Fit And Fab

Swimming coach with a big heart

Ms Koh goes rock-climbing once a week at the bouldering wall in Kallang Wave Mall.
Ms Koh goes rock-climbing once a week at the bouldering wall in Kallang Wave Mall.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

As a Runninghour volunteer, she runs with people with disabilities

Q What is your secret to looking fabulous?

A Lots of laughter. I'm surrounded by people with empathy and kindness. I also drink a lot of water and use sunblock.

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

A I used to be less fit. I had to drag myself through the 2.4km runs in secondary school.

It was only when I was in my mid-20s and working in a hotel in San Francisco, that I became fitter. The environment was great and I would cycle on the steep slopes there. Later on, I started taking part in triathlons as well.

Q What is your diet like?

A I am mostly pescatarian, which means I take very little red meat. I have a very light breakfast, a heavy lunch at 11am and a light dinner, such as a salad, at 8pm or 9pm.

Q What are your indulgences?

A Chocolate.

Q What do you do to relax?

A I am a couch potato. I set aside two hours daily to review my day and plan the next. I also travel to see the world whenever I can.

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

A Very crucial, like food and water. Without exercise, I'm very grumpy.

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

  • Bio Box


    Age: 43

    Height: 1.61m

    Weight: 53kg

    Since discovering her love for exercise in her 20s, swimming instructor Koh Bee Bee has tried many different sports.

    Besides triathlons and biathlons, she has also trekked in the mountains of Ladakh in India to an altitude of 5,600m.

    Two years ago, she began volunteering with Runninghour (RH) after her boyfriend, Mr Mike Hickman, introduced her to the cause.

    RH is a cooperative that promotes the integration of people with special needs into the community through sport. Mr Hickman is the head coach for RH.

    On May 13, he and Ms Koh will be taking part in Runninghour 2017.

    Ms Koh's father and mother are retirees. She is the youngest of three children.

    Her elder brother is in banking. Her elder sister, a corporate trainer, swims and does pilates.

A Before a race, I sleep to ensure I get enough rest. I try to be relaxed and focused. I remind myself to be humble and know my limits. After a race, I eat lots of food.

Q What is the most extreme sport you have taken part in?

A Paragliding - I ran off a mountain to experience freedom and flew like a bird. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. It gave me a huge adrenaline rush.

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

A First, sharing moments with friends, especially those at Runninghour, many of whom have big hearts. These volunteers with the cooperative guide people with disabilities and run with them.

Second, my family. I appreciate their care, love and kindness.

Third, the laughter of my swim students. Some of them are as young as three months old.

Q How has your experience in Runninghour been?

A I have been involved in it for the past two years. It makes me put aside my own concerns, forget myself and focus on giving to others.

Q My biggest takeaway is...

A To learn to be happy. The people with disabilities whom I train with adapt to situations even though they do not have legs or are visually handicapped.

Each week, I watch the parents of children with special needs and see how much patience they have. Their love is unconditional.

Q What other volunteer work do you do?

A I've done fundraisers for poor villages in Bali and victims of the Nepal earthquake. I've also mentored children at an orphanage in Nepal.

Q What is your favourite exercise or sport?

A I've enjoyed different sports at different stages of my life, such as trekking and mountain-biking in my late 20s to rock-climbing, pilates and running with Runninghour.

In between, I have run in mara- thons when registration fees were cheaper - back then, I took part in about 10 races a year. I have also taken part in countless triathlons, biathlons and Spartan races, and completed a half-Ironman race.

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

A My mum is an introvert and she was initially reluctant to join Runninghour. Now, she comes once a month, as that's what her arthritic knees will allow. A few of my friends have joined us too.

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

A I have full sets of equipment for paragliding, scuba diving, rock- climbing and trekking.

I also have race bicycles, mountain bicycles, running shoes and trekking shoes.

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

A I like my "happy" eyes but I find my feet ugly.

Q Would you go for plastic surgery?

A No, too plastic.

Q Do you think you are sexy?

A To strive to be beautiful at heart is more important to me than being sexy on the outside.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Swimming coach with a big heart'. Print Edition | Subscribe