Using DNA to customise your workout and nutrition

Mandarin Oriental teams up with DNAFit to create a personalised health and fitness package

“I always say, all I have to do is look at a piece of bread and I gain weight. Then I got my [DNAFit] test back and that backed it up – I’ve got a high carbohydrate sensitivity … people are always saying how carbs or fats are the enemy and they might be, but only for certain people,” explained Alex Poole as we met for my consultation at Mandarin Oriental.

Always looking to provide their guests with a more personalised approach to fitness and wellbeing, The Mandarin Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong teamed up with DNAFit to offer a special package, which includes a full analysis, consultation and 12-week training programme based on each person’s DNA.

The DNAFit test

The DNA test and analysis are designed to give bespoke advice – advice being the key word here – so you can get the most out of your fitness and diet through a simple saliva swab. Though your genes can give you a good indication on how your body responds, it doesn’t tell you exactly what’s going on or take into account your current diet – your results might come back saying you’re most likely lactose intolerant, which might not affect you that much if, like me, you don’t consume a lot of dairy to begin with. This is something that Alex Poole and Anthony Barker from DNAFit were completely transparent about and why the consultations are crucial in understanding what your results actually mean and how to apply them.

“We’re basically trying to cure this fad approach to fitness by giving you something that matches your genetics,” explained Anthony. “There are all sorts of small ways and clues based on your physical makeup which can explain why you might be quick off the mark or get sick at higher altitudes when others don’t or respond better to heavy weight training versus steady state cardio.”

What you get

They even give you suggestions on how to cook your food

The impressive thing about DNAFit is how hands on they are – when you receive your results, you get more than just a lab report. You get detailed suggestions and recommended plans for both your diet and your fitness, a breakdown of your genotypes if you want to go more in-depth and plenty of supporting documents. This can be quite overwhelming at first, so I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to go for your consultation.

The results

DNAFit’s personalised report won’t ‘cure’ you or magically bring your abs out of hiding (though the chances of that happening could be significantly higher) – it’s meant to better inform the way you approach your health and wellbeing based on your own genetic makeup. Today, we often forget that we’re individuals – and all of our bodies and minds function in a different way so it’s no wonder that many of us don’t see any results when we end up adopting the latest diets or wellness trends from our favourite celebrities.  

Based on my report, I should be following a low-carb diet and complement my strength training with more power-based workouts (think: burpees, jumps, interval sprints with longer recovery time). While some people are naturally intuitive enough to be able to determine what types of food makes them bloat or feel tired, I’ve always had no idea. However, after getting my results, I’ve begun to notice a sensitivity to potatoes (hence: the carb sensitivity, especially towards starchy carbs), salty foods and alcohol. You know that saying that one glass of wine a day is good for you? Well, it’s not for me and it not only showed in my DNAFit report but also my inBody (body composition) results, which I use to measure my body fat and muscle mass once a month.

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong’s fitness facilities and steps for the future 

Be sure to check out The Mandarin Spa's own line of healthy juices and smoothies for a pick-me-up post-workout

After the DNAFit consult, guests can then apply their 12-week training programme with guidance from Mandarin Oriental’s team of personal trainers. Their Fitness Centre has everything you need and is constantly adopting the latest technology – when I was last there, they had just installed a VR bike. They also have an air bike, a non-motorised self-powered treadmill and elliptical cross trainer – all great for working on those short power cardio exercises, which are more effective in burning calories, fat and working your fast-twitch muscles. Essentially, you exert more energy and power as all the motion is generated on your own.

They also have an inBody composition analyser, TRX Suspension Trainer as well as their relaxing swimming pool and sauna facilities available as part of their fitness membership.

If you’re quite casual when it comes to working out and eating clean, this might not be the right package for you. However, if you’re interested in pushing yourself and getting the best results possible – DNAFit could save you a lot of time by providing you with the information you need about your body’s predispositions and responses. Armed with their suggestions, you are more likely to make better and more effective choices when it comes to the exercises you do and what you eat on a regular basis.

Check out other packages and treatments at and learn more about DNAFit here.

In this Story: #culture / wellness