Strong is the new sexy and fitness is the new party. With society leaning towards health and fitness, Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to all inspirational men and women in Singapore leading active lifestyles. Know of any who deserve to be featured? Hit me up on CherylTay.sg and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (cheryltaysg).
Name: Marlon Dance-Hooi (IG: @thatotherguymarlon)
Diet: Reduces processed carbs as much as possible, increases intake of non-starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean meats and good oils and fats.
Training: 3-day cycles followed by a rest day - Day 1 is upper body, Day 2 is lower body, Day 3 is circuit training
What kind of sports did you do as a kid?
As a boy in Year 5 I played competitive soccer but I didn’t enjoy it because all the kids were two years older than me and ran rings around me. I wasn’t the fittest kid.
As I grew older, I competed in fewer and fewer sports. I was not really interested in these kinds of activities as I was a proud nerd, and as I thought, the mark of a nerd was shunning physical activity (I have done a 180 on this line of thinking). In high school I played table tennis and participated in school sports days, but I didn’t sign up for any team sports.
When did you first go to the gym and why?
My first foray into the gym was inspired by Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger – the movie ‘Pumping Iron’ gave me the fire to change my body. However, I was pretty green when I started working out in my second year of university, and I had no definitive or consistent training plan, so results were slow to come.
Was there ever a time in your life that you didn't feel confident about yourself?
I have spent an alarming amount of time in my life feeling that I was somehow inadequate, that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t like my body, I thought I had a weird personality, I was an outcast and a loner. I was bullied constantly throughout primary and early high school. The healing process began when I graduated to university and found that my particular brand of humour, weirdness and intellect was an asset rather than a liability.
How confident are you about yourself now?
Now I would say I am a solid 8.5/10 in confidence – there is always room to grow and develop so I can’t rate it higher than that 😊
Are you satisfied with your body now?
Again I’d rate myself at an 8.5/10. There are always methods and paths to exceed my limits and grow, and I am eager to push myself to the next level. I have my six-pack, so the next step is an eight-pack!
More importantly I still have trouble with moves like the handstand push up and dragon flags – I want to get to a point where I can do these exercises more easily and smoothly, and for that I need a stronger core and better control.
Why did you decide to take part in Fit for Fashion?
I was intrigued by the idea after watching the first season of the show, and by the premise of transforming yourself completely from the inside out.
What were your objectives in taking part?
Not gonna lie, a big part of my initial reason for joining was the prize money! But as the competition went on, my goals shifted to really becoming the best version of myself – to meet all the challenges set before me and overcome them.
You finished in the Top 5. What are some of your biggest takeaways from the journey?
I realised that I had been letting mediocrity rule my life – I had been making a lot of my decisions based on what was easy or comfortable rather than what was best for me in the long run. In order to change the outcomes of my life I needed to change the effort and direction I put in. This applies to fitness, to fashion, and to everything else. I also realised I look amazing in tiny shorts.
What are other valuable life lessons you learnt?
I learned the power of friendship – having good people around you to share in your journey makes it even more worthwhile. You have your ‘war stories’ you can laugh about afterwards, and they help you push yourself even further.
Any advice for people who don't feel confident about themselves?
Don’t let yourself be dragged down by the opinions of others, and don’t set yourself against anyone else. The only person you have to surpass is the ‘you’ from yesterday.
Any tips for people who want to make a transformation?
Firstly, consistency is fundamental. Find a training programme and stick to it for at least a month. Before you start, make sure you get checked out medically and ensure you can handle the programme and then no matter what, stick to the programme. Don’t make excuses for avoiding the gym. However, if you miss a day don’t panic and quit, just make up the time in the next session.
Secondly, nutrition is key. Abs are made and fat is lost in the kitchen. Fortunately on the show we had the help of extremely well-balanced low carbohydrate nutritional meals, as well as supplementation by NextVits. I believe in order to transform you need to get your nutrition and supplementation in order.
Thirdly, stretch! Too many people head straight for the weights and don’t warm their body up. You should do at least 15 minutes of stretching before heavy exercise, and warmup sets can be a good idea too.
Finally, patience. Results will not come overnight, or even in the first weeks, but with consistent effort you will see your body transforming.
What kind of comments do you get about your body?
Since I finished the show, I get a fair amount of positive comments about my body – people say I am looking leaner and more muscular. I am still my own worst critic though. I think we all tend to focus on our worst aspects. But instead of negative criticism, I work to identify areas I can improve upon.
What are some misconceptions of fitness in today's society?
That fitness is defined by how you look rather than what you can do and how far you can push yourself. True fitness is functional and a fit body may not look like a bodybuilder. A strong core is essential, but this doesn’t necessarily mean a six-pack. If you eat well, exercise regularly and lead an active lifestyle, then you’re fit, no matter how others may judge you.
Why should people make an effort to lead an active lifestyle?
Health, wealth, and happiness! Health is self-explanatory, wealth because you will actually save money on eating less junk and having fewer expensive medical problems, and happiness because being active gives you a reason to get up in the morning and lead your best life, while being more motivated in your day to day life.