Bring A Buddy Day! 17th March 2018

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Saturday 17th March we let our members bring a friend FOR FREE!

Another successful and fun event. What an awesome day to witness the fitness with your favourite buddies 🙂 

Having frequent social events is important to us! On average we have around one social event per month.







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Pherform Launches Metabolic

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As if Pherform couldn’t get any better..

Grab your macro friendly, Metabolic meal on your way out the door or drop by the gym to pick it up.

All meals are based on 300 calories- 50%Protein, 25% Carbs, 25% Fats.

Every meals is organically sourced, no soy, gluten or dairy, packaged in bamboo shoots, and designed by head chef Mike Boyle from Alto Restaurant in Causeway Bay…

Oh and they taste so yummy!



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Bench Mark Day 5th March 2018

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March 5th 2018
We at Pherform had another Benchmark Day where every class is structured for our members to test their limits of maximum strength & metabolic conditioning/ cardiovascular performance. 

Who is ready to test their fitness on the next Benchmark Day?!







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Leslie & Alex Talk Home Cooking in HK

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DIY Nutrition..

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Why is the topic of nutrition so complicated? Why do we have infinite resources at our fingertips, yet have so many question marks over how to eat properly to reach a goal?

In an age where an ever-increasing number of people have Internet access, there is a lack of quality control in the information being put forward. Fitness blogs are like Internet dating; most people are lying, misleading, completely naive or a heavy-set bearded guy named Bruce with a penchant for listening to Kenny G while rubbing oil onto his chest… I’ve digressed.

The point is, in the hustle and bustle of living your busy life, it can be very difficult to get a clear picture of how to eat. Especially when a perfectly framed picture of a hipster glass filled with organic oats, berries, banana, chia seeds, yoghurt and honey can be hash tagged #raw #organic #cleaneating #glutenfree, and yet still be a calorie-dense sugar bomb.

Additionally, it’s very easy to suffer “analysis paralysis” and never start adhering to any kind of nutritional plan until you find the perfect plan. The perfect plan doesn’t exist – in fact, the perfect plan is no plan at all! When you reach a point where you truly understand how your body reacts to different foods and have created a foundation of discipline, then the aim is to enjoy life and eat intrinsically within the boundaries of health and fitness. The only way you will reach this Jedi-level of awareness is to stick to rigid plans and start creating a personal framework. It may take months or years, but it will give you the best return on investment.

Below is a step-by-step process that has given clients and myself huge success over the years. It starts off with some fluffy stuff, but the fluffy stuff is crucial… Grab a pen and paper, a cup of joe and strap in for the long-haul. I can guarantee that following at least some, if not all, of this process will definitely assist in creating a more positive and proactive approach towards nutrition.

What is the focus of undertaking a structured nutrition plan? What do you want to improve: health? Performance? Body composition?

If you don’t have a clear priority from these three streams, that’s fine. I’m yet to meet someone who says they intend on getting fatter, slower and as unhealthy as possible – so let’s assume that there is a unified focus on improving all three simultaneously. Your priority will give context to the plan. If, for example, you have recently received news of significant hormonal issues, then your primary focus should absolutely be focused on improving health rather than on achieving a “thigh gap”.

When do you want to achieve this by? Let me give you a hint – “some time” is a mythical anomaly that unfortunately doesn’t exist. Seek the guidance of someone who specialises in your goal, and ask whether the timeframe is realistic. The key is to make it an acute period that you can confidently see yourself maintaining discipline throughout.

How have you gone so far? If you’ve had previous success losing body fat or improving a health issue in the past following certain principles – great! If on the other hand your goal is to “lose 5kg of fat” and your timeframe is “within 2 weeks”, and you’ve had this goal since 1997, then that’s a different story. We need to be realistic about the objective in the first place! Unless you look at all lifestyle factors, there is a very real chance you will be saying the same thing in 3015. Unless we are robots by then. Better to take some action now just in case. 

