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personal trainer


Meet Tangram's Health & Fitness Specialist, Anna Kwan

Anna Kwan, Tangram Wellness's new Health & Fitness Specialist, has had a whirlwind first month in Singapore and is already bringing her passion for all things fitness to women across the city, as well as thinking about her own athletic goals for the coming year. To help you get to know her a bit better, I've asked Anna ten questions about training, food, and her new life on the Little Red Dot. 

You've just moved from the UK to Southeast Asia- that's a big leap! What brought you to Singapore?
My husband and I have always had our hearts set on living in Southeast Asia; his family are from Hong Kong and I’ve been really keen to learn more about his heritage. We decided on Singapore over Hong Kong in the end due to the lifestyle factors and Nigel (my husband) secured a job here.

How long have you been involved in health & fitness? What attracted you to this field?
I’ve always been keen on Health Sciences since studying Human Biology at university. Back then I was a competitive swimmer and exercise was already a huge part of my life. It seemed obvious to combine the two. I got certified with the American College of Sports medicine for Personal Training straight after I graduated from university and have been working in this field ever since.

Tell me about your approach to fitness.
I believe a varied approach to fitness is the best. In the past I’ve focused solely on individual sports like swimming, triathlon and marathons but this has unfortunately often resulted in injury from overtraining. Nowadays I like to carefully combine a number of disciplines which compliment running such as yoga, core work and weight training to keep me balanced and injury free.

You've worked with hundreds of clients over the years. Any memorable moments or success stories you can share?
It has To be the first client I trained up for a marathon. My client Joe was an ex-boxer with numerous injuries but had his heart set on competing in the New York Marathon! He’d never attempted long distance running but after months of hard work with a bespoke training regime and constantly battling reoccurring injuries, he succeeded in completing the marathon in 3hrs 30 mins! It was an emotional journey that we both will always remember.

You're a marathoner and triathlete. Are you thinking about participating in any events in Asia, even with the heat? What has been your favorite race so far?
I would love to participate in some events out here. I’ve got to be honest, the heat will be a challenge but something I can overcome I’m sure after I’ve acclimatised first. I’ve heard lots of good things about the Angkor Wat Half Marathon and couldn’t imagine a more picturesque race! My favourite race has to be the London Marathon as there’s something so special about racing in your own city with family and friends supporting you. It’s always a great event come rain or shine and receives so much support.

We've got a lot of people in Singapore preparing now for the Standard Chartered Marathon and Ankor Wat Half Marathon. What's your advice for a successful race?
Apart from getting the miles in, I’d always advise clients to focus much more on stretching during their training. Overuse injuries are so common during marathon training and can be soul destroying if it jeopardises the big event. I also encourage clients to focus more on their diets during training. Maintaining good nutrition throughout the training programme will build muscle and help repair injuries faster and a carefully devised pre-race nutrition plan is essential and can make the difference between a good or bad race.

What's your favorite food? Have you found a restaurant in Singapore you love yet?
I’m a huge foodie and love the range of cuisines on offer here in Singapore! I adore Asian cooking, anything with zingy and fresh flavours gets my vote. My favourite so far is Kilo Lounge, which I’d highly recommend.

What are you most looking forward to about living here?
The amazing climate! Coming from London it’s so lovely to be constantly warm even if it’s grey!  I love how everything is geared to the outdoor lifestyle it’s fantastic to be able to be outside all the time.

Singapore is a massive foodie culture- we're obsessed with eating out! How can one maintain their weight and fitness with all this amazing food around? Give us some tips!
It is very difficult with the amount of good food on our doorsteps. It’s about being in control and having a balanced approach. I know there’s so much temptation! I’d say try whenever possible to eat dishes with fresh ingredients and plenty of vegetables. Almost all cuisines have their healthy dishes, obviously avoid fried foods, buttery sauces and opt for lean grilled fish and meat.

What's your best piece of wisdom for someone on the path to greater fitness?
You’re not on this planet for long and being fit and healthy is as much in your mind as it is in your body.  If you want it, you can achieve it. But most of all have fun doing it!

