For those wanting a more personal experience, look no further than Focus Athletics Alabang
By Eric Nicole Salta | Photos by Samantha Ong
Focus Athletics’ newest branch in Alabang isn’t one to shy away from experimentation.
For one, it seems that the athletic hub is only starting to showcase the future of fitness with its delightful new format—a dedicated physical therapy area, an office for medical director , orthopedic surgeon, and founding member of the ASEAN Society for Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Rich Pasion, and a soon-to-open sports surgery clinic. All this can make Focus Athletics the golden standard by which all other fitness centers and gyms can be judged from here on.
Or at least that’s how co-founder and director Paolo Cabalfin sees it. “The vision [was that] everyone should be at a certain performance level and we provide not only the system, tools, and methods but also the recovery and rehab.” Cabalfin started Focus Athletics after a hamstring and groin tear but after injuring his ACL two and half years ago, he partnered with longtime friend Dr. Pasion to create a facility that caters to sport-specific recovery journey.
“From the time you get hurt and the time you have your surgery to the doctor consultations and the trainings thereafter, and even the performance training continuum.” Pain and injury might be valid catalysts but the passionate team performers and their complementary specializations makes it feel like an apt space designed for various types of individuals.
There, in the naturally lit space strategically designed with the equipment on one side—against a black wall—the green turf dividing the entire gym, and Focus Athletics’ future foundation on the other side still awaiting completion.
A try-out was part of the day’s agenda. Coach Jaako Bernardo led the small Hinge Inquirer contingent through an hour and 15 minutes of what is called the focus training system or blocks of basic exercises meant to test movement, agility, and strength.
Quite basic, yes, considering the motions involved—planks, jumping jacks, push-ups, squats, rolls—but stripped down to its core, the class was high-octane enough to push some to reach peak training zone.
Coaching, simply said, is the key highlight of the class. It is Bernardo’s duty to help transform participants into their best versions, even if it requires a bit of extra correction and tweak every now and then. “Go lower,” he commands while I was squatting for 30 seconds.
“Avoid moving your hips, your core to pull up but retain the tension in your arms,” he says on another exercise. This was always the case throughout the sweaty ordeal and the result, thankfully, was exhilarating.
Even if I didn’t want anything to do with strenuous workouts, there wasn’t any reason not to give it a try nor give up easily. What the class proved was how much stronger I could get if I take things seriously instead of banking on a sports foundation back in my younger days.
Of course, if something bad had happened to myself or any one of us, the seamless performance and medical facilities as well as Dr. Pasion’s exceptional sports knowledge and approachable nature available would be there to the rescue. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case but I did get to try Game Ready, an integrated active cold and compression system that accelerates and improves recovery, which I was told was only one of two available equipment in the country. It wraps around your entire leg and eventually applies both pressure and cold temperature to loosen stiffness, reduce swelling, and promote faster healing.
Overall, Focus Athletics is a comfortable choice for beginners and serious athletes alike. Dr. Pasion later tells me that he treats athletes of various sporting backgrounds such as basketball, football, triathlon, and badminton. And for good reason: the clever integration of healthcare, fitness, and smart technology is something that anyone, regardless of skill level, will want to have access to—and it’s a welcome attribute even I can appreciate.