Learn all about holistic wellness from Nikki Torres

Learn all about holistic wellness from Nikki Torres

“Holistic wellness is more than food and exercise. It’s when you connect emotional and mental health to your diet and exercise.”

I found a magazine back in college with a couple of yoga poses, and I started to copy those at home. I enrolled for classes at Bikram Yoga in 2010. This was the time when I realized I really liked yoga. I would set aside a part of my entry-level salary for it, skipping shopping, eating out, and hanging out with my friends. After four years in advertising, I left my job and pursued teaching yoga full-time.

Holistic wellness is more than just food and exercise. It’s when you start to involve the connection between your emotional health, mental health, and your environment to your diet and exercise. It’s being able to decide if you’re still going to go to a CrossFit class or have a gentle massage after a long tiring day.

Before you try a trend on wellness and fitness, research—it’s what most people don’t do. Before you enrol in a class, you have to find out if it works for you. Find out what it’s about and if the coaches in that class you’re taking are qualified to safely guide you through the workout. Feel it out when you try it.

NT Sweat is a fusion of bodyweight circuit training, mobility and cardio dance. It’s a 60 minute workout rooted in all my movement practices, the pace set to Hiphop R&B and Dance music. I always have a DJ with me when I lead mass workouts and events to add to the party vibe.

I train on my own using a program I designed for myself. I also like to join group classes so I get to learn from other coaches in my field as well.

Those may not be bone conduction earphones on Nikki, but if you’re looking to workout they’ll do just fine.

My workout essentials are… Aftershokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction wireless earphones, my iPhone, and a water bottle. I make sure I bring a pair of white Adidas sneakers.

I became a vegetarian first in 2011. I’ve always been sensitive when it comes to animals. It’s not for health.

Lifestyle brands I support: DermAid from Healthy Options for personal care. I support local vegan brands like Zero Basics (@zerobasicsph on IG). For food, there’s Go Vegan in BGC and Green Bar in Makati. There’s also the Good Food Market at the Mandala Park Sunday Market where all of the merchants serve all-vegan food.

I’m a big fan of salads; SaladStop is a favorite. SaladStop can customize your food and they are aware of vegans. In BGC, it’s Go Vegan at The Fort Strip. It’s fairly new and they serve vegan comfort food like burgers and palabok made with chickpeas.

Nikki in La Union.

US-based Filipina who runs ASTIG Vegan (Astigvegan.com) is one of the OGs in vegan cooking. She is religious in posting recipes. She would have the Filipinos in mind and come up with a vegan version of Filipino dishes like adobo. Another one I follow is BOSH! (Bosh.tv).

Among my favorite vegan chefs is Lakapati Basa of The Real Happy Cow (@TheRealHappyCowPH), which you’ll catch at Mandala Park on Sundays. She comes up with everything on the menu, including a vegan version of chicken nuggets.

I love a good lymphatic drainage massage. It’s not the usual massage for muscle soreness that I love but the detoxification. It’s light strokes all over your body that passes through your lymphatic system, boosting your immunity and detoxifying your body. I also like Swedish massage, hilot or deep tissue massage, and Abhyanga, an ancient Indian oil massage where the therapist pours two buckets of chosen herbal oils on you, massages the oil until it’s absorbed, and then you rinse.

My go to spa salons: Massage MNL mobile spa or Zennya app for the lymphatic drainage massage, Swedish, and hilot; Arogya Manila for Abhyanga.

My travel essentials: Adidas activewear, my Adidas UB19 running shoes, and my Macbook Pro not because I want to work while I’m on vacation but because it’s the best place for inspiration to strike.

The best mindfully-operated tour I know of is MAD Travel (Madtravel.org). I appreciate their travel-for-a-cause concept.

Nikki in Siargao

My most memorable holiday has to be my first visit to Siargao in 2015. There wasn’t much happening there yet and there weren’t a lot of vegan food options available. I loved how free I was to ride my bike around. The small community of locals were very warm and welcoming and it felt like home to me.

My favorite beach is anything with white sand, is exclusive or away from the crowds. It’s pretty old school, but San Juan before La Union was developed is one of them. Baler was one I used to go to a lot before it was developed. We would stay at a friend’s farm, about five- to 10-minutes’ drive away from the beach. I still like Boracay because of its beauty and accessibility to restaurants and shops. I also like islands like Siargao’s Naked Island.

Nikki at Atmosphere Resort.

