Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Mandy Chan

Mandy Chan is the founder of multi-bag company Bow. (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: Mandy Chan (@mandyizback)

Age: 24 

Height: 1.69m

Weight: 59kg

Occupation: Founder of multi-bag company Bow/Student 

Status: Single

Diet: I don’t have any special diet.

Training: I do tempo runs twice a week, interval training once a week and my long runs on Saturday mornings. Every two weeks, I will also slot in a yoga session.

Q: Did you have any sporting backgrounds as a kid?

A: Nope. I was from a performing arts background (band and then guzheng) all the way till secondary school. My first foray into sports was when I entered junior college and joined track and field just because my best friend was in it and I thought it was cool. I was in the high jump team.

While starting her own company, Mandy Chan initially could find the time to exercise. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

You took a gap year to start Bow. That was really bold! How has life been as an entrepreneur? 

Life as an entrepreneur has been the greatest accelerator of personal growth I've experienced so far. It made me do things that I'd never thought would be possible, such as launching two Kickstarter campaigns and raising more than $100,000, and getting the chance to interact with my idol Nas Daily when he first came to Singapore (he even did a shoutout for us). I definitely didn't find time to exercise initially because there was such a steep learning curve in starting your own brand. 

When did you start to realise that it is important to have a fitness regime and work out regularly?

When I told my friend that it was cool to run a half marathon, he thought I had already signed up for it, so he went to sign up. The horror came when he realised I didn't sign up – but I eventually had to. We started training from July 2017 and that was when I started running more regularly. This actually helped me to focus more on work and forced myself to be more productive.  

Mandy Chan has since completed her first marathon in under 5hrs 30min. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

You signed up for your first marathon and completed it last year. What made you sign up for it? 

1. Don't want to live with regrets. #BeBold

I've always wanted to do a full marathon and what better time to do it than now?

2. Mind Over Body Reset

Growing up, I wasn't always a runner. I used to struggle to complete 2.4km within 16 minutes back during the fitness tests in school. When I completed my first 10km though, I couldn't believe it. Something changed inside of me that day – I realised I could do more than what I thought was possible. The same thing happened when I finished my first 21km and 35km races.

Hence for the marathon, it was time to prove to myself again that it's truly mind over body and I should not be held back by any limitations not only fitness wise, but also in my arduous startup journey and in my personal growth. 

3. Fulfil my bucket list

 In 2017, I did my first half marathon at the YOLO Run despite never attempting long distance runs in my life before. In 2018, I did my first 35km trail run at the Magnificent Merapoh Trail in Malaysia. That’s why in 2019 I wanted to complete my first marathon as part of my bucket list!

In 2019, I initially didn't sign up for any races because I sprained my foot at the end of 2018. In fact, I wasn’t running much for the first half of the year. But completing this run would be a true testament to what I believe in – the #BeBold Movement, where I want to inspire people to take a leap of faith towards their dreams despite their fears. Because even if you fail, at least you tried and that would leave you with no regrets.

Although I only had four months to properly train for the full marathon, I believe that there is never a perfect time to make THE moment; you just have to do whatever you can and just go. Completing this run would mean that I'd be more bold to take on more risks and challenges in the future (regardless of how challenging it is) so that I can lead the fullest life possible.

The race was great and I definitely went all out and gave my best effort so no regrets. I took it slow at the beginning, which helped in conserving enough energy to run for the whole journey. I even won the bet against my friends who bet that I couldn't do it in 5 hour 30 minutes. My final timing was 5 hours 18 minutes.

Mandy Chan plans to complete her next marathon at under 4hr 30min. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

What are your fitness goals now? 

To complete the marathon again, this time under 4 hours 30 minutes; to complete my first Spartan race, and to have that sexy “11” abs, haha!

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

I felt the least confident about myself when I was just starting out on my startup journey and didn't know much about starting a business. At the same time, I had that expectation to succeed in it because I took a gap year from university to pursue this startup full-time.

I guess the confidence came naturally when the sales came in and after shifting my perspective after talking to different mentors who claimed that I was comparing my chapter 1 to their chapter 10. I'm still very much a work-in-progress when it comes to this. 

Are you satisfied with your body now?

I'm slightly unsatisfied with my body because I know it can be so much better. Having a certain body shape reflects the discipline you have in your life and for me, that's something that I want to have more of. The body shape is just a tangible form of seeing your discipline. 

Have you ever received any comments about your body? 

Yes, but those are just their opinions. What's important is how I feel about myself when I look in the mirror.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Mandy Chan. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)