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.
Occupation: Actor, fitness/Brazilian jiu-jitsu/Muay Thai coach at Field Assembly
Diet: I don't follow a particular diet on a regular basis, but if I need to lose weight to make a certain weight class for a martial arts competition, I do intermittent fasting (because it’s easy to follow and I'm too lazy to learn and try out the other complex diets). However, I almost always avoid snacking, drinking soft drinks and eating fast food.
Training: When I train with the intention to compete, my training regime involves anywhere between two to four training sessions a day from Monday to Friday. These training sessions usually involve me doing either BJJ, Muay Thai, lifting weights, running or athletic conditioning.
Q: When you were younger, were you involved in any sports?
A: I was just a really active kid who played a variety of sports such as table tennis, tennis, badminton, basketball and football. I had amazing cardio and muscular endurance, but little to no strength. I was short and skinny, the tiny fella, the one who was so small that I would sit next to the teacher during class photos!
Your father was a Muay Thai coach. Was he your influence for martial arts?
Though he was a Muay Thai coach, he never forced me into doing martial arts so I never picked it up until I was 20. And when I did start, I started with BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) first, not Muay Thai. Oops? Haha!
You went on to pursue BJJ to a competitive level.
Yes, the biggest competition I've participated in is called the Pan Ams (short for Pan Americans), it's so big that my division literally has more than 120 people.
Sad story incoming: the biggest competition I was supposed to take part in was the World Championship (commonly referred to as worlds/mundials), but two weeks before the big day, I broke my nose in training and needed to go for surgery immediately! Ouch!
Right now, I just compete on a much lower frequency, like once a year instead of six. There are two main reasons for this:
My focus now is more on coaching, and I feel like i get a lot more satisfaction from watching my members grow than I do winning a competition.
When I intend to compete, I train at a much higher intensity and frequency for two months, this means there is a higher chance of getting injured; which would be terribly irresponsible of me because of my acting work. #dedication
Fitness for you is a way of life now, as well as part of your work as a coach. How does it feel to have fitness being such a significant part of your life?
I love it, I'm so well and truly happy, both mentally and physically, especially when compared to how I used to feel while I was working in a corporate role.
It's great to be able to do work I find more interesting and rewarding. Rewarding not only because I see myself get fitter, but also because I get to see my clients get fitter too. I mean, who wouldn't want to do what they love and get paid for it right? I love my life.
Being in the entertainment industry, do you face pressure to look a certain way?
I think even if I wasn't in the entertainment industry I'd face pressure. We currently live in a time where your body (note how I say body, not health) is consistently being judged.
I do feel the pressure, but for the better part of the time, I don't worry about it. I think this is because I enjoy working out, and I enjoy working out not because I want a nice body, but because I want a healthy body. The nice body is just an added bonus to the main goal, which is to be healthy.
Damn, this suddenly got so deep haha.
Do you think you are getting certain roles because you are fit?
No doubt about it. My first two prominent roles were because of my body, not ashamed to admit it.
To further elaborate - prior to actually becoming an actor, I had zero acting experience. I had never attended an acting course and had never studied acting in school. Because of this I knew that I needed to use my other attributes (fitness and martial arts skills) to weasel my way into the industry, and fortunately for me, it worked out.
Can't say how insanely thankful I am to all the people who have given me the opportunity to work with them, despite me literally being a nobody. #grateful
Have you ever struggled with your body?
I never struggled with what my body looked like when I was young, probably because there was a lot less social pressure to have that perfect body - you know, with the absence of all that junk that a lot of fitness magazines and social media accounts try to feed you.
I also don't struggle with what my body looks like now. Once again it's because my main goal is not an aesthetically pleasing body, it is my health that is the primary focus. Meaning, my body is a result of my training.
Was there ever a time where you felt the least confident about yourself?
I do recall competing in 2019, the year I first started dedicating myself to being an actor and a coach. For reasons I'm unaware of, that was the most amount of pressure I had ever felt preparing and competing. I felt what I believe to be a severe amount of anxiety and self doubt.
I kept asking myself - "Am I even training enough to compete? Am I even good enough to be a coach?" I questioned myself to the point where my life and career choices began to creep up on me and I wondered if I had made the right decisions.
How did I deal with all these negative thoughts? I simply channeled it all to work – I made sure I practised my scripts inside out and trained as hard as my body would sustainably allow.
I learnt to let the pressure, anxiety and self-doubt come, because no matter how ready you are, it will always come knocking. Just be sure that you don't let the stress and doubt freeze you and your process, because then, not only will you be filled with negative thoughts, you will also end up unprepared.
Trust your process, but more importantly, trust your ability created by the process; and if you need to, adjust the process accordingly.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I am satisfied and content with my body, but more importantly, I'd like to emphasize, the more important question is – "Am I satisfied and content with my health?"
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
I get comments about my body on a daily basis, mostly on Instagram. If it is sexual comments from friends, I'll kindly and un-crudely ask them to f*** off.
If it is in the least bit sexual from people who aren't friends, it is fully ignored. If it is a genuine compliment, I thank them for the compliment and we may end up in a short conversation about health and fitness.
I basically do my best to be a politically correct "public figure" of sorts.