Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more. Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook.
Name: Jade Seah (@jadeseah)
Age: Forever 25
Occupation: presenter, media consultant, content creator and eternal optimist
Diet: No special diet – I believe food is a great pleasure in life and should be treated as such. I love spicy food. The only thing I try not to consume too much of is sugary drinks. That said, I don’t restrict myself and I try to listen to my body; meaning I do indulge in cocktails, chocolate cake and ice cream waffles every now and again, just not daily. I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. Everything in moderation.
Training: There is no set plan. I live a very active life, because of the nature of my job as well as my personal interests and the things I do for leisure. It helps that I cannot keep still for long.
Q: You’ve been playing netball for a long time!
A: Yes, I have played competitive netball since I was in Primary 2 and I still play competitively at club level. We participate in the Netball National League every year, as well as at netball carnivals and other competitions. I made it to the Combined Schools team then.
What is it about netball that kept you hooked till today?
Netball will always be a great love. The game has changed so much over the decades to become a lot faster, and a lot more physically and mentally demanding. These days, on top of playing competitively with a ladies’ team, I am also part of a mixed team, and we play competitively in the mixed national league as well as in other mixed competitions.
Whether on an all-girls’ team or a mixed one, I love the camaraderie when playing in a team, with everyone working towards a common goal. Joy is multiplied when shared.
I also love the fast pace and the quick thinking required from the game – there is no time to stand and ponder when you can’t dribble the ball and you have to pass within 3 seconds.
There will always be a special place in my heart for this sport that started me on my sports journey, and gave me the confidence and discipline I needed as a kid that has helped me in exponential ways in my life outside of sport.
Did you compete in other sports too?
Yup, I was also involved in track and field (high jump and 1,500m) and wakeboarding at a competitive level in school. I started roller-skating at 8, and moved on to in-line skates at 9. I was very into it then, and the bunch of us would attempt stairs, railings and other street obstacles and tricks every chance we got. These days, I have moved to speed skates (125mm wheels on a tri-frame) and still enjoy it very much, albeit I no longer have the guts to do the stunts I did as a kid.
You are sooooo active! What else did you dip your hand into?
I dabbled in other sports on a casual level, such as rock climbing, badminton and long distance running. For a while, it was my life’s purpose to complete a full marathon, although I have stopped running super long distances for quite a few years now. I competed in a family swimming competition relay last year. From these experiences, I realised I am not great with racket games – and even worse in the water.
I also started wakeboarding again after over a decade of not touching the sport. Wakeboarding is exhilarating. There are very few sports like that. When you manage to get big air, time slows down a little those few seconds in the air. You feel so free and like you are flying, and it really takes your breath away. There is nothing like it. From there, I also picked up surfing, as well as wakesurfing.
Then I started snowboarding about 10 years ago and I make it a point to hit the slopes at least once, if not twice, a year. It is a real indulgence, but the joy when racing down a mountain is immense, and worth more than spending that money on any designer bag.
A friend asked me to try rebounding, which is basically working out on a personal, small trampoline. I loved the feeling of jumping up and down to music, it made me so happy, and I got instantly hooked.
I have also tried spinning, yoga, barre and pilates, but while I still attend the occasional class every now and again, I just didn’t fall in love with these as I did the others.
You recently started teaching rebounding – how did that happen?
It honestly all started with a broken nose. I suffered two fractures to my nose while at the wake park, and after undergoing a minor operation to fix the cartilage, I had to avoid any sport that would risk impact to it for the next two months after, which meant netball and wakeboarding were out.
I bounced extra hard that period and when I mentioned to the founders of the bounce studio where I teach that I should be an instructor, they ran with it; encouraging me and putting heart and soul into getting me in shape for the role.
I love it so far! I love planning the playlist, and spend an embarrassing amount of time working and reworking the mix of songs so participants get the best possible time and workout at my class. Bounce always leaves me feeling so happy after, no matter what sort of day I have had, and I hope my classes have that effect on people too. It makes me happy to make others smile, and I love seeing everyone’s smiles at the end of my classes. (Maybe partly in relief? LOL)
For someone so active and needing to expend her energy all the time, how did you cope with the Circuit Breaker?
It was a real struggle. This hyper active, extreme extrovert broke down just a few days into it, when I realised it would be an entire month of no friends, no netball, no wakeboarding.
What helped was getting together a group of girls who were determined to motivate one another to stay active, and we did the Insanity workout together every single day of the Circuit Breaker, for 60 days straight (on Zoom, with one of them streaming it). That was one of the factors that helped keep me from going stir-crazy.
The other was Bounce. I rented a trampoline from the studio that period, and would follow their livestream classes, which they offered at no extra charge during the Circuit Breaker. It felt like I still had my workout buddies and there were still ways to expend my excess energy.
