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: Nic Tjoa (@nictjoa)
Occupation: Talent Management
Diet: My meals consist of a lot of lean meat, fish and vegetables. I am a big foodie and have a serious sweet tooth. My main motivation to work out is actually so that I can eat whatever and whenever I feel the need to. Those who know me well can vouch for that. Haha! Although preparation for shoots does require a certain diet programme such as cutting down on unnecessary carbohydrates, sugar and minimising sodium intake.
Training: If my schedule permits, I usually train about three to five times a week. I am the kind of guy that likes to mix things up. I break down my workout routines into four main groups – strength, cardio, functional and skills.
The strength component is quite straightforward involving both low and high intensity weight training at the gym. The cardio aspect consists of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), hill sprints, boxing and swimming. I usually aim to burn 700 to 1,000 calories in a single 60-minute session. At that point, it is all about challenging the mental and physical threshold while strengthening the heart and lungs. It is the workout component that I usually dread doing at the start (especially as I age) but yet when completed has the most fulfilling satisfaction.
My functional routine consists of calisthenics and yoga where I work on fine tuning my body through advanced bodyweight and mobility exercises. The skills part was recently added during Circuit Breaker where I plan progression exercises to practise complex calisthenics movements such as handstands and full planche as well as advanced yoga poses such as the peacock and crane pose. This is usually done on days where I am either recovering from the previous workout sessions or when I am feeling low on energy.
Q: What were your backgrounds in sports growing up?
A: My first competitive sport was swimming. I swam at junior national level until about the age of 15. It was throughout those years that I developed a knack for competing. I was one of those kids that held four to five extra-curricular activities throughout my primary and secondary school days. I competed in sports such as basketball, football, athletics and even sepak takraw.
When my school days were over, I fell in love with martial arts such as boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts. I competed for a few years in martial arts but I came to realise the injuries I sustained during trainings and fights weren’t ideal for someone like me, who was then working full-time in the corporate world.
The adrenaline rush from the latter activities then developed further, fuelling my current passion for extreme sports such as snowboarding and surfing.
What led you to start your own talent agency?
It happened quite by accident actually. I was previously working as a corporate shipbroker for a few years. However, the constant consumption of alcohol and second-hand smoking (while entertaining my clients) really strained my health and fitness. I decided to leave that industry before even deciding on what to do next.
I decided to get some advice from my peers and they were joking about how I should consider being a talent or actor full-time. At that point of time, I wasn’t so sure that career will take off for me, but then it struck me. Instead of being a talent myself, why don’t I start an agency to help others venture into this industry.
Being in the entertainment industry, do you face any pressure to maintain your physique or look a certain way?
I am not bothered by any pressure to look in a certain way as I am more client facing than camera facing. The only pressure I have is one that I set on myself. I prefer to see it as an added motivation by staying healthy and fit as an example for my talents and peers. It is easy to get caught up with work and personal commitments and come up with excuses or reasons to brush aside one’s health and wellness.
You're also a fitness trainer – how does being a model and actor complement that?
I figured it just makes me more presentable and professional when I apply for jobs that involve fitness. However, I find more joy in coaching and helping the talents under my management during my free time. Having them stay in shape and be healthy does add longevity to their careers.
What did you do during the Circuit Breaker and how did you train then?
I am a person who enjoys routine, especially when it comes to fitness. The recent Circuit Breaker really disrupted my daily activities, especially since they consist of mostly team sports and constant human interaction. Thankfully, we are living in a technology era where one can get information and learn new things over the internet.
I managed to find a silver lining by attempting activities that I have been procrastinating on for quite some time – such as yoga and calisthenics. Being alone and confined to just my own home has allowed me to focus on strengthening my mind and body through bodyweight exercises and increasing mobility and flexibility through constant stretching (of which I have seriously neglected over the years). It was truly a humbling and life changing experience.
What are your fitness goals now?
My fitness goals are constantly evolving. My level of fitness, recovery and commitment isn’t quite the same as before. Therefore, I have stopped competitive sports as a whole.
My main goal now is ensuring that I still maintain discipline by setting time aside to stay active regardless of my work and personal schedule. Even if it means squeezing a workout during my lunch break or after hours when everyone is likely to be in bed. My new found love for calisthenics and yoga has also reignited my goals for the next few years to come.
Did you ever not feel confident about yourself?
During my teenage years till about my early 20s, I had trouble gaining weight and muscle mass. I was very active in competitive sports and in general a hyperactive person that can’t seem to sit still. Weightlifting wasn’t really my thing back then. It didn’t help that I also had hypermetabolism syndrome throughout those years. I could never get my weight past 60kg with my current height. I had to seek medical advice then and was told to cut down on my fitness activities because I was already burning more calories than an average person by simply sitting down.
Being an avid sports person and extremely competitive, those were orders I struggled to heed. Therefore, I decided to pay more attention and discipline to my diet by consuming over 3,000 calories per day, and adding weightlifting to my routine in order to put on some muscle mass.
Are you content with your body now?
As I’ve gotten older, I have started viewing my body as more of a machine rather than just an outlet for aesthetics. That being said, the choices I make towards living a healthy lifestyle function mainly to make sure that my “machine” is operating at its highest performance level with zero to minimal breakdown. I prioritise this by focusing on functionality and well-being over the look of my body.
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
Generally, I have had positive comments about my body but I choose to not pay much attention to them. I know that the body is a fickle thing and its appearance can change in a heartbeat.
Speaking from experience, aesthetics doesn’t last forever and maintaining the “perfect” body requires enormous upkeep of diet and exercise. I’d much rather focus on my overall health and well-being while staying extremely active and doing the things I love to do.