Fit and Fab: Ditching career in interior design for martial arts

Rose Canda, who has a second-degree black belt, teaches martial arts to both children and adults. PHOTO: TAN ZU DE

SINGAPORE -When Ms Rose Canda came across Kali Majapahit, a South-east Asian martial arts school in Singapore, she was "ecstatic".

Kali is one of the terms used to refer to the traditional martial arts in the Philippines, her home country. "I had wanted to learn this art as it is part of my culture," said the 45-year-old.

The school, which has branches in Clarke Quay and Upper Serangoon, imparts knowledge and skills through a combination of various martial arts such as kali, silat, muay thai, kung fu and boxing, and even includes parkour.

In 2012, she began her journey in learning kali - which emphasises fighting with sticks, bladed weapons and various improvised weapons, as well as "open-hand" techniques without weapons.

She enjoyed it so much that she quit her job as a senior interior designer in 2018 and joined the school as a full-time martial arts instructor.

Said Ms Canda, who has been in Singapore for 18 years: "I like interior designing, but it came to a point where I felt stressed and found no purpose in what I did. I became passionate about being a part of a community that helps others to become the best version of themselves through martial arts."

Now, Ms Canda, who has a second-degree black belt, teaches martial arts to both children and adults. "I do not see it as a job. It is what I believe in and it has been rewarding to see children unlock their potential and reach their goals with confidence," she said.

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

Having an attitude of gratitude, good sleep, drinking enough water, exercising and smiling.

Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

Yes, when I was in my early 30s.

I ran a lot and did not have the appetite to eat. I ended up losing a lot of weight and was too skinny.

What is your diet like?

I am a vegan. I eat whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. I consume brown rice, potatoes and corn.

What are your indulgences?

Pizza, dark chocolate, vegan ice cream and brownies.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

I think it's important to accept that there is no perfect work-life balance. Prioritising my time, setting work hours, sticking to them and allocating time to exercise are important to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

What are the three most important things in your life?

Mental health, family and friends, and purpose and passion.

What's your favourite and least favourite part of your body?

I don't have a favourite or least favourite. I train hard to achieve the physique I have today.

What I love most is that my body is my own, I love that it's different from anyone else's and it allows me to do so many things I love.

What are your must-dos before and after a workout?

A pre-workout meal is very important. I have to fuel my body to have the energy for the whole training. I also do a proper warm-up before starting my workout.

After training, a must-have drink is a plant-based protein smoothie with greens to help strengthen the muscle fibres, and refuel and repair the muscles. A good 10 minutes of stretching after the workout is a must.

How important is it for you to keep up with your fitness routine?

It is very important. There are days when I don't feel like training but I train anyway. It helps me feel good and revs up my energy levels and helps improve my mood.

How are you keeping fit during this period?

Having enough rest, maintaining a balanced diet and exercising have been part of my lifestyle even before the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are the changes you have made to keep exercising during this time?

During the circuit breaker when all gyms were closed, I trained at home. I converted one of the rooms to a mini dojo (a room where martial arts is practised) where I spent most of my days training on my own or with friends via video-conferencing platform Zoom and teaching kids online.

I invested in resistance bands to add to my weights equipment and I couldn't be happier with the results.

How has your active lifestyle influenced your family and friends?

My friends have said I have motivated them to stay positive, given them ideas on how to stay fit, for example, during the circuit breaker, and reminded them that fitness is about making gradual improvement and not comparisons.

What's the most extreme thing you have done in the name of fitness?

Attending training camps, but I would not call it extreme as it benefits and complements my learning, understanding and knowledge about kali.

How extensive is your collection of sports-related paraphernalia?

It is moderate. I have boxing gloves, mixed martial arts gloves and weapons I use for kali.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

No. For me it's just not something I would ever seriously consider. I respect those who choose to undergo it. If you feel that plastic surgery would increase your confidence or the quality of your life, then go for it.

Do you think you're sexy?

Hell, yeah! Knowing what I am passionate about and being able to share my passion without forcing it upon people; sharing it as joy and excitement is a very sexy thing.

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