How to progress in your squats without pain


The squat is a common assessment tool that many coaches will use even before designing a training program for you. It is also one of the most popular exercises in your programming, whether it is for strength, weight loss or rehab from injuries.

Squatting is one of our primal movement patterns that makes up all the activities that we do everyday. If done correctly, squats can actually help to reduce knee pain, build lower body strength, and improve sporting performance. (Bonus – incorporating squats into your workouts also build those strong shapely glutes that nicely fill out a pair of fitted jeans.)

Despite having done it since we are toddlers and its many benefits, a lot of us still have difficulty performing it correctly, without causing knee pain or lower back discomfort. We often see people avoiding this exercise, claiming that it “causes knee pain”, but many times this is actually due to performing the exercise incorrectly.

Squats do not cause knee pain; squats performed incorrectly cause knee pain.

The key to a pain-free and effective squat is to load the hips first and not the knees, but this is sometimes easier said than done! Which is why we have come up with these squat progressions to help you build up to a strong and correctly executed squat. 

What gets loaded first gets loaded maximally.

*** Basic Squat Technique - Start with feet at shoulders-width apart, look ahead, maintain a neutral spine, and sit back into the squat. Keep you core braced and drive your knees out and maintain good toe, knee, and hip alignment.

Squat Progression – 5 Exercise Variations

To squat effectively, we need a good ankle and hip mobility, as well as the ability to keep our body stable through these joints as we progress to a loaded squat. Here are some simple ways to progress your squat effectively:

1. TRX Squat


This allows you to sit back in the squat as it maintains your upper body and is a great way to build your squat depth and confidence.

2. Banded Squat 


This is very similar to the TRX squat. But as the resistance band is stretchable, it is less stable and not as ‘fixed’ as the TRX, requiring you to control the movement and stability of your body slightly more than the TRX.

3. Box squat 


We now need to maintain our torso position, but the box reduces our range of movement and helps us to shift our weight backwards. This is a great way to help build correct knee position and a safe squat depth.

4. Box squat with medicine ball press


As your core gets stronger, you can switch to a lower box that allows you to squat deeper. We now introduce a counterbalance by pressing the ball in front as we shift the hips back. This a great way to maintain stability and an upright torso position as we squat through a greater range of motion.

5. Goblet Squat


This exercise is many coaches’ staple, as the position of the dumbbell or Kettlebell helps maintain core stability and a better center of gravity, which actually makes it feel easier than a bodyweight squat!

Once you are comfortable performing the goblet squat, you can increase the load or progress to a front rack Kettlebell squat, barbell front squat, or barbell back squat.


Our advice would always be to find a qualified coach to assess your movement, mobility, and squat technique so that they can correctly advise on the progressions that you need. But in the meantime, you can give the above 5 squat variations a try!

About the author

Leigh Withers is a Personal Training Manager at UFIT. Since making a career change from financial accounting 11 years ago, Leigh has lived his passion for the fitness industry in the UK, Middle East, Asia and Europe. He’s worked with some of UK’s leading fitness educators, such as Discovery Learning, Fitness Wales, Train Fitness, along with Cardiff Met University.

During his time in the Middle East,  Leigh was part of a ground-breaking project to deliver industry-accredited training qualifications to leading gyms in the UAE.  He played a key role with the Bahrain Military Defence Hospital to provide training and education to their physiotherapists who were leading the country's first Centre of Excellence Obesity Project. He also worked with Bapco and the country’s leading dietician to front Bahrain’s ‘Biggest Loser’ campaign, and presented to hundreds of employees.

Leigh has spent time training with some of the leading figures in the industry, and has recently completed his Certified Physical Preparation Specialist Certification (CPPS) with Joe De Franco and Jim Smith at the Onnit Academy in Austin, Texas.

6 tips for eating clean over the holidays

Whether you remain in Singapore for the holidays or travel elsewhere for the upcoming holidays, your healthy eating habits needn't go pear-shaped this summer. Take these six healthy tips from UFIT Nutritionist Wendy Riddell on board for a nourished and lean body no matter where you are: 

1. Load up on plenty of veggies and a little fruit

When it comes to vegetables in particular, most of us aren't getting enough. In America alone over 80% of the population isn’t consuming enough. Eating more fruit and vegetables can help significantly reduce your risk for a number of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer.

