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Five minute breather with Alex Salvador

Alex Salvador has always been active, but not in the traditional sense of pounding the pavement or lifting weights at the gym – he moves to a different beat. Working at JCU, Alex also conducts drum circles all throughout North Queensland – something that sees him forever moving. But some recent advice from the doctor saw him take his activity up a notch and he’s shed nearly 8kgs in six weeks just by making some slightly better choices.

“I’m feeling great, now fitting well into many of my old clothes that were once too tight. The bonus is my dog has shed a couple of kilos too!”

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Occupation: I work full-time at James Cook University and also run a business called The Rhythm Connection that facilitates drum circles all over North Queensland.

Alex-Salvador-canoeHow are you getting going at the moment? Where to start? At the moment I walk my big dog every day for about 4kms (sometimes a bit more) along Riverside Boulevard. I build African drums – that takes a lot of physical work – and facilitate drum circles, which involves moving, setting up and packing up about 50 drums at various venues across North Queensland. I paddle my canoe along Ross River, although not as often as I would like to. I am also into gardening and I’m proud to say that I have an Aibika garden [a PNG green vegetable] that many Papua New Guineans and Pacific Islanders would simply want to raid.

Check out this video of Townsville’s Biggest Drum Circle with Alex Salvador and more than 1400 students at St. Anthony’s Catholic College:

What activity makes you the happiest and why? Music makes me the happiest: It brings me to a world where I am totally free. I imagine it’s similar to what a surfer experiences when he catches the perfect wave or a skydiver feels during free-fall. When I play music, it’s like the laws of this universe are erased – gravity loses its pull, colours are amplified and the vibrations of the instrument seep through me like water through cloth. It’s the best natural high. Playing music – whether it’s on piano, drums, guitar, Kamele N’goni (African Harp), clarinet, didgeridoo, Armenian duduk etc – really centres me and I often feel totally re-energised after a period of time playing instruments.

Have you always been active? Physically active, yes, but not necessarily in sports. If gardening, canoeing, building drums, facilitating drum circles, playing music are considered active, then YES!

Are you a morning or afternoon mover? I am an all-day mover. My day often starts around 5am with a walk, then tend to the garden, I then make the kids’ breakfast and their lunches. Then I go to work where I am involved in supporting international students, organising and running all kinds of events. Evenings are times for music and food, and on the weekends I’m often performing at gigs around town.

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What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend in Townsville? Spending time with the family fishing, gardening, cooking good food, slacklining with the kids (newfound thrill although I am hopeless at it), or sitting back and watching a good movie.

Your most motivating tune? As a music lover I don’t have one single most motivating tune. Anything away from the mainstream and pop music motivates me to move and do stuff. Salsa, Jazz, North African, Brazilian, and even classical music, motivate me to move.

Motivational quote? “Time bows down to authentic commitment and stretches to accommodate it” – Will Hewett

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Photo by Visual Echo Photography.

How do you pep yourself up when you’re craving the couch? I don’t. I listen to my body and if it says “go rest” then I do. I am a very motivated person and I do things because I want to do them. I don’t attempt to do anything I don’t want to do because that is just a waste of my precious time.

Do you prefer to get active solo, or with a buddy? I mostly prefer to get physically active solo. Walking the dog or climbing the hill behind Riverside Gardens are a fantastic way to get fit and to have ‘me’ time. It’s amazing how much clarity I have in my mind after a long solo walk (well, with the dog).

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Most annoying fitness fad? When people stop eating real food and substitute it with powdered shakes full of unknown substances.

What’s your greatest fitness achievement? Losing almost 8kgs in about six weeks. I’m turning the big 4-0 this year and during a routine check-up the doc warned me about a couple of concerning results to do with cholesterol and advised that I was a bit on the heavy side. I reduced my food serving portions (comfortably), cut back a bit on the rice (Asian background, you know), increased the intake of the good stuff (vegies, nuts, pulses, fish), cut back on alcohol, started drinking more water and walking the dog. In about six weeks I have managed to drop almost 8kgs, bringing me to the healthy range on the BMI scale. I’m feeling great, now fitting well into many of my old clothes that were once too tight. The bonus is my dog has shed a couple of kilos too!

1002910_10201170833686527_2127774220_nWhat activity have you always wanted to try (and what’s holding you back)? Can’t think of any: If I want to try something, I go and do it!

What’s something we don’t know about you? From 2009 to 2012, I was majorly hooked on the hobby of metal detecting for old coins and relics. I have a YouTube channel (under a secret alias) showing all the great stuff that I have found.

What’s your next goal? Start weights training to get more strength.

What are you doing to get there? I’m starting it! I have some free weights at home and use a plank of wood propped up on a milk crate as an incline bench.

Most embarrassing moment on the go? Can’t think of one….

Most treasured piece of fitness gear? My shoes!

My best local fitness tip is… Climb the hills behind James Cook University – there are some amazing views from up top! There are many access points including near the water tower at Riverside Ridge.

Tell us a joke (why not?) What did the number 0 say to the number 8? – “Nice belt!”

Last words? In my personal experience, deciding to get fit and healthy and lose weight is the critical point. Until the point that I decided to act, I was always finding excuses not to exercise. I don’t exercise to ‘look good’: I do it to have a healthy life so that I can do all the things I love doing (e.g. playing music and spending time with family).

Learn more about Alex in this ABC Open report.

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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