Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko

·10-min read
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more! Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook!

Name: Bystrik Uko (@bystriku)

Age: 35

Height: 1.89m

Weight: 88kg

Occupation: Bartender

Status: Single

Food: Follow diets or talking about diets, in my opinion, is a very sensitive manner and a never-ending topic for discussion. Currently, I am fully into CrossFit so I need to make sure that my daily food intake is rich in kind of all parts of a diet – protein, carbs, fats, fresh veggies and fruit as well because of fibre and sugar. I am trying to avoid processed foods and fast foods as much as possible.

I truly believe that before people take on any diet, they should strongly consider the side effects and the impact it is going to have on their overall daily routine and level of energy. A lot of people think, they need to stop eating in order to lose weight, which is complete nonsense. Reducing food portions or being more mindful about what you eat yes, but to stop eating while you exercise on a daily basis can result in a very bad ending.

Exercise: Right now I work out 5 times a week about an hour to two hours max, if you count stretching and warming up before the actual exercise.

Q: Were you an active kid?

A: I would say yes for sure, I was a very active kid. With other kids from the neighbourhood, we played a lot of games on the street or in the backyard. We would kick ball, run around, climb trees and play hockey in the winter on the frozen river until very late in the evening when the streets light come on.

In spring, summer and autumn we played football even when it was raining.

I had a beautiful childhood without any tablets or smartphones. A lot of times my mum had to come and get me to go home because it was too late and dinner was getting cold.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Did you continue being active as you grew older?

During winter we used to play a lot of hockey and the rest of the year we mostly played football. Thus I used to play competitive football in my youth, but I started get busier at college and completely gave up on sport eventually.

The pandemic led you to prioritise fitness.

Yeah, I am pretty sure there are many people out there with a similar story like me. Everything was shut down and I could not imagine being locked inside the whole day. I knew there was finally time for me and myself, so I was prepared to do something about my non-existent fitness regime. I started running, which was kind of something that stayed with me from my childhood and I always enjoyed it.

Then from running, I slowly moved on to body workouts and calisthenics. I did not see a point to order any weights or dumbbells then, because I did not have space and they would probably end up somewhere forgotten in the cupboard after some time.

As all the gyms were closed, the only option was to go out and exercise in the playgrounds at HDB areas or at the fitness corners in parks that had stationary machines and pull-up bars.

Then I started to get into jump rope, which most of us underestimate a lot, but it is actually one of the best tools to help your cardio and overall fitness. It is pretty interesting how many of these tools we used to play with as kids, but struggle to get the movement patterns right as adults.

How did you get into CrossFit?

When the gyms reopened, I was working out 4 to 5 times a week, but it was mostly at the gym in the condo. It’s just a simple setup with basic machines and dumbbells.

Then one day I was having coffee with my colleague and he told me about CrossFit. That was also when the CrossFit Games were happening (annual event taking place every year in USA for the best in CrossFit in the world) so I went home, watched a couple of videos on YouTube and said to myself, “How is this even possible?”

It looked to me, on first sight, very dangerous and demanding, but then as I watched more and more videos, I was like, “Hang on, they are actually doing stuff that I was doing as well”. Obviously not at the same pace, but pretty much the same movements.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

I did some research and went around to some CrossFit boxes in Singapore to see how they look like and what people actually do there. I also asked a couple of regular gym-goers, but they told me not to do it as it “can be dangerous and you can injure yourself very badly, or I know someone who stopped exercising because of CrossFit”. That was the answer I heard most of the time.

Now, the more you tell me that I cannot do something or I should not be doing something or how dangerous it is, the more I want to see for myself and find out why there is so much controversy and why people have so many mixed opinions.

Initially I signed up at a CrossFit box for two weeks just to see how it goes… but the rest is history. What do I like about it? There are so many things. Sign up for a CrossFit class and you will see what it is about. Then you let me know how it went for you.

You work in nightlife. How do you find time to work out?

It is all about the priorities that you set for yourself. Break down the day in phases – when you sleep, when you go to work, when you have time for yourself and how you want to use it. Working in F&B can be very consuming, but nothing that you cannot manage.

Get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, make adjustments, break down time that you spend on smartphone, watching Tik Tok or browsing the phone, shopping, and how long it takes you from shower to falling asleep. There can be so many things you can reduce time on and eventually you will find yourself having an extra hour in your daily busy schedule that you can invest in fitness. There is no really any secret recipe for that – just take a pen and paper and write all these notes.

What are your fitness philosophies?

I think one very important thing is to never compare yourself with anyone else and just working at being a better version of yourself every single day. I know there are so many channels and platforms where you can see thousands of pictures of people posting their success, shredded bodies or recent workouts and how long it took them.

Don’t take me wrong, it is good to have these kinds of examples and you can take inspiration from them. But at the same time, we should not completely fall into the idea of wanting to look like him or her, and be doing the same things and following the same process. You can easily become obsessed and stressed about the whole idea of looking fit and you will forget about yourself, your progress and the fact that you already did a bit more than you did yesterday.

Everything takes time, be patient, don’t rush, commit yourself to your dreams, be convinced that this what you really wanna do and the results will come.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Most people think they need to relax, take a break and rest in order to be fully recharged for next day or next task or whatever it is. This statement is correct, logical and makes complete sense, BUT don’t forget we need to give energy to our day, our jobs, our daily activities and be fully committed to them. This energy needs to come from somewhere and that somewhere is from other physical activities like running, cycling, anything.

This mantra has been with me for some time already and I completely apply it to my daily schedule and routine. For me, CrossFit is the tool that gives me the energy boost and adrenalin, helps me think clearly, helps me relax, be confident, comfortable, focused and ready for the day.

At the end of the day, your mind is the voice telling you if you are tired or not. What the mind believes, the body will achieve.

When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?

I think we have all gone through different situations in our childhood or at a younger stage of our lives that have left scars on us. Perhaps we are not really recovered from these and have not really acknowledged the whole situation. Fortunately, I never experienced anything major or anything that left a bad influence on me.

I truly believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I can say I am very blessed that I never experienced anything bad. I would say it was important that I was always around positive people or people that were always there for me in case something went wrong. It is very important be surround with positive people, positive-minded individuals and not those who keep complaining, see the bad things in life or blame other people. At the end of the day, we should all wish good for each other.

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

One of the greatest, Vince Lombardi (legendary coach in American football), once said, “Confidence is contagious, so is lack of confidence”. I cannot recall any specific situations, but on a daily basis I think we are all fighting with confidence and our little demons telling us what we should and should not do, thinking too much over certain situations and feeling insecure. It is important to quickly forget about that and think positive.

One thing that has always helped me is self-talk or inner talk, just for a couple of seconds or minutes to psych yourself up. Generally speaking though, since I started CrossFit, it has helped me with overall confidence and I know a lot of people who have experienced the same.

Have you ever struggled with your body?

I am very lucky and gifted from God that I have never had an issue with body weight, like too fat or too skinny. At times if I get too skinny or lean, I would know what the problem was – like stress or lack of sleep – and be able to rectify it.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

I really believe that in order to be happy and make progress in any area of life, you have to first of all, be happy with yourself; with the way you look and the way you behave as a human being. I am very happy with myself and if ever I am not, or someone is not, it is in my hands to make it better.

Have you ever received any comments about your body?

I am pretty sure I have received, but I just don’t remember because I don’t really pay much attention to these comments. I am not on this planet to look good for other people, I am here to look and be happy with myself. I would change absolutely nothing!

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Bystrik Uko (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)