Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Gene Leck

Gene Leck is a student.
Gene Leck is a student. (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: Gene Leck Yuan Jie (@genejie)

Age: 24

Height: 1.69m

Weight: 60kg

Occupation: Student

Status: Single (but married to hockey)

Food: I'm not too strict with my diet and am also not very picky with my food. I try to incorporate a carb base, with a portion of protein (I love meat hehe) and vegetables.

Exercise: I train up to five times a week - three pitch sessions and two gym sessions. But currently I'm injured, so I am only training once at the pitch and going to the gym three times in a week to do my rehab.

Q: Were you an active kid?

A: Yup! I grew up as the girl who would play catching with her brother and cousins and join them for football at the void deck. Then in primary school I picked up basketball as a CCA (under the influence of my brother who was also in the CCA then).

Gene represented Singapore in field hockey at the SEA Games.
Gene represented Singapore in field hockey at the SEA Games. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

How did you get into hockey?

I was in the basketball CCA until Primary 4 when I realised the club had closed down because we didn’t have a coach. Growing up I was quite tall, so the hockey CCA teachers would always ask me in passing if I wanted to join hockey because they thought I had good size for it.

Thus, when the basketball CCA shut down, I took up the offer to join hockey and the rest is history! Look where I am today.

When did you first start competing in hockey?

I first represented the country in an age group tournament back in 2011 in the U18 Asia Cup held in Thailand. Then I made my debut for the senior team in 2012 at the World League Round 1 held in Kuantan, Malaysia.

What do you like about hockey?

There are a few things. Firstly, I like that it is my safe place and an outlet for release, especially amidst the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. In the few hours that I'm playing, it's as though I can forget about everything else and I feel happy.

Secondly, I like that it has earned me so many sisters (my teammates) who I'm very close to and enjoy spending time with, even outside of training. Lastly, very cliche, but I like that hockey has taught me many values and life lessons that have shaped me to become the person I am today.

Gene lists qualifying for the Asian Games as one of the highlights of her hockey career.
Gene lists qualifying for the Asian Games as one of the highlights of her hockey career. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

What are some of the highlights of your career?

There are a few that come to mind:

  1. Making the Southeast Asia Games team in 2017, when I had just returned that year from an extended break I had taken to focus on my studies. I had tried out for both the 2013 and 2015 editions and did not make the team for both. So making the team in 2017 meant a lot to me because it felt like my effort and hard work over the years have finally paid off. Coming home with a medal made it extra sweet of course. We won bronze!

  2. This is more recent – qualifying for the Asian Games. This happened in June this year, where we won third place at the Asian Games qualifier held in Jakarta. Playing at the Asian Games has always been my career goal so qualifying for it with my teammates was like taking a step closer to achieving my dreams to play at the Asian Games.

Conversely, what are some of the challenges as a national athlete?

I would say not having enough time to do everything that I want to. As we spend most of our nights at trainings, (while it is a choice to and I love my choice) sometimes there's just not enough time

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

I used to be quite insecure about how I dropped out of junior college (JC). I always felt like I had to make it a point to prove to others that I was not a failure. And I guess it didn't help that when people (sometimes strangers) find out that I dropped out of JC after spending two years studying there they'd say, "Aiyo wasted two years."

For very long, it always bothered me and I felt like people judged me for it. But over the years I also grew to realise that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and just because the JC curriculum was not for me, it didn't mean that I was a failure. It just served as a motivation for me to figure out my strengths and what I enjoy doing, which lead me to study mass communication, which honestly has been one of the best decisions of my life.

Gene believes that loving one's body is always a process, and there are ups and downs.
Gene believes that loving one's body is always a process, and there are ups and downs. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Did you ever struggle with your body?

I think it was probably the period after ‘O’ levels. I had taken a few months' break to focus on studying and when I study, I tend to stress eat a lot. So naturally, I gained a bit of weight and was slightly chubbier.

I knew I had to lose the weight to get back in shape for training and it was a very tough few months where I tried to watch my diet a bit more closely. I even had to go for training earlier than my peers for extra sessions with our trainer then. Eventually with the increased training load and diet, I managed to lose the weight I had gained and became leaner than I was previously.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

I'd say there are days I am and there are days I'm not. But body image and loving your body is always a work in progress. I went through a clean eating phase last May and lost quite a bit of weight to become a lot leaner than I used to be. The dieting was made easy because I was home mostly due to the heightened alert and meal prepping was definitely very convenient

But now that things are mostly back to normal and my usual activities have returned, I find it difficult to eat as cleanly and diligently. As a result of that, and also being out of training from my injury I have gained back a bit of the weight that I had lost and is also not as lean as I was then.

So some days I look back at those days and wish I could be that lean forever but am trying to learn to tell myself that it's okay to not be that lean and to just enjoy life, enjoy food.

Have you ever received any comments about your body?

I have heard people call me thunder thighs, and it used to affect me when I was younger. But as the years went by, I grew to appreciate my body and be thankful for my thighs because I have trained hard for them and they play such an important role as a hockey player.

If given a chance, I wouldn’t change the size of my thighs at all because I have learnt to be thankful to my body and appreciate it for serving me.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Gene Leck. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Gene Leck. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)