Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Elyana Hepworth

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Elyana Hepworth is a spin instructor and a flight attendant.
Elyana Hepworth is a spin instructor and a flight attendant. (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: Elyana Hepworth (@elyfun)

Age: 30

Height: 1.68m

Weight: 57kg

Occupation: spin instructor/flight attendant

Food: Espresso, double shot please. I'm kidding, caffeine isn’t the only thing running through my veins! My diet is largely pescatarian with lots and lots of veggies and fruit. I can’t bear to ingest anything fluffy with a cute face and I’m not a fan of gamey meat. I don’t believe in diets because I believe in having everything in moderation and yes, that includes bubble tea. On a serious note, I think it’s important to understand what your body needs and how to cater to those needs through the food you ingest.

Exercise: To be honest, my fitness regime is very fluid due to the nature of my job. On weeks I’m teaching, I clock in 6 to 8 spin classes and I try to squeeze in other spin classes with other instructors (it’s nice to switch off as a rider) and a mixture of HIIT (Barry’s). I’m also trying to incorporate strength training now too because I do a lot of cardio. It’s good to build up on other areas.

When I’m overseas I tend to do a lot more HIIT workouts and Barre, basically things you can do in a confined space on your own without the use of much equipment. When I get back I clock in morning or evening runs to keep my stamina in check.

Elyana was active in sports when she was younger, and also took part in the school dance teams.
Elyana was active in sports when she was younger, and also took part in the school dance teams. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Q: When you were younger, were you active in sports?

A: I was part of the school dance team in secondary school and junior college, and I remember dance practice being really intensive, especially during competition and performance periods. I vividly remember dancing across the school’s football field as practice to get a feel of how wide the actual performance venue was. That was extremely exhausting (especially since you had to look effortless and graceful), I remember thinking to myself I’d much rather clock in a 2.4km run, haha!

Also, I used to run a lot back in secondary school because our school was known for track and field so even if you weren’t a part of the school team, running was incorporated into the timetable. We had jogging sessions three times a week on top of PE, I kid you not, it was a part of the timetable the same way maths/chemistry/English was a part of the timetable. Very thankful for this culture because it made me grow to love running (not just from problems, I’m kidding) and pushed me to take part in half-marathons as I got older. Still waiting for this pandemic to blow over so I can finally clock in my first full marathon.

How did you get into spinning?

Honestly, I was introduced to it by a friend and I was initially very unwilling to go because I hated doing something and being bad at it. My first class left me light-headed, my vision blacked out momentarily and I could barely breathe or keep up. Despite feeling so out of my comfort zone there was something really addictive and I kept coming back for more. 

It was to the point that I would go for classes overseas too and it was so much of fun and I’m extremely fortunate and grateful to have had the opportunity to do classes and expose myself to spin communities outside of Singapore.

What led you to become a spin instructor?

I’ve always loved spin and in my head I knew, at some point in my life, I wanted to take it further and grow from it further. Spin was so much more than just a sport to me and I especially love how it's a community of people who come together with a common interest, fostering camaraderie even amongst a room full of strangers.

It helped me build beautiful connections with like-minded people and I wanted to give back – I wanted to give others the opportunity to feel the same way I did, I wanted to provide others a safe space to workout, get in tune with themselves and others, and most importantly, I wanted to inspire people the same way my instructors inspired me all while having fun. Dancing on a bike is like a party minus the hangover. What’s not to love?

A friend told me a new studio was holding auditions for instructors, so I signed up and winged it and look where we are now. I love sharing good jujus in the spin room and giving people a good playlist to jam and have fun to. I wouldn’t say I dislike teaching at all, in fact I absolutely love it, there’s just always a constant fear of never being good enough for my riders, and that can sometimes give me unnecessary anxiety.

Elyana feels that taking part in spinning has built great connections with like-minded people.
Elyana feels that taking part in spinning has built great connections with like-minded people. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

With your work as cabin crew, how do you manage your fitness regime when you're travelling?

I make it a point to workout in the hotel room (HIIT/Barre/stretching) and most importantly I take this time to let my body rest and clock in lots of sleep so it can do it’s thing and recover from jet lag, so yes, savasana in bed is also very important to me!

Apart from that, the first thing I do after I get home and after clocking in a good night’s sleep is to go for runs to really keep my stamina going. I make sure to clock in 5-10km each time in order to train my endurance.

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

Definitely. I think as a teenager trying to grapple with life and finding your own person amidst all the chaos and pressure plus societal expectations there will be some point in time where you question yourself and your self worth.

Fortunately, being in a girls’ school for 10 years, I never had to deal with looks as much because there was no opposite sex to impress so it was easier to fall and grow into my own person in a safe space.

I think everyone goes through some sort of pivotal point in their lives that helps define who they are. When I went through mine, I’ve learnt that:

  • You cannot control what happens but you can control how you react.

  • It is completely normal and healthy to say no.

  • It is incredibly important to draw healthy boundaries for yourself.

People often say communication is key, but I beg to differ because to me, understanding is so much more important; you can communicate all you want, but if there is no understanding between two people, then what’s the point really?

It is ok to feel bad and down in the rut, it's all part of the process but you only feel bad for as long as you allow yourself to be. I realised how important it was to be resilient and bounce back from adversities, instead of letting them weigh me down and define me. Life is too short for all of that.

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

Ironically, I felt the least confident about myself when I started out my journey as an instructor. It was going back to square one, having to ride on and train your non-dominant leg (because it’s a mirror image when you teach) and having to get over stage fright while training on your vocals.

However with lots of practice, constructive feedback and a good support system (shoutout to my girl @carolyntwiggy who always reminds me to focus on the now and not worry about things that have not happened), it gets a lot better. Everything is a learning journey, and I believe in always staying grounded and humble and look for opportunities to constantly learn and improve.

Elyana managed her body issues by changing her lifestyle and eating habits.
Elyana managed her body issues by changing her lifestyle and eating habits. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Did you ever struggle with your body?

Unfortunately I did; this was probably three years back. When I hit my late 20s and my metabolic rate slowed down and I wasn’t as active, I fell out of yoga, I haven’t found spin just yet, kept a lot of late nights which came with a lot of drinking and supper. I hated my body and struggled with bad eating habits and even felt guilty after having a meal which led to me being bulimic for a bit. It was really toxic and it isn’t a place I would ever want to be in again.

Fortunately, I found better eating habits which came attached to spin because I would purposely book a 7am class to force myself to sleep earlier. This cut out my late nights, the drinking, the suppers. It basically helped me cultivate healthier habits for my body and my mental health. It also changed the things I put in my body, because having highly processed foods made me feel sluggish and terrible (I could feel my body bloating and screaming for water), so I replaced that with lots of greens and fresh food instead.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

Yes I am. I prioritise my health above everything else instead of fixating on an unrealistic body image because let’s be honest, we’re all built differently. I believe it’s best to have everything in moderation and focus on being healthy and happy. After all, health is wealth. I am extremely grateful that I have a healthy body that allows me to do what I do.

Have you ever received any comments about your body?

Yes of course. Normal comments from my mom such as “Girl, you put on weight already. Girl don’t wear that you look fat” etc that I learned to tune out as I got older.

If you could change anything about yourself, would you?

I think life is a journey and you’re constantly changing and growing. It’s important to recognise your flaws and work on them but it’s also important to realise that we are all unique individuals with different quirks to our personalities. If anything, I’d love to be less of a worrywart (it gives me so much of anxiety being an over thinker) but on the flip side, it ensures that I always give my 100 per cent. It all boils down to perspective.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Elyana Hepworth.
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Elyana Hepworth. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
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