In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, we highlight these amazing career-oriented women, who are making significant time to pursue their fitness passions. We hope you’ll be just as inspired by them as we are.
The Go-Getting Trail Runner
Ivy Park bra top from Topshop. Running tights from Calvin Klein Performance. Polyester trench with metal buttons from H&M. Adidas leather and fabric sneakers, from Star Three Sixty.
A run in New Zealand’s South Island got me hooked on trail running. I love that it isn’t about the pace. It’s about being one with nature.
When Jasmine Vincent turned 42, she thought it’d be cool to celebrate her age by running all 42km of a full marathon. At that time, she wasn’t a runner, but that didn’t stop her from signing up for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.
Armed with several books, including The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, she started training for her ﬁrst big race on her own. Within four months, she was ready and completed the marathon in good form.
Now 44, Jasmine does a whole lot more in terms of ﬁtness. The associate deputy group director of a real estate ﬁrm is now into trail running and prefers it to road running. “A run in New Zealand’s South Island in December 2016 got me hooked,” she says. “I love that it isn’t about the pace. It’s about being one with nature.” Her love for running is so infectious that she’s even got her husband of 14 years into the sport.
She also picked up pilates and yoga over the last two years to complement her running routine. Plus, she’s engaged a coach from UFIT Singapore to help her with strength training. “There are steep ascents and descents in overseas trail races and the terrain can be very technical. Without targeted and regular strength training, I could easily be injured when racing on such trails.”
Jasmine clocks up to ﬁve hours of exercise per week. That’s typically divided into two runs (one long run and a speed work session), two strength training sessions, one pilates session and one yoga workout. She’s also set a ﬁtness goal for 2018: to complete a 30km to 50km trail marathon overseas.
Speaking of goals, she has bold targets when it comes to her job, too. She plans to achieve this entire year’s targets within six to nine months. And in ﬁve years, she wants to be retired and living around the world. Sounds challenging? Perhaps. But Jasmine has always loved the performance-oriented nature of her work. In fact, she thrives on it.
Over the course of her career, she has earned 19 awards and her biggest accomplishment to date is being ranked the ﬁfth top producer out of 1,400 associates in her company in 2016. This was based on commission earned.
Jasmine’s a go-getter through and through, but with only 24 hours in a day, how does she balance it all? “Know exactly what you need to do every day by planning in advance. Having a routine is pertinent,” she says. She generally works from 9am to 5.30pm ﬁve days a week, overseeing CBD office space investment sales and leasing, as well as managing a team.
Her trick is to ﬁt in her workouts throughout the course of a week. For instance, she does pilates and speed work at lunchtime on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and strength training before work on Tuesdays and Fridays. Being productive is key and she makes sure that every minute of her time is well spent.
I work out because… it keeps me positive. It makes feel youthful, energetic and alive.
Being a superwoman means… doing well professionally, living healthily and being a balanced individual.
If I only have five minutes to work out, I will… do bodyweight exercises and stretching.
Every superwoman needs… someone who loves her. Someone who is there to give her a big hug for things well done as well as when the chips are down.
The person who inspired me the most was… my late mum. She was positive, mentally tough, charitable, genuine and gentle.
If I could have a superpower, it would be… to teleport myself to all the most amazing trails and mountains of the world.
When I’m not working or working out, I’m... travelling, reading, watching movies, listening to music, and watching orchestras and plays.
I love being a woman because... it’s okay to be vulnerable and it’s okay for my husband to carry all the groceries!
My life motto is… make a life, not just a living.
The overachieving lawyer
Cotton cropped hoodie from Fenty Puma. Polyester skirt from Topshop.
Working out gets me ready for my day, keeps it going, and ends it in the best way possible.
There are busy people. And then there are really, really busy people. Listening to Meaghan See tell us about her daily schedule had us flustered – something, we guarantee you, that rarely happens. Packed with so many activities at various locations, it’s enough to make the sharpest PA want to pop a migraine pill.
In fact, it still catapults us into self- reﬂection mode. For instance, can we make better use of our time instead of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagramming food, gossiping with friends, checking out the next hip cafe to visit, and doing 1,001 other frivolous things?
