“A Greek god? Lol! I wasn’t born like this. I was a very skinny guy. When I graduated from secondary school, I was about 50kg. I was bullied a lot back then because of my thin appearance and bucked tooth.

I remember buying toy flowers on Valentine’s Day to give it to a girl I liked. I was really shy then with no self-confidence. When some of the boys from school found out, they kept making prank calls pretending to be the girl’s father.

I just played along and got used to all the teasing and name-calling. I wasn’t really bothered by any of it. I also try not to think too much about the past. What’s done is done. We move on to better things; we move on with life.

I started gymming in my second year of poly because my ex-girlfriend said I was too skinny. I went without any guidance or coaching. It quickly became an addiction. As time passed by, my weight progressively went up from 50kg to 75kg.

I started experimenting with all kinds of diets, like eating five double cheeseburgers a day for three months. If you didn’t go through this phase, you’re not a gym freak. I also picked up different sports like the Strongman Challenge. It was amazing seeing people flip tires.

During National Service, I thought it was time for me to care more about my image, so I started wearing braces. It was something I had been wanting to do for some time, not because I was teased in the past but more for myself.

How did I become a personal coach? I’m currently working at Habit SG as a fitness coach but I didn’t know much about personal coaching when I first started out. The fitness industry wasn’t very big then. If you went to a commercial gym like California Fitness, you were considered rich.

I started off at a non-commercialised gym. I didn’t want to go to a commercial gym because instead of facing pressure to sell memberships, I wanted to focus more on helping people change their mentality and lifestyle.

I’m grateful my career as a PT coach started at that gym because I learnt so much. The other coaches there opened my eyes to the different types of exercises you can teach and also broadened my knowledge on stuff like injury prevention and rehabilitation.

I moved on to other gyms after working there for two years. That’s when my work schedule started to get a little crazy and my life as a PT coach went downhill uphill. To me, not many people would want to go through what I went through.

It reached a point where helping clients achieve their goals became stressful. You push them hard to follow the diet and programme but if they still fail to reach their goals, how do you explain it to them? Is it then your fault or the client’s fault?

You obviously can’t say it’s the client’s fault, so I had to become more personal with them and dig a little further. Is it because of stress? Is it because of lack of sleep? And that’s just one client. I had to do it for 40 other clients. My brain needed to collate everything!

And something I’ve learnt about myself is that I tend to put my clients first. Other people’s happiness matters more than mine. Maybe it’s because of the bullying I went through in school that makes me want to help others; but, I’ve grown to accept that this is how I am. 

Talking to people and listening to their hardships and experiences, it’s got to a point where I’ve become a therapist who’s giving life lessons, even though I may not be the most qualified person to be dispensing advice, especially if the client is older.

But I’ve learned from my clients too. I’ve learned to live my life and focus on being healthy. I might be blunt but you have to accept that one day you will die. It’s how long you can delay that process.

If it gets to a point where you have diabetes and you need to amputate a leg then that’s too late. Invest more time and money in your health and enjoy your life when you can. That’s why I work hard now, so that I can enjoy my life as much as possible.” – Syazwan, 30

Interview by: Arman Shah