How two busy executives transformed their bodies and improved their lives by finding pockets of time for fitness.
It can be challenging to find time, or even the motivation to squeeze in exercise amidst a hectic lifestyle, but as long as you want to get active and healthy, you’ll be sure to find something among the wide variety of HPB’s exercise programmes, be it by getting your boogie on with fun exercise dance classes, unwinding through leisure walking programmes or building the shopaholic stamina in you through mall workouts.
Two professionals share their strategies with HealthHub.
Who: Quek Oon Hong, 48
Occupation: Creative Director
Exercise programmes: Sunrise in the City classes for kickboxing and KPOPX
“I never knew how unfit I was until I went for a mission trip in Nepal in 2014,” confessed Quek, who never used to exercise. The team had to climb a hill to visit a church. Even though the climb wasn’t difficult, Quek quickly felt faint and her knees began aching just 10 minutes into the hike.
“When I reached the summit, I almost fainted! But after I began filming the villagers, an eagle soaring in the sky above swooped and glided around us. I realised that I would have missed this wonderful encounter had I not pushed myself to go on. From then on, I was motivated to get healthy so I could see all the wonders in the world.”
Upon returning home, she started working out at the gym with her husband. A few months later Quek joined a new company where some of her colleagues were already enrolled in the Sunrise in the City programme. Encouraged by them, she signed up for KPOPX and kickboxing classes, which she now attends twice weekly.
“I’m not a K-pop fan!” Quek exclaimed empathically. “But it has really helped to build my stamina. Kickboxing helped strengthen my joints, particularly my knees. I like the fact that HPB ties up with reliable fitness centres to conduct the programmes. There is such a wide variety of classes and timings to choose from, the best part being that they are free!”
With the support of her company, Quek has found a way to balance work and exercise. “I use my lunch hour to exercise and take another hour for travel, washing up and to grab a quick bite. To make up for the extra hour, I come in to work earlier. I really appreciate my company for allowing this flexibility!”
And where she once nearly failed in making it up a hill, Quek is now going to places she never dreamt she could. “I have climbed up rocky cliffs in Indonesia to watch nesting terns. I’ve also gone wildlife trekking in Cuba. My current goal is to return to Nepal to witness the migration of Himalayan raptors.”
Who: Jane Chiew, 46
Exercise programmes: National Steps Challenge™, i-Run, Sunrise in the City classes for Zumba and Body Balance
Ten years ago, Chiew used to suffer constant headaches, tiredness, breathlessness, and pain in her neck and shoulders. “Taking painkillers and going through homeopathic treatments only alleviated the symptoms temporarily,” she shared with HealthHub. “Finally, I went to see a doctor and he diagnosed me with hypertension. He told me in no uncertain terms that I could either choose to exercise and improve my health, or depend on medication for life.”
Today, Chiew is proud to say that she’s resolved her hypertension without relying on medication at all. “It was clear to me that I had to take control. So I began working out with a trainer every day, who designed a suitable fitness and diet programme for me.”
Jane Chiew in the middle.
Chiew got to know about HPB programmes when her company introduced them to encourage staff to lead active lifestyles. She started to attend HPB health talks, and joined the free i-Runs intermittently — Tuesdays at UOB Plaza and Wednesdays at Labrador Park. Through the runs, she met other running enthusiasts and eventually took part in the Gold Coast Marathon with them in 2014.
Currently, Chiew has signed up for the National Steps Challenge™, “as it’s a fun activity to do with friends and an easy way get in some extra exercise. The vouchers we get upon hitting a certain amount of points are an added incentive!”
She admits that making exercise a priority can be challenging amidst all her other commitments, but nevertheless, she manages to work out at least thrice a week. “I usually exercise after work, but when I can’t, I wake up early to squeeze in some exercise before work or during my lunch hour. It is my commitment to my health, and I won’t compromise that.”
Recently, Chiew even signed up for free Zumba classes on Saturdays from the Sunrise in the City programme after finding a participating gym near her home. She has plans to join the Body Balance classes too.
Jane Chiew on the right.
Exercise has no doubt changed Chiew’s life: “I’ve developed stronger, closer friendships. I’ve even gone mountain trekking and run marathons in countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, Australia and Japan.”
Hoping that others will be touched by exercise as well, she’s set up an exercise club and organises regular local trekking trips every month to encourage colleagues and friends to join in.
Her tip for finding the motivation to exercise is to take ownership of one’s life: “Without ownership, there is no accountability and therefore no time. Working out with like-minded companions also helps to motivate and spur me on. It’s definitely more fun when you do it with friends!”
This article was first published on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 in the The Straits Times. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.
Contributed By: Health Promotion Board (HPB)