Relevant to your goal, get some baseline measurements to help get clarity on where things sit today. 

Health – hormonal profile, blood pressure, cholesterol, stress levels & sleep.
Performance – strength test, endurance test
Body Composition – DXA scan at HKU.

It goes without saying that in order to track progress, you want the best possible technology at your disposal… A dehydrated selfie in a forgiving hotel bathroom mirror with brilliant lighting and a few Instagram filters applied does not count as a true representation of your body. Comparing yourself to this a week later is only going to cause disappointment.

When it comes to your track record of setting a challenging goal and then achieving it – let’s take an honest look at the scoreboard. Are you a bloodthirsty savage who is happy to train until aneurism and eat gluten-free cardboard? Or are you a pacifist stoner who has been wearing the same pyjamas for a few days straight? There’s neither a right nor wrong here, being a bit flaky is natural and doesn’t make you any less of a person. However, if you’re setting a very high goal and placing a difficult timeframe on yourself while having an abysmal track record, re-adjust the goals to something more realistic like “don’t eat pizza for breakfast”… After you have proven to yourself you can stick to smaller, more manageable goals – the bigger ones become much more achievable.

What obstacles will you have to overcome in order to maintain a rigid nutrition plan? Regular work trips to Beijing? Mandatory Wednesday dim sum with the boss? Wild weekend swinger parties in Discovery Bay? Whatever foreseeable situations you have occurring that impede your ability to stick to something 100% – make note of it and take this into consideration. The most thought-out and scientifically validated plans will be futile if you are making considerable deviations based on other commitments.

As far as I am aware, scientology or zen Buddhism will not help you here. What we mean is that you should create a framework you’ll work within, in order to reach your target. This may be paleo, low carb, ketogenic, low fat, vegan… the list goes on. If this is the most confusing step for you, allow me to simplify. Follow the “stop eating sh*t diet”. It always works! This means alcohol, croissants, ice cream and chocolate are definitely out. Completely out! You’ll be amazed at the results just from making this “easy to understand, harder to adhere to” change will make.

Once you’ve become crystal clear on a) what you want to achieve b) when you will achieve this by, and c) navigated through the obstacles – it’s time to start crunching some numbers. If you are allergic to numbers, look away from the screen immediately. Do not make direct eye contact as the below function will almost certainly cause spontaneous combustion.

BMR = 655 + ( 9.6 x weight in kilos ) + ( 1.8 x height in cm ) – ( 4.7 x age in years ) 

Or… you can follow this link and use the calculator by plugging in your weight, height and age (don’t lie!). The resulting number will be an approximate number of calories you need per day to maintain weight, given the variables and activity level. Like all formulas, this isn’t perfect. But it’s the best system we have.

If you wish to lose some junk in your trunk, then we need to lower the daily intake of calories slightly. The term “caloric defect” is essentially ensuring you are taking in less energy than you are spending = fat loss.

As general advice, I like to see women be much more moderate about how many calories they remove initially. The truth is, many will see amazing results even without caloric restriction – just by removing all the crap foods and reducing cellular inflammation.

Try reducing overall calories by 10%-20% initially. If you start seeing noticeable results and feel great, you can always increase this a fraction. There is no point making life harder for yourself by introducing a strict nutritional plan and also going into extreme caloric defect at the same time.

Example: BMR = 1,800 calories for weight maintenance. (20% defect) would = 1440 calories for fat loss.

If you’re still reading this and haven’t been terrified by the calculations, I commend you. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet explained where these calories come from, and I truly believe that the specific source of energy is more important than the total amount itself. It would be completely irresponsible of me to offer you a set macro-nutrient breakdown to follow, everybody responds differently. However there is one universal truth: most people consume way too many carbs, from the wrong carb sources, way too frequently.


If you’re looking for a balanced approach, try: 40% protein / 30% carb / 30% fat

If you’re looking for a low carb approach, try: 50% protein / 10% carb / 40% fat.

****Make sure you calculate this on calories, and NOT molecular weight. Each macronutrient has a different amount of calories per gram of weight.

