Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Sara Wee of 53A

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 FacebookTwitter and Instagram (cheryltay11).

Photo by Cheryl Tay
Photo by Cheryl Tay

Name: Sara Wee (@sara53a on Twitter and Instagram)

Age: 28

Occupation: Musician (of band 53a)

Height: 163cm

Weight: 53kg (nothing to do with band name)

Diet: Generally healthy as she cooks quite a bit for herself; one cheat day a week; absolutely cannot resist red velvet cream cheese cake!

Training: Daily yoga or HIIT (from Fitness Blender), plus PT twice a week at the gym (but performing three hours on stage from Mondays to Fridays is already a workout in itself)

Status: Attached

Photo by Cheryl Tay
Photo by Cheryl Tay

Q: When did you start doing yoga?

A: I started running to lose weight like most people do, but I wanted to tone up so I tried yoga after hearing my friends tell me about it. Sometime in June last year, I followed some yoga series on YouTube but I got bored – I later realised it wasn’t the type of yoga I like.

Then how did you end up doing a 200-hour yoga teacher training course?

I’ve been doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) for so long, so I thought maybe I should challenge my body to do something different. I started doing more research on yoga and really, it works out the whole body. It’s not just stretching like what some might think; they don’t realise how much strength and balance it takes to do yoga properly, stretching is just one component.

I got to know Jessica Sinclair (of ihayoga) through a mutual friend and she suggested I take up the course as I seemed really interested in yoga. She said doing the course would be useful for me to understand yoga better and the choice to teach is up to me.

What did you learn from it?

I did my teacher training course the entire month of December – 200 hours in 20 days. Basically I was at class from 8am to 4pm, Mondays to Fridays for three and a half weeks. It was tough juggling performances with yoga – I would get home at 1-2am after my gigs – but I came out of the course realising how much I could push myself mentally and physically.

Some days I wake up and dread going to class, but once you get there and you go into meditation and breathing, I just wake up immediately. I enjoy the spiritual (not religious) side of yoga and the meditation aspect of it. This course totally changed my perception of meditation and yoga.

Now I make sure I do my breathing exercises and meditation regularly, especially on the weekends after a super long week, to balance myself out. I intend to complete the 500-hour yoga teacher training course next.

How has yoga changed your body?

This is the most fit I’ve ever been. When I first went into the teacher training course, I could only hold Chaturanga for 10 seconds, but now I can hold it for one minute. Yoga trains the slow twitch muscles, whilst HIIT trains the fast-twitch muscles, so I do both to maintain a balance between both.

How has yoga changed you on a personal level?

Yoga has helped me to calm down a lot. I’m generally quite a happy person but I can be hot headed at times and I am quick to react to negative situations. One very big thing our teachers taught us during training is to take a deep breath, exhale out and control the situation. This is really useful for me especially when I meet very difficult people at our gigs, such as intoxicated guys who climb onto the stage when we are performing.

What’s the craziest that happened during one of your gigs?

This is the 12th year I’ve been performing and man, so many things have happened. Once, a guy was so drunk but he managed to climb onto the stage by himself. In his drunken stupor he fell onto our guitarist, onto the pedal board and broke one of the cables. In that moment you feel like screaming at them but yet you know they aren’t sober, plus there are people watching you, so you have to keep your cool.

Another instance there was one very irritating guy sitting in front of me. Suddenly I realised my guitar had no sound; it was because he was switching off my plugs! He was obviously being annoying, even trying to pick a fight with some of the guys in the bar.

Being up there on stage, I get a bird’s eye view of everything and once, I actually helped this group of girls who had a guy trying to hit on them, to the point of harassment. I just asked them outright over the mike if the man was bothering them.

Are you the kind who must work out every day?

There was a period of time when I just started doing HIIT daily then I went away on holiday for a week and did nothing there. When I came back I fell really sick and couldn’t work out for three weeks straight. That made me feel like crap, so now I discipline myself to wake up early even when I’m on holiday and get some exercise in. I never let myself rest more than five days.

Have you ever burnt out from working out too much?

I’ve never hit a burnout in workouts. I work from morning to night and there was a period when I hit 26 and started feeling very lethargic. Basically by 6pm I was yawning nonstop. But I started working out then I realised I had more energy than before and this keeps me going. If I skip a day or two of workouts, I feel lethargic but when I work out again, I feel alert and I get through the day perfectly fine.

Any fitness-related pet peeves?

My biggest pet peeve is when people are negative towards somebody trying to progress. I get irritated when I see somebody trying something and people start slamming their form, or when people criticise my friends.

A lot of people are quick to criticise but stop to think, a person can be trying really hard and making progress, then you go online and start running down their form. It might actually make them not want to try again. Please, it takes a while for anyone to get somewhere, so be generous with your encouragement!

Who are your fitness inspirations?

Jessica Sinclair! She’s very, very strong. So is Ashley Gavin who is an epitome of “You could be anybody you want to be” – she’s petite and may not look strong at all, but she is crazy strong!

Photo by Cheryl Tay
Photo by Cheryl Tay