On-point with Dee Dee, the fitness guru

Part 1 : Stay fit, stay healthy with Dee Dee Mahmood

Diamond Stretch
Dee Dee Mahmood became a Consultant/Visiting Lecturer at Pusat Sukan, University of Malaya (UM) in 2013, the same year when she brought Fat2Fit into RTM TV1 as a 17-episode series. UMCares teamed up with her for Fat2Fit UM Series and she is a familiar face at Stadium Arena Pusat Sukan in the mornings training her Fat2Fit family which consists of UM staffs from various faculties.

The accredited Exercise Physiologist and Nutritionist started her journey as a Fitness Instructor in 1995 when she tried to find solutions to her obesity  (yes, this TV Celebrity who is also a Reebok Fitness ambassador, was obese at 90 kg, suffered from bulimia and was hospitalized for gastroenteritis and knee replacement surgeries). Seeing her frustrations at the many failed attempts at weight loss,  her late father advised her to seek the right knowledge “by doing the right thing to get the right results; don’t do the wrong thing hoping to get the right results”. His advice set her off on her health and fitness journey and now being a fitness icon in the region, she had not looked back since.

What was the proudest achievement in your life?

I took PhD from University Malaya which was supported by the National University of Singapore. My research on high intensity exercises and music on obese women in Singapore, was the only Asian research selected (because of its impact on Asian obesity) by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM is the world-renowned body on physical activity, fitness and health) and presented in the President’s Cup Award in Washington, America on 15-16 April 2016. Double the joy was on 18 Feb 2017 when I was invited and sponsored by ACSM as an Invited Speaker at their Annual Meeting in Bend Oregon, USA.

one-legged-balanceWhat is the fitness regime of fitness instructor/guru like?

I exercised daily, doing cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility. I love running and swimming and I do bodyweight exercises and free weights. During weekends, I will travel back to Singapore from KL. For 2 hours each on  Saturdays and Sundays, I will exercise with the ladies doing dance-fitness dumbells, stretchbands, step reebok exercises as well as pilates.

Do you like to read? Who is/are your favourite fitness author(s)? What other books do you read?

I love reading non fictions including subjects related to fitness and health. Deepak Chopra is one of my favourite authors. The latest book I’ve read was Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Since I became a Lecturer in University Malaya, I love reading this book Solat: Kebaikan Dari Perspektif Sains by Dr Fatimah Ibrahim from University of Malaya. I hope that one day  a collaboration with Dr Fatimah and her team to research on the science of fitness will be possible.  Now that I am also an Academic Adjunct in charge of International Collaborations for Edith Cowan University,  Australia, I hope to contribute to University Malaya by collaborations in research with UM researchers in topics of fitness and health.

Do you use the library to conduct a research on fitness? How do you keep up-to-date with fitness issues etc?

Yes. I started using the library resources in 2013 to search for researches related to the subject matter of my PhD research. I have been hooked ever since pursuing research on fitness and health, to stay updated on trends in fitness and health as well as the safety aspects of exercise. UM Library provides online access to collections and with its interaktif Portal, the library feels like home to me as it opens up doors to new knowledge.


Should I work out under stress?

Physical activity helps increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Exercise helps to reduce tension and anxiety. So yes, exercise helps when you are stressed.

What would you recommend for a quick 20- to 30-minute workout that I could do at my desk to burn some extra calories without bothering my co-workers?

Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine for health stated that we need to clock in 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week to stay healthy, which includes at least 2 days of strength training. For weight management and for those who has medical conditions, you need to clock in 240-280 minutes per week).

If you have 20-30 minutes to exercise, do a complete full body exercise routine consisting of cardiovascular endurance (eg. Jogging, briskwalking or cycling) strength (using bodyweight eg push ups, planks) and flexibility (5 min of full body stretches).

But if you are pressed for time and wants something just as effective, do :

    1. Plyo-HIT Training. This can be done indoors or outdoors as well and even in space constraints areas such as the office cubicle. An office-modified version is included in the explanation of the recommended exercises shown here.

Plyometrics, popularly  known as “jump training” or “plyos”, are explosive exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power, namely  speed-strength. Apart from increases in strength and endurance aiding performance, plyometric exercises are also great for challenging your fast-twitch muscle fibers, coordination and agility. This time-economical exercise training can alao be used as a tool for weight management by increasing metabolism rate as the body increases its energy-burning rate with the plyo-stretch training regime, which augments efficiency in metabolism as the body adapts physiologically through the exercise-recovery-exercise stage.