You see, Meaghan, who’s a legal counsel in a bank, manages to work out not once – but twice – every day. On top of that, the 29-year- old teaches barre at WeBarre and spinning classes at Anthem. You must be thinking that that’s crazy. But there’s a secret to the madness: careful planning.
This self-professed energizer bunny is up by 6am on weekdays. She does a 6km run, washes up, and hits her desk at 8.15am. At lunchtime on alternate days, she sneaks in a 30- to 45-minute workout at TripleFit or Orangetheory Fitness, then grabs lunch (usually salad) on her way back to the office.
When she leaves in the evening, she heads to – you guessed it – WeBarre or Anthem to either teach or exercise. Weekends are also dedicated to teaching barre and spinning, plus going for yoga at Yoga Movement.
All this has been happening for the last four and a half years and counting, which is about the same time that Meaghan joined the workforce.
Before judging her for being extreme, hear her out: “Working out gets me ready for my day, keeps it going, and ends it in the best way possible. It clears my mind while keeping me focused on my tasks ahead, and puts me in the most optimal mental and physical state to perform my duties.”
As someone with ants in my pants, Meaghan says it takes little to get her butt moving. “Knowing the consequences of not exercising keeps me going. Without these workouts, I’d feel groggy and lethargic. Workouts power me up better than coffee,” she says.
Of course, with a hectic life comes sacriﬁces. The legal eagle clocks about six hours of sleep daily, which she deems sufficient because “my days are better spent being awake. Besides, I fall asleep very quickly. And when I sleep, I really, really sleep.”
To make sure she hits the sack by midnight, she cuts down on social activities, like meeting up with friends. “I choose to compromise this aspect of my life, not because these people or activities aren’t important to me, but because there are so many things I want to do and accomplish. Besides, I know that the people and things that matter will always be there for me.”
I juggle my different commitments by… planning my schedule at least two weeks in advance, even to the extent of being boring and rigid!
My biggest time-saving tip is… taking out the next day’s workout and work attire the night before. And dry shampoo.
If I only have five minutes to work out, I will… do an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 10 jump squats, 10 push-ups, 10 V-ups and 10 full burpees.
Every superwoman needs a… comfy bed.
When I’m not working or working out, I’m… planning classes, pigging out, watching Netﬂix or sleeping.
The person who inspires me the most is… (persons, please!) my mum, grandma and all the women I work with, plus mums who can keep up with life’s demands.
If I could have a superpower, it would be… to slow down and speed up time whenever I want.
The three most important things in my life are… my loved ones, my health and well-being, and my dogs. Okay, that’s four!
I love being a woman because… I get to challenge preconceived notions about women, and surprise myself and others while doing so.
My life motto is… never stop doing what keeps you going.
The multi-tasking yogi
Long-sleeved cotton T-Shirt, stretch cotton skirt with front pockets, and long cotton sports coat with zipper from Fila. Leather heels from Aldo.
Shree shares a ﬁve-minute fat- burning CrossFit-inspired workout that’s perfect for busy women. The digital edition of Shape is available for download at the App Store and Google Play.
Yoga has helped me cope with stress. It’s also developed my ability to tune out distractions and be present.
Long before it became hip and trendy to practise yoga, Shree Ann Mathavan had already jumped on the bandwagon. She signed up for her ﬁrst yoga class over 10 years ago while she was still an undergraduate.
“It was out of curiousity really. I’d seen books about it and was drawn to the mind- body connection of the discipline. I thought it’d be a good way to spend me-time and I was right. I felt calmer after every class,” she says.
Of course, her yoga journey has deepened tremendously. The 38-year-old has maintained a consistent practice over the past six years because she’s experienced its beneﬁts. “It has helped me to cope with stress. It’s also developed my ability to tune out distractions and be present. I see myself doing yoga for the rest of my life.”
In 2014, she took her love for yoga one step further and got certiﬁed as a yoga teacher after completing a 200-hour teacher training course at Space & Light Yoga under anusara-inspired instructors Lynn Yeo and Sumei Shum.
While her day job as a communications professional at a multinational corporation is hectic (she works eight to 10 hours a day and clocks OT several times a week during busy periods), she’s super disciplined when it comes to working out. She does yoga thrice a week and teaches two to three weekend classes. She’s currently teaching mostly vinyasa and hot hatha sessions at Hom Yoga.