The fibre in whole produce also helps keep your microbiome (the collection of good bacteria that live in your gut) happy, which can reduce your risk for autoimmune diseases, fight off pathogens and infections and even improve your mood. Every year the USDA releases a list of products that are worth investing in organic.

 Your mum was right. Don't forget your veggies: pick your own at  The Daily Cut .

Your mum was right. Don't forget your veggies: pick your own at The Daily Cut.

 Proteins, veggies and fruit - so much goodness in one little bowl with  Aloha Poke .

Proteins, veggies and fruit - so much goodness in one little bowl with Aloha Poke.

2. Eat good grains and nuts

The cleanest whole grains are the ones that have been touched the least by processing. Think whole grains that look most like their just-harvested state—quinoa, wild rice, oats. While some people abstain from eating any processed grains, we think that whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain bread made with simple ingredients are part of eating clean.

Don't get duped by "whole-grain" claims on labels though, to eat clean packaged whole grains you need to take a closer look at the ingredients. Whole grains should always be the first ingredient, the ingredient list should be short and recognisable, and it should have minimal (if any) added sugar.

When you swap out refined carbs (like white pasta, sugar, and white bread) for whole grains you'll get more fibre, antioxidants and inflammation-fighting phytonutrients. Plus, people who eat more whole grains have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off long term. Nuts and seeds are also an amazing addition to get your good proteins and carbs in, not to mention some healthy fats.

We should aim to get seeds into our nutrition daily and nuts every other day.

The Whole Kitchen has several amazing products that will help you get these good nutrients in, ethical and tasty to boot.


3. Eat good quality proteins

Picking your sources of protein is very important. Protein provides energy and supports your mood and cognitive function. Protein is a vital nutrient required for building, maintaining, and repairing tissues, cells, and organs throughout the body. When you eat protein, it is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy. The amino acid tryptophan influences mood by producing serotonin, which can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve overall cognitive function.

Most animal sources of protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, deliver all the amino acids your body needs, while plant-based protein sources such as grains, beans, vegetables, and nuts often lack one or more of the essential amino acids. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eat animal products to get the right amino acids. By eating a variety of plant-based sources of protein each day you can ensure your body gets all the essential amino acids it needs.

Eating the right amount of high-quality protein gives you the energy to get up and go—and keep going. As well as being imperative to feeling healthy and energetic, protein is also important to the way you look. Eating high-quality protein can help you maintain healthy skin, nails, and hair, build muscle, and maintain lean body mass while training and eating well.

Distinguishing between industrially raised meat and organic, grass-fed meat is only part of separating low and high-quality sources of protein.  While some processed or lunch meats, for example, can be a good source of protein, many are loaded with salt, which can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems.  Processed meats have also been linked with an increased risk of cancer, likely due to the substances used in the processing of the meat.

The key to ensuring you eat sufficient high-quality protein is to include different types in your diet, rather than relying on just red or processed meat. We love the high-quality proteins sourced from The Meat Club, as well as post-training protein boosters such as the pea-based powders from Nuzest


4. Watch Out for Processed Foods

We're not opposed to all processed foods. Technically when we chop, mix and cook at home we are processing foods. The trouble is that so much of the processed food at the supermarket is processed beyond the point of recognition. Crisps shouldn’t be bright orange in colour or covered in cheese.

Keep an eye out for anything with lots of sugar and refined grains, and a super-long ingredient lists with foods you don't recognise and anything with partially hydrogenated oils. Clean processed foods exist and The Whole Kitchen and The Providore has a great range.

And while you can make salad dressings, pasta sauce, mayo, hummus and broth at home, you can also find clean versions at the store. Just read the ingredients list.


5. Limit Added Sugar

Most people eat too many added sugars. The recommend daily amount is only 8 to 11 teaspoons of sugar a day. The average American gets about 4 times that amount — 28 teaspoons of added sugar per day!!

To clean up your diet, cut down on added sugars by limiting sweets like soda, candy and baked goods. But it's more than just sweets and desserts — keep an eye on sugars added to healthier foods like yoghurt (choose plain), tomato sauce and cereal. Look for foods without sugar as an ingredient, or make sure it's listed towards the bottom, which means less of it is used in the food.

