No pain, No gain

The Soap Squad after a game of touch rugby - Health and Medical Services Minister, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete is lying on the ground in the middle. Picture: SUPPLIED

WE all have our moments of tiredness and even laziness from juggling with work, friends, family and trying to be physically fit.

It can be tough as we grow older but for this group of individuals, they know exactly how hard it can be at times to keep motivation for training on a high.

Known as the ‘Soap Squad’ the belief is that at the end of the day, “You’re, the most important person in your life”.

Squad member and fitness instructor, Usaia Cirikiwai Moli says if you’re healthy and happy, then you will be more productive in anything you do, may it be at home or at work.

According to Usa, as he is commonly known, the group was formed back in January during a regular touch rugby session.

“Most of us played rugby during our early days but have left all regular exercise for far too long,” Usa said.

“We wanted to put more structure into casual touch rugby to encourage and empower individuals that join us.

“We have a 45-minute session of rugby touch at Albert Park or at the helipad opposite Government House with 10-15 min core abs exercise. A medical check-up was done three times this year so that we can monitor our progress.

“We also have tried different diet plans this year to help us with our targets,” he said.

Usa said anyone is welcome and they (the squad) even have those that do their walks and only join the group for abs exercise.

“On any given day, our number can reach five to 70. Everyone is welcome and age ranges from 20 to 50 plus.”

When questioned about how the group got its name ‘The Soap Squad’, Usa said the name was coined by the current Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete who is also a regular member.

“Because we were all unfit and continuously dropping the ball as if we were handling a slippery soap, he related to us a Tongan friend who often called anyone who dropped the ball “soap falla”. The name stuck and when we were asked to name the group, it was the only choice,” Usa said.

He says individuals, family and companies need to invest in their health as Fiji has become a hub for NCD related disease.

Usa who also hosts Zumba exercises at the YMCA says most aerobic activity or exercise causes you to breathe faster and more deeply, which maximises the amount of oxygen in your blood.

Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs.

“The better your aerobic fitness, the more efficiently your heart, lungs and blood vessels transport oxygen throughout your body — and the easier it is to complete routine physical tasks and rise to unexpected challenges, such as climbing up those steps when the lifts stop working.

“Aerobic activity includes any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases your heart rate. Try walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, Zumba, rugby touch, etc”.

He says discipline and consistency is the key to a successful fitness journey.

“My personal belief is that you must give your body the respect and attention it deserves so it may respond to the demand we bestow upon it. This means regular exercise, keeping hydrated, healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.”

As for diet, Usa is urging everyone to stay away from processed food. “We are so blessed with the healthy food around us yet we stuff ourselves with these junk all the time.

“We tried out a few diets this year and the one that produces the most change is the Ketogenic Diet.”

Usa says that the funny thing is that the oldest person in the group was the one that lost the most weight during the year.

“It was his consistency in training and diet that saw him drop from 164kg to 124kg to 117kg. “It’s a welcome challenge to us that if he can do it, then anyone can.

“It will take every ounce of discipline that you can master, every centimetre more that you can run, every minute more than you
can push yourself so you may achieve your target.

“You are provided with an opportunity every day to go an extra mile, you may choose to do it at home, at work, in the
community but we ask that you also do it for yourself so you may be more productive in every essential part of your life.

The Fiji Times IT personnel, Edward Foster says being part of the squad has built a competitive mindset that pushes him to
level-up to someone that has the fitness level he wants to be on.

“I’ve become committed to making sure I attend the lunch hour sessions and the days I miss out I feel I’ve let myself down,” Mr
Foster said.

“Fourty fives minutes of touch rugby is good but the 15 minutes of core exercise is like the cherry on top of the cake,” he said.

“We had a man who was 60-years-old who had joined us and I was very impressed also looking at myself if my current lifestyle
would allow me to be that active when I reach that age.”

Mr Foster said diet is everything and if we can all get that right it will make the journey to achieving our fitness goals so much
easier and he jokingly said he hopes when he grows up in 2019 he can listen to his own advice.

Sefanaia Tudonu who is an Executive Adviser to Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji said most of the squad members have experienced an improvement in their health, dropped a few kilos, being productive at work and have a positive outlook on life.

“During the long weekends, we try and get together on Saturday or the holiday to play touch and we encourage each other to
come down to the grounds everyday, eat healthy food and live a healthy lifestyle,” Mr Tudonu said.

“We want to encourage our other brothers within Suva’s CBD to join us in the fight against NCDs.

“We are most thankful to SCC for allowing us to use Albert Park and the honourable Minister for Health, Dr Waqainabete, who
provides us with health advice and has facilitated a number of health checks for the whole group.”

Meanwhile, Usa said you can choose to sacrifice your lunch hour to come to burn some calories with the squad every lunch

“So while formulating your New Year resolution, why not include the Soap Squad in your wish list?”

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