Atmosphere Resort in Dauin, Dumaguete is a boutique resort that I really like going back to. They have a spa called The Sanctuary with a massage area that’s like a secret garden. They built their own weather-proof outdoor gym, have a pro athlete as a guide for a 20-kilometer bike tour, a restaurant with plenty of vegan options, and diving operated by certified diving instructors. They even have a tree-top yoga deck that looks out into the ocean!

Who is Nikki Torres?

Nikki created NT sweat, a choreographed toning + cardio fitness class that focuses on muscle toning and building cardiovascular endurance while moving to the beat of the hottest HipHop-R&B and dance tracks. She’s also a yoga teacher, an ambassador for Adidas Philippines, and the blogger behind Pretty Darn Fit (prettydarnfit.com), one of the top Health & Fitness blogs in the country.

All photos courtesy of Nikki Torrres

Sweet delicious Pampanga, according Chef Jam

Sweet delicious Pampanga, according Chef Jam

Chef Jam Melchor takes us on a gastronomic journey around the province he’s from, Pampanga, hailed food capital about an hour’s drive north from Manila.

As a full-blooded Kapampangan and chef, there aren’t that many people who can better guide us through Pampanga than Jam Melchor. Pampanga is a big place, but it can be made smaller with the help of Chef Jam. Here are some of his picks.

Where he’d go to eat

“You won’t find the best chefs in Pampanga hanging out in restaurants; they’re found at homes.”

Kabigting’s is that much of a staple that, yes, it has made its way into the city.
  • Kabigting’s Halo-Halo and Cool Spot in Angeles City for halo-halo. Kabigting’s, in particular, uses carabao’s milk and pastillas to make their creamy and milky halo-halo, which he likes.
  • Aling Lucing’s and Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy for sisig. “If you want a sisig that’s moist and has more of a char-grilled texture, go to Aling Lucing’s. For the modern version, go to Mila’s.”

Places to go in Pampanga

If you’re on tour in Pampanga and Chef Jam is leading the pack, these are the places you’ll visit:

A beautiful shot of the Holy Rosary Parish Church, or Pisambang Maragul (Big Church) to locals. Photo by Carmelo Bayarcal
  • Churches. Pampanga has a lot of beautiful and historic churches, so make sure not to miss them.
  • Abe’s Farm for lunch or dinner. Their flavors have been consistent for years.
  • Sisig places like Aling Lucing’s and Mila’s.
  • Gill’s Buko Sherbet & Ice Cream in Angeles City.
  • Atching Lilian Borromeo in Mexico, Pampanga for San Nicholas cookies.
  • Susie’s Cuisine for their tibok-tibok (carabao milk pudding with glutinous rice).

Pasalubong (treats to take back home) from Pampanga

It’s not really a trip to Pampanga without bringing back some grub. Open up some space in your bag and make sure you take at least one of each of these home with you:

It’ll be hard to leave Pampanga without buying a box of this. Or longganisa. Or tocino.
  • Tocino del cielo. It’s a rare and labor-intensive dessert that looks very similar to leche flan. It’s made a whole lot sweeter by taking out the milk and only sticking to butter and simple syrup.
  • Marzipan. A chewy ball of sweetness that’s made from cashew nuts, milk, and eggs.
  • Tocino. There are a lot of recipes using all kinds of meat like pork or even carabao.
  • Longganisa. A trip to Pampanga won’t be complete without taking home a bunch of these local sausages.
  • Buro. A local way of pickling things like mangoes. It’s an acquired taste to love the buro. It goes really well with anything grilled or fried.

Curious how hunk dad Dingdong Dantes does his and family’s travels?

Curious how hunk dad Dingdong Dantes does his and family’s travels?

This man doesn’t let even his busy schedule take away from what matters: family time.

He’s an actor, commercial model, and film producer—but above all, he is a husband to Marian Rivera-Dantes and a dad to their daughter Zia. Photo by Paulo Navarro

How often do you go on holidays?

Ding Dong Dantes and Marian Rivera try to find time to be together, despite their ridiculously busy schedules. A happy couple indeed. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

Because both our [his and wife Marian Rivera’s] work schedules are unpredictable, we have to wait for our respective shows to go on a break before we plan anything. That’s why we almost always book at the last minute— a habit that is not highly recommended; haha! The key holidays are also the basic ones like Christmas, Holy Week and, of course, our birthdays in August and November.

What’s your secret to fnding time for vacations despite your crazy busy work schedules?

