Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Denise Tan

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 women in Singapore leading active lifestyles. Know of any who deserve to be featured? Hit me up on and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram (cheryltaysg).

Denise Tan. Photo: Cheryl Tay
Denise Tan. Photo: Cheryl Tay


Denise Tan (Instagram: @bombyourfacee)
Age: 20
Height: 170cm
Weight: 50kg
Occupation: Freelance dance instructor
Status: Attached
Diet: Tries to cut down on carbohydrates and increase protein; avoids sweet drinks and food high in sodium.
Training: Dances 4 times a week, hits the gym 2-3 times a week.
How did you hear about breakdancing?
I was 12 years old when I found out my cousin, then 14, was a bboy!  At that point of time I felt that it was so cool and I wanted to learn all the cool moves. So I asked my cousin to teach me the basics, but it was too difficult for me at that time. I couldn't even do a simple baby freeze or a six-step footwork! Thus I didn't pursue it and also, I was doing contemporary dance at that time when I entered secondary school.

I am also a hiphop dancer and I joined New Revolving Age, the hiphop CCA in Ngee Ann Polytechnic where I got to experience new genres, like street jazz, waacking, hiphop and to nurture myself to be a dancer. I really love learning all these different genres of dance!

What made you pick it up again?
It was only when I entered poly together with my cousin (the same one) that I started to take it more seriously. Come to think of it, it was because my cousin and I made an agreement to battle side by side, that's why I went back to breakdancing!

However, for the next two years, I did not really focus on training up as I did not have a goal. I stayed stagnant for awhile and was constantly in my comfort zone. It was only last year, when I shifted my focus and energy into breakdancing, training with my boyfriend. I tried many moves in breakdancing I never even thought I would.

Denise Tan. Photo: Cheryl Tay
Denise Tan. Photo: Cheryl Tay

What do you like about breakdancing?
To be very honest, I was attracted to the power moves at first, like the head spins, flips and all the dynamics. That is why I'm doing head spins now too! But once you get into bboying, you'll realise that there's so much more to bboying than just power moves. You got to have everything - style, footwork, freezes, whatsoever. And it makes you want to keep trying and experimenting new things! You get to learn about the history, and see the camaraderie forged between people.

What are some misconceptions of breakdance?
I feel one very big misconception is that you'll break your bones or injure yourself very badly from breakdance. I would say it is not true! Many of my friends and I never had major injuries from breakdancing. Slight bruises are common though, and sometimes abrasions. However we still exercise caution when we bboy/bgirl; you definitely need to know how to break your fall, especially if you try more air stuff like handstands or air freezes.

Also another misconception is that bboys/bgirls are very rowdy and fierce. In the past, people like to associate bboying to gangsterism, but in actual fact, almost all the bboys/bgirls are really nice and friendly people.

How will you encourage more girls to try breakdancing?
I think there are very few girls as most girls will think that it is too difficult, and that they don't have the strength to bboy. It may be because they want to avoid injuries too. However you'll never know until you really try and put effort in it! People tend to underestimate how much they can do. So any girls that are interested, just go for it!

Denise Tan. Photo: Cheryl Tay
Denise Tan. Photo: Cheryl Tay

What are some of the challenges you face in breakdance?
I've definitely faced many challenges in breakdance. The biggest challenge for me when I started out was that my arms were too skinny and I didn't have much strength to do moves like air freezes. Thus I always stuck to doing ground moves for the first two years as I always felt that it was near impossible for me to get my air freezes.

But my boyfriend challenged me to try handstands when I joined him for training last year and he taught me how to train my body for air moves. It really paid off as now I'm so much more comfortable doing air freezes. But I also make it a point to hit the gym to build my arm muscles too. It really takes a lot of effort but the results are definitely worth it!

A bgirl that I really look up to, said before that "You don't do moves to condition your body, you condition your body to do the moves."

There are definitely times when I felt like giving up because I felt like I wasn't improving at all, but when you look back on when you started, you'll realise how much you have grown and that's what keeps you going.

Have you ever not been confident about your body and why?
Yes definitely. There are times when I look into the mirror and I see all the flaws of my body, and I nitpick at them one by one – no abs, skinny arms and all. Sometimes people tell me that I'm getting fat and sometimes others tell me I'm too skinny. Having goals of a dream body is not wrong, but I think what's more important is that you have to love yourself enough to know that whatever your goal may be, you have to treat your body right.

What's most important is to know that even with flaws, people around you still love you for who you are. And surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you and boost your confidence, not people who are always nitpicking at every slight flaw they see on you, even if it's just a passing remark from them.

Are you satisfied with your body now and why?
I'm satisfied with it, but I always feel it can be better. I'd definitely want to work towards having a broader frame. But my goal right now is to condition my body to be able to do bboy moves more easily and also hopefully to get some defined abs.

Denise Tan. Photo: Cheryl Tay
Denise Tan. Photo: Cheryl Tay
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