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Down with the Fitness

Are health buffs this decade’s heartthrobs? Zee Lifestyle introduces some of the city’s trainers, instructors and athletes whose tireless efforts at the gym, studio or field have garnered head-turning results.

Are health buffs this decade’s heartthrobs? Zee Lifestyle introduces some of the city’s trainers, instructors and athletes whose tireless efforts at the gym, studio or field have garnered head-turning results.

Studying Sports Science in college, Pio Solon had an outline of what he wanted to be doing for the rest of his life. As an age-group swimmer as well as teacher and personal trainer, you can bet that he knows his stuff. However, that wasn’t enough; he was working on owning his own gym and being able to provide people with the chance of a lifestyle change.

In January of 2012, he started Epic Performance and Fitness Solutions. He describes what they do as “functional training,” meaning all workouts are tailored for each person. “I envision this workout as a part of everybody’s fitness regimen. We all should do some sort of strength training as there are countless benefits to our bodies besides looking good,” Pio says. And since opening Epic, he has never heard anyone say they feel worse when they get stronger.

Although he struggled when he first opened Epic, being a swimmer who wasn’t used to working on land, he stuck through it and became stronger. “People should be consistent with their workouts. Beginners have to be consistent as it’s the fastest way to achieve progress and meet your goals,” he adds. In the end, all Pio strives for is progress—it’s part of the package when you begin your change at Epic.

Epic Performance and Fitness Solutions

“I was in Brazil on the  Rotary Student Exchange program and looking for a martial art to study. An old man told me that Brazil had its own martial art, created by the African slaves, that was a blend of dance, music and acrobatics,” says Jensen Chow of how he got into capoeira. The idea intrigued him, and now 17 years later, he’s brought the rhythmic art to Cebu. 

A capoeira class involves lots of movement—kicks and hand strikes, partnered drills, acrobatics—all done to the steady beat of the accompanying instruments. “Capoeira is fun, but even more than just moving your body, the art exercises the spirit too,” says Jensen, talking of how it’s also become a form of self-expression through the various movements. As a holistic body workout, capoeira is a great way to get lean, although that’s not purely why you should get into it. “Rather than doing it only for the sake of losing weight, a practitioner will also enjoy themselves,” he says, although he’s quick to remind beginners that weight loss can only achieved when matched with the proper diet, reduced stress and enough sleep.

Watching the various  movements might make capoeira seem daunting to take up, but Jensen reassures that you shouldn’t be intimidated. “Enjoy every part of the art and don’t compare your progress to anyone else but yourself,” he advises beginners. “The goal is not to become phenomenal athletes, even though that may happen; but rather, the goal is to lose yourself in the art and explore all aspects, from the music, song and movements. It can be done by any age, weight or fitness level, and helps increase flexibility, strength, endurance, rhythm and reflexes.”

Sinha Bahia De Capoeira Internacional

Growing up playing  American football, yoga was the last thing on his mind. But when constant injuries pushed him to engage in an activity that didn’t involve getting pushed down and shoved across a field, Robert Vecchioni turned to yoga to help him push through the pain from injuries and strengthen his muscles again.

Robert practiced yoga in Manila, where he was licensed to teach. He has since remained in the Philippines and is currently working as a yoga instructor at Yogahub in BTC. “Many think that yoga is for girls, that it doesn’t give you enough exercise. It actually strengthens your core and is one of the best ways to build up your muscles,” Robert says.

He wants readers to know that  yoga is an exercise for all, and many would be surprised to hear that quite a few professional tennis, soccer, and basketball players regularly do yoga to enhance their skills. “It prevents injuries because of how flexible and agile it makes you,” he adds. Although it may not be enough to just do yoga, Robert says incorporating it into your routine, along with sports or working out, is more than enough to help you get in shape.


The journey began  when this man participated in The Biggest Loser—weighing in at 309 pounds. After coming out of the camp weighing 240 pounds, Alan Choachuy incorporated fitness into his daily routine; he made it a goal that he strived to achieve.