When your schedules are just as hectic as your ravishing spouse’s (and Marian Rivera IS ravishing), you WILL need help. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes.

The moment we find a window, we immediately grab it, may it be a couple of days to a whole week. With our work, it is impossible for us to be away for more than two weeks. How do you plan your family getaways? We have friends who help us, like Access Travel of Angely Dub.

Most of the time, I find it more convenient for someone to help me in the planning since both of us are always preoccupied with other things. Of course, we already know what we want—it’s really just a matter of organizing the logistics. Given that we stay at least two days in a new place, my basic policy is 20 percent planned itinerary, and 80 percent kung ano ang matripan (on what we feel like doing).

What is your favorite Philippine destination?

Yes, Zia. That is a good-looking beach.
Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

I like any place that is peaceful, green, sustainable and clean. A place where my kids can safely run around while we enjoy a cup of cofee, or a mug of beer. It does not matter if it is on a mountain, by the beach, in my friend’s backyard, or even a protected area in any place within the chaotic Metro Manila for as long as we are with the right people. Pero siyempre, dapat panalo rin ang pagkain. (But of course, the food has to be a winner too.)

What are the most memorable holidays you’ve had in the Philippines as a family?

Sunsets are often the happiest when you see them with the right people. In Dong’s case, it’s with Marian and Zia. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

We really love the beautiful islands here in our country. Palawan will always have a special place in our hearts. Amanpulo is on the top of our list. Our recent trip to Siargao via SkyJet Airlines is also one for the books. Book a SkyJet flight, direct from Manila to Coron, Palawan; Batanes; and Camiguin.

Your favorite beach and why this beach?

Hard to say. We love so many and each has its own charm.

Things you love to do when on a holiday?

Eat. Sleep. Play. Plan. Repeat.

Your travel essentials aside from IDs and cash?

Cameras to document memories.

Where do you wanna holiday next?

We want to visit Cebu next.

Who is Dingdong Dantes?
Dingdong Dantes is a well-loved Filipino actor, commercial model, film producer, and film studio AgostoDos Pictures owner. He’s married to Filipino actor Marian Rivera with whom he has a daughter with.

Going through “hell” with Chrystalle Omaga

Going through “hell” with Chrystalle Omaga

Obstacle Course racing (OCR) is the newest craze in sports adventure attracting all sorts of athletics or the mere active, including celebrities who never mind the grit, the sweat, for as long as they get a dose of the physical fun. Beauty queen-cum-obstacle racer Chrystalle Omaga gives us a glimpse of the growing sport.

Chrystalle Omaga in action during a local Spartan Race.

Obstacle course racing is like a duathlon but with obstacles along the way. It features varying terrain that’s based on army training courses, incorporating trail running and a good mix of upper and lower body challenges.

My first OCR experience was “hell”. My boyfriend and I were given free tickets to a Spartan Race by one of their brand ambassadors. It was a 14km Open Division Spartan Race. Apart from hell, it felt like marriage counseling for us. If you finish something like this together, you’ll definitely know more about your partner.

Crossing the finish line with her boyfriend at their first Spartan Race.

Beware the Spear Throw. It’s a common obstacle in a course that’s at least 12 kilometers and involves chucking a spear into a haystack. You only get one try; miss and you’ll have to do 30 burpees. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs when I hit it during a race in Subic. I got 2nd place in Elite Women because of that.

I train twice a day, six times a week. I usually train weightlifting at Anytime Fitness Cubao and find a hill or trail to run on for running. If we’re talking about OCR-specific training, I go to Obstacle Sports Factory in Makati or the Spartan Obstacle Course Camp in BGC.

She also enjoys a good trail run every now and then as part of her OCR training.

If you wanna try OCR, learn to run before you try OCR-specific training. You’re still running for most of the race, so running is important. If you’re already a runner, try and advance to trail running or train for altitude runs.

Tip to anyone who wants to compete: Expect to perform like a beginner; enjoy the race; and go for it. Crossing the finish line and saying you’re able to finish an exhausting muddy race is the greatest accomplishment you can achieve. Just go for it and expect the unexpected!

Racers I look up to…Lindsay Webster (@lindsaydawnwebster) and Ryan Atkins (@ryanatkinsdiet). They’re the best OCR athletes in the world!

