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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mad about fitness

By Zenaida Serrano
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Freda Feng participates with others in the Insanity DVD workout at Asylumís Chinatown spot. Asylum has more than 40 participants coming to its two sites and has plans to expand its free workout classes to other O'ahu communities.

Photos by ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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5 p.m. beginner/intermediate, 6 p.m. advanced, Sundays at Mānoa Gym

7 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays in Chinatown

Free; $2 donations welcome per workout session

Details: asylumhawaii@gmail.com or www.asylumhawaii.com

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Asylum coach Chris Loo says the group aims to help the community by creating a culture of fitness.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Insanity is one of the Beachbody fitness programs used by Asylum.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Makiko Yamade works out to Insanity, a two-month total-body conditioning program, at Asylumís Chinatown site.

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You don't have to be crazy to be part of Asylum, but maybe a little off the rocker to want to take part in its Insanity fitness program.

Asylum is a local group of independent coaches who provide free workout classes in Mānoa and Chinatown using fitness DVDs by a company called Beachbody; programs include Brazil Butt Lift, Hip Hop Abs and the cardio-intensive Insanity (the Asylum team based its name on this program).

"The reason why we like Insanity is ... it is fun because it's challenging," said coach Chris Loo, 29, of Kāne'ohe. "The other reason why we like it is because it's so hard, it offers the opportunity for people to challenge themselves regardless of their fitness level."

Bernie Amado, 52, has been participating in Asylum's workout groups since November. Amado said she likes that the classes are free and that each class is only about an hour long.

"It worked really good with my schedule because this is something I can do as a busy, single mom," said Amado, of Kāne'ohe.

Since January, Amado has lost 20 pounds on the Insanity workout ó a two-month total-body conditioning program in which participants perform long bursts of maximum-intensity exercises with short periods of rest.

"Now I'm addicted," Amado said and laughed.

More than workout enthusiasts, Asylum coaches feel a greater responsibility to help the community fight obesity and its related diseases ó high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease, Loo said.

Their approach includes a focus on community involvement and teamwork.

"We really want to help people to be able to realize the importance of getting in shape, and also realize it's not as hard as they think," Loo said. "We believe that to really make a change in not just one person's life but in many people's lives, we basically have to create a culture because if it's a part of the culture, then people will do it."

Asylum's "fit culture" movement is about having fun, creating camaraderie and making lifelong changes to improve health, Loo said.

Jason Antolin, who became a coach with Asylum in June of last year, said the friendships he's formed has been one of the greatest rewards ó that, and going from 220 pounds to 173 pounds.

"It's much more enjoyable doing it as a group rather than solo," said the Kalihi resident and bank loan analyst, 29. "I like the fact that we stick together, take care of each other and encourage each other."

Asylum is made up of about seven coaches and more than 40 participants at its two sites. Camaraderie among the group is encouraged even after classes, with members meeting up for frozen yogurt or beach outings.

Asylum aims to spread its fit culture movement into each community, with hopes to expand its classes from Mānoa and Chinatown to Hawai'i Kai, Pearl City, Mililani and Kapolei, as well.

"Fit culture is something that we hope will take root and gain steam, gain some popularity," Loo said.

Opening up classes to the public at no cost is one way Asylum hopes to reach as many people as possible; participants are not expected to purchase the Beachbody DVDs used during workouts.

"We offer free workouts because we believe that maintaining good health is the most important decision you can make in your life," Loo said. "We don't want you to have an excuse not to come. We don't want you to feel pressured into coming. And of course, we want a lot of people to work out with because it's just more fun."

To follow her on Twitter: @ZenaidaSerrano.