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IN THE SPORTLIGHT – Louisa Lau, Pilates Instructor

21 Aug

In today’s entry, we are featuring Louisa Lau, a Pilates instructor and she shares with us her love for Pilates and her journey towards pursuing her passion as a career.


Louisa is a 31-year-old Pilates enthusiast who decided to make Pilates her full commitment 2 years ago. She has been practicing Pilates for 7 years and is currently teaching at The American Club, Fitness First1-1 sessions at Elements Pilates as well as clients’ home.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a body conditioning routine developed by Joseph Pilates that helps to not only build flexibility, but also strength, endurance, and coordination in the legs, abdominals, arms and back. – Wikipedia

Using the mind to control the muscles, Pilates encompasses the Breath, Mind, Body and Spirit.

How did you start?

Louisa chanced upon Pilates while doing ballet in her younger days. As she needed help for her vocational exam in ballet, she did some research and found out that Pilates could help. As her technique at ballet wasn’t good, Pilates formed part of her dance curriculum which was able to help improve her strength.

Her first lesson on Pilates started in University, during a trial session and as she remembered, it was on the articulation of her spine. She was intrigued by the sport and carried on ever since.

After graduating with a Business degree from SMU, she worked in the HR sector for more than 4 years and finance sector for over a year but always knew it wasn’t really what she wanted to do. While working, she obtained certification as a Pilates instructor and taught Mat classes in the evening.

However, she knew teaching part-time wasn’t enough and felt that there was more to give. She wanted a complete understanding of the Pilates work. So, she took the Ron Fletcher Program of Study – a program on how to teach the full spectrum of the Fletcher Pilates syllabus, including Pilates apparatus and Matwork. Her lessons were time-consuming and costly, and knew she could not achieve what she wanted on a part-time basis.

Louisa finally took the leap of faith last year, where she gave up her corporate job and decided to pursue Pilates full-time.

Since, being a teacher has given her a sense of satisfaction. It is not just about teaching but how it invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit. She is much happier now and glad she left her corporate job to pursue her passion.

Why Pilates?


It is not just a good workout but it increases your body awareness, thus correcting any body misalignment; recruiting those intrinsic muscles in support with the bigger muscles, as well as work the often ‘lazier’ muscles so as to relieve the ‘overworked’ muscles for a balanced aligned body.

Pilates is a mind-body coordination workout. It feels like you’re ‘doing’ alot of things at one time as the need to focus on your overall body alignment in the exercise is paramount.The principles of Pilates is very applicable in our daily lives, for example, when you’re on you’re way to work either in a car, bus or train, do you think of engaging your belly and lengthening your spine, and sit tall.

As a result of our emphasis on body alignment and mind alertness, posture and mental focus improves.
The rejuvenation of your mind and body uplifts us spiritually.
A good posture prevents slip-disc, neck problems, spinal and joint problems.

In our daily lives, when we walk, turn or reach out for something far away, our muscles are used through the day.

And that is Pilates.

How does Pilates make you fitter?


As a result of Pilates, when done correctly and regularly, you will eventually build lean muscles
Pilates works the muscles ecentrically and muscles increases your metabolic rate.
People don’t realise that Pilates is actually involved in most sports.
You would still need your regular cardio like swimming and running to lose weight and get fit, but by incorporating Pilates into your lifestyle, it enhances your fitness to a higher level.

What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?

Yoga is more stretch and flexibility oriented,with the use yoga poses. Pilates works the whole body,with a focus on core stabilisation. It requires movements, which are not performed rapidly or repeated excessively, as the focus is on quality not quantity.

How do we start?


Pilates works on muscles supporting the joints for it’s the ligaments and muscles that hold the bones and joints together. Hence, the exercises when done in the right alignment helps prevents injuries and does not cause harm.
You could do brisk walking for 15-20 minutes and incorporate Pilates to your regime.
You will realise that walking becomes more effortless and there is increased awareness on your joints.
Pilates allows you to enjoy sports without having to pay for it later in life due to strained muscles or any misalignment.

Are Pilates for women only?


That is the most common misconception, or that Pilates is a feminine sport.
Pilates can be very challenging and it is up to the teacher to challenge the student.
Men, in general, prefer exercises that recruit the larger muscles and ‘sweat it out’, and perceive that they cannot find that in Pilates.
But in fact, men might need it more than women!
You see – Guys are concerned about the superficial muscles that they build up in the gym. The big bulky muscles on the outside are supported by the inner muscles which Pilates help to build inside out.
Muscles that are too tight, end up being strained, similar to an ‘over-strained’ rubberband, too tensed on either ends.
Pilates when done correctly and regularly will eventually build lean muscles.

