By Gary Yang
Note: All photos in this article were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.
You know what they say about strangers? That they are friends that you have not already met. Well, that’s exactly the case for a bunch of participants who became friends after they met and hung out at Active Health Lab located at ActiveSG Sengkang Sport Centre.
Meet Bernadette Bong, who is in her 60s, and known affectionately as the ‘Big Mama’ at the Active Health exercise workshop. She may be the most senior participant but she is the most enthusiastic of the lot! She is no slouch when it comes to fitness either and is able to keep up with her younger counterparts.
She had certain knee issues when exercising at first. That’s when Active Health Coach Douglas shared exercise science knowledege and corrected her exercise form and technique. Overtime, her competence and movements improved and she experienced lesser pain. Bernadette is now an advocate of active and healthy living and has recommended her friends to join her.
"Keep on keeping on for all areas of life" - Bernadette Bong
"Bernadette packs a punch whenever she comes around the Active Health Lab! She is one who brings her vivacious energy into our PA workshops and her welcoming nature has been the nucleus for all newcomers and regulars. Over the months with us, Bernadette’s growing curiosity about learning ways to improve and maintain her muscle mass has helped her add variety into her daily workout. She’s a role-model for us here." - Active Health Coach J-Ing
Enter Kimberly Tan, who is in her 20s, and chanced upon her campus email on Active Health workshops and decided to have a go at it. She was sceptical about benefitting from the workshops, especially so because she is already an active young adult. However, she has learnt a lot from the Active Health Coaches and one thing that really stuck with her is ‘technique over number of repetitions.’
Previously, she runs regularly and placed a lot of focus on the repetitions rather than the form, hence lacking focus on strength and balance. She was amazed at the amount of sweat she had at the end of the session, and the muscle soreness she experienced the next day, just simply from balancing. She believes that everyone has something to learn from these workshops no matter how big a sport junkie one may be.
"Always celebrate the small milestones!" - Kimberly Tan
"The first time Kimberly visited our lab, she took a keen interest in wanting to improve her fitness upon learning about her body composition. As a student then, she was committed to making time to kickstart a new fitness routine and that was when she joined us at our Active Health Physical Activity workshops! On this journey to better health, she influenced her younger sister to come onboard these sessions! Through commitment and determination, Kim saw the improvements in her skeletal muscle mass. We believe that Kim is an advocate for young adults who are determined to make a healthy change in their lifestyle!" - Active Health Coach J-Ing
Both Bernadette and Kimberly joined the face-to-face exercise sessions regularly under the guidance of Active Health Coaches, Douglas and J-Ing. During these sessions, they met and made friends with other seniors too. After the sessions, they usually stay back to chit chat with one another and have since created a Whatsapp chat group to keep each other informed of news and updates from Active Health and upcoming workshops.
Despite COVID-19, they continued to keep in touch with Active Health Coach Douglas and stayed active through running, following workouts on Youtube and constantly doing exercises that were taught during the Active Health exercises workshops. These exercises included cardio, strength and resistance training. Itching to return to the face-to-face workshops, there are also plans to create an interest group for these ladies on education and exercise components.
► Check out: Experiential workshops led by Active Health Coaches
► Check out: Stretches and workouts at work
"It’s a pleasure to coach Bernadette and Kimberly. Both of them are very keen learners filled with positive energy, and they are always willing to try new things especially new concepts and workouts that I introduced to the class. They keep themselves active during COVID-19 through modifying their lifestyle with other mediums of fitness channels to maintain their level of fitness – that’s a true Active Health spirit!" - Active Health Coach Douglas
And who would have guessed that working out at an Active Health Lab would result in such a beautiful friendship, forged across inter-generations and as a result of common health and fitness goals!
Gary Yang is a myActiveSG Editor and Presenter. Gary started his career as a suit cum copywriter at an advertising agency, followed by a successful stint in Corporate Communications with Singapore Press Holdings and Asia Pacific Breweries, before eventually joining the editorial team at Sport Singapore. He now turns his attention to fitness and wellness headlines and sniffing out news angles in the sporting arena.