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With Gratitude From the Dragon's Lair

Some things will never change... goal-getting and dream planning over coffee this morning!

Some things will never change... goal-getting and dream planning over coffee this morning!

Four and a half years ago, Tangram Wellness was launched as a one-woman fitness company offering personal training and early morning boot camps in Singapore.  As an introverted foreigner who had made a drastic career change to a hyper-competitive and highly social occupation, to say that I was petrified would be an understatement.

I knew that I wanted to blend physical, emotional and psychological fitness to assist women in rebuilding their lives after a significant setback, but I had no role models or mentors in the field and frankly, no idea how the heck I was going to carry out my vision.

About a year after the business was established, I added health coaching to the roster, and trained as a coach in behaviour change as well. Eventually, I dipped a toe into the waters of counselling and became an addiction recovery therapist, then began seeking out “my people”- women who were on a journey out of an eating disorder, addiction or other type of self-sabotage. A presentation on bodybuilding at the co-working space, Woolf Works, became a path forward, when I inadvertently admitted to a group of about thirty lovely strangers that I had struggled with an alcohol use disorder and clinical depression for over a decade.

When I went home that night, I felt like I might have made the biggest career mistake in my life by giving voice to this highly personal challenge in a conservative country amidst women who frankly seemed to have it all together.

The next day, emails of thanks trickled into my inbox. Shortly thereafter, the calls for coaching started to come in.

In 2015, I decided to leave personal training behind and focus solely on my coaching clientele. Business was booming and I knew I’d have to hire someone on to fill my former role. Quite fortuitously, Anna Kwan walked into my life. Her warmth and straightforward sensibility, as well as her passion for all things fitness, won me over. As a business owner and athlete with twelve years of experience, she had another great offer on the table, and I could only hope to be so lucky to work with her. To my shock, she came on board almost immediately, intent on serving new and expectant mothers as a pre- and post-natal fitness coach. That wasn’t my vision for Tangram, but frankly, I didn’t care. I encouraged her to build up her desired clientele and she found rapid success.

As we grew, we needed assistance with the administrative side of the business, so I hired on Vanessa as our VA and she kept us ticking forward. I then received a heartfelt email and CV from Yuyan Huang, a coach specializing in hormonal health and fitness for women. Yan’s exuberant energy, coupled with her can-do attitude and experience, convinced me to get her on board. We were on the upswing, and my vision for Tangram began to change. Seeing an opportunity to build a sizeable and multifaceted company, I added yoga to the mix.

Less than three years after I’d launched Tangram, we were a team of five leading corporate seminars, workshops, talks, boot camps, classes, and individual coaching, as well as working with the press to increase visibility on physical and mental health issues in Singapore. It was exhilarating- and exhausting! It was also way too much all at once, and chasing opportunity diluted the mission.

No ascent is without its tumbles and missteps. Although we tried our best to make it work, outdoor yoga in sweltering Singapore was just not happening for us (and talk about a bad hair day). After much patience, our yoga instructor Katheryn moved on. Around this time, I was waddling around with a miraculous bun in the oven after years of dealing with endometriosis and the erroneous belief that I couldn't have children naturally. Anna was on her own fertility journey, and soon after I found out I was pregnant, she was blessed as well. Yan readily picked up the slack and helped us both along as we dealt with morning sickness, fatigue and full schedules. At that point, we were no longer just a business. We were family.

You may have noticed that we’ve been quite quiet on social media this year. Sometimes mama bears simply need to hunker down, guard their caves, and be with their cubs. Pulling back on work gave us all the space to reflect on what we truly wanted to do with our lives, and the shared joy of motherhood instilled in us the strength to fully come into ourselves and focus on what’s most important— professionally and personally.

Thus, it is with a mixture of excitement and sadness that I announce that Tangram Wellness will be ceasing business operations while we commit to do what we do best as individuals.

That’s what this journey is about- for all women. It’s about figuring out your gifts and then venturing beyond comfort to share them with the world. It’s about stepping into the dragon’s lair to confront your fears and discover your hidden treasures.

That’s a process of not weeks and months, but of many years. It involves lots of preparation, heaps of bravery, many mistakes, some celebration, and at least a few unanticipated detours.

And so, we march onward. Anna will be moving on to Beloved Bumps to lead their pre- and post-natal fitness classes and share her knowledge of parenthood with moms-to-be. She is also launching core strengthening classes for moms and their babies, and will begin accepting new clients this month. You can reach out to her directly at anna@belovedbumps.sg or 9230-3141.

Yan is focused solely on coaching women who are interested in improving their energy levels and hormonal health through fitness and nutrition, and she’s currently taking on new clients. Get in touch with Yan at lifewithyan@gmail.com or 9834-8147.

As for me, I am relishing being a mama while returning full-circle to writing and coaching in behavior change and recovery. I’m also running an accountability group for fellow goal-getters (the current one has commenced; you can email me for details at aimee@tangramwellness.com). Serving “my people” as a coach and writer gives me yet another reason to wake up with gratitude, and since my baby now dictates my calendar, there’s no screwing around with time! The Tangram Wellness website and social media will remain for now, and you’ll be able to contact us at that email address throughout 2017.

Through Tangram, I’ve learned more than I ever did in 20 years of schooling while making an impact in the community that I now call home. We’ve all forged incredible connections that will last a lifetime. Most importantly, we’ve had the opportunity to cheer our clients on as they soar in the direction of their goals and dreams, and we will continue that good work. For everyone who has been a part of our lives during Tangram- THANK YOU.  

With love, light & lifting,

Aimee and the Tangram Team

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Q&A With Tangram's New Metabolic Personal Trainer & Mat Pilates Instructor, Yan Huang!

