My First Gym Newsletter Feature!

For those who’ve missed my newsletter feature/ are not from SMU, here’s a copy of the gym newsletter feature for those who are curious.

I’m know I’m not the fittest nor an exemplar in fitness, but I’m still extremely humbled that I had this opportunity.

This post is to show how far I’ve come and to remind me of my fitness goals.



  1. Could you introduce yourself and give us some background regarding your training (sporting background, number of years, etc.)

Hello! I’m Isabel Leong, a Year 2 Social Sciences undergraduate pursuing Psychology and Corporate Communication. I do a variety of sports, primarily rock climbing and long distance running. When I find time, I like to explore Singapore off the beaten track on foot.
I’ve been rock climbing since 2010, and I have grown leaps and bounds since then, both physically and mentally. Before that, I was a skinny and weak girl. I train competitively with SMU Climb Team now, with my final competitions slated in June & July. Rock climbing is addictive because it forces you to step out of your comfort zone to improve yourself. Through climbing, you can easily tell the difference between those who are content with mediocre and those who better themselves. While it may seem like an individual sport, camaraderie actually play an important role in this sport. You’ll be surprised how warm the climbing community is.
I started running leisurely 6 years back. Contrary to popular belief about running being boring, running gives me an outlet to reconnect with nature. For someone who gets easily distracted, long distance training hones my focus. This skill that I develop through running is transferable to other aspects of life-in work and in academics.
I completed my first long distance race in 2010- 10km. Having broken my then-personal record, I was spurred to challenge myself to go further and faster. I progressed to 12 km, 15 km and finally half marathons. My legs have served me well and I’m thankful for them. I have since made a commitment to sign up for runs at least once a year, and I hope to run a marathon in time to come.

  1. What is your current regime like?

Currently, I slot in my workouts around my internship schedule. On weekdays, I have training 2x a week after work. On the remaining weekdays, I gym during lunch at my workplace, targeting either the arms, legs or back each time. I try to fit in yoga on Saturday mornings whenever I can.
During the period when I’m training for long distance runs, I run up to 3x a week.
Each activity serves a different purpose. Climbing works upper body muscles. Gym targets other muscle groups neglected by climbing. Yoga works flexibility, balance and mindfulness. Running trains endurance.

  1. What made you want to start working out in the gym?

The entitlement of having a gym in school that’s absolutely free.
When I saw the transformation effects from strength training in others.
The desire to look more toned.

  1. Could you describe what your usual diet consists of? (types of food you eat, timing, etc. – can be as detailed as you want)

As a general rule of thumb, I avoid all things fried, oily, white (white bread, white rice) and anything that contains 90% sugar. Think bubble tea, soft drinks, if you know what I mean. I try to avoid eating too late in the night, as our metabolism slows in the night with decreased activity.
I prefer home-cooked meals to outside food as I am more aware of what goes into what I eat. I pack my food to school/ work as much as my time allows, to save on unnecessary calories and money. As one who’s constantly on the run between school, work and training, I go for simple and quick. My meals usually contain a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fibre. This includes brown rice, broccoli, tomato, carrot, egg, mushroom and/ or chicken. I’ll top it off with a fruit, usually an apple or pear.
I eat rather regularly, about 5 times a day. I love snacking. Some of my healthy snack alternatives are trail nuts, raisins, granola bar and yoghurt.
“Man ist, was man isst”- You are what you eat. This cannot be any truer.

  1. How do you keep yourself motivated while working out in the gym?

I feel uneasy sitting in the office or studying all day. I cannot do without working out at least once in every 2 or 3 days. Sweating it out makes me feel more refreshed and energized.
The self is a strong motivation. Reaping my own reward by noticing an improvement, whether in terms of strength, distance, timing, or shape, is especially encouraging. Therefore, chart your progress.
The confidence I get from being able to what I initially could not.

  1. What advice would you have for those looking to get in shape?
    • Know what you want to achieve – is it strength? Weight loss? Toning up?
    • Get out of your comfort zone.
    • Rope a friend if you feel uncomfortable at first. A gym or running buddy prevents you from pulling out for lazy reasons.
    • Come up with a schedule. And don’t let anything else get in the way.
    • Know what you’re going to do at the gym to prevent feeling out of place when you’re there.
    • Banish temptations. The mind is weak when it’s tired.

Know that getting in shape is a lifestyle. The results may not come until over a month or longer. But just keep going. You will notice the change, I promise.

  1. What do you like about the SMU gymnasium?

The Ladies Corner that allows for more self-conscious girls to work out in peace.
The variety of machines that target different muscle groups.
And of course, the friendly Gym Staff that are ever-willing to offer advice, if you’d just go up to them. (Yes, we don’t bite.)

For more inspiration, check out Isabel on Instagram @mademoisellebel!

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing about my fitness journey!


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