It is mindful correct movements and committing to practice that we would be able to feel and see the change in our bodies.


Approach life holistically.

Enough sleep
Eat heathily and not overeat
Enough nutrition
Enough sunlight

When i don’t feel like working out, i remind myself that –

Our body is like a car that needs to be serviced and maintained. The engine has to be started once a week, or better everyday, otherwise it’ll stall.

-Louisa Lau

xo Shinna

For contact info, you can visit Louisa’s blog here. 🙂


IN THE SPORTLIGHT – Xander Huang, Triathlete

17 Jun

‘In the Sportlight’ is a new segment that i will be posting around the mid of each month, where we talk to men and women of all ages, from all walks of life and they share with us how they keep fit and stay healthy!

In today’s entry, we are featuring Xander Huang, and he shares with us his hectic routine of staying fit and juggling with school.


Xander is a 23-year-old undergraduate from SMU studying Business Administration, and also an avid Triathlete.

He has been competing in Triathlons for the past 3 years, and heads SMU’s Triathlon team as Captain.

What are Triathlons?

triathlon is a multi-sport event involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance events.

Triathletes compete for fastest overall course completion time, and it is a strenuous and challenging sport that requires extensive stamina and physique, having to excel in 3 different sports.

Currently serving his summer Internship at Barclays, he recently completed a Bintan Triathlon and emerged 3rd for his age group 18-24.
The race consisted of 1.5km swimming, 40km cycling and 10km running.

Why Triathlon?

Xander has always been active since young, his love for sports – cycling in particular, has been a life-long passion.
Triathlons offer the adrenaline, the exhilarating speed from cycling, the thrill from competitions and the forging of great friendships with his team mates.

By being able to excel in 3 sports, he found it much tougher than to just train for one and thus enjoyed the challenge of it, and that was the satisfaction he got from completing a Triathlon.

Training routines:

6-7 times a week of training, consisting of two types of regime –
Off-season: Long but moderate/easy intensity workouts. Allowing his body to recover after the races.
On-season: High intensity workouts coupling with low-carbo diet, so as to drain muscles from glycogen storage.


Off-season: Maintains weight at 70-71kg, Carbo-load and breakfast includes rice.
On-season: 2 weeks prior to race, carbo-starve, ramping up proteins and fats and maintaining his weight at 67-68kg.
Mixed vegetables Rice, non-fried meat
Abstain from Fried Food ALL SEASON.


That’s not humanly possible. We are not robots.




Things that we usually don’t reveal:


He loves his fries and we all love things sweet and savory…. so how do you cope with that?


I pick on my siblings food… like finishing up what they can’t. We usually don’t remember or include them in our desired diet. 😛

2 weeks before my race, i load up on fats like eating 1 kosong and 1 egg from my favourite prata stall.

After a race, i would spoil myself for the next 3 days and eat whatever i want.

Favourite cheat food: Fish and Chips with loads of dressings and fries.

On days that i am low on carbo, i tend to be very quick-tempered, slightly depressed and experience extreme fatigue. Thus, i learn to adjust myself and cope with the psychological stress.

The transition from low-carbo to high-carbo and vice versa when switching seasons is the hardest.



It is hard to plan trainings because you have to prep your body for the next sport you are going to train for the next day.

For example, you can’t exhaust yourself too much in running that you can’t perform your best in the next training session which is cycling.

People that you train with is also very important. I am highly motivated to go for trainings because of my mates. With a healthy competitive spirit, everyone is pushed to their limits.

with fellow SMU triathletes at the recent Bintan triathlon

What are some tips you can share to keeping fit?



I usually eat before i feel hungry.

In between meals when i’m hungry, my favourite snack would be Carmen’s Oat and apricot Muesli Bar which is low in GI.

My preferred cereal would be from the brand Post, coupled with a tablespoon of Oats.



For heavy weights who are just starting off, try Swimming first. However, if you feel conscious in swimming suits, try stationary cycling, which is easy on your joints.

Maintain at  maximum 60/70% heart rate – go long for at least 25 minutes at easy-moderate intensity for cardio exercises.

Interval training is effective where you go high intensity for 1 minute and low-moderate intensity for the next.

Incorporating strength training as well as lifting weights help you build muscles. With muscles, you will burn fat faster.

Most importantly, Don’t start out too hard and end up feeling like Sh*t and don’t feel like exercising anymore.


When i was in Army, i used to tell my men:

The first one is always hardest to do, once you manage to do the first pull up, doing the next 15 or 20 will not be a problem.

A good body and a healthy life style is a byproduct of a passion of the sport. 

– Xander Huang

♥x, S.L

P.S: Xander is also my cousin, and he and my Dad have annoying never-ending conversations about bicycles 😛