Miguel ‘Ige’ Lopez has always been a sporty person and grew up to become a fitness enthusiast. He started an active lifestyle at a young age, playing many sports, from basketball and golf to mountain climbing - which is how he discovered his love for the outdoors.
After college, Lopez truly fell in love with nature. As part of a professional mountaineering group (AMCI), their team was required to run a 5 km race as part of their training. “It was that race that ignited my passion for running. That passion grew and led me to do triathlons, adventure racing, mountain biking, road-bike races, road and trail run races all over the country and even abroad,” says Lopez. He even completed one of the world's hardest races, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc which is roughly a 170km long marathon.
He is now amongst the top, most sought after, running coaches in the country and constantly advocates for healthy lifestyles. Take a look at our one-on-one chat to get his professional advice on how to get into shape!
Philippine Tatler: Could you tell me how you got into the fitness business?
Ige Lopez: As I continued racing and training, my friends starting asking me for tips and advice on how to achieve their fitness or racing goals. It wasn't something I planned, but that's how I started coaching. I guess, people started noticing the results and they learned about my coaching simply through word of mouth. Currently, I am a triathlon/running coach for age-groupers, several teams, and some companies.
PT: What is it about running that you love?
IL: The feeling of freedom. The ability to go move as fast or as slow as you please, to go wherever you want and just enjoy the time with yourself, away from stress, obligations, deadlines, etc.
PT: How many times a week should someone exercise?
IL: Exercising should be done everyday and try to allot 1-3hrs each day. Of course, you should start small, and take time to build up the training time per week so you don't burn out or get injured.
PT: Why is it important to not only change your diet but also exercise, and not only excise but also watch your diet?
IL: Being healthy does not always mean being fit. A healthy person may be properly nourished and has no illness, but he may not be able to finish a 5km run. While a fit person may be able to finish a marathon, but has high cholesterol because of poor dietary choices. Again, it is all about balance. That should always be the goal- to be able to keep a balanced diet, while consistently training and working out. We do not want to be training and priming your engine to its optimum potential, but we take in more junk food than healthy stuff, so in the long run, health and fitness become unsustainable.
PT: How does someone find out what workout is best for them?
IL: Experiment on what exercise works for you. For me cardio training is best, balanced with a good mix of strengthening and core. Find something that you can sustain and do for the long haul. For me, strengthening your heart (cardio) and working on your strength/core is best, as both are sustainable even as you get older.
PT: How can someone know if they are pushing themselves too much?
IL: You may be pushing too much if you start getting sick often (low immune system), finding it difficult to sleep, losing the motivation, getting injured often and not liking to train/workout or feeling burnt out.
PT: What do you say to someone who says they are too busy to workout?
IL: It's all about prioritizing it and making sure you remain dedicated to your goal everyday.
PT: If someone does not want to spend to join a gym or a fitness studio, what advice do you have for them?
IL: Go outside! Run outdoors, hike mountains, ride a bike, bike commute, anything that can motivate you to move and enjoy while doing it.
PT: What advice do you have for people who are trying to get fit but are having a hard time, for people who feel like giving up?
IL: It's all about setting your priorities straight. Health is definitely wealth. It is important for us to include our fitness and health regimen in our daily schedule. Make time for it like you would for your family, work, and other commitments. Being healthy and fit actually makes you a better person- a better spouse, parent, worker etc. Do it not just for yourself, but also for the people you love.
PT: Tips or advice for people who need to lose weight?
IL: First, always try to achieve balance. Remember: what you put in vs what you put out. I believe in having a balanced diet. I don't believe in depriving oneself of certain kinds of food. I eat anything and everything, but always in moderation. Second, hydrate often throughout the day. Third, be consistent in working out. It is better to do short workouts daily than one single but long workout per week. People always ask me when the best time to workout is. I always tell them to try to get in a workout whenever you feel the most energetic- whether it be in the morning, afternoon or evening. It is best to have a fixed time per day for training or working out – a routine. Lastly, try to join races. That will definitely keep you on your toes throughout the year.
PT: Why do you love being healthy and how do you motivate yourself to workout and be healthy all the time?
IL: Ever since my mom died of diabetes at the age of 54, it has become my goal to always keep myself healthy. My mom's passing shook me and made me commit to be fit and healthy so that I can see my children grow and get to enjoy life more with them. I get motivated to train by signing up for races that challenge me and inspire me at the same time.
PT: Do you recommend that someone has a step tracker or a fitness gadget?
Step trackers or gadgets such as GPS watches can really be helpful since you can actually train/workout anywhere you are, plus you can easily upload and track your progress online.
PT: Is stretching actually important pre and post workout?
IL: Stretching is more important post workout than pre workout. Before workouts, it is best to just jog/easy running and wait for your heart rate to go up naturally. Once you start sweating a bit and you feel you need to stretch then you may do so. Doing dynamic stretches (arm swings,side bends, hip circles/twists, lunges, leg swings, jumping jacks, burpees, etc) are also preferable over static stretching.