by Nicolette Mok
Luis leading a group of running enthusiasts through some simple exercises at the ActiveSG Running Clinic. Photo: SportSG
It was past nine in the evening, and Luis Cunha was leading a group of running enthusiasts through a set of simple exercises to improve running efficiency. The workshop he was conducting had been a part of the ActiveSG Running Clinic, held in conjunction with the ActiveSG Runners Convention 2017.
The three-time Olympian from Portugal and veteran high performance athletics coach looked completely in his element, if not a little tired, following a long day of work as principal of the ActiveSG Athletics Club.
Indeed, be they elite athletes or weekend warriors, Cunha is committed to helping improve the fitness levels of people in Singapore and supporting the growth of the athletics scene here. And this genuine desire to share his experience and expertise is a major reason why he has his attention trained on the community.
Prior to imparting tips to running hobbyists at the Running Clinic, the former Singapore national sprints and hurdles head coach had sat on a panel that discussed the importance of strength and speed training for endurance running. He then adjourned outdoors to conduct his workshop on running efficiency – which he explained as “a concept related to technique, biomechanics, and physiological parameters”.
ActiveSG Athletics Club Principal Luis Cunha. Photo: SportSG
He took participants through a series of planks, lunges, and squats, elaborating: “To improve, you can use strength exercises, and you can improve [your] adaptation in terms of physiology.”
“At the same time, if you increase your strength, you’ll be able to run properly – faster, and with less energy. That’s the goal of running efficiency,” Cunha stated.
The 52-year old considered these exercises as a “teaser” of sorts for those looking to develop their athletic abilities further. Noting that the ActiveSG Athletics Club and the Running Clinic shared a similar target audience, he hoped to entice more sign-ups for the club.
After all, to succeed in his objective of emphasising the importance of sports participation, he needs to reach out to as many within the local community as possible.
“We have a lot of things that we want to do, but we’ll take it step-by-step. We have a lot of ideas, but we are just starting. There are a lot of things to do, but we have to be able to grow,” he pointed out.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to work in Sport Singapore because I feel that we are on the right path to increase sports participation here,” Cunha continued.
Luis believes there are opportunities to develop soft skills and values beyond improving fitness levels and running techniques, which he hopes ActiveSG Athletics Club participants will benefit from. Photo: SportSG
Besides fitness levels, Cunha is also hoping participants of the ActiveSG Athletics Club and the clinic recognise the opportunity to develop soft skills and values – key takeaways that he believes engaging in sport offers.
The experienced coach expressed: “With good programmes and good coaches, the participants can learn very important lessons for life. We’re not concerned with only the skills and techniques. All the exercises and games that we put on our programmes are based off the values that they can learn.”
“[Whether I’m coaching national athletes or the Club members], I’m trying to help people. At the end of the day, a coach is someone who tries to help people. Before I came here, I was a professor in a university and my goal was trying to help the students. Here, I am trying to help the coaches and the athletes,” he concluded.
Be a part of the ActiveSG Athletics Club’s vision of living better through sport by registering for its programmes here