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).
: Nor Dee Dee M. Yusoff
Occupation: Dancer / Fitness and Yoga Instructor
Exercise: Weights training and HIIT twice a week, yoga every morning, rock climbing once a week, running three times a week
Have you been a dancer all your life?
Yes! When I was in primary school, all I could remember was dance, dance, dance! I wasn’t into any sports except for those we had to do during Physical Education (PE) lessons. But I was underweight and asthmatic, so the school teachers back then advised me not to do too much sports in case I lose more weight. I ended up just sitting and watching my classmates during PE lesson.
How and when did you start running?
I started running when I was in secondary school and was forced to take part in the annual sports day. I did my first relay race and my team did quite well, but I didn’t enjoy it. I thought it was too fast and everything was done in a rush! Not to mention, passing the baton to the other sprinter was very pressurising; I was so scared I would drop the baton. So I tried out the school’s cross country run and BAM!!!! That was when I knew exactly what type of running I wanted to do – long distance!
What was your first running race and how did you do?
I did my first running race, Sundown Marathon, about three or four years ago. It was very tough for me because that was the first time running alongside many other runners. I injured my knee from one of my dance performances a week before the marathon and was limping halfway through, but what mattered most was that I still managed to complete the race.
This year I’m doing the Great Eastern Women’s Run (GEWR) for the first time and I have my buddy Cheryl Miles to thank! She urged me to do this with her and be part of the #RuntoLiveGreat programme. When she first approached me to sign up for the race, I thought to myself that there was no way I could say no and not support an all-women’s race! The most awesome part of GEWR is that I have the most respect for them and the beneficiaries that they have decided to support – Breast Cancer Foundation, Community Chest and SingHealth Duke-NUS OBGYN Academic Clinical Prog. It feels good to be running for a good cause and at the same time to promote a healthy lifestyle!
What are some tips you have for women out there to stay in shape?
My typical day is really hectic where I teach classes from morning till evening with dance rehearsals in between. Given the nature of my job and being in show business, keeping in shape is very important, but finding time during the week to exercise can be difficult. A tip that I have for women out there would be to spend some time every Sunday to plan out your schedule for the week ahead. However, do be realistic about it; there are only so many activities you can fit into a limited time.
Choose a fun activity that you can do with your friends or even alone. Recently, I tried my hand at alternative workouts during the GEWR fringe activities, such as piloxing and the Kpop dance class. This is all part of the #RuntoLiveGreat programme where we attend the activities with or workout buddy and Cheryl and I had so much fun! Both of us can come up with the silliest jokes even while running and having friends ensure you stick to the training regime.
What do you enjoy about teaching classes?
Be it a fitness, yoga or dance class, I enjoy watching and monitoring my client’s or student’s progress. How they improve in both physical and mental strength, by learning to face their weakness and turning that around. When they smile more at themselves and their progress, it is a sign of confidence and I find great delight in that.
Any interesting or funny anecdotes about your students?
My current fellow teacher and dance colleague was actually one of my students! She attended my hip-hop classes a long time ago and is now an aerialist so the roles are reversed and she’s teaching me aerial silk and aerial hoop! Another student whom I met during one of my dance workshops in school is now dancing beside me on stage. How about that!
How do you hope to inspire others?
Despite having many injuries, I took up marathon running about three to four years back only and have been running more actively compared to my younger days. Your body is stronger than you think and it is amazing how you can mould your body and discipline your mind with exercises or just being active.
I would recommend to choose any form of exercise that you enjoy the most and not be afraid to try a new workout or sport, regardless of age. Personally, I tried rock climbing, pole fitness, aerial silk and hoop. To me running is like eating. If I don’t eat, I get hungry or cranky. If I don’t run, I get weak and slower.
My mantra is: “If I can’t run, I will walk; and if I can’t walk, I will crawl to the finishing line.”
Are you satisfied with your body now and why?
I am contented with what I have achieved when I learned to accept my body’s imperfections. I cannot expect to have the same body that I had 10 or 20 years ago. It’s ridiculous!!! But now I know I have a stronger body and I am a lot more happier than I was 10 or 20 years ago.
Why should people make an effort to lead an active lifestyle?
I believe that when you lead an active lifestyle, your body produces ‘happy cells.’ These happy cells will make you feel awesome after each workout and there are no words to describe it! You are able to wake up early and have a more productive day. You can walk and run faster to catch the train without panting. Hahaha! You will feel good and sexy in your new dress, and you can even run after your kid or perhaps run faster than them!