Fit And Fab

From flying to running

Pilates instructor Betsy Chen is taking part in the Shape Run this month and she will also be a pacer.
Pilates instructor Betsy Chen is taking part in the Shape Run this month and she will also be a pacer.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Ms Betsy Chen stopped exercising for 15 years as she pursued various careers, including being a flight attendant. She is now making up for lost time. Ng Wan Ching reports

Q What's your secret to looking fabulous?

A I make sure that I have my daily intake of fruit and vegetables, and drink sufficient water to stay hydrated.

Posture is also just as important as no one looks good slouching, and practising pilates has helped me build balanced muscles to help achieve good posture and alignment.

Q Was there ever a time when you weren't fit and fab?

A I was a member of the school gymnastics team and our training then was really tough. But after secondary school, I got lazy.

I stopped exercising for 15 years. When I saw an unflattering photo of my body at age 31, I decided things had to change.

My fitness lifestyle started with a pilates class package given to me in the studio where I now teach. At age 32, I started running again.

Q What is your diet like?

A I believe in having a healthy breakfast and I will always try to make time to prepare it. It is usually eggs with tofu, together with a variety of vegetables like baby spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, plus a big serving of fruit and yogurt.

Lunch is either a warm salad or economic rice with vegetables and protein and very little rice.

Dinner is usually late as I work till 8pm or 9pm on most days. I will just eat whatever's available, like hor fun or noodle soup.

I have tea-time snacks every day as I have time in the afternoon in between classes. It is always butter sugar toast with teh-c, my favourite drink. I rarely have supper but if I'm hungry, I will have a few pieces of my favourite flaxseed dark chocolate cookies.

Q What are your indulgences?

A Chocolate and Singapore-style milk tea.

Q What do you do to relax and how do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

A In my work, I do pilates demonstrations and need to talk a lot.

  • Bio Box


    Age: 35

    Height : 1.67m

    Weight : 48kg

    When Ms Chen first started running at age 32, she could barely do it for a minute.

    But the former flight attendant, who became a pilates instructor a year ago, kept at it and signed up for the 2013 Shape Run to give herself a goal. She completed the 5km run in a better-than-expected time.

    She hasn't stopped running since and has joined a public running group - Running Department.

    Ms Chen, who is single, will be taking part in the Shape Run again later this month and, this time, she will also be a pacer.

    Her first effort pacing a public run is especially meaningful for her as the all-women run helped to kickstart her fitness journey.

    This year's run will be held at the Bayfront event space on July 24. Participants can choose to run in the 5km, 10km or 15km races. There will also be a 1.8km family fun run for families with two to four members.

    Those who have signed up for the run can collect their race entry packs at the Shape Run carnival from this Friday to Sunday at the Raffles City Atrium, Level 3, from 11am to 8pm. You can also do on-site registration at the carnival.

When I am off duty, I like to sit in a quiet cafe and relax my mind. When I have free time, I will either be running, doing indoor climbing, going to the gym or attending yoga classes.

Keeping up with these hobbies helps me relax and I get upset when I miss a session of my twice-weekly climbing practice.

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

A My loved ones, my health and having time to do the activities that I enjoy.

Q Would you go for plastic surgery?

A Aesthetic enhancements such as Botox and filler injections are fine. But I would not do plastic surgery unless there is a reason to, like after an accident. My personal choice would be to age naturally and be confident of who I am.

Q Do you think you're sexy?

A No.

Q What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your body?

A I like my jaw line. Many of my girlfriends are envious of my V-shaped chin.

Although I am not pleased with my droopy eyes, my asymmetrical hips and my thighs, they work well enough for me to get through my daily activities.

Q What are your must-dos before and after fitness sessions?

A I will always need a snack before I run or exercise. I have an extremely high metabolism rate and I need to eat every three to four hours. Food gives me fuel to move.

After exercising, I will eat again. The workouts I do can be pretty intense and I need to refuel fast.

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

A Very important. Exercising and moving about has become almost second nature to me.

Q What do your family and friends say about your active lifestyle?

A My family members are always worried that I will tire myself out. My friends think it's excessive and they find it amazing that I always seem to have boundless energy. What they do not understand is that doing all these activities gives me more energy.

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

A My wardrobe is full of active- wear clothes. It is the only thing I wear these days, as my job requires me to be dressed in them. I have more than 20 pairs of sports shoes.

Q Among these, what's your most prized possession?

A My medals for running are very precious, as each race has a different story to tell. Lots of effort and pain go into each and every medal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'From flying to running'. Print Edition | Subscribe