Keep the Faith

Here’s proof that positive thinking can help you overcome the toughest of challenges.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
My Reading Room
Here’s proof that positive thinking can help you overcome the toughest of challenges.

Faith Tan is walking, talking proof of how age, height and weight are really just numbers.

The 49-year-old beat 184 other women at the recent Test of Will heats – a fitness challenge by Under Armour – to emerge as the winner of the female category.

Held at Bugis Junction in April, the Test of Will heats saw hundreds of hopefuls banging out as many reps of burpees, dumbbell thrusters, TRX rows and sandbag throws as they could manage in four minutes. Without rest.

I was one of the women, trying my darndest to prove that I could do more than what I thought of myself. I exceeded my humble target of 55 points, and was happy.

And then I heard about Faith, who had 122 points to her name.

Here’s a breakdown of her achievement: 28 burpees, 53 dumbbell thrusters, 36 TRX rows, five sandbag throws.

Each exercise was done for 60 seconds.

So if you do the math, you can tell that Faith did one burpee in two seconds, one dumbbell thruster in a little more than one second, and so on.

Here’s the interesting part: Faith is the smallest fitness personality I’ve ever come across. She stands at 1.38m and weighs 37kg. She’s also a single mum with a 16-year old son. When I ask for her occupation, she tells me she’s both a banker and a long distance runner.

I like how she prioritises fitness as much as she does her career, and how she has this odds-defying vibe. I like her already.

● What’s your fitness routine like? I visit the gym daily and do weight training that targets various body parts. I also include two 8km to 10km runs on weekdays, and challenge myself with long-distance trail runs on weekends.
Each trail run lasts five to six hours.

● Why do you work out? Like many, I exercise to stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

● What keeps you going? Exercise energises me and helps me focus on my job. I believe that great things happen outside of your comfort zone, so I constantly push myself and put my will to the test. The feeling after each tough session is pure ecstasy!

● Why did you join the Under Armour Test of Will 2017? I’m a huge fan of the UnderArmour brand. And I wanted to challenge myself and see how many of the exercises I could complete within four minutes.

● How happy are you with your performance? Very pleased! There were so many strong competitors, so the win came as a surprise. Moreover, the sandbag throw was to my disadvantage given my height, but I gave it my all during that minute. I didn’t set any expectations. I just wanted to do my best.

● Has your small build ever been an issue? During my primary school days in Malaysia, I was teased a lot. However, those comments didn’t have much of an effect on me. I stayed rooted in my religious beliefs and adopted a positive outlook towards life. I know that what matters is that I’m fit and healthy.

● What’s your proudest fitness achievement to date? Topping the female category at the Test of Will 2017 heats, and being able to represent Singapore to compete against other finalists from the region.
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