Opposites do Attract

June 22, 2015

For our first KITTED magazine interview I had the pleasure to meet up with two fascinating individuals. They lead a life which is atypical. Both are talented musicians and performers. They don’t have the normal work day routine that most of us have. However, similar they are in profession they are both extremes in personalities. Anabel is more the introvert, and prefers the solitude of a long hike on her own. Sara is the extrovert, and the front woman in her band who gets the party jumping. They happen to be great friends, a bond formed through school, that has continued into the midsts of their professional careers and as of now they are flatmates.

Flatmates who happen to love working out and keeping active.

So we got in touch to find out more about what keeps them motivated, inspired and perhaps share a tip or two.

First thing I found out is that these two musicians are more busy than I realised. I had pictured them to be jamming and writing songs during the afternoon, performing at night and sleeping in the whole morning. I was totally off key.

Anabel teaches daily at the American school. About 3 times a week she has gigs after work playing at MBS and occasional gigs at the Esplanade and Blue Jazz cafe. She has also started an Instagram account called therecessbelle that provides beautiful pictures of home cooked food with recipes to boot. She’s currently working on being a trainer for Barre classes.

Sara, performs with her band, 53A, at night from Monday to Friday. On weekends, her schedule doesn’t let up and she performs at corporate events, weddings and so forth. During the day, she lectures at LaSalle and the Timbre music academy plus she’s a vocal and music director for music theatre company, itheatre. She’s currently teaching yoga every Sunday at Iha Yoga.

Yet, somewhere and somehow they both manage to fit in an active lifestyle.

Throughout the week, Anabel’s workout routine consists of attending HIIT classes at Selective Fitness or going online with Fitness Blender. Her workouts also include yoga, cardio like spinning or even late night power walks for an hour. During her power walks she passes runners for fun.

Sara sneaks in time to workout at least 6 times a week. She also does HIIT workouts and combines it with yoga. Once a week she weight lifts with a personal trainer and as mentioned she teaches classes on Sunday. To save time Sara, does most of her workouts from her living room and attributes her lean physique to Fitness Blender.

I’m hearing all this and I’m thinking this takes lots of discipline. What’s the secret and since when do musicians work out so much?

The answer is simply this has been a lifelong routine. They have always been into fitness and sports. In school, Anabel, was part of the cross country team and also, uncharacteristically, the team captain of her cheer leading squad and captained her team to win the National Championships. Sara, played volleyball, captain’s ball, ultimate frisbee but it was netball that she excelled in. Unfortunately, the high impact activities would lead to injuries. Anabel’s running would cause problems for her knees and Sara, fractured her ankle during an intensive game.

However, having fitness in your life means you keep going and finding alternative ways to be active. Sara and Anabel both found yoga which strengthened without the impact and both fell in love with HIIT exercises for it’s effectiveness and time saving qualities.

The secret is this; once you have a routine and that routine becomes your lifestyle it is very difficult to stop but there are times when you encounter setbacks. You get injured, you experiment and try new stuff which may or may not work but having a routine brings you back.

For both Anabel and Sara, fitness, and improving health is a lifelong pursuit. Sure it is nice on the short term to aim for a beach worthy body but then what? After the holidays you ditch your routine? No. You keep doing this because in the long run you want to still be moving, to still be active and in Sara’s own words (which have been censored in case her students read this article) to be a hot mama even in her fifties and onwards. Incidentally even on holidays these two would find time to fit in a hike, run or a HIIT workout right in the hotel room.

Although the duo have been doing this for a long time my own view is that it is never too late to start that routine. You either wish you started 10 years ago or you start right now. Routines can be formed and we can get into it. Discipline is a function of repeatedly doing your routines. Therein lies the secret. People ask where do you get the discipline and my reply is I've been doing this for years. It just becomes easier.

At this point I brought up the fact that I have brought muffins to share after the interview which was a nice segue into the topic of nutrition. Like their personalities they both differ wildly in their tastebuds.

Anabel didn’t know what Bak Chor mee tastes like until this year. That more or less sums up her eating preferences. She describes herself as a food snob. If the quality of the ingredients isn’t good she won’t finish her meal. You can rest assured then if you follow her Instagram account you will come across dishes that are fresh, well prepared and of high quality. Don’t mistake snob for preference for high cuisine only. Anabel is just really particular about how her dishes are prepared. Which means a simple dish with great and fresh ingredients work really well for her.

Sara on the other hand will be happy eating a bowl of cereal for either breakfast, lunch and dinner if she doesn’t have the time. Due to the nature of her job, she only eats dinner after her gigs which to most of us would be about the same time when we have supper after clubbing. And because each song and performance is akin to a HIIT interval she has to refuel and any food that crosses her path is game, except pork, which her body is sensitive too.

As musicians where your life is based around changing schedules it is tough to keep a routine of eating regularly. The trick then is finding balance or having trade offs. Sure they indulge and they love their pastas and gifts of freshly baked muffins but they both avoid highly processed and fried foods. Sara eats anything but her portions are small. Anabel, skips meals but cooks with fresh ingredients and doesn’t touch hawker food.

Does it work? Mostly. The trick with nutrition is knowing that you cannot outrun your fork. That no matter how much you workout you can negate all that effort by simply over eating. So if you think you deserve that large serving of Llao Llao frozen yogurt with all the trimmings after a 30 min jog in the park you are sorely mistaken.

More than an hour has passed in our interview which has become a nice sharing session about fitness and being active. I had to draw this interview to a close and let them carry on with the muffins.

So what’s one single advice you can give people out there who are striving to be healthier, fitter and more active in their lives?

Anabel: “Make it a lifelong goal and part of your routine. Like brushing your teeth. Start small. Make it easy. Make it manageable. Find a class or trainer you are comfortable with. Have a connection.”

Sara: “The hardest thing is to just get up and even start. The first step is to simply just get ready. Just put on workout gear. You have no choice once you put on workout clothes because it would be stupid to put on and then take off. The act of changing puts you in a state of working out. Once you start you realise it isn’t so bad. It becomes a routine.”

I turned off the recorder and opened the box of muffins. No one can resist a good box of muffins freshly baked on the day. From this casual interview I’m left with the feeling that the fitness scene in Singapore will be shaped by ladies like Anabel and Sara. Independent women who take charge of their lives and health. Ambitious women who bust their asses to achieve their goals but also bust stereotypes of how women work out. You won’t see these two spending 1 hour on the treadmill hardly breaking into a sweat but instead you will see these two doing push ups, burpees, lifting weights and getting messy.

They are role models who occasionally eat muffins.

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