When you're eating out, go for reduced sugar options by ordering eggs, mushrooms and avocado for breakfast instead of the cereal - and more white spirits and sparkling water than cocktails. You and your taste buds will still have an amazing time at great places like Tanjong Beach Club and Super Loco and your body will love you for it!


6. Consider the Environment

Clean eating is better for you and the planet. The food we eat takes resources to get to our plate. Food that needs to be transported from thousands of miles away to your store is adding to our carbon footprint, not to mention that they are likely to be loaded with preservatives. Wherever possible, stick to seasonal vegetables and fruits that are regional to ensure you are eating the freshest and tastiest produce.

When you visit other countries with their own seasonal produce, tuck in and cherish those rich, real food flavours!! 


Don't forget about your UFIT Perks discounts!

As a UFIT client you get a discount at many of these awesome food providers and more by quoting the UFIT promo code or showing your UFIT Perks keytag. 

About the author:


Wendy Riddell is a degree-qualified nutritionist with 18 years of experience. She runs the highly popular UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge, which successfully helped thousands of people lose weight and develop healthy eating habits. 

Wendy is also a fully qualified personal trainer and bootcamps coach, with experience in running fitness programs in Australia and Singapore. A regular CrossFitter, she has competed in multiple obstacle races, half-marathons and cycling races in Singapore and in the UK. Wendy is a great believer that anyone can achieve anything with the right support. “I can, and I will.” is one of Wendy’s favourite phrases. She has four young children and understand first hand the challenges of balancing a healthy lifestyle with the demands of daily life.

Nutrition & training advice during the Ramadan


For many Muslims who observe the practice of fasting during the month of the Ramadan, the period is a time for mindful contemplation and detox. Muslims abstain from food and water between sunrise to sundown. While some people lose weight during this period, some put on the pounds from excessive late night binge. 

Exercise keeps the body healthy and the mind sharp. During the fasting month, it is safe to exercise so long as you do it responsibly and listen to your body. UFIT expert nutritionist and avid sportsperson Patsy Soh gives her advice on what you should be eating if you want to maintain your training intensity during the fasting month.

Separately, we speak to Dean Ahmad – COO of UFIT and experienced fitness professional with a 10-year track record, and Nada Khalid – Physiotherapist by day and professional Muay Thai fighter by night, to find how how they adjust their training program during this period.


What are the general nutritional considerations during the fasting month?
PATSY Dehydration and over consumption of calories from fried and sugary foods are the top concerns during this period. Dehydration affects our training performance, so it's important to get adequate fluids throughout the night till bed time. Start with drinking 2 cups water at the break-fast meal, then a cup every hour till you go to bed. That's approximately 6 cups, and another 2 cups at the pre-dawn meal. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea are diuretics (dehydrating) so don't count that towards your fluid intake. Filling up your stomach with too much water too quickly may cause you to throw up, or multiple visits to the toilet.

 Ensure you are properly hydrated between your break-fast and pre-dawn meal.

Ensure you are properly hydrated between your break-fast and pre-dawn meal.

The common misconceptions about fasting and nutrition?
PATSY The most common misconception is the idea that just because one has not eaten anything for whole day, they have the license to binge at buffets, especially on high fat (e.g. fried chicken, pakoras, french fries, mutton briyani) and high sugar drinks and desserts (e.g. bandung, churros, kueh kueh, cupcakes, waffles). Due to the reduction in physical activity in the day, overloading of sugary drinks, desserts, and carbs at the break-fast meal would lead to "food coma". Instead of having processed sugary food at break fast, have 2 to 3 dates, 1 to 2 slices of fresh fruits, or a handful of berries and grapes.

For people who exercise and want to maintain their fitness levels, what should they take note of in their nutrition this month?
PATSY If you work out lightly to moderately: ensure adequate fluids during and after work outs. Take an electrolyte drink if you are exercising outdoors.
If you work out Intensively (e.g. athletes training for competitions): Each athlete has their own competition diet plan, so just try and stick to that as best as you can. People who do a lot of cardio need more complex carbs, while people who strength train will need more protein. So they might need to add protein powder to their smoothies during this time.