As Tangram expands, demand for our women-focused integrative fitness offerings have quickly increased over the past year, and we're happy to welcome Yuyan (Yan) Huang on board! Yan will be serving as a metabolic personal trainer and mat pilates instructor, providing tailored fitness services to women across central Singapore. Yan's answered a few questions to help you get to know her better. 

You've been involved in the fitness & wellness world for 8 years now. What changes have you seen in Singapore? What's one thing that works…. and one thing that doesn't?

Over the last 8 years in the world of fitness and wellness, I have noticed how people are definitely starting to value the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle as a way of balancing the high strung and stressful life in Singapore.  There is also a lot of conflicting information out there regarding what's healthy or not, and what's the best method to lose weight/get stronger/lose bodyfat. Many people are confused!

I've noticed a rise in injuries as a result of sudden engagement in various fitness activities that people just aren't ready for, and also how people's health changes with the current quality of their life, food and sleep. 

The one thing that works will be what works for YOU as an individual which is in line with your goals, not the goals of others! The one thing that doesn't work...  If I have to say what doesn't work, it would be sticking to one modality of training without looking at your lifestyle and physical, emotional and mental self as a whole. 


You focus on the relationship between nutrition, exercise and hormones. Why the emphasis on hormones?

I love this question! This revelation of looking at your fitness or health goals from the hormonal point of view came at a turning point in my life right after my fitness competition in 2011. Like most people, I started out thinking that to lose weight or fat, it's all just about caloric deficit and exercising more. I did that and lost the weight, but I did not gain the strength nor manage to lose the typical female "trouble spot" areas. 

I'm a person who has always wanted to get to the root of the problem and seek a solution. So, that's when I got into bodybuilding- to learn how the competitors get so lean. I did get lean for sure however, no one in Singapore talks about life after competition openly or how to maintain the lifestyle and leanness. 

That is when I found out about the impact our hormones have on the human body through Dr. Jade Teta and Jill Coleman at the Metabolic Effect. It opened my mind to how we have been misled for many years thinking that weight loss is equivalent to fat loss.

From this viewpoint, I noticed the relationship between hormones and weight when I was teaching youths- how their stressful lifestyle was causing them to weight gain around the midsection. Meanwhile, my female friends and family were talking about their fat gain around their midsection, arms, mid-back and thighs. If stress levels and hormones aren't in balance, our bodies will tell that story.

What's the biggest challenge you've overcome and how did you do so?

Learning to embrace the big failures - having to close my horology showroom in 2013. The shop was a culmination of almost 8 years of my heart and energy. Like many entrepreneurs, lots of sacrifices were put into the business. Having to make the decision to let go and close the company was a huge challenge for me.

How I overcame it: through lots of reading, meditation, and the power of mind -- realizing that no success in life comes without falling -- because it is through the bitter moments and the challenges that we grow and develop to be best version we can be. And, once you see the bigger picture and break through it, you will be so grateful that you did. 

There is always something better ahead. That's how I followed my heart and entered the health and wellness industry as a professional.

Favorite exercise - and why!

Romanian deadlift! It's a compound technical exercise that works both the physiological and neurological aspects; the bigger muscles and smaller stabilizing muscles groups and breathing are all utilized. 

It also exposes the areas where we may be weaker, such as the inner TVA unit, the muscles around the shoulder blades, the mobility and strength of our wrists and fingers, right down to our ankles and feet. 

It is very empowering and yet metabolic boosting exercise when performed well, and it's effective in developing the hamstring and glutes and works the posterior chain, which helps with posture.

 
Tell us about your approach to fitness.

How I look at fitness has definitely evolved from when I first started.
My approach to fitness is now targeted more from the lifestyle point of view. Aiming at long-term sustainability towards maintaining strength, grace and a healthy body fat percentage. 
 
By lifestyle, I mean looking at the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental aspects, delving deep within into the why and the purpose of why people do what they do, why they eat what they eat.


You have some experience on the bodybuilding stage. What did you learn from that experience?
One major takeaway I learned is this -- the mind is a very powerful gift we all have been blessed with. Anything is possible if you truly put your heart, body, mind and soul into it. I say this because in my lifetime, I would never have thought of myself wearing a two-piece bikini and walking on stage. I was never that kind of girl so this was definitely a mental breakthrough. 

All I had in mind that day was -- I wanted to debunk the myth that weightlifting causes bulk in ladies and more importantly it is possible to get really lean through pure nutrition and training.

But I also learned that most people just want to know what works for them to get healthier, leaner, stronger and feel really good and confident about who they are. They don't necessarily want to be standing on stage.
 

Favorite food?
I love anything that is packed with natural wellness and colours without excess additives, salt and sugar. But an all-time favourite, surprisingly is a good ol' simple baked Portobello mushrooms with melted cheese, salmon with fresh herbs and sweet Japanese potatoes. 


If you could give one piece of advice to a client that's been on the yo-yo diet rollercoaster, what would that be? 

Ditch the "eat less, exercise more" model. It is not sustainable, and more importantly, it wrecks your entire hormonal system which makes you gain more weight and fat. It makes maintaining one's weight or losing fat a lot harder later on! 
Treat your hormones right, love your body entirely, and she will love you back in return. It will show, without a doubt.

As always, thanks for reading! To learn more about Yan's background, experience and qualifications, visit her profile here. book personal training or pilates sessions with Yan, contact us via email or call + 65 9725-0583. Have a question on hormones and fat loss for Yan? Leave it in the comments section! 

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New Class: Strong Tummy, Healthy Mummy

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New and expectant moms, our pre- and post-natal fitness specialist, Anna Kwan, is launching a fantastic exercise class just for you! These classes are highly beneficial to both mom and baby, and it's an opportunity to make new friends in the community as well. Email Anna@tangramwellness.com for further details!

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