Fit And Fab

Don't call this life coach an active ager

Life and sports coach David Tay running the Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos, Switzerland, on July 29 this year. He managed to finish within the cut-off time of 13 hours for the 78km ultra race.
Life and sports coach David Tay running the Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos, Switzerland, on July 29 this year. He managed to finish within the cut-off time of 13 hours for the 78km ultra race.PHOTO: COURTESY OF DAVID TAY

Older folk are not less active, says 58-year-old triathlete and marathoner

Q You are super fit for your age. Do you see yourself as an active-ageing role model?

A I think the concept of active agers is a misnomer and gives people the impression that all older folk are like that. When we use the term "active agers", we are saying that when you age, you will slow down.

By using this term, we are also saying that young people are active and older folk are not.

We give people the impression that when you are old, you are inactive and, to a certain extent, less fit. We have to stop this stereotyping.

Q What is your secret to looking fabulous?

A There is no secret. I eat healthy, especially plant-based whole foods, maintain an active lifestyle and a positive outlook. As a child of the universe, I am naturally fabulous.

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

A I wasn't in tip-top form when I first started working as a physical education teacher. I did exercise but not as rigorously.

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

A Fitness, to me, is not a separate entity - it's a lifestyle. Being healthy is not just a physical thing, it is a way of being, holistically.

Q How was it like to prepare for and run the Antarctica Marathon?

A It was not as difficult as some may think because we ran in an area where the snow had melted and the weather was generally sunny. It was cold but not freezing.

The preparation was not as rigorous as preparing for the Mont Blanc Marathon or the Swiss Alpine Marathon as these two marathons were held at higher altitudes and over mountainous terrains.

Q What do you like most about participating in major marathons?

A Meeting other athletes from around the world, making friends, and also connecting with like-minded souls.

At the same time, we get to soak in the awesome atmosphere at these events because the supporters are simply phenomenal. It's unlike the races in Singapore, where there is hardly anyone watching.

Q What is your diet like?

A I am on a plant-based whole foods diet - no meat, no animal or dairy products. We don't need animal products to complete our nutritional needs. I am mainly vegetarian, though not vegan yet.

  • BioBox


    Age: 58

    Height: 1.77m

    Weight: 64kg

    At 58, Mr Tay is fit as a fiddle and refuses to be pigeonholed as an active ager who should perhaps take up only certain sports.

    He runs, cycles and swims, as well as participates in marathons and triathlons. He keeps fit because he loves it and not because he has to.

    "To me, fitness is a lifestyle and ageing does not affect it. I choose to keep fit for as long as I want and can," said the sports and life coach.

    Mr Tay, who is single, completed his first marathon in 1986. Since then, he has taken part in at least one or two races a year. In 2001, he participated in his first triathlon and, two years later, his first Ironman triathlon held in Langkawi, Malaysia. In 2006, he participated in the Gold Coast Marathon, where he made the qualifying time for the 2007 Boston Marathon. He has since raced in major marathons in Tokyo, Berlin, London and New York.

    Mr Tay, a former physical education teacher and swim coach, is also the co-founder of Athletes' Journey, which organises tours for those keen on participating in major sporting events around the world, such as the London Marathon.

Q What are your indulgences?

A Desserts. I have a sweet tooth, but I am cutting back on desserts a lot. I also like black coffee or expresso - good quality stuff.

Q How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

A When work becomes a lifestyle, everything is in balance. If work becomes a chore, no matter how hard you try, there will never be a balance. I love what I do in life, whether you call it work or not.

I don't believe in the term "work-life balance" because it gives one the impression that work is so bad that we need to have something else to compensate for it. If this is the case, then the person has chosen the wrong pathway in life.

Q What are the three most important things in your life?

A Being true to who I am; living my purpose in life; and helping others discover their purpose in life too.

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

A Maybe my smile, but I don't have a least favourite part as I don't rate my body parts.

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

A To stay hydrated and have sufficient rest or sleep.

Q How has your active lifestyle influenced your family and friends?

A To a large extent, it has inspired them to have an active lifestyle too.

Q What are your tips for staying healthy and fit as we age?

A Stay upbeat and positive, and eat healthy foods (the definition and meaning will vary from person to person).

Q How extensive is your collection of sports-related paraphernalia?

A Too many to count, but I keep all my medals from the overseas races.

Q Would you go for plastic surgery?

A Never.

Q Do you think you're sexy?

A It is not for me to say. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2017, with the headline 'Don't call this life coach an active ager'. Print Edition | Subscribe