Protein = 4 calories/gram   Carbohydrates = 4 calories/gram   Fat = 9 calories/gram

Disclaimer: Always seek the advice of physician or registered dietician/nutritionist before undertaking any structured nutrition intake.

Now for the fun part! You will have to set up a spreadsheet and there’s a good chance this will take an hour to two… yet if you’ve struggled with body issues for some time, I cannot think of a better way to invest some minutes.

Remember that “close enough is good enough”. Don’t lose your marbles and avoid starting because you are missing a few grams of protein here or a few extra grams of carbs there. I dare say following this process has defined an intake which is lightyears beyond what you were previously doing. Use the resource for the nutritional breakdown on anything you can imagine. Do not search “chicken nuggets” or “oreos”.



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Alex’s TOP 5 Supplements Intake

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Why Women Should Lift Weights!

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One of the most sinister and limiting myths that women must overcome in order to incorporate a significant amount of weight-training into their fitness routine, is the belief that they’ll end up looking like a cheap cross-dressing version of Arnold Schwarzenegger with a floral skirt and fanny-pack.

Whilst the data around cellular metabolism and body composition slips this belief into the same category as the boogieman and scientology, we still have so many women who are terrified of lifting weights and becoming bulky. We need to do more to educate ladies about how muscle is actually built. With knowledge comes power. Sexy, smooth, aesthetically pleasing power.

As someone who has spent the better part of their life trying to put on as much muscle as possible, and working with many competitors who wish to do the same, allow me to divulge something which is heartbreakingly true:

“Muscle is the hardest thing imaginable to grow, and to even maintain, and the easiest thing to lose.”


Don’t believe me? Go find some dude wearing American flag spandex and a bandana with a lifetime gym membership, and ask him how easy it is to get bulky… After you’ve consoled a weeping man-child for about five minutes, it would be safe to say that even you’ve forsaken your career, relationships and any other interests to gain muscle, it’s still painfully hard to do. So why then do so many women feel like they will be confused for a female bodybuilder just by looking at a dumbbell? The reality is that they have never trained with weights for long enough to know the truth.



  1. You are carrying more body fat then they realise. That fat makes you feel bulky.
  2. There is a temporary inflammation and nitrogen increase in muscle stores when you first start lifting weights. This will give you a very brief “pumped” feeling initially, and many ladies might fear that they’ve doubled their size, so they stop.
  3. Idiot friends. There are lots of people who know nothing about the human body, but have very loud opinions. Sometimes people will tell you that you look bulky simply because they know you are doing weights, or they are jealous. Unfortunately the power of other’s perception confuses many people. Stay strong and keep squatting.





The reason women have such a significant structural difference to men isn’t just due to high quality moisturiser and great styling. Obviously, the two genders have something very different going on internally to create this divide. And the answer lies in the hormonal profiles.

Now whilst there is somewhat of a hormonal spectrum, with “manlier men” and “girlier girls”, the dividing line between the genders is due to specific hormones. Many hormones are at play here: growth hormone, progesterone, oestrogen, but the most “muscle-building” of them all is testosterone. The average male will produce around 6-10mg of testosterone per day. The average female will produce around 0.5mg per day. So without even considering what kind of exercise, or what nutrients you ingest, hormonally women are already somewhere at a 12x to 20x disadvantage when looking at an ability to build muscle. If it were “that easy” to build muscle, every guy would be walking around with 20 inch arms and a barrel-chest. The guys who disagree are lying or have given up.

So when you see an image of a woman with enormous bulging muscles, almost zero body fat and facial hair, trust that along with decades of very specific training and diet, they have most probably used synthetic hormones to get that look.



