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: Lucas Lim (@lucascjlim)
Occupation: Personal trainer/actor/street dance instructor
Diet: My diet has changed a lot over the years – from the average Singaporean “kopitiam” diet to anything I could find in schools to anything that Deliveroo delivers to my destination. I started being mindful of what I consume only after I started out as a personal trainer. Since then, I have tried many diet plans like Keto and Atkins to get a feel of how it affects my body and I’ve learnt more about my body through this process.
Today, I home-prep my meals on weekdays – chicken breast, lean meat with rice/sweet potatoes, eggs and some vegetables. On weekends, I cut some slack and eat out but I try to keep in mind my protein intake and avoid fast food or oily food as I get really guilty after that. To me, there is really not one perfect diet plan that will suit everyone. It’s really important to find out what works and what doesn’t and this discovery can only happen through experience.
Training: I train in the gym from Mondays to Saturdays, keeping each session within 1.5 hours. I used to train like a bodybuilder— focusing on working muscle groups in isolation and it was really effective in sculpting my body.
However, in recent times, I mix my training with CrossFit movements and street dance drills to improve my physicality and functional ability. Balance is key for me and I respect all forms of training as long there is a clear method and programme with proven results.
Q: You played volleyball for a long time. How did you get started in volleyball?
A: I played badminton, basketball and soccer as a kid. Then I got started in volleyball by chance: During the CCA (co-curricular activities) trials when I was in Dunman Secondary School, we had a segment where our jump height was tested and our body measurements were taken.
At 13 years old, I was already standing at 1.69m with long arms and huge palms. The coach was like, “Wow, with your palm size, you can easily grab a volleyball.” I was like, “How do you even play volleyball?” Funny encounter but that’s how the amazing journey began.
What are some of your best achievements in volleyball?
Two consecutive A Division Schools National Volleyball Championships with Nanyang Junior College (NYJC) in 2007 and 2008. It was really special as these two years were pivotal to my growth as a player.
Playing volleyball also taught me how to be a better person as I picked up important core values which anchored me as a person during my growing years. I played for the national indoor and beach volleyball team at one point too.
When did you decide to stop playing volleyball?
When I was 21, I had a huge dilemma. I had to choose between chasing my volleyball dreams or focus on my studies as I had just begun my four-year programme in Nanyang Technological University’s Sports Science and Management.
At that time, I was focusing on beach volleyball with my partner, Jun Rui. We were at our prime, playing our best – jumping high, moving fast and training five to six times a week. However, we pitted ourselves against overseas teams and we couldn’t match up. Eventually I decided to be realistic and focus on my studies.
It was very difficult at that point as volleyball meant the world to me. I didn’t stop completely; I still played with my NYJC teammates in the inter-hall games for NTU Hall Three and I continue to play volleyball recreationally till today. Still love the game!
How did you start street dancing?
I started dancing during my national service days. To be really honest, my good friend Jiehuang and I wanted to be cool dudes and bust some moves to get the attention of ladies in clubs, so we signed ourselves up at a dance school. The style I learnt initially wasn’t what I liked. It was only until one day when I saw a video of this guy doing a “Robot” and flowing with waves that I decided that “popping” is totally my thing.
Street dance really fulfilled the artistic side of me. I’ve always been competitive in nature and the only way I have competed for 21 years is through sport. When dance came by, there were so many movement possibilities, the music was good and I just felt the need to move freely and express with confidence.
Through the years, I’ve made many local and international friends as we can easily connect through our common language of dance. It’s amazing. Furthermore, I can still be competitive by joining battles or I can be chill and just session with my friends. It’s all cool. It has been nine years and I really see myself dancing till I’m old.
You have been a personal trainer even before you graduated from university.
Yes. In 2015, I did my NTU SSM Internship programme and had the opportunity to be attached to a gym for six months and take on real-time clients. It was an interesting process as I was thrown straight into the deep end. I had to quickly discover my coaching style, learn from my mistakes and strive to be a better and responsible trainer. After the internship ended, my clients were still under my wing and that was when I had the realisation “Hey, I actually love personal training, why not make it my actual career?”
The best part about being a trainer for me is that I get to directly impact the lives of my clients. I share a very close bond with each client and this allows me to understand their struggles, communicate better and customise their programme to better suit their lifestyle as each client is very different. When they achieve their results, the sense of accomplishment is heavenly. I’ve seen clients become more confident, change the way they dress and some even switch from a corporate to a fitness career. It’s amazing!
You also dabble in a bit of TV work. Does that put any pressure on you to look a certain way?
Yes definitely: I look fat! After winning Manhunt Singapore 2016, I was casted into Firasat 2 Suria and was given a lot of airtime as “Kenji” alongside veterans. It was such an eye-opening process as I got to see myself in all angles on TV but that made me super judgmental of myself. To begin with, I’m not fat but on screen, because of my stature, I look fat. I’ve trained and worked with celebrities and they always emphasised to me how they need to stay slim to look “normal” on TV. The pressure is real.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
My JC days was the time when my belief for my academic excellence was strongly put to the test. I entered NYJC with the mindset of achieving sporting excellence in volleyball with no solid plans on my future after JC. From the start of Year One to my preliminary exams in Year Two right before the A Levels, I scored Ungraded for every subject. My teachers and my principal advised me to retain and take A Levels the following year instead.
I broke down in my room 30 days before my A levels and asked myself what I really wanted. That was when I told myself that if I as the volleyball captain give up now, how am I setting a good example for my teammates and my juniors? I want to be a leader on and off court. Volleyballers in my JC were already known for not doing well in studies, so I told myself I need to challenge the impossible.
And yes, eventually I scored grades good enough to enrol in NTU Sports Science and Management and earned the title of Sportsman of the Year 2008 in NYJC. Till this day, whenever I have doubt, I look back on that tough period to give me confidence and faith to face anything that life brings.
What are your fitness goals now?
I’m aiming to achieve the leanest version of myself by the end of 2019. I am also working on extending my reach beyond my client base and inspire people from all walks of life to achieve the best version of themselves. You can stay tuned to more of my work at www.lucaslim.sg.
Do you get any comments about your body?
People are usually amazed at how tall I am in real life as I’m quite big for an Asian. I get “Wow you are really tall!” or “Did you grow taller again?” quite often from people around me.
Other than this, everyone is really nice and they usually give me positive comments about my body but I definitely feel that there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I aspire to be that 50/60-year-old uncle who has a better body and fitness level than that of a 20-year-old.