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: Haw Jia Xuan (@worldthroughjx)
Food: I don’t follow any diet! I usually just eat whatever I want, because restricting myself to a diet just ruins the experience when eating with my family or friends. I guess this stems from the fact that I exercise quite often so I can afford to eat to my heart’s content.
One thing that I always try to do is to pop in some vegetables or fruits whenever possible. On days when I’m eating alone, my go-to will always be cai fan - two veg and one meat. When I think I deserve a reward, my go-to will always be peanut butter waffles.
Exercise: I try to work out at least once every day, depending on how my body feels.
Mondays are usually my bounce days,
Tuesdays are for strength,
Wednesdays are for runs,
Thursdays are for strength (yay leg day!!),
Fridays are my rest days,
Saturdays are for long runs,
And Sundays are rest days.
If I feel good on rest days, I usually sneak in a quick run or a jump rope session too.
Q: When you were younger, were you active in sports/fitness?
A: No way, but I wished I was though. I was into performing arts when I was in school, so I joined the symphonic band. Looking back, I really wished that I joined a sports CCA because I enjoyed PE lessons as a student. But hey, I’ve got no regrets because I can play the trumpet – which is rare, I guess.
What did you get into as you got older?
Exercise was not in my vocabulary before the pandemic when I was staying on campus. I disliked climbing the stairs and only walked if the bus was packed. Then the lockdown came and I picked up running after much convincing from my brother and my partner.
It evolved from there and my fitness routine branched out into other activities like F45, jump rope, and bounce. Working out no longer feels like a chore to me, in fact I actually can’t wait to work out now. How the tables have turned!
Right now, you are mostly into running, HIIT and you also teach bounce. What do you like about running?
I like the alone time that it gives me, especially after a long day of sitting at a desk and completing my assignments. This is when I get time to reflect on my day or simply be in the zone (or sometimes stoning). I think I’m also quite lucky to be staying in a beautiful neighbourhood – Punggol.
I am a strong advocate of running outdoors instead of indoors (no treadmills for me, thank you.) because there are more things to look at, and you get to bump into the regular runners in your hood. Let’s not forget the epic sunrise or sunset that you get to feast your eyes (and cameras) on.
In addition, 2022 was something new for me because I joined community runs with iRun Singapore and Adidas Runners. I have met so many friendly faces and people from different walks of life. Despite our differences, we are still able to connect and have a nice cup of coffee after our runs, what more can I ask for?
Running is such a beautiful sport, with so many things to learn, and so many wonderful people that I have yet to meet in the running community. It sucks to think that the 2.4km fitness test in school made so many of us hate running in general – me included. My goal is to encourage people to just take it easy and enjoy the run. You don’t always have to run till you’re breathless, you know?
How did you get into bounce and what led you to become an instructor?
Mathilda from Kulture Studios reached out to me to ask if I was interested in trying out a bounce class. I did a quick Google search and found that it seems like a pretty fun workout. After the first Cardio Burn session with Jae, I was hooked (and sweaty).
Bouncing on a trampoline makes me feel like a kid, plus it’s a different take on cardio. Unlike running, music and coordination play a bigger role in bounce because it’s a rhythm-based workout and there are many moves that we can do on the trampoline. Moreover, the rebounding mat puts less pressure on my joints, as opposed to the hard pounding on concrete during my runs, so it was a refreshing change.
So, when I got asked whether I wanted to be an instructor, it was a definite yes for me.
When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?
Thankfully, I do not think I have experienced any incidents that particularly made me feel insecure about myself. I was always the kid that faded into the background, so that’s great.
There aren’t any adversities that I have encountered yet, but I do foresee one coming towards me. For context, I’m studying Business Analytics at the School of Computing now, but I have always shown a keen interest in Marketing. I’m graduating next semester, but I have not decided whether I should pursue what I like to do or what I am groomed to do.
Since young, I was privileged enough to try out anything that I wanted, thanks to my parents. When I said I wanted to learn the piano, my dad bought me a piano. When I said I wanted to play the guitar, tadaa I got a guitar. While studying for my A Levels, I also set up my own business on Carousell to sell bullet journal supplies (it’s essentially stationery) for fun. That was when I found my interest in marketing.
Right now, I’m torn between choosing a career that is financially stable (but unenjoyable) and one which is enjoyable (but not financially stable). I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
The most recent encounter was during my first bounce class. It was a community class, and I invited all my friends and family to attend my class. Everyone I knew was in the studio, and all 40 trampolines were filled. Considering that I’m an introvert (yes, I am), standing in front of so many people was nerve-wracking.
I doubted myself even as I prepared to go on stage. Did I train enough? What if I forget the moves? What will they think of my class? These were some negative thoughts that popped into my mind and made me lose my confidence.
Thankfully, my first class was filled with people I know, so seeing their smiles encouraged me to put my best foot forward. Subsequently, I conducted more classes, and I slowly (but surely) became more confident in my delivery, relying less on my phone and focusing more on the present. Practice makes perfect and I couldn’t agree anymore.
Did you ever struggle with your body/weight? When/why/how?
When I first started my fitness account in 2021, I didn’t want any friends or family to know about the existence of this account. I didn’t feel like I had the “ideal” body type that society expects from fitness influencers. I was also affected by my low self-esteem from all the comments about my weight before I started working out on a regular basis.
However, I realised that not many people cared about how I looked, but instead how I carry myself. Thankfully, I’m lucky not to have met any nasty internet trolls, and the people I’ve met online have been more than friendly.
Are you content with your body now?
I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and more active than I ever was – so that’s a win for me. Working out is no longer about aesthetics to me. I’d rather be strong than just look strong; I’d rather have the ability to run a marathon than have six-pack abs. I’d take being strong rather than skinny any day!
Sure, I still don’t have the “ideal” body type of a fitspo but I’m happy with where I am now. I’m able to do the things I love, and meet wonderful people from the fitness community - what more can I ask for? I think it’s important to put less emphasis on aesthetics, and more on the process because looks fade with time after all.
Stay consistent and you will be rewarded. It’s badass to stay consistent!
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
Regretfully, yes. Before I embarked on my fitness journey, my relatives would always call me out for my weight, and it affected me quite a bit. I agreed with what they said, but it just wasn’t nice to hear it. I would always mask my feelings by laughing it off or joking along with them, but I decided to do something about it when I moved back home during the lockdown.
When I started to lift weights during the home workouts (go check out Caroline Girvan on YouTube! LOVE her!), my mom discouraged it because she said it’ll make me look manly and bulky LOL. Come on, it was only 2kg dumbbells… But I did it anyway LOL. On the other hand, my brother showed full support for me and even encouraged me to get heavier dumbbells. Thanks bro <3
Since I started going to F45 Pasir Ris West, I started to lift heavier weights and I feel much stronger. The trainers are super encouraging, and they always see the potential in me, so I am grateful for that.
As for things I’d like to change about myself, I would like to change my attitude toward myself. I’m working towards being more reflective and self-aware, to view situations objectively from a third person’s point of view.