Is it better to plan workouts around or close to meal times?
PATSY I think it's up to the individual person. Logically, I would suggest do a workout after breaking fast with some light snack - 2 dates, 2 cups of water or 1 cup water and a healthy smoothie. Do your workout and then eat a healthy dinner of 30 percent protein (e.g. beef, fish, chicken, lentils, eggs), 50 percent veggies, and 20 percent complex carbs (e.g. mix of brown & white rice, quinoa, rolled oats, chapati) within 30 to 45 minutes after training.

 Smoothies are an easy and delicious way to get in your daily dose of fresh fruits and greens.

Smoothies are an easy and delicious way to get in your daily dose of fresh fruits and greens.

Any specific foods to eat more or less of during this month to maximise training gains?
Patsy This is no different from when you are not fasting – stay away from sugar-laden drinks and high fat foods. Overconsumption of sugar results in spikes in the blood sugar level, leave you with more sugar cravings and mess up your metabolism. Go for complex or wholegrain carbs at the pre-dawn meal. They take longer to digest, and hence help to sustain your energy levels longer throughout the day.

Other relevant nutrition tips for the Ramadan month

  1. Go ahead to indulge in your favourite Ramadan dishes, but limit it to smaller bite-size portions that you can savour.
  2. Have fruits and veggies at both pre-dawn meal (in a smoothie) and break-fast meal (fill 50 percent of the plate with non starchy veggies) to prevent constipation and keep you feeling full longer.
  3. Keep food choices to a minimum to avoid overeating. Start your break-fast meal with fresh fruits, before a light dinner of 1 type of good quality protein, 2 types of non-starchy veggies, and 1 complex carb.
  4. Dessert can be small piece of dark chocolate, a cup of creamy Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of nuts and seeds, or a small serve of frozen yogurt or gelato.
  5. Limit deep-fried food to once a week. Choose grilled, baked or air-fried items. 
 Practice moderation: go ahead to indulge in your favourite festive dishes, but limit it to tasting portions!

Practice moderation: go ahead to indulge in your favourite festive dishes, but limit it to tasting portions!


Does your training routine change during the fasting month? Do you adjust your exercises and training times?

DEAN I plan my year’s training program to coincide my de-load week with the Ramadan. I switch to calisthenics (body weight) training during this period, and use it as a time to detox, rest, and recover. I usually train after breaking fast at around 8pm, three times a week.

NADA As Muay Thai is cardio demanding and I can lose about a kilo of water at each training just by perspiring, I prefer to train after a light meal after breaking fast, so that I can constantly rehydrate. I also focus more on techniques and accuracy rather than power. I tend to do less long runs or prolonged cardio so as not to deplete my glycogen stores or dehydrate myself.
To ensure that I don’t lose too much strength over the month, I make sure to make time for strength training. I lift heavy, but keep to low reps with adequate recovery time in between sets. On strength training days, I plan my workouts in the evening just before breaking fast. That way, I can replenish my glycogen stores and protein for recovery immediately after training.

 Clinic Physiotherapist Nada Khalid is also a Muay Thai fighter who competes regularly.

Clinic Physiotherapist Nada Khalid is also a Muay Thai fighter who competes regularly.

What do you eat more or less of in this month?

DEAN I only manage a snack and one meal after breaking fast. What I have a lot of are water, and about 5 dates as a snack. My meal would consist of a mix of protein, carbs, and fats. This will be my only meal in the 24-hour period!

NADA In the morning pre-dawn meal, I have more low GI foods to sustain my energy level through the day. These include whole grain cereal and dates – it’s hard to stuff yourself with food at 5am! In the evening after breaking fast, I’ll have carbs to replenish my glycogen stores, and a good dose of protein especially if I’ve done a weights session right before. And plenty of fiber to keep my gut going through the month! 

Training advice for others who are fasting in the Ramadan?

DEAN Pace yourself – try to program your year’s training to take in account the Ramadan period. Focus on more mobility work with basic lifts. Drink lots of water in the night, and don’t gorge on food during the night as it defeats the purpose of fasting! Also, doing intermittent fasting the month before Ramadan helps the body to transition to a full fast easier.

