Fit & Fab

Team player

Overweight in primary school, Mr Poh Chen Wei started exercising regularly only in Secondary 3 when his table-tennis coach told him to lose weight to improve his game.
Overweight in primary school, Mr Poh Chen Wei started exercising regularly only in Secondary 3 when his table-tennis coach told him to lose weight to improve his game. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Marathon participant Poh Chen Wei says training and racing with others helps him maintain his fitness regimen

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

Regular training, getting enough sleep, eating right and being happy at work.

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

Yes. I'm the same weight as I was in Primary 5, except I was a lot shorter then. Imagine a round, hungry kid in the Trim and Fit club trying to do sit-ups during recess time.

When did you start exercising regularly?

In Secondary 3, my table-tennis coach told me to lose weight so that I could react faster and be more nimble to improve my game. That was when I started running regularly, hitting the gym and eating more healthily.

  • Bio Box


    AGE: 30

    HEIGHT: 1.77m

    WEIGHT: 67kg Years before marathon running became second nature, he was an 11-year-old struggling to do sit-ups in the Trim and Fit programme, designed to help schoolchildren shed extra weight.

    But it was only in Secondary 3 that he saw the wisdom of changing his habits by eating more healthily and exercising regularly.

    This drive to transform his lifestyle continued to grow through the years as he decided to take up canoeing in junior college and train for triathlons while studying for his bachelor's degree in law at the National University of Singapore. The bachelor completed his first full Ironman Triathlon during his final year there.

    These days, the digital product launcher for NTUC Income finds himself favouring the pool over the bicycle.

    "I wanted to shift my focus more to swimming as it promotes a full-body workout with a lower impact on the body," he says.

    He trains with a competitive swim team three times a week for general fitness. He also runs on alternate days, training for at least one marathon each year.

    Although his family does not share his love of sports, his passion has enabled him to forge new bonds. His parents own a property management company and his sister lives in Australia.

    "Leading an active lifestyle has given me numerous opportunities to make new friends," he says.

    In April, he took part in the Income Eco Run, running a half-marathon alongside a team of colleagues.

    "Running with colleagues gives us the chance to talk on a more informal level about work and other things," he adds. "I'm proud to say that we have made significant improvements to our running over the past few months."

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

I get cranky when I don't train for more than a week. My mind and body just yearn for those exercise-induced endorphins.

When I was preparing for the Income Eco Run Half Marathon in April, keeping to the training plan was all the more important. I slowly increased my training runs by 2km each time, eventually reaching 16km in order to have an enjoyable run on race day.

What is your diet like?

I have three regular meals a day with fruit and vegetables at each meal. I also drink lots of water throughout the day and avoid sweet drinks, fried or fatty foods.

What are your indulgences?

Ramen, pizza, beer and bak kut teh.

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

Proper warm-ups and stretching before; isotonic drinks and a small snack after.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

I try my best to finish my work during working hours and then exercise after work. Having people to train and race with is the best way to maintain a fitness regimen.

What are some of the sports events you have participated in?

My most recent running event was the 21.1km half-marathon at the 2019 Income Eco Run. I have also participated in numerous local cycling, triathlon and running events.

Which was the most memorable?

Definitely the 2013 Ironman Lake Taupo. It was the most challenging and rigorous event I had participated in.

It was a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.3 km run. Crossing the finishing line after 13 hours, plus a full year of waking up at 4am for training, was totally surreal and fulfilling.

What are the three most important things in your life?

Family, friends, work.

What is your favourite and least favourite part of your body?

I like my chest because it's nicely built. The least favourite would have to be my calves as they're too skinny.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

No. It's the imperfections that define me and I'm happy with the way I look. My values and personality are more important.

Do you think you are sexy?

I don't really think about that. My main motivation for training is to keep fit and healthy so that I can perform well at work.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2019, with the headline 'Team player'. Print Edition | Subscribe