I also started in-line skating more, to the point where I needed to replace my skates, as well as running again. I ventured out to skateboard and longboard as well that period. Am still very much a noob on these boards! But all these were great outlets during those two months. I spent a lot more time at home that period than I ever have, I learnt more about myself and it definitely increased my resilience. I am glad we are done with that now though.
What are some of the challenges and highlights you faced in your pursuit of sports?
I was a little bit of a cheeky kid in school, always in detention or getting in some form of trouble, and the only leverage the teachers learnt that they had on me was sport. They would suspend me from playing netball if I did not keep my discipline up.
For the “B” Division netball competition, they actually threatened to pull me from the team because I was skipping classes, not doing homework, sleeping in class, had too short a skirt, coloured my hair, refused to even wear the pinafore some days (coming in just shorts to school). The silly folly and senseless rebellion of youth.
My teammates were amazing though. They wrote a petition and would remind and encourage me to be good. Every day that there was a competition game on, I had a form where every teacher whose class I was in that day would have to sign off that I had attended and paid attention in their class, homework done; and only with this completed form was I allowed to leave school with my team to compete. I was definitely a model student that period.
Being in the media industry, do you face pressure to look or behave a certain way? How do you retain your real essence without conforming too much to societal expectations?
There is definitely pressure, and I felt it even more when younger. Pressure to be thin. Pressure to be fair-skinned. Pressure to hold your tongue and not have a strong or loud opinion. Much as I like to think I am, or was, above all that, I definitely felt it, and it got me down a lot in my 20s, although I maintained a steely exterior.
Maturity helps a lot in making one comfortable to just be yourself. At this point in my life, I can finally say I am mostly unaffected by what people think; especially what they think of my looks or of my body. When “you’re too chubby” and “you’re too thin” are both said to you within the same time frame, is it not laughable? Everyone has an opinion – and they are entitled to it too. But we choose what we allow ourselves to believe, and what we allow ourselves to be affected by.
It’s not easy to be your own person. But the sooner you realise there will always be someone taller/thinner/fitter/prettier, the sooner you can get on with life as you, and the sooner you can feel happy and contented in your own skin.
I think earlier on, there was this expectation that girls ought to be a certain way, behave a certain way. To be pleasant, sweet and not have too strong an opinion, for fear of offending someone. These days, not only have we moved a little with the times, I also honestly don’t care for that. I have strong thoughts on certain issues and I am not afraid to share them.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
I think between the ages of 12-13 were the absolute hardest for me, in terms of confidence. I had cool friends, but somehow inside, I knew I was quirky, an old soul, and hence actually quite “uncool” inside. I was very heavily influenced by my late grandmother and that was not cool at the time, to be sharing the same music taste and views as one’s grandmother. I felt like an imposter most days.
I was also going through puberty then and had started breaking out. It was terrible. People would make fun of my pimples, or insensitively ask, “Why got pimples ah?”. I was highly sensitive about it, and while I kept a brave front, I would go home and cry to myself after.
I was upset that I still hadn’t gotten my period, something the “cooler” and “more mature” girls were experiencing. With that, I also wasn’t very endowed in the chest area, still stuck in singlets and training bras while my peers where already getting fitted with “proper” bras.
Things changed when CCA started for us in the middle of Secondary 1. I became valued as a netball player because I had played competitively in primary school.
Then I hit 14, finally got my period, and hit an 11cm growth spurt, reaching my full height of 1.71m tall in Secondary 2. This was such an advantage for sports.
Excelling in sport gave me the boost in confidence I sorely needed. I started to see myself as not just the weird imposter kid, but as a tall athlete. The narratives we have about ourselves really have a lot more impact on us than we think, and are sometimes self-fulfilling.
My height advantage helped me excel in high jump and 1,500m, and I felt like I could do anything then! This confidence spilled over to other parts of my life, including getting comfortable with my looks and my lankiness, and yes, also with boys.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I am. I am happy that I am fit and have no problems or lack of energy in managing any of life’s day to day activities, such as flights of stairs and the like. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have sexy, Kardashian curves, and have learnt to embrace my lanky frame. I am thankful to still have the same level of energy as I did in my 20s, and am now focused on maintaining my fitness to keep this energy – hopefully well into my silver years.
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
Tons! “You’re too chubby”; “You’re too skinny, are you ok?”
“You’re so flat”; “You have no curves”; “Being skinny like that isn’t sexy, you know”
“You’re lucky to be lean and lanky”; “You seem to be able to eat whatever you want”; “You are the same size as when I knew you in school!”
I have learnt to focus on the good stuff and be thankful for them.