 Gorging on food at night will give you an "Iftar-belly"!

Gorging on food at night will give you an "Iftar-belly"!

NADA Spend some time to plan your schedule for the week ahead – when to train and what to eat. Listen to your body. Some days won’t go as planned (can’t lift as heavy, gassing out, feeling lethargic etc). IT’S OKAY! Cut yourself some slack (drop the weight, take a little more recovery time). Health is more important especially when we’re mostly low on glycogen stores and dehydrated by the evening. Most of us wake up early (4-5am) to have a pre-dawn meal, so ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of sleep through the night because it’s when your body’s natural healing and recovery processes are most active.

How do you feel physically this month? How do you motivate yourself?

DEAN The first 3-5 days will be hard, but after awhile your body will get used to fasting. It is a good detox for the body for the 30 days. The whole idea of Ramadan is not the fasting from food, it is also a time for Muslims to detox their minds as well, which means we are to abstain from speaking ill and to control our emotions and temper. 
The motivation comes from knowing that while I am doing this just for a month, there are people and children living in poverty who goes through this everyday of their lives without a choice. Ramadan teaches me to be thankful and count my blessings, and to help the needy wherever possible.

 NADA I usually feel the fatigue especially in the first week when the body’s adapting to the lack of food and water in the day. That’s why having a training and nutrition plan is important. Ramadan itself is a big motivating factor for me. I see it as a challenge – a test of discipline. It pushes me to be more disciplined with my training and nutrition plans. I find that I’m actually sharper, and more focused and purposeful at trainings during the Ramadan!


  PATSY SOH   Patsy is a NZ Registered Dietitian with 15 years' experience in clinical, corporate, and fitness industries. Patsy believes in a holistic approach to fitness and wellness. She is passionate to help others achieve their weight loss goals through sound nutrition and exercise prescriptions.


Patsy is a NZ Registered Dietitian with 15 years' experience in clinical, corporate, and fitness industries. Patsy believes in a holistic approach to fitness and wellness. She is passionate to help others achieve their weight loss goals through sound nutrition and exercise prescriptions.

  DEAN AHMAD   Dean specialises in strength training and corrective exercise. He believes that strength training through various modalities can benefit everyone at any age. Dean works largely with working professionals who are keen to attain fitness in the safest training environment possible.


Dean specialises in strength training and corrective exercise. He believes that strength training through various modalities can benefit everyone at any age. Dean works largely with working professionals who are keen to attain fitness in the safest training environment possible.

  NADA KHALID   As a Physiotherapist at UFIT Clinic, Nada's interests lie in rehabilitation and prevention of sports injuries through education and functional movement training. Treatment methods include manual therapy, myofascia release, dry-needling, and taping to aid in rehabilitation. Nada has worked with youth, adult and elite athletes in a multitude of sports.


As a Physiotherapist at UFIT Clinic, Nada's interests lie in rehabilitation and prevention of sports injuries through education and functional movement training. Treatment methods include manual therapy, myofascia release, dry-needling, and taping to aid in rehabilitation. Nada has worked with youth, adult and elite athletes in a multitude of sports.

UFIT Perks just for you!

Don't forget! As a UFIT client you qualify for the UFIT Perks Program, which gets you discounts at some of our favourite must-visit bars and restaurants to the very best clothing, services, and nutrition providers around Singapore. 

Here are some exciting additions to the UFIT Perks program - and there are more to come:

Jermyn Street  

The high-end barber shop in the heart of the city favoured by our Personal Trainers and many of their clients. Guys you get 15% off all services, and whilst you're there enjoy a great cup of coffee or an awesome stiffer drink from Jermyn's Street's very own well-stocked bar.  

Tasty snacks with NO refined sugar, cheap white flour, preservatives or additives. From grass-fed beef jerky to delicious snack bars, their curated menu of gluten-free snacks represents their philosophy that great taste should not be compromised by eating clean. Enjoy 10% off the beef jerky and mushroom range by typing in "UFIT" when you order from here.

Come and check out this brand new coffee and toast hole-in-the-wall bar at 31 Club Street - right beside the Emerald Hill condo - and by mentioning UFIT get 10% off your coffee.  Whilst you're there say hi to it's proud owner Denise who trains regularly at CrossFit Tanjong Pagar and loves to share training stories with fellow UFIT-ers.