What I lug with me:

    • Luxxe Slim L-Carnitine and Green Tea Extract from Front Row
    • Whey protein from Wheyl Nutrition Co., a proudly Filipino sports nutrition brand
    • Under Armour athletic gear 
    • Sunblock
    • Garmin watch

My pre-race meal: Banana chocolate chip pancakes. I don’t know why, but I just love them! During the season, we prepare our own meals with the help of a nutritionist. Off-season, we’re fans of Samgyupsalamat. It’s an amazing all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant.

Off training, I chase after my two-year-old kid. He keeps me on my toes and running after him gives me a good workout. I also go to the spa for recovery.

When they’re not racing, they like enjoy a good day at the beach.

We love to hunt for trails, so we go to places with mountains and beaches for vacation. Some of the places we love to go to are:

  • Subic Bay. Playa Papagayo, in particular, is a great place to stay in since it’s right by the beach. They also have a good restaurant that serves delicious Mexican food.
  • Cebu. It has a lot of good trails for running, especially in the southern part of the island.
  • Boracay. It’s got great beaches and is a place where we go to for a relaxing trip.

Yes. the lady can both beat you in a race AND look fierce.

Who is Chrystalle Omaga?
Chrystalle Omaga is an obstacle course racer and trail runner, an international model, a former beauty queen (Ms. Universe-Canada 2016), and a loving mother to a two-year-old boy.

Photos taken from Chrystalle Omaga’s Instagram account @misschrystalle

Insane and intense city explorations

Insane and intense city explorations

We spoke with the man who built a reputation scaling towering structures no seemingly sane man ever would: urban explorer Benjo Cabarro.

 

 

Urban Exploration, for me, is to find and share the beauty in things that are uncommon to the common man. I was in a dark place before and a crazy friend of mine invited me to my first mission. I saw the light and the rest is history.

A mission is our own version of a road trip. We prepare for it just like you would on any other road trip: charge our cameras, pack food, water, extra clothes, and extra batteries. We also make sure we have movies to watch and music to listen to while we shoot.

I like watching the city from above and at night. It’s peaceful and the perspective change is really life-enhancing; you get to see that your problems are not so big after all.

Three things to expect from doing urban exploration: Dirt, Dust and Death. There is nothing else in play at that moment except your life. It’s beautiful really; in these moments, you again have a life-enhancing realization, that living is truly wonderful. The sooner you accept this, the better the experience will become.

Urban explorers for inspiration: James Kingston (@thejameskingston); Lam Yock (@yock7). These guys are legends!

My most memorable mission was when I finally climbed the tallest building in the Philippines! Photo by Benjo Cabarro

My go-to gadget for my missions: GoPro. I tried bringing a DSLR once, but it was too bulky.

I love the Makati Skyline so much! The street and city colors at night are perfect especially when you’re shooting the Poblacion area. The purples and magentas that illuminate the buildings around it are sooo pretty.

On of my most memorable missions was… when a massive mist engulfed my on a rooftop in Ortigas. I was taking photos and videos of the storm clouds and lightning play in the Antipolo Side, when from down south, a massive body of mist came rolling in. Everything turned white. It was eerie and magical at the same time. I was very blessed to have captured it on video because you don’t see that everyday in Manila.

Would you dare walk this plank?

My most daring mission was in another Ortigas mission where I “walked the plank.” It took me two years to prepare for it. It was utterly mental and required a lot of willpower.

My 5 best missions in the Philippines: Climbing a TV station transmitter tower; climbing the tallest building in at Century City; climbing the tallest building in Makati City; climbing the tallest building in the Philippines, and walking the scariest “plank.” 

I’m looking forward to experiencing the Hong Kong roofs! It’s a massive urban jungle and cannot wait to explore its highs and lows.

I prefer heights, but urban exploration can be done anywhere. We’ve even explored a war tunnel. It’s just easier for me to meditate when I’m up high because of the tranquil and serene atmosphere.

The TV Tower

If you want to try urban exploration, make sure you know what you’re doing and prepare for all the risks. I’ve never really gotten into trouble during missions because of that. 

A sound mind and a strong body are definitely required. I cannot count the number of times I was able to get out of a pretty life-threatening situation because my body and mind were strong enough. I work out my whole body at the gym every week. I practice parkour on weekends, though not as religiously as I once did, and I meditate when I can.

Who is Benjo Cabarro?
Notably the best urban explorer in the Philippines. He’s a professional photographer who’s known for his urbanscape photos among many things.  Benjocabarro.com.

Interview: Andrew Del Rosario   Photos: Benjo Cabarro

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