It sounds like Shree has her hands full with yoga, but it isn’t her only ﬁtness passion. She’s been doing three weekly CrossFit sessions for the past two years as well. Her then boyfriend and now ﬁance, who runs a gym called Actualize CrossFit, introduced it to her.
“I was always very intimidated by weights, but I quickly got hooked on CrossFit. The movements are varied. There’s weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning which gets the heart racing. It’s always exciting!”
Juggling work, personal commitments and a ﬁtness routine can be a struggle at times. To combat that, she uses certain strategies to help her stay focused. For instance, she doesn’t watch TV. “The hours spent watching TV can be better spent with loved ones or exercising,” she says.
Besides good time management, what also keeps her going is knowing that she always makes time for things that matter. Sound advice, for sure.
To me, being a superwoman means... being strong, but also real. This means being aware of my strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
If I only have five minutes to work out, I will...do a couple of sun salutations. It’s not quite working out, but it kicks off the day on a right note.
Every superwoman needs a... rest day. And sleep!
The person who inspires me the most is... my ﬁance. He works long hours but is always a cheerful and encouraging coach. He makes time to squeeze in workouts whenever he can.
To me, working out is as important as... my health. It’s my way of taking care of the body I’ve been given.
If I could have a superpower, it would be... to be strong yet ﬂexible. I’m always trying to strike a balance between the two!
When I’m not working or working out, I’m... spending time with the people who matter most to me. Or I’d be reading.
I love being a woman because... they make way nicer workout clothes for us.
My life motto is...to be present.
The hard-hitting entrepreneur
Black Halo cotton jumpsuit from Eclecticism + Lauren Jasmine. Ivy Park bra top from Topshop. Leather and fabric sandals from MBT. Belt from H&M.
I picked up muay thai in Melbourne. It started purely as an outlet for fitness but I fell in love when it started taking my mind off everything.
By day, 33-year-old Shao Fern Lee – better known as Fern – is a marketing and communications officer for hospitality management school Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL).
When at work, she helps to increase the brand awareness of EHL in the Asia-Paciﬁc region. But once it hits 6pm, she’s back to being an entrepreneur as the co-founder of Ania Skincare, a natural skincare brand that uses a bespoke blend of science and powerful as well as unique ingredients from Africa.
And, as if juggling two jobs isn’t tough enough, Fern is also a competitive muay thai ﬁghter. “I picked it up when I was in Melbourne in 2012,” says Fern. “It started purely as an outlet for ﬁtness but I fell in love with it when it started taking my mind off everything. Even when I drag myself to training – because I’ve had a long day or I’m not in the mood – I always end training with a smile on my face.”
Currently, she trains at BXG Boxing & Fitness thrice a week during off-peak seasons, but that increases to six times a week when she’s preparing for a competition. Looking at her demure demeanour, it may be hard to tell, but Fern has taken part in three ﬁghts so far.
But here’s where she is quick to debunk one of the most common myths about martial art sports: ﬁghting is neither about using brute force nor violence. In fact, it trains one’s mental toughness just as much as it is physically gruelling.
“You can’t ﬁght with blind rage. You need to use strategic, controlled strikes. Having muay thai in my life has actually taught me discipline, and how to be calm. It trains not just my body, but my mind as well.”
Such focus and killer time management power Fern through her busy schedules. On paper, her working hours are ﬁxed from 9am to 6pm. In reality any time that she’s not at her day job means she’s working on Ania, where she’s in charge of operations and supports her partner on ideation and strategy. They work on branding and marketing together.
Sounds hectic? It can be, but don’t tell Fern to drop everything else and grow her business full-time. While it’s common for entrepreneurs to quit their day jobs and focus on their own companies, she strongly believes that doing the opposite is more beneﬁcial.
“I am following the advice of Daymond John (CEO of US hip hop apparel company Fubu and an investor panellist for the reality TV series Shark Tank) to not quit my day job,” says Fern. “There is still a lot that I can learn from and contribute to EHL, and I can do that while building up Ania. This is deﬁnitely a more challenging route but the payoff is going to be way higher.”
Trust this tough cookie to walk the talk. We’ll deﬁnitely be keeping a lookout for what Fern has to offer this year – both in the ring and down the beauty aisles.
I work out because… it makes me happy.
If I only have five minutes to exercise, I will… hit a punching bag.
