy, it shouldn’t be the most important thing in life. Connecting to people and family and being happy are just as important.
Bloom says her travels through Asia opened her eyes to the fact that balance is important in life. In the West, the focus tends to be on the physical and mental, on looking good, being successful and making lots of money and this can sometimes cause people to become very judgmental of themselves. “We start to constantly look at what we don’t have instead of the value of what we have.”
In the countries she travelled to, including Cambodia, India, Thailand and Bali in Indonesia, she came across a strong appreciation for emotional and spiritual healing, interesting philosophies on life and a sense of community togetherness which left a strong impact on her.
Bloom journeyed to Kerala, India, to learn more about kalaripayattu, the local traditional martial arts and was also exposed to the healing principles of ayurveda.
In Thailand, she travelled to Chiang Mai to study Thai yoga massage and eventually ended up in Phuket where she’s now based and teaches at the Tiger Muay Thai mixed martial arts and training camp.
She wanted to discover the secret to happiness and now knows it calls for a balance in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual stimulation.
Ocean Bloom’s health philosophy
• Be conscious of what you eat.
• Make working out a passion.
• Strive for balance in life.