Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Joy Kuan

Joy Kuan represented Singapore in the track and field competition at the 2015 SEA Games. (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: Joy Kuan (@joykuan)

Age: 28

Height: 1.67m

Weight: 56kg

Occupation: Athletics coach, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) trainer 

Status: Single

Diet: I just eat three meals a day and eat everything in moderation. 

Training: I go to the gym 2 to 3 times a week either for general strength training or HIIT, and then I go for long runs and sometimes interval runs on the track.

After graduating from university 2014, Joy Kuan began her competitive track and field career on the advice of her ex-coach. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

You come from a sports background.

Yup, I’ve only been in sports co-curricular activities since primary school – track and field and dragonboating. I was very competitive and made sure I got the chance to represent my schools at local competitions.

As much as I was competitive though, I did not take my sporting performance very seriously and was often contented with just participation or qualifying for the semi-finals. It was only after university that I decided to be more committed and start training more seriously. 

What happened next?

I joined track and field at the age of nine, but did only sprint events (100m, 200m). After I graduated from university in 2014, I was self-training every day at the Co-Curricular Activities Branch (CCAB) track and it was pretty aimless. Then, my ex-coach approached me in October 2014 and asked if I was interested in trying out the 400m distance. He also planted the idea of trying out for the 2015 SEA Games squad.

Coincidentally at the same time, I got a job at a school which was near the CCAB track and allowed me to leave earlier to train. I put in the hours diligently six times a week and only had six months to qualify for the team.

Joy Kuan is now an athletics coach, as well as a HIIT trainer, and focuses on teaching movement patterns. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

I guess I was pretty fearless and gave my all at every training and competition. The opportunities to compete every month really helped me in learning how to pace myself during my races. By April 2015, I was ranked top five in the women’s 400m race, and that was where my journey to the 2015 SEA Games began.

How did you feel about representing Singapore?

I first received my national attire in March 2015 and I remembered the excitement and pride donning it at my first international meet in the Philippines. Growing up I never believed that I would make it this far and I only admired others from the screens. It was really like a dream come true for me and I felt immense pride whenever I represented the nation. 

You are now an athletics coach and a HIIT trainer. How do these two jobs complement each other? 

My passion for the sport is the reason why I decided to become a coach. I focus more on movement patterns, as I find that it is very useful to teach my athletes or clients to learn to be more aware of their body and movements.

It is through this awareness that they can execute movement better and eventually benefit from the exercise and workout they intended to do. 

Despite retiring from competitive sports, Joy Kuan continues to keep herself fit with long runs, HIIT sessions and track interval trainings. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

What are your fitness goals?

Now that I have retired from competitive sports, I just want to focus on doing what I like routinely – such as regular long runs, HIIT sessions and track intervals. I set small goals for myself along the way; for example, to be able to lift at least 1.25 times my body weight for cleans. This routine will help me stay fit and healthy and who knows, perhaps start competing in another sport someday?

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

I felt the least confident about myself when I was not doing well in track as I was battling with injuries. It was in 2017 when my body started to give up on me with multiple relapses of back injuries in a year. I could not train or compete in good shape and my performance suffered a lot.

I guess I never really overcame it as it was a “make it or break it” thing. I just learned to accept it and eventually move on from there. I am happier and more confident where I am now and that's all that matters. 

Are you satisfied with your body now and why?

I will learn to be more satisfied with my body. I definitely want to be leaner. 

Have you ever received any comments about your body?

Back in secondary school, someone once told me I had a very huge tummy and it was then that I became more conscious about my body. I feel that sports really gave me an easier way out to losing tummy fat.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Joy Kuan. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)