When I don’t feel like working out, I will… just rest and let my body recover.
To me, working out is as important as… eating well.
My biggest time-saving tip is… plan, adjust and plan again.
In order to be successful in both my fitness passion and career, I had to give up… play time, which includes going out and catching up with friends and family.
The three most important things in my life are… relationships I hold dear, ﬁnancial freedom and my cat.
In five years’ time, I would like to… be retired.
I love being a woman because… we can be gentle yet strong.
My life motto is… to stay calm.
The globetrotting marathoner
Viscose blouse, polyester skirt, and cotton blend hoodie from MGSM.
Running helps me stay in shape and de-stress from work. Being with fellow runners also gives me a sense of achievement and purpose.
With an increasing emphasis on sports and wellness these days, it’s deﬁnitely not difficult to ﬁnd someone who has completed a marathon. But to ﬁnd someone who has completed all six Abbott World Marathon Majors is an entirely different feat.
To do so, one would have to successfully qualify for and complete six of the largest and most renowned races of endurance in the world – the Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, Boston, and New York City marathons. To date, less than 20 Singaporeans have made it, and 53-year-old Diana Lee is one of them.
Diana picked up running when she was 17. Initially a casual runner, she started taking part in numerous 10km races and half marathons from 2006. Then, in 2009, she decided to challenge herself to complete her ﬁrst marathon.
Her husband Andrew Cheong, a running coach with SSTAR.ﬁtness and her marathon partner, told her it was going to be tough, but her mind was set. “Sure enough, my ﬁrst marathon was a truly painful experience – and I loved it!”
Since then, Diana has gone on to race competitively and has stuck to a structured marathon training programme for the last four years. In 2016, she ran the Boston Marathon after meeting the qualifying time of four hours. These days, her average race timing hovers at just under four hours.
This can-do spirit has always been a strong suit of Diana’s. In the past, when her two boys were still young, she’d only start running after they fell asleep. “I’d leave the house at 11pm just to get my workout in,” she admits. Sounds exhausting? Not to Diana. “Exercising is as important to me as sleeping, so I don’t count that as a sacriﬁce,” she says.
These days, her schedule as the general manager for fashion and beauty at SPH Magazines is equally hectic and she works overtime regularly. Running, of course, continues to be a priority and she makes it a point to leave by 6.30pm twice a week to train with a group of athletes under SSTAR.ﬁtness.
On Tuesdays, she runs 8km during speed work training; Thursdays are for 9km to 16km tempo runs and Saturdays are for longer runs that stretch from 21km to 32km each time. Besides her weekly runs, Diana also does core exercises, like push-ups, wall sits and squats daily.
For those who question the reality of the elusive runner’s high, Diana’s conviction should inspire you: “There are many reasons I love to run. It helps me stay in shape and de-stress from work. Being with fellow runners also gives me a sense of achievement and purpose. Above all, though, I love running because I have the ability to control the outcome of my runs.”
This means adhering to a structured training programme, maintaining good health, getting proper nutrition and being disciplined with her strengthening and stretching exercises.
“I truly enjoy the entire process and this is what has kept me motivated to race for the last four years. I’m older, but deﬁnitely faster, stronger and leaner.”
I work out because... I hate to be fat and unﬁt.
To me, being a superwoman means... performing the role of a mum, wife, daughter, employee, boss and athlete equally well.
If I could have a superpower, it would be... to make all smokers quit smoking! I feel very strongly about this because smoking doesn’t just harm the individual’s health, but the health of everyone around them, too.
I juggle my different commitments by… enjoying what I do. Everything becomes easier that way.
My biggest time-saving tip is... doing wall sits while brushing my teeth every morning and night.
If I only have five minutes to work out, I will... climb a ﬂight of stairs.
When people say they’re impressed by my career and fitness achievements, I will... say “You can do it too!”
My life motto is... love what you do and the desired results will follow.
MAIN PHOTO 123RF.COM
PHOTOGRAPHER VERNON WONG
STYLING DOLPHIN YEO, ASSISTED BY THOMAS HONG
ART DIRECTION RAY TISCAY
HAIR EILEEN KOH, USING KEVIN.MURPHY & DESMOND YAP/ARX SALON
MAKEUP CELESTINE SNG/TWO LEFTHANDS, USING SHISEIDO