Fiona Bennett is a professional makeup artist and hair stylist based in Singapore. Hailing from Australia, she's available for weddings, events, photoshoots and workshops as a freelance makeup artist and hair stylist. She is offering UFIT Perks members a 20% discount by quoting UFIT.






SPECIAL thanks to our awesome Clean & Lean and Star of the Month partners:

Completing 1,000 Bootcamp sessions - meet Bea Tang


Bea Tang recently achieve the momentous milestone of completing her 1,000th bootcamp session with UFIT! Bea is a familiar face in the UFIT Bootcamps community for the last 5 years, training daily in the lush nature of the Botanic Gardens, or crushing a Metcon session in the “jungle” of CrossFit Bukit Timah.

Bea was a corporate lawyer who used to spend long hours at work. A new year resolution at the end of 2012 to get healthier started Bea on her fitness journey, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through bootcamp training and attending UFIT’s Clean & Lean Challenges, Bea credited UFIT with giving her a new and balanced perspective on fitness and health. Being fit and healthy is a way of living, not about obsessing over the numbers on the scales.

We caught up with Bea to find out what she loves about outdoor bootcamp trainings, what keeps her motivated, and her hangover cure!

Hello Bea! Congratulations, and thank you for speaking with us! First tell us a little about yourself - how old are you? And which line of employment are you in?

Hello! I’m well into my 40’s and older than I would like to be! I’d like to say I am an enlightened lawyer – which in other words means, after over 20 years of slaving away, I’m no longer in the profession that most wish could be chained to the bottom of the ocean. These days I’m generally a contented doggy mommy. My husband and I have 2 rescued Schnauzers who keep my life fairly occupied.

What does your typical day look like?

On weekdays, I usually wake by 6am. I’d feed the dogs, head out for a work out, walk the dogs, then head home to prepare dinner. Some days I might meet up with friends for lunch. Others, I might take one of our Schnauzers, Kirby, to volunteer as a therapy dog. Mostly, I keep up with my readings, keep an eye on our investment portfolios, and run errands etc. The day tend to end early after dinner with my hubby, and a longer walk with the dogs, unless we’ve social events.

Do you make time for fitness training everyday?

My favourite time for a workout is early in the morning before the sun gets too high and the day gets too warm. I love the hour where the sun is just over the horizon, and I can get my workout in before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.

 Sunshine, endorphins, and good friends - the perfect way to start a morning!

Sunshine, endorphins, and good friends - the perfect way to start a morning!

Do you workout with your partner?

My husband, Christopher and I, have made it part of our weekend routine to start the day with a bootcamp session at Fort Canning and the Botanic Gardens.

Tell us more about how you got to know about UFIT Bootcamps over 5 years ago, and what got you interested?

At the end of 2012 when I decided to stop work as a full time corporate lawyer, I, as many others, made a New Year resolution to get my fitness journey back on track. I signed up for a pack of 5 bootcamps with UFIT and embarked on my first bootcamp session at MacRitchie Reservoir Park. That left me panting and rather demoralised but I persisted nevertheless. By the end of the 5 sessions, the bootcamp instructor had inspired me to register for an unlimited bootcamp package. I haven’t looked back since!

 By the middle of 2013, 6 months after training with UFIT, Bea has clocked in 100 bootcamp trainings!

By the middle of 2013, 6 months after training with UFIT, Bea has clocked in 100 bootcamp trainings!

Were you already physically active before that?

In school, I was very physically active, training and participating in mid-distance and cross country races. I also used to be a wakeboard junkie, heading to a secluded river in Johor to ride for entire weekends and occasionally took part in the novice category of local competitions. My husband and I are also avid scuba divers – although some will argue if that constitutes as physical activity. However, work took a precedence over health and my fitness level deteriorated dramatically. Age and a slowdown in metabolic rates also meant that I started piling on the pounds, although thankfully, my natural body shape and tan continued to project an illusion of health to the untrained eye.

Have you done other bootcamp trainings before starting bootcamp training with UFIT?

