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 CherylTay.sg and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (cheryltaysg).
Name: Emma Xiong
Diet: Eats whatever she wants, but makes sure she gets enough protein
Training: Six times a week of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu at Fortitude BJJ Singapore and two times of strength and conditioning
Did you start martial arts from a young age?
No I didn’t actually! I represented my school in athletics during primary and secondary school days. At the age of 10 I started Latin dance and went on to represent the school in both Latin and modern dance, until the age of 17. Back in China, I did try Shaolin Wushu for 2 months when I was 11, but I found it very tough!
How did you get started in BJJ then?
I came to Singapore on 29 December 2013 to study because I wanted to further my degree studies here in Singapore. For the first four months I wasn’t exercising so I went to search for gyms to work out at and I stumbled upon BJJ.
What made you want to try it?
I remembered how tough Wushu was, so I was a little unsure but my friend told me to give it a try. I ended up liking it a lot! You don’t get punched in the face and unlike Judo you don’t throw people around. In six months, I got my blue belt! Now my goal is to get my black belt in four years (the minimum time period one can get a black belt).
Have you competed before?
Yes I have! My first ever competition was just two weeks after I started the sport and I lost via armbar (laughs). I’ve competed at both white and blue belt levels. I’ve also competed in wrestling.
Any memorable competition experiences?
I had to move up five weight classes for the 2015 Copa De Bangkok 74kg blue belt division because there were no opponents in the 48kg category, but I won it! Then I clinched silver at the Abu Dhabi World Pro Championships in the 55kg category, losing to Andre Galvao's brother's wife in the final. I had my finger broken in three different places over the two months leading up to the competition and only 11 months of training behind me, so I don’t feel too upset about losing.
Why should more girls take up BJJ?
It’s a martial art that’s suitable for women because you won’t get hit in the face and risk getting bruised. It is also good for self-defence! The beauty of BJJ is how a smaller person can leverage on it and overcome a bigger person.
Have you ever been out of shape?
Yes, I was slightly overweight before I started BJJ. I was weighing at 60kg and in half a year I lost 12kg. I watched my diet not by restricting myself but with a mindset of eating for performance. If you eat crap, you will feel crap and not be able to train well.
What are some of the misconceptions that you think society has about fitness?
That girls must be gentle and should not do martial arts. Well, I think a toned a body is sexy!
Why should people exercise?
Exercise is good! I feel girls should put more time into exercising more every week instead of just bumming around during free time, shopping and dolling up 24/7. It's a different kind of satisfaction once you see your health is getting better and your abs start to form! Sometimes if going to the gym gets boring, then try combat sports! You think it’s an individual sport but there’s actually a huge team aspect to it. We train together, compete together and motivate each other too. I just went with some of my teammates to Brazil for a ‘training holiday’ where we visited different BJJ gyms and various top tourist sports of the country. Mixing training and travelling together is so much fun.
What kind of guys are you attracted to?
One who work out and keeps healthy, and has a positive mindset. He doesn’t necessarily have to be in martial arts too.