At a current weight of 184  pounds, Alan has come a long way. He owes his strength to his mentor, Coach Jim Saret, who was alongside him every step of the way. In May of last year, he took control of booting up the FITFIL Fitness Boot Camp that drew in over 200 people. Due to the success of the camp, Alan had the idea to start his own camp—METAFit Fitness Boot Camp.

The camp focuses on small  group mentorship to ensure that every participant gets an equal amount of attention from the trainers. “Fitness is not about losing weight. Fitness is about getting stronger, fitter, and healthier,” he says. The METAFit camp is not only for those who want to lose weight, but those who are just looking to get fit as well.

Last year, Alan participated in  Ironman Cebu, which he called a “lifelong dream. It was a very emotional finish for me. I broke down at the finish line while bringing the Biggest Loser banner with so much pride,” he shares. Alan says he just hopes to help everyone achieve everything he has achieved. “I’m living proof that you can be what you want to be as long as you put your heart into it.”

Metafit Cebu

Growing up in Switzerland, a  country where ice hockey has always been a stadium filler, Steven Füglister is no alien to the sport. “I like the intensity, physical aspect and the fast pace of the sport. That it’s a team sport is also a big bonus,” he says.

In truth, this isn’t an easy sport.  Steven describes his training as four practices and two games paired with off-ice practices every week. However, he doesn’t stop there; he works out in the gym, focusing on full-body workouts that help improve his game. Aside from hockey, he plays golf and basketball, but he tells us those are just hobbies.

“If played competitively, it’s  like HIIT Training (high intensity interval training) with lots of stops and gos, so you will definitely stay in shape.” Although the Philippines is a tropical country and time on the ice is limited, Steven says he is surprised to have found so many people—Filipinos and expats alike—who are interested in playing ice hockey. His advice for beginners is to master skating first, as it is a must, before venturing into organized hockey, or any other on-ice sport for that matter.

Being only 22 years  old, Paolo Pascual may be relatively young, but he’s already found his calling— soccer. “It was the only club back then so I decided to try it out. I’ve been playing since I was seven years old,” he tells us. Now, he’s the goalkeeper for the Azkals, the Philippines’ national soccer team, and competes in various tournaments here and in other neighboring countries.

One thing he points out is  that soccer is no walk in the park. The training is intense; his team trains for two hours a day, with occasional double sessions—one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The training consists of warm-ups, a couple of runs to keep them quick on their feet, and they spend the rest of the practice doing shooting drills. Paolo doesn’t stop there; he tries to go to the gym at least four times a week to maintain his physical shape.

“I love the challenge that  the sport brings,” he adds. It’s one that takes years of practice with the guarantee that you learn something new everyday. And even after all that, it’s a sport you can never perfect. He agrees that soccer is a great way to get fit, as you do a lot of cardio and quick bursts. “Just don’t give up. Everything requires time and dedication. Once you are committed to the sport, success will follow.” And we can trust what he says, as his own words have taken him very far.


A workout  originally used by Navy SEALs, you can bet that anyone who does TRX professionally knows all about getting and staying fit. Paul Martin Gabatan, the exercise training manager at CITIGYM has been doing TRX for a little over a year now, after taking the TRX Trainer’s Certification in June last year. His decision to pursue TRX was based on it being an all-around system that allowed people to perform hundreds of exercises anytime and anywhere.

However, it wasn’t all easy for  him in the beginning. He had a hard time stabilizing his body, which led him to realize he had a very weak core. He says that as a beginner, the user has control over the body resistance, angle, and stability. “I would strongly recommend that you hire a certified TRX trainer to perform the exercises safely and effectively.”

“The TRX Suspension  Trainer workouts delivers a fast and effective total body workout, helps you build a solid core, increases muscular endurance, and it benefits people of all fitness levels,” Paul says of the system. He recommends atomic pushups, inverted rows, and single-leg jump squats as they give a total body workout. They’re very versatile workouts, also focusing on strengthening and balancing the core.