      2.What is HIT and Why HIT?

Many of us may find it difficult to find that extra time to exercise more or exercise longer. Commiting to our regular exercise schedule might even pose a problem after office hours, when we are tired and when we are inundated  with family commitments. What with social commitments added on,  time is just too short. So what do we do for exercise then? SHORTCUT: Break a sweat by exercising quick and hard!

High intensity training (HIT)  is a popular trend for the past 3 years since 2014 and it is on the top 10 list of fitness trends of 2017, according to the American College of Sports Medicine worldwide survey. HIT is where you interspersed high intensity exercises with active recovery.  It improves two energy systems in our body: The anaerobic energy system which provides energy in all-out efforts of up to one minute. This is like your sprints where you feel fatigued after the quick dash and you cannot last an hour executing a sprint. The aerobic energy system is utilized during prolonged exercise of more than 3-4 minutes. As long as there is enough oxygen to provide the energy, you will not feel tired easily. You can even last an hour or even more, depending on your fitness aerobically. Consistent HIT training improves strength,  endurance and power at the same time.

HIT is time economical –  it is of short duration lasting from 10 seconds up to 4 minutes exercise routines.   Though intense, it is excitingly challenging (this is, of course, relatively subjective). But who doesn’t want the quick workout that has reported tremendous benefits in increased fitness and increased metabolism?

HIT exercise must be accompanied by warm up which can include walking for about 3 to 5 minutes as well as full body stretches (See Regangan 12 – photos and write up sent in another separate email).  Stretches helps to reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness while keeping you flexible and supple.  This in turns improve your body’s ability to perform exercises with full range of motion, decreasing the risk of injuries.

Note: All exercises must be executed with good control and not momentum. Do it with good alignment so that you do not injure yourself.

Plyo-HIT Training Exercise 1: One-Legged Balance

Before you begin this exercise, keep a stable chair or a wall, within arm’s reach.  Start with your feet together.  Bend your body forward. Bring your left leg to the back. You can keep the standing knee slightly bent for beginners. Hold this position as long as you can. Breathe gently.  Repeat on the other leg.  This exercise works your balance and strength of your gluteus muscles, the core muscles, which includes your waist and tummy (obliques & rectus abdominis) as well as your back.

The Office-Modified version will be to raise up one leg and bend your knees so that your foot will touch your “butt”.  Hold this position for as long as you can, while keeping a wall or a stable chair or stable within arm’s reach.

Plyo-HIT Training Exercise 2: Diamond Stretch (this is an Office Modified version of the Split)

Plyo-HIT Training Exercise 4: The Split Stretch

Perform the Diamond/Split stretches during this 30 seconds-1 min of the single leg leaps. The Diamond/Split target the muscle groups on the inside of the thigh  (pectineus,gracilis, adductor longus, brevis and magnus). The stronger these muscles are, the stronger will be your pelvis stabilisation as it pulls your thighs inwards.

In examining their combined (synergistic) effects of the One-Legged Balance+ Diamond Stretch and the advanced version of One-Legged Vertical Jump + Split Stretch, power and explosive strength is synergised in this full body workout exercise combo. You will see increases in both speed of movement (effects power) and speed of contraction (affects explosive strength) which will improve performance. This is beneficial for all fitness levels.

Plyo-HIT Training Exercise 3: One-Legged Vertical Jump

Perform  8/12/15 repetitions of the One-Legged Vertical Jump on both left and right, for 3 to 5 sets progressively. Incorporate 1 minute rest in between the sets. After 2 weeks of training of thrice per week, shorten the rest period to 30 seconds each time. Muscles targetted in the One-Legged Vertical Jump are the quadriceps and hamstrings as your primary thrusters. For optimisation to higher jumps, it is important to awaken and strengthen assisting muscles of the calves, the muscles around your hips, and your glutes.

Office-Modified: You can have mini jumps in the office.  Make sure that you are not executing your jumps with high heels.

Exercise Plan:

Exercise 1 & 2 for 3-5 sets of 8/12/15 repetitions and perform the 12 stretches at the end of every set.

Then continue with exercise 3 & 4 for 3-5 sets of 8/12/15 repetitions and perform the 12 stretches at the end of every set.

The progressive  HIT combo is performing Exercise 1 & 2 in 2 minute and 1 minute and later on, decrease your rest period to 30 seconds active rest with 12 stretches as you get fitter.

Perform exercises on alternate days, giving your muscles a day of recovery from muscle soreness.

 p/s: That’s all for this month, we have some exciting stuff in the pipeline for March, stay tune

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