Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Jimin Choi: 'I do my best to embody the philosophy of self-acceptance and perpetual growth'

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Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Jimin Choi is a yoga and Pilates instructor.
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Jimin Choi is a yoga and Pilates instructor. (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: Jimin Choi (@jiminyoga)

Age: 37

Height: 1.64m

Weight: 51kg

Occupation: Yoga and Pilates Instructor at PURE Group

Status: Married with two children

Food: I maintain a well-rounded and inclusive approach to my diet, enjoying a variety of foods to ensure I meet my nutritional needs. Currently, I do not follow any specific dietary restrictions and embrace a diverse range of options to promote overall health and well-being.

Exercise: I have an active lifestyle and as an instructor, I do yoga and Pilates six times a week.

A: In my younger years, I was quite distant from engaging in sports and was more of a bookworm. It is a facet of my past that many find surprising given my current interests.

During my university years, I joined a yoga programme. I found it challenging due to my stiffness, and initially I did not enjoy it. Little did I know that it would eventually start my transformative journey to becoming a yoga instructor.

Jimin began her yoga journey during her university days, but did not enjoy it initially.
Jimin began her yoga journey during her university days, but did not enjoy it initially. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

When I was younger, I was an introvert. I was neither active nor flexible, and was also dealing with scoliosis, a condition I still currently suffer from. I had never felt proud of my body and experienced multiple health scares, from being hospitalised for a kidney infection in 2011 and just last year in 2023, which made me realise the paramount importance of taking care of my well-being.

These experiences have ingrained in me the profound value of health and a daily sense of gratitude. Each time I conclude a yoga class, I remember to earnestly convey to my students, "Let's find gratitude for ourselves, appreciating the fact that we are healthy enough to step on the mat." This sentiment is heartfelt, as I understand the true significance of being grateful for our health every single day.

I embarked on my cabin crew journey in 2009, concluding my time in the industry in 2011. My lifestyle as a cabin crew member was filled with adventure, but it also took a toll on my health. For example, it was common for me to be standing in heels for extended periods of time to assist passengers, and over time this contributed to my worsening scoliosis.

My husband and I both worked in the aviation industry and were constantly flying. But after giving birth to two kids, the decision to step back from flying was a natural one. This shift allowed me to better prioritise my health and well-being, leading me towards a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

In 2018, I embarked on my fitness teaching career, but it was in 2021 that I met a yoga instructor from PURE Group, Hee Boon. His class had a profound impact and inspired me to pursue a full-time role as a yoga and Pilates instructor at PURE Group from 2021. I started to conduct workshops in 2022 for students who want to elevate their yoga practice beyond the usual classes. I also took a leap of faith to expand my portfolio and be certified as a Reformer Pilates instructor in 2023.

In 2024, as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher 200 (E-RYT 200) with more than 1,000 hours of teaching, I was given the opportunity to lead my first yoga teacher training course to guide current and future yoga instructors. I am thankful to have worked with remarkable students and colleagues at PURE Group and I look forward to continuing honing my craft so that I can share the transformative power of yoga with everyone through various platforms.

My journey as an influencer began two years ago when I reached 100,000 followers on social media. Being an influencer has brought only positive opportunities into my life, and I am grateful for the experiences and the incredible people I have met along the way. The most rewarding aspect of being an influencer is the ability to have a platform and share my knowledge with people from all walks of life around the world.

Jimin is a proponent of doing yoga with her kids.
Jimin is a proponent of doing yoga with her kids. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Yes they do. Three years ago, during the pandemic and lockdown, all yoga classes had to shift online. This was when my kids witnessed me teaching yoga for the first time. Imagine my surprise when I realised that they started participating in my Zoom classes in the background. It's truly amazing how the pandemic brought my family together to embrace yoga – a silver lining in challenging times.

I am a strong advocate of family yoga, and my family actively participates in my yoga practice and career. In 2022, I became a certified kids yoga instructor which enhanced my ability to teach children. Throughout this journey, I've had the pleasure of collaborating with incredible companies like Meddy Teddy, an international mindfulness movement, to host a series of yoga workshops for children at PURE Group.

I firmly believe that practising yoga is not exclusive to adults and have seen the remarkable benefits first-hand in my own children since they started practising yoga. Not only does yoga impart strength and flexibility, but it also promotes resilience and the ability to calm ourselves down during challenging times, since it gives them a heightened awareness of their own bodies.

B.K.S. Iyengar, the founder of the style of yoga as exercise, asserts that yoga has a threefold impact on health: maintaining the well-being of healthy individuals, hindering the onset of diseases, and facilitating recovery from illnesses. Engaging in yoga has not only kept my children physically active, enhancing their mobility, but it has also instilled in them the invaluable skill of calming their minds.

One of my favourite verses from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Abhyasa Vairagyabhyam Tan Nirodhah (Chapter I, Verse 12), emphasises the idea that through consistent practice and focused concentration in yoga, the mind can be controlled and stilled. Through this, yoga has had a profound impact on my children's well-being.

Yeah, there have been times when I've felt a bit less confident about myself, both physically and mentally. Having a public profile means I occasionally get harsh comments or critical feedback about my classes which sometimes affects my confidence in myself. But here is the thing: there's no great teacher without great students, and there are no great students without great teachers. We're all in this together. As the saying goes, you can go fast alone, but you cannot go far.

Having a strong support system within the yoga community helped Jimin overcome negative thoughts.
Having a strong support system within the yoga community helped Jimin overcome negative thoughts. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

I've learned to overcome the negative thoughts by focusing on the positive comments I’ve received from students who have experienced a positive impact from my classes, and have expressed appreciation for them. I have also come to realise how important my yoga community is and I am genuinely grateful for the incredible community I have at PURE Group. Without these wonderful people, I would not be here where I am. We support each other and that's what makes this journey meaningful and fulfilling.

Absolutely, having two kids has taken me through the entire cycle of gaining weight, feeling overweight, experiencing fatigue, and then going through the recovery phase. While being a mum is undoubtedly a true gift, it does come with significant sacrifices, especially for the body. However, yoga has been a lifesaver for me in every way, helping me regain control over my body and fostering a sense of well-being. It is incredible how yoga has played a pivotal role in my journey to recovery and rediscovering a healthier and more balanced self.

I am content with my body now. Practising yoga has taught me that it is not about striving to be super fit. Instead, it is a journey of learning how to surrender, letting go of judgments and expectations. Letting go does not mean giving up – it means seeing things as they are, accepting them, and being grateful for what I have in the moment. It is about finding a positive state of mind rather than chasing perfection through the physical body. Yoga has truly shifted my perspective, emphasising the importance of inner well-being and self-acceptance over external standards.

I do my best to embody the philosophy of self-acceptance and perpetual growth. Rather than fixating on changing specific aspects of myself, I've adopted an approach of gratitude and openness to the continual process of self-discovery. I view each experience, whether positive or challenging, as a valuable contributor to my personal and spiritual development.

It was through a recent health scare that I learned to appreciate even the smallest things in life, and to view criticism as a humbling teacher. For me, the journey revolves around embracing authenticity and cultivating a positive mindset. This philosophy not only shapes my individual path, but also serves as a guiding force, inspiring those I have the privilege to lead on their unique journey to well-being.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Jimin Choi. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Jimin Choi. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)