TRX is perfect if you are  looking to lose weight because it raises your heart rate, thus increasing your metabolism and burning hundreds of calories. “The TRX Suspension Training allows for hundreds of exercises so anyone can reach their fitness goal no matter what level or experience they may have,” Paul adds.



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Cycling has been a growing sport and hobby for many years but it’s popularity has erupted since the Covid pandemic.  People biking to work and for recreation is an everyday sight in Cebu.  More and more are joining the ride.  Many are quite serious about cycling.  I know three ladies who are among those who’ve gone long distances across Cebu.

How did you get into serious cycling?  What was your motivation?

Blinky de Leon.  Event Host, Product Endorser & Influencer

“ I’ve been into cycling since I was a kid. A little backstory, I was around 10 years old when my dad surprised me with my first custom-made mountain bike. I still keep it until now, in fact I had it refurbished. It’s the most sentimental thing I ever received since it was his way/gesture to catch up with me after not seeing each other for almost 6 yrs. My dad is based in Germany and he also loves cycling and makes his own bamboo bike.”


“Just a year ago though, my friend Gazini randomly, out of nowhere, picked me up from home to bike with her to the South of Cebu. I felt really excited and motivated to get back on track because it’s very nostalgic and brings back so many great memories. And since then, the rest was history. We’ve been joining different groups, tried different routes and conquered different heights. I’ve met so many cyclists with very inspiring stories in the bike community who kept me feeling motivated too. I also look forward to the sights and the adventure that comes along with it.”


Yumz Mariot. Branding & Marketing Consultant

“I used to bike along with rock and wall climbing. I am lousy with ballgames which is why. Our usual route were Talamban and Mactan but one time, managed to ship gears all the way to Dumaguete for a quick ride to Valencia, the next town located at a higher elevation. Those were days when I did it for fun and what bike I was using did not matter.”

“Fast forward to 2021, a year after the pandemic lockdown began, I realized I have been lazy to do any fitness routine. Too caught up on juggling between house chores and Work from Home deliverables (I work as a Branding and Marketing Consultant), I started to feel my body needs to move as much as my brain does. A hysical fitness routine is as important as what I eat, or what I read or watch. So I decided to invest on a decent MTB, just very recently and got myself a much necessary restart. What motivates me even more is the area where I currently reside at. It is vast, fresh, green and safe for solo bikers like me.”


Prime Sarino. Digital Media Creative

“I started biking as a young teenager and I got the idea to start it as an adult hobby 3 years ago. I was already into running and I thought it would be great to venture into another outdoor activity to keep me occupied after work hours and weekends. I was set to travel for a year so I had to put aside the idea first but came pandemic. We were all forced to stay put and everything was put on hold. Cycling became my diversion. My cyclists friends invited me to quick and short rides. I enjoyed my first 50km ride and the sceneries and routes most of all. It also helped channel a positive mindset during the hard hit season of the pandemic. Not to mention it’s also another way to stay fit when we were forced into inactivity during the quarantine.”

Next in Part 2, we ask the ladies about their cycling experiences and memorable moments…

by: Zen

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#CebuPride:  Cebuanos in Multi-awarded Pride-Themed Films

Multi-awarded International Gay Movies with Cebuano Lead Casts

By:  Allain Dumon Fonte


Pride-themed movies are starting to invade the film industry as people become more accepting and are more intrigued on the stories about LGBTIQ.  Many have shared the intensity of emotions and laughed with the craziest jokes on gay-themed movies.  In the Philippines, these kinds of movies were questioned as to their morality and their message to the society.  The strong influence of the country’s religious standards had branded gay-themed movies as sex-oriented and nothing more.  Yet, with Thailand’s more tolerant culture, Thai BL (Boy’s Love) movies and television series have created a new perception to the viewers; and that is gay-themed movies are remarkably alike to all other movies – there is romance, comedy, drama, and the continuing struggle of living like normal people.  Hence, Thai BL TV series have a massive following all over Asia.  At the end of 2019, they became available in Netflix and are being watched by millions of viewers all over the world.

