Andy Wenhlowskyj is a long-term Phnom Penh expat and fitness instructor who specialises in a program of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) known as Metafit. He also runs a range of classes privately and at local gyms including cycling, interval and circuit sessions. This week, Wenhlowskyj took Will Jackson on a circuit of his favourite health-related spots around Phnom Penh.
Metafit at The Place and Wat Botum
Metafit is the program where I see people push themselves the hardest and get the most satisfaction from the challenge. It’s short, intense and rewarding. Metafit incorporates a selection of bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats and burpees, performed in short bursts. It spikes the heart rate and uses large compound muscle movements to push participants into anaerobic conditioning. There are no added weights required, so people can really focus on maximum output for each interval, with short recovery times. Performed correctly, this type of training gets you knackered in under 30 minutes. If you can last longer than that, then you’re not doing it right. So it’s really convenient for people to fit in a session early morning before work, or at lunchtime. I run sessions at Wat Botum Park at 6:30am on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as lunchtime classes at The Place gym. You can find me on Facebook at HIIT Fit Phnom Penh.
HUB Juice and Smoothie Bar
HUB Juice is a fine little space to top-up on your daily vitamin fix. They have a range of cold-pressed and blended juice options (let’s mix our soluble and insoluble fruit and veg fibres) where you can opt for no added sugary concentrates. There’s a selection of workout juices with an added scoop of protein powder, including The Recovery, blended with a bunch of antioxidant-filled berries. My favourite is the Grape Adventure, packed with green grapes, pineapple, spinach, banana and coconut. Prices are around the $3 mark and they even deliver. They also offer a seven-day detox juice cleanse.
Bouldering at Phnom Climb
Rock Climbing has a number of terrific benefits that help increase the body’s flexibility and strength and it’s also a great cardio workout. If you’re afraid of heights, try indoor bouldering. Phnom Climb has a bouldering wall at their indoor climbing gym in Tuol Tom Poung. The wall is only a couple of metres high with mats below to soften any falls. Think of bouldering as scaling a wall horizontally. It’s like a puzzle for the body, which your limbs and body strength have to solve. A session including shoe rental will cost around $8 and the team there offer lessons for beginners.
Olympic Stair Sprints
This has got to be the best free workout in town. Make your way over to Olympic Stadium at dawn or just as the sun begins to set for this heart-raising cracker interval session. This is going to burn calories, shape-up your legs and glutes, and improve your overall cardiovascular fitness – but always remember to warm up first, including stretching, and stay hydrated. Starting from the bottom, you are faced with 83 stairs each set. Your aim is to bolt to the top as quick as you can. Focus on using explosive power from your legs as you quickly elevate and move your arms to help stay balanced. From the top, walking back down to the bottom acts as both a rest between sets and protects your knee joints. Aim to fit in 10 sprints into your session, and you’ll get a great workout in about 15 minutes.
Backyard is the best place in Phnom Penh for when you need to re-fuel the body. It’s healthy food at it’s tastiest: nutrient-rich goodness. I tend to order their $7 Power Bowl, chock-full of quinoa, brown rice, chicken breast, hummus, guacamole, spinach, activated almonds and pickles on a bed of dark leafy salad. The owner, and also well-known fitness trainer in town, Maria, ensures we get a massive protein fix with her signature power workout bombs, gluten-free protein powder and two delicious flavours to choose from (vanilla-mango is the winner). I’m also a massive fan of their smashed avocado on seeded toast to devour on a lazy Sunday morning.