Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Stephanie Leong

·Contributor
·6-min read
Stephanie Leong is a tech recruiter, UI/UX designer, as well as a fitness instructor.
Stephanie Leong is a tech recruiter, UI/UX designer, as well as a fitness 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: Stephanie Leong (@bunbunbunz)

Age: 27

Height: 1.68m

Weight: 60kg

Occupation: Tech Recruiter, UI/UX Designer, Fitness Instructor

Status: Single

Food: I eat everything and anything. No diet!

Exercise: On a weekly basis, I mix a few sessions of spinning, strength training, hot yoga, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and boxing just to keep it interesting. I try to move at least once a day.

Q: What has your fitness journey been like?

A: When I was younger, I was in track and field, cross country, ballet, tennis and dance. As I got older, spinning, HIIT and hot yoga classes at boutique gyms quickly became a huge part of my lifestyle.

I got really inspired in my practice and am now teaching these disciplines myself.

Stephanie tried activities such as  track and field, cross country, ballet, tennis and dance when she was younger.
Stephanie tried activities such as track and field, cross country, ballet, tennis and dance when she was younger. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

When did you first start going to the gym?

I first started gymming when I was living abroad in New York City, as there was a huge craze about working out at boutique studios.

In the past, I was a huge runner and would usually go for long distance runs outdoors. However, in the fall and winter, it got too cold to do that in the snow, so I turned to studio classes and got hooked.

How did you get into spinning and yoga specifically?

My best friend was really addicted to spinning and brought me for my first class. I felt like I was completely dead by the end of it, but I was so excited about the music and lights that we went back the next few consecutive days to ride even more. It quickly became an addiction.

Yoga found me at a low point in my life and was a huge part of my healing, which is why I stayed with the practice.

What led you to become an instructor?

Instructing was actually something I did on the side of my corporate job just for fun, but I grew to love it so much, it became my career and I was teaching full-time for three years. I love the connection with people, energy created in the room, and watching people progress in their strength and endurance over time.

I was working as a community specialist for WeWork and I’ve always been interested in the power of building a strong community and finding connection with one another. I carried that same love for community into fitness, but I’ve since gone back to a corporate job in design and headhunting as I wanted to challenge myself professionally in other ways.

Stephanie loves her fitness instructor job because of the connection with people.
Stephanie loves her fitness instructor job because of the connection with people. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

A big dislike would be the inevitable encounters with rude or entitled people. They seem to pop up from time to time and I don’t have the energy to deal with impolite and inconsiderate people. No thanks! For the most part, the fitness industry has many kind and loving people, and it’s a vibrant community that cares for one another.

What are the highlights and the challenges about having a career in fitness?

Highlights: Getting to be personally mentored by my favourite fitness instructor, Bebe Ding, who is also my boss at CRU, has helped me learn and grow so much in the way I teach and deliver classes.

Challenges: It’s a saturated industry full of talented people. You can be a client’s favourite instructor one day, and not the next. You could pour your heart and soul into your classes and most people will love it, but not everyone will like your authenticity and hard work.

Long story short, tastes are always changing and it’s important to evolve with the times, while staying true to whom you are. It’s hard to not feel personally affected when your classes aren’t thriving as much as others on certain days.

Have you experienced any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?

Yes, I have always felt ugly in my facial features and my body, and this has been amplified by subconsciously comparing myself to beautiful girls I see online and in real life. I guess we all have insecurities that can be managed when we focus on finding beauty in ourselves and others in ways that we are strong, creative, empathetic and kind to others.

I was in a serious car accident with my family a couple of years ago and that made me realise time and love are our most valuable assets. The possibility of losing everything in a split second made me treasure the time I have on this earth and my loved ones even more.

Stephanie believes the fitness industry has to keep evolving to keep up with the times.
Stephanie believes the fitness industry has to keep evolving to keep up with the tastes of the times. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

I felt least confident about myself when I didn’t get the results I wanted for a certain exam and didn’t make it to my dream school. That was about 10 years ago. It shattered me as I devoted most of my time to studying and didn’t get the results I had hoped for. I remember crying and running long distances to de-stress.

I overcame that by working harder and eventually made it to the National University of Singapore and New York University, which made me feel better but on hindsight it was probably an inferiority complex and unhealthy ideal of success that I was clinging onto at the time. I still struggle with defining success on my own terms as a fitness instructor.

Did you ever struggle with your body?

I struggled with being called “fat” by a girl in my preteen years as she was a lot skinnier than me and I was comparatively more bulky with muscles from sports. I struggle a lot too with body insecurity with regards to my figure and “lack of” feminine features such as a big bosom and bottom.

But I’m learning to accept my body more day by day by focusing on what my body can do, and hope I can empower others to do the same.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

Yes I am, it’s strong and full of life!

Have you ever received any comments about your body?

Yes, sometimes people ask me how I got so lean because I have never dieted and I really just eat everything. I’d say it’s important to work out yes, but also a lot of our body shape is based on genetics, so don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t the shape you want to be, and embrace the one you’ve been given :)

If you could change anything about yourself, would you?

Yes, so many things. Hahaha! But I’m learning to accept and love myself more each day.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Stephanie Leong.
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Stephanie Leong. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
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