ZEE’s Allain Fonte with the casts of the top-rating Thai BL series (2019) “Cause You’re My Boy” of GMMTV (from L-R) Amp Phurikulkrit Chusakdiskulwibul, AJ Chayapol Jutamas, Neo Trai Nimtawat, Frank Thanatsaran Samthonglai, ADF, Drake Laedeke, Phuwin Tangsakyuen, and JJ Chayakorn Jutamas.

The Philippine film industry is not that far from Thailand’s.  Some of the LGBTIQ-themed movies and television series are slowly getting a following in Asia and are now accessible to viewers worldwide.  A few of these pride-themed movies that casted or directed by a Filipino have already been receiving nominations and awards from Golden Globe, The Berlin Film Festival, the Venezia Film Awards, and even the Emmy’s…and the Filipinos in these films hail their roots from Cebu!


1. Lingua Franca


Lingua Franca is a film directed by a Cebuana, Isabel Sandoval.  Sandoval also plays the main character of the movie, and she even wrote the screenplay.  Lingua Franca tells the story of Olivia, an undocumented transgender woman in New York who works as a caregiver to a senile old-lady of Russian-decent.  When Olivia is challenged to attain legal status in the US, she is left with a “marriage-based green card”.  While in search for her groom-to-be, she becomes romantically involved with Alex, Olga’s grandson.

The film is now available on Netflix and has received positive reviews from the media.  Stephen Dalton of the Hollywood Reporter wrote Lingua Franca is a “heartfelt personal statement rooted in timely, gripping issues that obviously resonate deeply with its author, notably trans rights and Trump-era immigration anxieties”.


Isabel Sandoval wearing Marchesa at the Venezia Red Carpet in the Venice Film Festival (2019)

Isabel Sandoval graduated summa cum laude with the degree in psychology from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, Philippines.  In New York, she pursued graduate studies in Film at NYU.  She is now currently residing in NYC, and already has award-winning films under her belt like Apparition, Lingua Franca, Senorita, Ritwal, The Unstoppable, and Judgement.


2. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

This television series was aired in Netflix and has gained so much popularity because it showed the murder of world-renowned fashion designer, Gianni Versace, by a serial killer, Andrew Cunanan.  Based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, this television series has 9 episodes of suspenseful scenes, and is star-studded with casts like Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz.  However, the main actor who played Andrew Cunanan is Darren Criss who gained his popularity after being a regular on the top rating TV show, Glee.  Darren Criss hails his roots from Cebu, Philippines.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story received positive reviews from critics. At the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, it received 9 nominations, and won 3 awards, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Darren Criss.


Darren Criss with his dad (left) Charles William Criss, and his mother (right) Cerina Criss. Source

Criss was born and raised in San Francisco, California, USA.  Criss was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended roman catholic schools.  He later moved to Michigan where he studied Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Theatre Performance and minor in music at the University of Michigan.  Criss’s father, Charles William Criss, is a banker and served as CEO of the East West bank in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Criss’s mom, Cerina, is a native of Talisay, Cebu, Philippines.  When he was younger, he visited Cebu a couple of times with his mother.  Darren Criss is very proud of his Cebuano roots and wants to portray Filipino characters in films and in theatres to promote visibility of the Filipinos in the American films.


3. The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela

     The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival where it grabbed the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film.  It was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the 10th 2008 Cinemanila International Film Festival at Malacañang Palace’s Kalayaan Hall.  It starred Raquela Rios also known as Minerva to her Cebuano friends.  Raquela  is a local of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines.  The film is directed by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson.


Raquella Rios in Bangkok’s MRT (a scene in a Thai film).

Raquella Rios is a native of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines, and she went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu, studying sociology and anthropology.  Before finishing her studies, Raquella left the Cebu and went to Iceland after being casted by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson for the movie The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela.  She is now based in Bangkok, Thailand as a fashion stylist and wardrobe assistant to some local Thai movies.  Raquella is also an activist for sex workers rights and trans rights in Southeast Asia; pushing for the recognition on the choice of their gender and the right to change their birth names.

