If you look at fitness trainer KC Yap, you’d never guess that there was ever a time when she wasn’t fit.
But until about seven years ago, Yap was out of shape and not at all bothered.
“I was a housewife and my daily work was to take care of my children. I was out of shape and inactive. I had the classic pear-shaped body but it never occurred to me to join a gym because I didn’t have a problem with how I looked. Didn’t all mums look this way?
“My friends also didn’t seem to care about their weight gain from pregnancy; instead we’d all indulge in calorie-dense food like laksa, nasi lemak and roti canai daily,” shares Yap, 49.
But as her children grew older and started schooling, Yap found herself with more time on her hands, which led her to zumba and line dance classes. The adrenaline rush and fun from the classes changed Yap’s mind about exercise and she signed on for more.
“The more I exercised, the more I liked it. Most of all, I loved how it made me feel,” says the mother of two from Melaka.
These days, Yap not only trains daily; she’s a certified trainer who runs her own women-only gym, HerFitness in Kota Laksamana Jaya, Melaka, which she opened in 2014.
At her gym, Yap and her team of 12 women trainers empower and encourage women to make fitness a part of their lives.
Workouts are tough but they’re also kept fun as Yap believes that exercising should be enjoyable rather than tiresome.
One of the main attractions at her gym is Fitbounce, a high-intensity workout using mini trampolines. Yap was the first to introduce this method of training in Melaka.
“Fitbounce is a whole body workout that combines cardiovascular and strength training. It really engages many muscles in the body, particularly the core because you have to maintain your balance on the trampoline as you move to the beat of the music. It’s really fun too and you will completely forget how hard your heart is pumping and how much you are sweating.
“I underwent knee surgery four years ago and though I love dancing, I could no longer do many exercises on the floor because they were all high-impact movements.
“Rebounding on the trampoline however is very gentle on the joints, soft tissue and skeleton. It is a high-intensity workout but has low or little impact on the joints, which is really good for me and actually, just about everybody. Going on the trampoline allowed me to get back into my routine despite my surgery,” says Yap.
Apart from the Fitbounce classes, Yap and her team of female trainers also lead TRX (total body resistance training using adjustable straps) and tabata (interval training) classes at HerFitness.
“HerFitness was also the first fitness centre in Melaka to introduce TRX suspension classes. We focus a lot on body weight exercises and because we are a female-only centre, we look at the specific fitness needs of women. Many women work out because they want to lose weight and tone up while gaining strength,” explains Yap.
Though she’s happy with the way she looks now – no more pear-shape! – Yap is more thrilled at her increased fitness.
“My goal is to stay physically active into my old age and to continue educating people that age should not be a reason to stop exercising. I also want to maintain my figure. Having a group of young instructors around me motivates me to push harder and keep up with them,” she says, with a laugh.
It’s not all about the exercise though. Yap has learnt to watch what she eats although she still indulges in more than the occassional roti canai.
“You can never outrun your fork so, yes, I’m particular about my diet. Nutrition is a big part of being healthy and fit – it’s 70% nutrition and 30% exercise. We have so much good food here and it’s hard to completely abstain. And I don’t,” she shares candidly.
Yap’s energy is contagious when she’s talking about exercise. Her passion for staying fit is obvious but she wants women to realise how empowering working out can be for themselves.
“It is very important for women to work out, especially those above 45. These are women who often have spent half their lives looking after their family and in the process, neglected themselves. That was me too. What I discovered and want to share is that when you work out, you feel better about yourself and are therefore happier and more confident.
“We make it a point in our gym to motivate women to come together as a community to build a healthier lifestyle. It is equally important for younger women to work out too. Young women these days are empowered, independent and usually push themselves forward in their career. This is great but they also carry with them a lot of work stress. The gym is a place to release stress in a healthy way. It is the new ‘Happy Hour’,” she says.
Her optimism is contagious and despite being a smallish gym occupying a shoplot, HerFitness has over 1,000 registered members, from age seven to those well over 60.
“You start ageing when you stop moving. Some women are reluctant to join a gym as they are afraid they can’t do the workouts. But that’s not true at all – everyone is a beginner when they start off. I was a beginner too but we learn along the way and try our best,” she says.