No, although prior to UFIT, I did do personal training sessions for several years and occasionally joined my hubby at his gym. Whilst it was comfortable in an air conditioned environment which provided drinks, towels, and even workout attire, nothing beats being outdoors with the tropical flora and fauna (and the bugs and wildlife that go with them)!

 Attempting a plank tower at Fort Canning bootcamp training.

Attempting a plank tower at Fort Canning bootcamp training.

Which UFIT bootcamp trainings do you attend? Has that changed over the years?

I started off training Tuesday and Thursday classes at MacRitchie which with its peaceful and tranquil environment, remained my all-time favourite location – scary monkeys notwithstanding. Subsequently I joined the SHEFIT (women only) sessions at the Botanic Gardens. Last year, I decided to give MetCon at CrossFit Bukit Timah a shot. I realised then that the booster of weight and intensity was what my body needed. I’ve since been doing 3 to 4 MetCon trainings on weekdays, and bootcamps on weekends – except when we’re travelling.

What motivates you to continue bootcamp training all these years?

I’m a masochist and relish the pain! Vanity is also one of my middle names - I’m full of glee when friends and family express envy at my defined shoulders and physique. It gives me an incentive to maintain them.


What is your favourite part of UFIT Bootcamps?

The camaraderie of working out in a group, and the competitive yet encouraging pressure which motivates me to keep going. Whilst personal training gives me dedicated attention, I found it somewhat lonely. And without others to benchmark myself against, it was easier for me to slack off and get lazy. I must say I was also very effective in convincing my former trainer that I could not do another push up.

Do you have a favourite trainer, and what you like the most about him/her?

I have no favourite trainer in UFIT as I love them all!! Currently, I think CY and Jed at MetCon class in CrossFit Bukit Timah are great, as they really kick my a** and push me to find that extra ounce of energy I didn’t think I have. I love Marcus at Sundays’ Botanic Gardens sessions as he is such a teddy bear - intimidatingly covered with ripping muscles, and yet the gentlest and most encouraging trainer. I love Rachel at Saturdays’ Fort Canning sessions even though I sometimes thought I could murder her during yet another unending stairs run or sprints up the grey hill!

 Weighted plank at MetCon training, with the perfect partner!

Weighted plank at MetCon training, with the perfect partner!

Fitness Philosophy - What does being fit mean to you? What are your fitness goals?

My goal is to be able to age gracefully and actively in a couple of decades from now. Neurological diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s run in my family. The doctor advised that I have a strong pre-disposition to such diseases, and one of the best forms of prevention is maintaining an active lifestyle.

How has your outlook on fitness changed in the last 5 years with UFIT?

I learned that I can’t adopt a myopic approach to fitness.  It’s no longer a goal of losing a few pounds, a few inches, or being able to finally do that pull up. Fitness, to me, is now a lifelong journey. I’m very glad I restarted that journey with UFIT and continue to keep that New Year resolution I embarked on more than 5 years ago. Working out is just one aspect of it. Watching what I eat and drink is an even more significant part. UFIT gave me a significant jolt and insight into that when I signed up for my first Clean & Lean Challenge in 2014, and then again in 2016. In both challenges, I’m proud to report that I came in runner-up, and more importantly, learned what it takes to inculcate a healthy eating habit. However I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an incorrigible foodie and have a particular weakness for beers and wines.

How do you motivate yourself in the times when you didn’t feel like exercising?

Thankfully, I don’t need too much motivation as working out in the mornings has become entirely engrained in my lifestyle. If I miss a workout, it feels as if the day didn’t start quite right. The only times I need a bit more of a push is after a late night out. My hubby will give me a little kick to say that bootcamp is the best cure for a hangover - which is the whole truth…followed by a Bloody Mary.


Have you inspired friends and family to start being more physically active?

I like to believe I did. My husband is now a converted bootcamp fan. Our active lifestyle also rubbed off on my dad - he’s 82 this year and is able to walk/jog for around 10km daily. For his 80th birthday, we took him on his maiden rock-climbing experience, and he rang the bell at the top of the wall before a teenage kid next to him did!

What would you say to those who say they are too old/ too busy/ too injured to start exercising?

Life is too short for excuses. To my trainers – please don’t use this against me the next time I whine!