Raquella (right) with film director Olaf de Fleur (left) receives the Best Feature Film Award at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival in Germany. Photo grabbed from Berlinale archives.

There are still plenty of pride-themed films in the Philippines that gained recognition all over the world; yet these movies mentioned are special because of the talented Cebuanos that have  brought Cebu to world.  They truly are #CebuPride.

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37 Years of High Fashion; Arcy Gayatin leaves a Legacy of Edginess and Elegance

Arcy Gayatin: A Legacy of Luxury in Fabrication


By:  Allain Dumon Fonte 


The brand Arcy Gayatin gave the Queen City of the South a distinct reputation in the fashion industry.  The fashion line of Arcy Gayatin sets the bar higher each year for clothing luxury and fabrication techniques.


April Duenas, Nikki Gayatin and Arielle Gayatin for Arcy Gayatin—Photos by John Paul Autor from Lifestyle Inquirer.net


Araceli “Arcy” Ancajas Gayatin is the daughter Galileo Ancajas and Remedios Zanoria Ancajas who founded Cebu’s home brand, Gal’s Bakery.  Arcy went to the University of San Carlos and studied Political Science.  And just like Dr. Muccia Prada, who completed her Ph.D. in Political Science and established the luxury line of Prada, Arcy also got in touch with her artistic side and started her own fashion line.  However, it was not Prada that influenced Arcy.  Arcy was introduced to fashion and tailoring at a very young age by her mother, Madame Remedios Anacajas whom they dearly call Mama Eme.  Mama Eme was running a tailoring business back then.  It was called Arabel; named after Arcy and her sister Belma.  Ara from Araceli and Bel from Belma.  In those years, Arcy was fascinated by fabrics and was intrigued by how to manipulate the fabrics to come up with fashion-forward designs without compromising comfort and taste.


Arcy Gayatin (photo grabbed from Space Philippines Blog Spot)


After 37 years of creating haute couture pieces for the most fashionable personalities in the Philippines, Arcy Gayatin is now laying down her sketchpads and pens to rest.  As she enjoys her retirement, may be on a cruise to the Bahamas or a holiday to the Swiss Alps, Arcy Gayatin has left the fashion industry a legacy of elegant and edgy clothing ensembles that understand and define the shape of women; without compromising comfort and good taste.


Arcy Gayatin’s Pink Flamingo collection                                               Arcy Gayatin’s Sketch on a Terno


To salute the lady who brought Cebu fashion to the world, a retrospective exhibition of Arcy’s incomparable masterpieces can be seen today at Ayala Center Cebu’s The Gallery; curated by fashion editor and writer, Clint Holton Potestas, and interior and fashion designer, Jul Oliva.


BALANCE.  Arcy Gayatin is known for her perfect symmetrical lines when fabricating.  She knows how to balance edginess and class; understanding well the strength and the finesse of a woman.


RHYTHM.  Arcy’s expertise in draping and fabric manipulation can be seen in how she achieves rhythm between architectural lines and soft fabrics like silk and cashmere.


TEXTURE.  With her thorough knowledge on fabrics, Arcy Gayatin has achieved the perfection of fabrication by working on different types of fabrics and creating a single piece of art out of them. 


HARMONY.  The simplicity of the silhouette plus the intricacy of the details create a wonderful harmony, making Arcy Gayatin’s design a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.


The photos below show an up-close look at the intricacy and the exquisite craftsmanship of Arcy Gayatin’s fabrication techniques:


THE SPIDER WEB:  one of Arcy’s genius fabrication techniques.


MATCH and PATCH:  Arcy’s unique fabrication craft by patching layers of different types of lace and lace patterns


PLEATS: The perfection of symmetry in pleats on silk.


LA ROSE BLEUE:  U.P. student, Danielle Alessandra Deutsch, inspired by the artistry of Arcy Gayatin, designed this midnight blue dress.   The cabbage rose made from layers of silk organdy gave this evening ensemble a romantic appeal.

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