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Personal Trainer | Samantha’s Journey

Hi everybody, I am Samantha, Personal trainer for Team UAF, and this is my boring/awesome (you decide, but please be nice!) fitness journey that I am sharing with you.

From a young age, I’ve always been interested in martial arts but didn’t exactly know which one I wanted to try until the TV series, “The Contender Asia” came on. It was only then that I knew I had to sign up for Muay Thai lessons at the Community Centre. I practiced it for about a year and gave it up after some bad decisions I’ve made in dating. A year into the relationship, I realized that I had given up too much and decided that I’d be better off if I had ended it. While it was easy to get rid of the emotional baggage, I was still plagued by the physical one – the massive amount of weight that I had put on during the relationship. (how many of you experience this?) I really wanted to get back in shape and get back into Muay Thai again. Muay Thai training was different this time as I gradually started training for fights. On top of the usual pad work, I was introduced to strength training and a bit of cross-fit. The change in my own physique planted a seed of interest in personal training, but I didn’t do anything with that thought at that time as I was busy with my final year in school.

Stepping into the working world, I stopped Muay Thai training because of time, work was an entire different level of stress. I depended solely on Muay Thai to keep my weight in check and because I stopped it, my weight went back up. I did not watch my diet AT ALL. I was overeating and going for fast food at least once a week and my concept of sugar intake was misconstrued. I had stopped the fizzies and went for the supposedly “healthier option” of green tea (with sugar) and carton fruit juices. At 70kg, this was the heaviest I’ve ever been and I never thought of doing anything about it until I started experiencing chest pains for about 2 weeks. Back then, I was assisting doctors in the hospital with their research on coronary stents and seeing scans of patients with clogged arteries made me wonder how bad were mine. I was eventually admitted to the A&E while I was at work. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, but I recognized that if I had continued living like that, coupled with the fact that I had a borderline high cholesterol panel, I would definitely end up with a real one in time to come.

That pushed me to take my first steps in diet adjustments. Drinks with hidden sugars were the first to go. I reduced my fast food intake to once a month, stopped snacking and began controlling my carb intake (I was a very hungry person and always went for at least 2 servings of carbs to keep me full). I started counting my calories and swapped carbs for protein. I wasn’t exercising at that time and despite that, I lost about 5kg in 3 months. Soon after, a friend of mine invited me to do a half-marathon with her in Gold Coast, Australia. Running 21km was a huge feat for me as I never liked running. I trained 3 times a week, and because of that, my weight decreased even further. In a year, I had lost 13kg. My cholesterol panel reversed to the healthy ranges and clothes shopping actually became enjoyable.

Through my personal experience, I was convinced that I didn’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on things that do not work – slimming pills, creams, wraps, diet plans that are not sustainable etc. Very often, people don’t know where to start or what to do because they are misled by hearsay, the things they read online or guaranteed solutions to weight loss offered by Product X that promises minimal effort on one’s own part. I really wanted to show the misguided that weight loss is possible and sustainable through lifestyle changes. My interest in becoming a personal trainer grew, but I couldn’t get started as I was in the middle of a career transition and I wasn’t sure if I could commit to a 3-month long course.

The new job that I landed myself in was a demanding one. I hardly had time to work out, let alone sleep. Sleeping anywhere above 5 hours was a bonus as the nature of the job required me to work round the clock. I was extremely depressed when the hard work I had put in to keep the weight off crept back in. On some days, I went without food during the day as I didn’t have the appetite to eat and it pretty much messed up my metabolism. All the important things I needed to stay healthy – sleep, exercise, proper diet wasn’t even in place. I even contemplated the purpose of my existence as I didn’t feel like I was living at all. Finally, I decided to resign and sought a job that gave me time to live the way I wanted.

Thankfully, I was blessed enough to find a job that gave me personal time after work. The colleagues there were also a positive influence as they believed in the importance of an active lifestyle. We would sometimes go to the gym together, and there was a form of unspoken accountability to make sure that I was hitting the gym weekly. After shelving my plans of attending the ACE-CPT course for 4 years (or more), I finally got started on it. Mid-way through the course, a friend introduced me to Jovin, founder of Urban Active Fitness, who gave me the opportunity to work as a personal trainer.  Together with the other experienced trainers, they have helped me in preparation for my ACE-CPT exam as I sought guidance with practice questions I had doubts with. I worked hard at it for 3 months, attended evening lessons at the International Sports Academy (ISA) 2 to 3 times a week, and revised the content on days when there were no lessons. The hard work paid off; I not only passed but was also one of the top scorers in the class.

After attending the ACE-CPT course, I wasn’t only interested in weight loss. I wanted to build muscle not just for aesthetics reasons but for functional ones as well.  During the course, the tutor’s sharing on how physically inactive people start to lose muscle mass past the age of 30 at a rate of 3 to 5% per decade left a very deep impression. Before, I’ve always thought that the loss of muscle mass is part of the aging process and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. It wasn’t until the course that I realized that strength training can prevent muscle imbalances that are commonly associated with aging (i.e. backaches) and that it can play a big role in preventing falls and the many secondary complications resulting from it.

Yes, so this is my story. I hope you’ve managed to stick around, and no I don’t blame you if you’ve decided to skip through the chunk of it to read just the last paragraph. To sum it all up, I’ve taken many detours and trial and error to know what works and what doesn’t to end up where I am today. This is what I’ve learnt so far from my fitness journey:

  1. Walk away from people who force you to give up on your interests and compromise way too much on your beliefs.
  2. Always prioritize your health. You’re nothing without it.
  3. You are responsible for your own happiness. Not happy with the way things are? Do something different to experience changes. It may not always be the right decision, but at least you’ll have a clearer idea of what you want or do not want in your life.
  4. There are no short cuts to weight loss. Sustainable weight loss involves effort and discipline but it can be done without starving yourself.
  5. Learn to enjoy the process. Be patient and track your progress as you go along. When you don’t get the result you want, be honest and ask yourself what exactly is it that you have not done right? Is it your diet? Are you under training or over training? Are you getting enough rest?
  6. Plan ahead. Invest in yourself today by living healthily. Watch your diet and be active. Your future self will thank you for it.

Want to have personal training done at the convenience of your home, or Condo gym? Engage Samantha toady for an awesome Muaythai or Kickboxing session! https://urbanactivefitness.sg/free-trial/