Keeping things nice and simple, let’s just get one thing clear: muscle and fat are two completely different things. You cannot “turn fat into muscle” or “muscle into fat” anymore than you can turn a pair of 2 dollar flip-flops into Louboutins… It. Cannot. Ever. Happen. Think of muscle as your body’s engine. It is metabolically active tissue, which requires nutrients to sustain itself, and a very specific environment in order to grow. It provides function to the body so you can move and groove. Fat, on the other hand, is stored fuel. It is a dumping ground for all those cheeky daiquiris and afternoon raids of the office pantry. The excess nutrients your body didn’t need to sustain itself go here, and until you increase the use of muscle and give your body somewhat less energy than it needs, the fat’s here to stay.

And what’s the best way to increase the use of muscle? Add weight and do stuff!



Bad (or ‘unsightly’) muscle:
Whilst I am firmly of the belief there is no such thing as bad muscle, I appreciate that cannon-ball shoulders and arms that split shirtsleeves might not be what most women want – and I agree. The only time a female will find that they have increased a significant amount of muscle tissue in a certain body part is due to one or some of these reasons.

  1. They do the same training movements. Think of it this way: If you only ever did overhead pressing movements, and did these very often, eventually you may find that your shoulders look big. No brownie points for guessing why.
  2. Genetics. If you were dealt a strong genetic hand like Serena Williams, then yes, after training you may find you look “bulky”. However rest assured that these genetic beasts are about 1/10,000 of the population at the absolute most and if you are reading this article, you’re probably not one of them.
  3. A lot of sport in formative years. If you were a competitive swimmer, rower, gymnast or the like while going through puberty, then you may find your body tends to respond in muscle growth relative to that sport. That is due to high demands on the body while you were in a hormonal symphony of “weird things happening” for a few years. Never fear, by avoiding a few movements done too frequently you can avoid adding slabs of beef to your back. The further away you are from that period, the less effect it has. And let’s be honest sister, it’s been many a full moon since you were cheerleading captain.

Good muscle:

Creating fuller muscle bellies will ALWAYS give the body better shape. Michelangelo’s David doesn’t resemble a malnourished hipster for a reason. And women are no different! Strong is sexy, and it’s so refreshing to see the shift of women’s health moving away from eating carrot sticks and any exercise apart from walking, to popular trends now glorifying nutrient-dense food and throwing steel around!

Your calves will sit higher, your hamstrings will have a sweep, your butt will be perky and your arms won’t flap around in a strong breeze. Functional muscle looks great on everyone. And forgetting the aesthetic component for a second, let’s not overlook the greatest benefit to building “good muscle” – the health benefits! By strengthening your frame you will improve core strength, and provide balance for life. Of course softer approaches like yoga and pilates are fantastic, but they are essentially using the similar forces of resistance. Putting weights on your back and turning the music up loud is just a “beefed-up” way to do it.



Athletic workouts are usually relating to performance. They can be full-body workouts designed to create a huge metabolic increase and minimise nervous system stress. As long as the workout is well designed and well supervised, these are fantastic! Think kettle bells, power ropes, medicine balls, suspension training.

What woman doesn’t want a well-sculpted ass? There is certainly a time-and-place for very specific body part workouts, where the general idea is to keep tension in a certain muscle or group of muscle as long as possible. Gym equipment is fantastic for this, however, you can mimic the movements with free weights and know-how.

The best training system for an all-rounded approach is to incorporate both. Athletic workouts will increase overall fitness and function, while aesthetic workouts will target certain muscle groups and focus on creating better muscle activation, balance and shape in the body.



Think of all exercise as a “means to an ends”. Of course having fun and enjoying your training is a massive bonus, but essentially we are looking for a tangible return on your energy investment. And “how” we force the body to make changes (get stronger/burn body fat/build functional muscle) is by causing a stress. That stress stimulus requires in adaptation.

The simplified reason as to why weight training trumps any other form of exercise in terms of “best possible results”, is that there are more variables to play with. Simply the act of adding weight means that every time you change rep scheme, amount of sets, tempo or workout routine – you can multiply the variables by an exponential amount by varying the weight also. This means it’s easier to cause a new stress and forces the body to change, faster.

