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: Tay Jia Wei (@tjw_box)
Occupation: Boxing personal trainer/coach
Food: I don't follow any specific diet. I’ve experimented with many types of diets, and what works best for me is eating everything in moderation. I do try to stick to a higher protein diet though.
Exercise: I train four to six times a week, mainly mixed martial arts (MMA) and strength training.
Q: You started boxing at a young age of 14. How did you get started?
A: I used to get into fights in school and wanted to pick up martial arts to defend myself. My goal was to get into MMA initially, so I started off with boxing as a striking discipline. My coach back then thought I was doing okay in it and I decided to stick with it.
You went on to represent Singapore in boxing. At which point did you decide you wanted to take boxing further and compete?
From the day I started, I had an "all in or all out" mentality and knew that I want to represent Singapore on an international stage eventually.
What are some of the highlights of your boxing career?
I won a silver medal for Singapore at the Southeast Asia Games in 2015. Apart from that, I’ve been in many high-level boxing tournaments that gave me tons of experience and knowledge.
What were some of the challenges as a national athlete?
Having to juggle school, work and training has always been a struggle for most athletes. Apart from that, boxing requires you to "cut weight" for a certain weight class and it can get very physically demanding.
On top of these, I had to give up a lot of social and family time, which meant less fun times with people around me.
When did you decide to retire from competitive boxing?
In 2020, my late grandfather was sick and COVID-19 hit, so I took it as a sign to take a break from fighting to spend more time with him. As my personal career progressed, I decided to put a stop to my boxing career.
You are now competing in amateur MMA. Why did you decide to venture into MMA?
I got into MMA shortly after I stopped boxing competitively at the end of 2020. But then I got injured and had to take a long break from it. In 2022, I started to take it more seriously and decided to compete in 2023.
I realised that martial arts has always been in my life and I wanted to better myself as a lifelong martial art practitioner. It almost felt like going back to school and picking new subjects and trying to excel in it. However, I don't think that I would make it a career right now – it takes away the fun of it.
When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?
I was a chubby kid and often got made fun of in school. Apart from that, I’ve always felt misunderstood and "different" from my peers. Over the years, I’ve learnt to accept that feeling "different" only means you are with the wrong crowd. Once you realign yourself with your people, there will be a sense of belonging.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
This was probably when I was a kid and also in my early teenage years. I was overweight and had low self-confidence, but I overcame it through martial arts. The gruelling boxing training and challenging aspect of competition helped change my life, body image and life perspective.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
Yes, I am no longer conscious about my body as I am getting older. We are all born with different body types and predispositions. As long as you feel healthy and fit, it will eventually manifest through your body.
Do you get any comments about your body?
Being comfortable and healthy is more important to me than external validation. I do get praises from time to time but I try not to let it get over my head.
If you could change anything about yourself, would you?
I try to improve myself as a person internally rather than externally. A healthy mental and spiritual state will manifest outwardly in your physical form. I am striving towards a healthier mind, body and spirit. It is a constant work in progress.