By Nitipol Kiravanich
October 1st, 2021 — Students at the Asian Institute of Technology are motivated to exercise while studying online at home or at dorm room through a virtual exercise, led by a Thai celebrity fitness coach, Mickey Allapach, every Friday throughout October.
The virtual exercise is part of activities provided by AIT Office of Student Affairs (OSA), in collaboration with AIT Student Union, titled ‘AIT Healthy Lifestyle Series’ which aims to keep students healthy and happy while waiting for in-person classes to resume. The exercise consists of five sessions, covering Fundamental Movement; Progression; Intensity to Complex; More Athletic; and Talk Session to highlight the benefit of staying healthy.
The first session, which took place on October 1st, was attended by many active students from different places and different disciplines, but having the same goal of staying healthy. The basic movement covered in this session was easy enough for the participants to follow, while making some sweat and run out of breath. The next sessions will build up more intensity and more sweat to come, as well as health and nutrition-related topics will be further expanded.
Dr. Kamonkanok Kiatisakchai (Kamille), Director of the Office of Students Affairs (OSA), said in her opening remarks that outdoor workouts are safer than exercising inside a gym during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, international students have to undergo 14 day-quarantine as soon as they’ve arrived in the country and study online in their rooms. While this necessary measure keeps AIT Community safe, being indoors without doing any physical activities could cause the students some stress. Dr. Kamille believes that apart from Counselling Service offered to students, physical exercise could be good for both physical and mental health.
“This (virtual exercise) will be beneficial to our students,” Dr. Kamille concluded, adding that it’s a privilege to have the expert coach with a long list of credentials to lead. Before joining the session, students are requested to complete Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) comprised of 7 checklists assessing physical readiness, so that it is safe and effective for students to participate.
The Strength and Conditioning Coach, Allapach (Mickey) Na Pombhejara, remarked that he is thankful to be leading the exercise, also willing to answer questions relating to fitness, exercise, and nutrition.
During the Q & A section, Aashiyana Adhikari, Master's student in the Gender and Development Studies (GDS) program, commented “today is really fun”. She raised a question of the kind of exercise that is suitable for a person with a pear-shaped body who may be reluctant to work the lower body, while mentioning that she routinely does High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Coach Mickey pointed that there is no one size fits all program for any specific types of body, however, doing HIIT every day should be reduced to 2 – 3 times per week. He further suggested that it is better to do the whole-body exercise, without focusing on one specific part of the body. One matter the Strength and Conditioning Coach highlighted is for students to balance their calories intake.
Amm Tippawong, PhD student from the School of Management (SOM), commented that the session was great and useful as well. The PhD student asked whether an hour of exercise is sufficient for people who sit in front of a computer all day, which the prominent coach replied daily exercise is recommended. Furthermore, he advised students to take 5 – 10 minutes break every hour for stretching, adding the notion here is to stay active during the day.
With the recommendation of exercising 30 minutes to 1 hour per day, Coach Mickey stated, “when we talk about exercising it could be accumulated for example 10 minutes in the morning, following by another 10 minutes in the afternoon and evening.”
Mr. Allapach (Mickey) Na Pombhejara is a Sports Scientist, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Health & Fitness Educator/ Consultant, who received a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Exercise and Sports Science in Fitness & Nutrition from Oregon State; Master’s Degree in Exercise Science Field Of Study Strength & Conditioning from Edith Cowan University. He is also a certified nutrition specialist.