Chatting Up Zoe PondMcPherson

The 26-year-old gymnastics coach beat over 1,400 contestants in the Under Armour Test of Will fitness challenge to clinch the women’s champion title.

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The 26-year-old gymnastics coach beat over 1,400 contestants in the Under Armour Test of Will fitness challenge to clinch the women’s champion title.
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“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

Living by this mantra, it’s no wonder that Zoe Pond-McPherson manages to hit every goal she has set, including winning the Under Armour Test of Will Regional Grand Final, an Asia-wide fitness challenge. The event took place at Gardens by the Bay on May 28.

The 26-year-old Philippines-based gymnastics coach came out tops in a series of agility, strength and endurance exercises. During the final rounds of the competition, Zoe proved her worth by doing 22 pull-ups 7m above ground in three minutes and climbing a 14m-long manila rope without knots, among the other gruelling workouts.

“It was very tough,” Zoe says of her win, which also earned her the coveted Under Armour Brand Athlete title. “I had to fight against many women who trained hard.” Looks like her training regime has paid off.

 What’s your fitness routine like?

I work out five days a week, with two sessions a day three or four times a week. I also have one active recovery day and one full recovery day. On an active recovery day, I do light activities like swimming or hiking. For full recovery, I focus on stretching.

My first workout session of the day has about 40 minutes of warm-up and mobility exercises, 10 minutes of skill work, 60 minutes of strength and weightlifting exercises, 10 to 40 minutes of aerobic activities, and a 20-minute cool-down.

For my second session, I’d typically join a gym class or do endurance work outdoors. 

How do you keep up with your fitness routine?

To stay on track, I set goals and share them with my coach, as that holds me accountable. It also helps that I’m competitive. When I step out on the competition floor, I want to know that I did everything possible to prepare. Lastly, as a coach, I want to lead by example and inspire other women to live a healthy and active lifestyle. 

What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done in the name of fitness?

I’m not one to do drastic things for the sake of fitness. Doing pull-ups 7m above ground during the Under Armour Test of Will Grand Final probably takes the cake.

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What’s your diet like?

I try to follow the Renaissance Periodization diet programmes ( They taught me how to time my meals based on my workout. Usually, I’ll have six egg whites, one cup of vegetables, and fruit or oatmeal for breakfast. For the next three meals, I’ll eat lean meat such as chicken and fish, one cup of vegetables, and healthy carbs and fat.

On days where I have fewer than six hours between training sessions, I take carbs that are high on the glycaemic index, like cereal, to keep my energy level high. I also drink Gatorade during my workout, whey protein immediately after, and casein protein before I go to bed.

Do you have any indulgences?

I love a good India pale ale, like that from Lagunitas Brewing Company from my hometown of Petaluma, California.

What are your fitness goals?

I would like to finish on the podium in the upcoming Asia Championships, a Crossfit competition. In the long-term, I’d like to stay injury-free, qualify for the Crossfit Games Pacific Regional again next year and place in the top 20.