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How antigravity yogi Nik Blancaflor keeps buoyant and fit.

Those yearning to learn about acrobatics a la Cirque du Soleil need not fly all the way to Las Vegas. It can be done right here in Manila. Best of all, frequent practice will make you fit enough to excel in it.

The practice is called Flying Fitness, and one of its instructors is Nik Blancaflor. As a yoga and rock climbing enthusiast, he found the perfect mix in AntiGravity Yoga (AGY).

Blancaflor teaches Flying Fitness at a studio called I Go Beyond Yoga in Libis, Quezon City. The 29-year-old athlete has been rock climbing with the national team since 2010 and practicing AGY since 2012, when it was introduced to the Philippines.

My first-ever award in preschool was 'most active,' recalls Blancaflor. I knew then that I was more hyper than all the other kids and couldn't be tied down to a desk job. I had to do and experience things that really interested me.

The increased body awareness Blancaflor acquired from climbing inspired him to embrace other physical activities such as Frisbee and aerial yoga. Engaging in sports has also broadened his understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the human body.

AGY is a practice that was designed for assisted inventions that decompress the spine, while Flying Fitness is a suspension workout that also complements decompression, he says.

Daily stretch

If I had to describe myself in three words, these would be dynamic, adventurous and passionate.

My love for AGY stems from how I am fascinated with the body's dynamics and motion, that it can do a lot of things we're not even aware of. It just amazes me how this can be available for everyone.

Fitness for me is a way of life. It also affects your principles of seeing things differently.

What I love most about my job is I get to challenge myself to learn more about my students and inspire them with what they're capable of, even if they don't know it yet. Plus, the energy that fills the room during every class just keeps on motivating me.

The most interesting student I've encountered at the yoga studio is one who had a hips over shoulders dyslexia. The moment her hips go higher than her shoulders (because of inversions), she gets highly disoriented that she blacks out. I was challenged to learn more about this case and was able to make her come back to class.

My youngest students are two years of age. Back in 2012, when we launched AGY in the country, we came up with a class called AntiGravity Kids. The class was like a day care center full of children, which made it more fun!

My favorite reaction from students who tried my class is when they say it really feels good on their backs and that they're eager to attend more classes.

My favorite saying is make each day count. Life's a gift and I don't intend to waste it.

When not teaching, I climb a lot, play Ultimate Frisbee and travel. The travel part is because of the climbing. I've been part of the Philippine Sport Climbing Team since 2010, so I get to compete in and out of the country. But mainly I do it to experience different climbing scenes around the globe. Also, because of that, I've built friendships around the world. I feel blessed that when I go to Europe, North America (Canada and United States) and Asia, I get to see friends, and they host me in their city. I get to experience life the local way, not just as a tourist but as a traveler.

High performance

When it comes to grooming, I can say that I'm not really vain. To cleanse my body, I use Safeguard and Head and Shoulders or Clear antidandruff shampoo, because after a climb, my head gathers dust and dirt and becomes dry. I use Colgate for my teeth, Gillette Mach 5 when I shave and Platinum Secret for my deodorant. I bring Hawaiian Tropic sunblock SPF 50 for my climbs.

At night, no matter how late I get home I brush my teeth and wash my face even if I feel that I'm going to crash in bed.

To relax, I indulge in a massage to ease the tension from my body and to let it recuperate from all the activity. I usually have a two-hour massage till I feel like I don't want to move anymore, ever.

Stay cool

Blancaflor's active lifestyle keeps his scalp exposed to sun and sweat, leaving it dry and irritated. For such problems, try using products made for men like Aveda Men Pure-Formance Exfoliating Shampoo (P1,700).

Used once a week, it removes dull, dead skin cells, excess oil, product buildup and other surface impurities. Made with 100 percent naturally derived exfoliates of walnut shells and jojoba beads, it calms, soothes and relieves a dry, irritated scalp.

You can also try Aveda's Men Pure-Formance Conditioner (P1,700), a botanically based daily hair-care product that soothes, protects and relieves the scalp while cleansing, conditioning and adding shine to hair.

These products are available at the newly opened Aveda store in Greenbelt 5, in SM Makati and in Basement Salon, Shangri-La Plaza.

Nik's choice products come from supermarkets nationwide.

Follow Nik on Instagram @nokers14 or check out the AntiGravity class through I Go Beyond Yoga's Twitter and Instagram: @igobeyondyoga/ @igobeyondyoga.

Visit Units 8-9, 3/F, Richmond Centre, 8001 E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., Bagumbayan, Quezon City. Visit, Facebook: I Go Beyond Yoga.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:May 8, 2015
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