Thanks, Anna! If you have a fitness question for Anna or would like to make an appointment for a consultation, email her at



Personal Trainer Wanted: Eight Points to Consider

You better adore your personal trainer- you'll be spending a fair amount of time together! 

You better adore your personal trainer- you'll be spending a fair amount of time together! 

I’ll never forget my first personal trainer- a welterweight boxer at a commercial gym in New York who used to march my pin thin, chain-smoking body into the ring and have me jump rope for minutes at a time while he furiously punched out texts on his mobile phone. That relationship didn’t last very long, and losing $900 out of the deal in my broke college days taught me a valuable lesson about handing over dreams to someone without doing due diligence first. Now, as a coach and trainer who hires other coaches to train me (I have a competitive event I’m gearing up for and just enlisted a qualified pro to prepare me- more on that later…), I’d like to think I’m a little bit wiser than the twenty-something wisp of a chimney I used to be. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are eight points to consider when seeking a personal trainer or coach:

1. Make sure that the trainer is accredited by a well-respected international organization and holds current CPR and AED certifications. ACSM is known to be the “gold-standard certification,” and NASM and ACE are also highly regarded. Be forewarned- there are many trainers in Singapore who are not certified from a reputable source. Don’t be afraid to ask for certification verification.

2. Trainers are never “one size fits all.” Think about your specific goals and find a trainer who specializes in what you need. For instance, if you are aiming to stay in shape while pregnant, locate a female trainer skilled in prenatal fitness. Looking to build strength and gain definition? A personal trainer or coach who specializes in weight training and who is a bodybuilder would be very helpful. Looking to run a marathon? Hire a trainer who has been there and done that, and who has a track record of getting clients to the finish line.

3. Do you actually like this person? A personality match is key to a successful relationship between client and coach. Before committing to anything, schedule an initial meeting with the trainer to make sure that the two of you click. Good personal trainers and coaches almost always offer a complimentary assessment or initial training session prior. Use this as an opportunity to see if you can actually hang out with this person, as you’ll be spending a fair amount of time with them!

4. Does the trainer or coach have a high level of empathy? Empathy should be a job requirement in the health and fitness industry. You need to know that your trainer can give you emotional support during your fitness journey, and that they take a real interest in your well being. Work with a trainer who will listen and be responsive to your needs. If the trainer or coach bullies or belittles you, or tries to get you to do things you’re uncomfortable with, RUN!

5. Umm, how’s your trainer looking? This may seem shallow, but wouldn’t you rather work with a trainer who is in good shape? Won’t you be more motivated by a person who takes pride in their appearance and physically challenges themselves?
A personal trainer who does not seem to care about their body may not care about yours either, and likely doesn’t have the experience necessary to guide you on your journey. Of course, there are exceptions, but they’re rare.

6. Communication skills should be tailored for the 21st century! Does your trainer use desktop tools and applications to monitor and graph out your progress? Can your trainer or coach offer sessions over Skype when you travel, or keep in touch with you through social media and mobile apps? Professionals who can harness new technology to keep you on track offer advantages that should make your life easier in the long run.

7. Exercise is only one component of getting in shape- don’t forget nutrition! Look for a trainer who has education and certification in nutrition, either as a nutrition specialist, nutritionist or dietitian, depending on your needs. If your trainer doesn’t possess this knowledge, is he or she working with someone who does? Your trainer or coach should be able to guide you in making healthier food choices. If you’re an athlete or training for a specific event, a professional with sports nutrition and supplements knowledge may also be beneficial to you.

8. Finally, find a trainer who can stick with you throughout your journey and get you to your goal. Remember, however, that your trainer or coach is only actively with you a few hours a week, and has no control over what happens when you open the refrigerator door! That said, if you commit to putting in the work, your trainer should be able to guarantee results.

What other qualities do you think a trainer should have? Are you currently working with a personal trainer? Any memorable training experiences- good, bad or ugly? Leave your comments below- I’d love to hear from you!


© Tangram Fitness 2013