In addition, here’s but a few of the other awesome benefits of weight training:

  • Fix structural imbalances and improve posture
  • Increase metabolism
  • Burn body fat
  • Optimise hormone regulation
  • Improve libido
  • Make you stronger – and feeling strong is an amazing feeling.
  • Make you live longer
  • Improve heart-health & respiratory system
  • Increase bone density and avoid osteoporosis.

To wrap up, whether women should be incorporating weight training into their regime isn’t debatable, it’s simply a fact!

The details of what movements, how much weight, how often is of course something you want some guidance on, seek the counsel of a qualified professional who has a good track-record and learn some basics.

Trust me that in next to no time you will look back on the days you had distorted views on weight training and mumble “what was I thinking?!”. I’m yet to meet anyone who has adopted a well-planned weight-training program and not fallen in love with both the way you look, and feel!

Ditch the stair master machine and lift something!

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6 Booty Exercises Anyone Can Do..

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Who knew there were so many different kinds of squats?!

Squats are just one of those exercises that are similar to step-children… you either love them or hate them. They are hard, damn hard, and for that reason there is a decent percentage of the fitness loving population who have creative stories about bizarre injuries (that never happened) which apparently prevent people from performing them.

Without having a cowboy approach and simply saying “everyone should squat heavy, all day, every day, no excuses”, it’s important to recognise that for some people there may be some limitations. That said, if you can sit on a toilet you can squat. If you don’t sit on the toilet, you obviously have some kind of gymnastic talent that allows your “aerial approach” to work effectively – and I commend you. So if you are able-bodied and are looking to build a strong, functional, aesthetic physique, “squatting on the reg” is a good idea.

Here are six fun squat variations, using both bodyweight and common fitness equipment. They are roughly listed ranging in degree of difficulty, so start at number one and work your way through.

1. Bodyweight squats


The gateway into squatting – getting the mechanics right from day one is crucial.

Stand with feet just outside shoulder width with your toes pointed slightly out. Break your hips backwards like you’re backin’ on up to some latin guy in a nightclub and keep sitting back up and down.

It’s very important that you don’t hinge from the knees first, as it will cause most people to bend forwards with the torso to remain balanced. If we are sticking with the nightclub analogy of hip movement, think “subtle, not slutty”.

2. Bulgarian split squats

Bulgarian split squats are a lunge movement, with the back foot elevated. This really targets the glutes and hamstrings hard of the front leg, and adds the complexity of a balance issue.

Make sure to lower the back knee to the floor, and drive directly up through a flat front foot. Aim for a 90 degree bend in both the front and back leg.

3. Sissy squats

Funny name, painfully effective. These can be employed at any stage of a leg workout and are fantastic at isolating the quads.

Grabbing something, or someone, to balance – sit on your toes and focus on driving the knees forwards and down. Keep the hips high and back tight, lowering down slowly until you reach a depth that gives an outrageous stretch in the quads.

This is great to help develop a quad “sweep” and makes you look like a 17 year old female track star.

4. Pistol squats


Another ridiculous name, another very challenging exercise. Essentially a pistol squat is a one-legged squat, requiring both stabilisation and a whole bunch of weight on one leg.

To ease into these, use a bench-top, a partner, a TRX, or something to help make balance less of an issue and give a slight advantage with weight. As you get stronger and more confident, do it without any aides and ensure that you lower under control to a full depth.

Hot tip: Try to resist the urge to perform these balancing on weird pieces of equipment on a rocky cliff face somewhere… These are an Instagram diva’s go-to selfie moment, but the bizarre set-ups don’t usually offer any benefit to the exercise and just make it plain risky. Try explaining the broken ankle on Monday morning when you were attempting a pistol squat on top of a coconut, on top of a fire hydrant.

5. Barbell front squats


More challenging on core strength than a standard barbell back squat, you should only progress to these when mastering the former.

There are several set-ups in order to hold the bar, depending on shoulder mobility and strength. This will not only feel much more difficult than a back squat, but the bar tends to make you feel like you are being choked a little while performing it. Some girls dig that, some don’t.

