Once upon a time, a woman might hide her beautifully-toned body because it wasn't socially acceptable in Singapore society, but what a difference a generation makes! Today's buff female is out to bury this stereotype, so acquiring a six pack—even an eight-pack—isn't a rare ambition. Sound difficult? Not for Kelyn Lau, body builder, graphic designer and fitness whiz. If you ever run into her, ask her how she's doing on her long-term goal to build that eight-pack abs, and prepare to be impressed. This woman is one spirited bundle of energy!
RS: You're a busy graphic designer. How do you find time to work out and run?
Kelyn: It's true that I spend lots of time in front of a computer screen—eight to 12 hours, sometimes—but I’m fortunate to work for a company offering flexible work schedules. I run from one to three times a week. Some weeks, I don’t feel like running, so I do other exercises to keep my body toned.
RS: We understand you tried several sports before committing to calisthenics and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Does that mean that these exercise types are the most effective for you?
Kelyn: Every sport is unique, effective and fun, but calisthenics attracted me because the stunts are just so cool! If it weren't for the stunts I might not have stuck with it nor would I have tried to gain muscle and strength so I could do those stunts. I like the variety. We don't stick to just one type of workout.
RS: So does this mean you don't do other sports?
Kelyn: Just the opposite. I love to run and swim. It's just that calisthenics is my favourite – it suits my goals and lifestyle – I don't require the intense cardio needed for endurance sports. I've always believed that every person should find the sport they love – if you love it, you stay motivated.
RS: When you run, what's your usual distance?
Kelyn: My limit used to be 5 km, but since I started prioritising my upper body and became more invested in calisthenics, I began interval running so distance no longer factors into my workout.
RS: Is it true that HIIT is the secret behind your running success? Why?
Kelyn: Yes. HIIT is based on short, intense workout sessions lasting from four to 30 minutes plus recovery periods. HIIT helps me with my speed, power and endurance, so it makes me a well-rounded athlete.
RS: Can you recall what it was like to take up calisthenics? How did that come about?
Kelyn: I'm not embarrassed to say that my fascination started as I sat down watching a video! I perked up while watching Frank Medrano DVDs and soon realised that the man had some serious moves—and I wanted to be that cool girl, too.
RS: What HIIT or calisthenics exercises do you recommend that our readers try at home?
Kelyn: Well, I recommend getting a DVD to get started! On the other hand, if one knows their goal, foundations are best. Do pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, etc.
RS: How do calisthenics differ from other forms of exercise?
Kelyn: Calisthenics relies on "locking." You lock elbows, hips, abs, etc. to build muscle in shoulders, abs, glutes and backs. If I’m in HIIT mode, I might undertake 60 high knees, 60 jumping jacks and 60 butt kickers to experience intense bursts. In-between, I might do elevated crunches, mountain climber moves, jack knives and exercises that keep my heart beating fast to maximise the effect of my efforts.
RS: Where do you train?
Kelyn: Everywhere! I exercise at home, hit the gym every weekend and sometimes I join friends for a run at Singapore stadiums or reservoirs. Oh, and I also train with a group of calisthenics guys at Buangkok Physical Fitness!
RS: It's no secret that you're driven to get and keep six-pack abs and supposedly, your goal is putting guys to shame. How long will it take to get that eight pack and will you flaunt it?
Kelyn: (Laughs) I'll be honest: I never wanted a six-pack at first. Then, I decided I wanted just three lines. That accomplished, I wanted more so having an eight-pack has been my work in progress for 2.5 years. I set that eight-pack goal 1.5 years ago. No, I don’t plan to flaunt it!
RS: We'd love to know what motivates and frustrates you. Can you share?
Kelyn: My motivation comes from many sources. Sometimes, it's people. Sometimes, its photos. I watch online videos that motivate me, too. As for frustration, I don't experience it often. I'm too busy pushing boundaries to reach my goals. Besides, being frustrated is a waste of energy!
RS: If you could be a superhero, what would your personal superpowers be?
Kelyn: I would immediately use my powers to teleport myself from place to place so I can skip taking planes and visit all of the beautiful places on the planet without having to queue at airports!
RS: Whom do you admire most and why?
Kelyn: Is it okay to admire a team? If so, my answer is Team Strong Sliver. Members of this group have opened my eyes on the subject of maturing gracefully. I've learned that no matter how old I get, I can maintain a strong, healthy body. Team Strong Silver members personify aging healthfully. I plan to emulate them as I age.
RS: Have you had to overcome adversity or go through rough times?
Kelyn: Hmm. Interesting question. Like everyone, I've had ups and downs, but I keep negative things out of my life in the first place. I wait out bad times knowing that life goes on. I use physical fitness to my advantage, working out to beat stress, anger and sadness. When I exercise, I release unhealthy emotions. Specifically, swimming is my go-to therapy for stress and sadness; running re-balances me when I’m angry!
RS: What's the best advice you received since beginning your personal fitness journey?
Kelyn: A friend taught me that if I'm injured, it's important to stay upbeat, avoid sadness and demoralisation because injuries offer opportunities to improve other areas of the body while healing. I also live by this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: "If you can't fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. By all means, keep moving."
RS: What are your targets and goals for the future?
Kelyn: First and foremost is achieving that eight-pack. Others include improving my handstand, front lever and keeping my muscles toned and strong so I achieve my future goals—like becoming a mum one day! A mum with an eight-pack, of course!
RS: We wonder if your recent, dramatic hairstyle change has impacted your performance.
Kelyn: (Laughs) My reasons for shorter hair have nothing to do with performance or exercise. A girl can't look too good at the gym, on the track or in the pool, you know!
Kelyn Lau's sense of humour, philosophical outlook and dedication to her physical pursuits are admirable, and we particularly like the fact that she lives by so profound a quote as the one she cites by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. How about sharing your personal favourite with us? What quote inspires, motivates and drives you to be the best you can be?