So far my New Year’s resolution has stuck. I wanted to be fit and strong, both for myself, and to set a good example for my kid. Little did I know I would be throwing myself into all kinds of trials and sports, contorting my body into painful and uncomfortable positions, and pushing it harder than it has worked in many years, all in my quest to find something I enjoyed. While I haven’t hated exercise, I’ve certainly been indifferent to it — something to be endured and not enjoyed. When the chance to work with Siobhan Dumigan came up, I jumped. After gym and yoga studio trials, I felt like I had done enough classes and needed someone who could really help me target my problem areas and manage some of the aches and pain I felt, from ageing, stress and motherhood.
Siobhan studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at the Queensland University of Technology and while there, completed her personal training course. She worked in Australia as a personal trainer for a year before moving back to Hong Kong to continue her dance career and did her Polestar Mat Pilates course upon her return.
Personal sessions can take place in your home or at Siobhan’s, nicely avoiding all those preening gym bunnies, flaunting their perfection (while you sweat alongside in your baggy old exercise clothes last seen in the 90’s). I turned up at Siobhan’s place and we got right down to it. Having emailed me earlier in the week with what I was hoping to achieve (20 pounds lighter and two less double chins please) and what my current routine was (HA!), I was brutally honest with Siobhan. Pilates actually frightens me, because previous experience shows me it is SO effective, meaning VERY PAINFUL, for the beginner unused to much exercise. I told her that I wanted something to help me combat stress and tension in my back and shoulders, and perhaps a few exercises I could add to a home practice.
Back in her living room, there was a mat, a back bolster and some balls. Not the instruments of torture I was expecting, granted. Nevertheless, I eyed them with some apprehension. Soon Siobhan had me on my back on the bolster, doing very gentle exercises with my back and arms and building up my core strength. These were followed by familiar, yet slightly different, poses to yoga, bridging and table top positions, followed by some unmentionable stretches in downward dog. All of it was familiar from yoga, but tweaked to my pain threshold and ability, pushing me just enough to feel it, but not enough to hear anything ‘twang’. We finished working on some trigger points using the balls to achieve very deep stimulation.
What I love about Siobhan’s way is that she is gentle and soft-spoken, encouraging and praising. Everything was unhurried as if we had all the time in the world — very unlike the granite-faced, boot camp-style personal trainer intent on humiliation I’ve experienced in the past! She knows exactly what muscles are engaged at each time, what muscles are hurting and why. And if her body is not a motivation in itself, I don’t know what else is! Before I knew it, the session was over and while I was gently aching, it was a pleasant feeling. I left feeling calm and full of energy.
Siobhan also works at CrossFit Typhoon as a part-time instructor in CrossFit, BootCamp, Pilates and personal training. Personal home sessions cost $700 per hour, sold in a 10-pack, and may be shared with one other person — perfect if you have a bestie you want to train with. The hour consists of a full hour of Pilates or Pilates and a full body workout including trigger point, TRX and boxing. Contact Siobhan at [email protected].
A true blue Hong Kong girl, Sharon works as an English teacher. When not thinking about or making food, she spends her time at home in Cheung Chau… usually at the beach… With a large cocktail in hand! Follow her on her blog Jasmine and Ginger or Twitter @jasmine_ginger.