Beating and whipping long, thick, anchored battle ropes, dancer and TV host Iya Villania works out like a man. Having grown-up in Australia where sports is a lifestyle, the 28-year-old Kapuso star prefers a program that is tough but fun.
The battle ropes workout is popular abroad and with artistas because it conditions the upper body, improves posture and coordination and burns calories big time. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning reports that 10 minutes of slamming those heavy ropes to create waves boosts the heart rate and cardiorespiratory conditioning.
That’s just one of the Villania’s many exercises at Functional Fitness gym. She also builds strength by pushing and pulling a sled with 95 kg plates. Dragging it backwards targets the butt and back of the thighs, and shoving it forward exercises the top of the thighs and the upper body. In fact, any traditional exercise can be used on the weighted sled to pump up strength or to relieve the boredom of routine.
Upper body strength
While women tend to be weak in the upper body, Villania can easily hoist herself on a high bar. She can do 10 repetitions of pull-ups, an exercise performed mostly by men to build the back muscles and biceps.
Villania works out for a couple of hours in the morning, depending on her fitness goals. “Everyday is a different program. It varies if it’s conditioning for a race or just maintenance,” she says.
“On a scale of 10, she’s a nine,” says trainer Royan Hernandez of Functional Fitness gym. “She can easily carry loads that are heavier than her bodyweight (Villania weighs 51.6 kg).
When Villania first enrolled at the gym she was already physically conditioned. However, she tended to slouch. Hernandez created a program to correct the shoulder retraction muscles that caused the hunch. He gave exercises to strengthen the rhomboids and trapezius, those upper back muscles that move the shoulder blades.
We tease her that she exercises like a maniac. Villania replies with a smile, “I am quite a maniac. It makes me feel good. It’s something that I have control of. No one can take that away from me. It gives me a sense of fulfillment, knowing that I’m strengthening my machine, my body.”
Variety is what makes exercise a joy rather than a tedious discipline. “I get entertained like working out my core using different props, exercising with weighted balls and going around the track area.”
The vigorous workouts show in her toned arms. Villania attributes the muscle cuts to pre-exhaust technique in weight training. In this method, she performs exercises solely for the arms first before doing exercises that involve more muscle groups. The principle is that arms get an overload first so that the other muscles don’t get exhausted. She can then exercise more.
“It’s important to have a trainer. He can plan your program for the day. If you’re tired, you’ll work on a lighter load,” she says.
For relaxation, her tight muscles are released with a special roller to straighten out the knots in her body.
She also engages in Core Kinesis, a program that uses equipment with adjustable cables to exercise the center of the body. With her strong core training, she can perform challenging choreographies such as aerials and hanging on poles in noontime variety shows.
During the interview, Villania was girding for the Ironman 70.3 in Vietnam. The original plan was just to cheer on her husband, fellow Kapuso star Drew Arellano, and celebrate their anniversary as a couple. She ended up preparing for the event—running, biking and swimming for several hours a week.
Like most artistas, she has her food delivered; ichef Concepts makes a customized meal plan for her fitness goals. However, Villania admits she still cheats on rice and desserts such as vanilla ice cream with banana or fries.
Aside from her television commitments, Villania has been one of Watsons more popular endorsers.
“I use their wet wipes at work. They’re handy. I also use their Foot Ease to help relieve discomfort when standing long hours.”
All told, Villania likes to start her day with a workout; everything else follows.