6. Zercher squats


Are you sadistic and enjoy WTF looks in the gym? Great! Do these!

The bar sits on the front side of the body and just above the hip – this awesome squat variation will build a super strong lower back and strong glutes.

Hook the bar in an elbow crease and lock arms together. Sit the hips back and avoid having the bar dropping the torso forwards (stay upright). Don’t worry about going too heavy, the important thing is to maintain control and upright posture throughout the rep range.

This movement will definitely earn serious gym cred and confused looks from dudes who feel their manhood being threatened by your advanced squat techniques. Unfortunately the skin on your arms may take a beating. Think of it as aggressive exfoliation with a slight chance of tetanus infection.

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Pherform Promote Strong!

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We promote “strong” from the moment you walk into our front door.

Strong body, strong mind, strong community.

Only a few years ago our Administration Manager @jezlifts was allergic to exercise!

At the risk of making sweeping generalisations – she was a “typical” young Chinese girl. Scared of lifting weights, eating horrible food, and believing that the best way to improve her body would be through starvation calories and excessive cardio.

Leap forward to now: she has a six pack all-year-round, eats like a horse, has plenty of “social meals”, and trains with heavy weights regularly.

Oh, and she just broke three Hong Kong National Powerlifting Records in her first ever competition on Sunday!



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Fitness Myths You Should Definitely Read..

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Never before has there been so much information and general awareness about the infinite benefits of healthy living as there is today. With the speed of information sharing we have available, the world is currently in what I refer to as the “health renaissance”.

And how can this be a bad thing? Well the unfortunate problem is that most of our information is derived from the internet, meaning that a 15 year old chubby kid in Poland has a fancy blog and some pretty pictures – therefore an expert about whatever they are writing about.

To combat the confusion, we have put together a list of the 10 biggest fitness myths! Should you hear any of these words being uttered out of a “fitness person’s” mouth, run for the hills, sister!

“This exercise is great for removing body fat from here…”
Oh! How many women would love to be able to wave a magic wand and get rid of flappy arms or a little extra junk in the trunk? The truth is, muscle and fat are very different matter. If you carry excess body fat, you want to use as much muscle mass as possible when training to burn through it.

Think: fat = fuel, muscle = engine

Irrespective of where the fuel (fat) is held, it needs to be burned, and it’s by using movements which utilise as much of that engine (muscle) as possible that will tap into fat stores all over the body. So you want to see more definition in your arms? SQUAT!

“Cardio is the most effective way to lose body fat.
Lies! The famous line used by fitness people who really don’t understand how fat is oxidised and will be the first to perish should the zombie apocalypse come. There is no “perfect system”, everything has a time and a place. Your objective should be to stress the body, as often as possible, in as many different ways as possible. Using weights (resistance training) is therefore far easier to change variables (weight, tempo, sets, reps etc.) and far more effective for burning fat if done correctly.

“Protein bars are a great meal substitute!
As much as you’re probably slapping the computer screen with disgust right now, those tasty little treats aren’t as good for you as you may think. Sure, they have some protein. But even that is in its most refined state. The companies who make these are ninjas at disguising the harsh nutritional details in a sea of clever marketing, and often you will find they are the nutritional equivalent of sprinkling some protein powder on top of a Mars Bar. Sorry, girls.

“Lifting weights will make you bulky!
No, pizza and margaritas make you bulky. It’s true that lifting weights too regularly, in single-plane movements – may lead to minimal amount of muscle growth where it’s noticeable and not wanted (in extreme cases only!). But honestly, every great bikini model uses a majority of resistance training in their regime. Muscle is very difficult to build and very easy to lose, but unfortunately so many people never receive the health and body benefits by doing weights through the fear that is perpetuated. Just look around in a busy gym… fat people reading magazines on the stair master while that little Puerto Rican pocket-rocket in booty shorts is tearing up the weight room! Get involved.

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