“Everyday, I either do a 10km run, or 10 sets of Tabata with a 5km run, concluding with 1,000 crunches!”
It takes someone incredibly passionate (and hardcore) to make such a proclamation with an assertive gusto. For SWO Leong Teng Kee however, who is a steadfast fitness enthusiast, this feat of strength comes as naturally to him as it does to someone who drinks coffee before heading to work.
His dedication to his fitness routine first captured the TikTok universe at this year’s Army Open House, with many thoroughly impressed with his “hardcore” exercise regiment. Since then, he has collaborated with other local TikTokers to impart crucial advice to fans looking to emulate his drive (just watch his tips below for those who took part in SAFRA’s Army Half Marathon!)
@jksg98 FINAL PUSH for #AHM with SWO LEONG #AHM2022 #1000crunches ♬ Gym Music Workout Music – Gimnasio de motivación
As gracious as he is convivial, the Master Trainer/unlikely TikTok influencer took the time to share with us how he has kept his fitness routine going for over 36 years, and how you can cultivate this fighting spirit to keep your fitness goals alive.
Q: What are your top 3 fitness tips for National Servicemen (NSFs)?
SWO Leong: I have seen many enthusiastic NSFs engage in intense workout sessions, only to burn out later. Fitness isn’t meant to be spontaneous, but gradual!
Before anything else, NSFs should maintain a fitness routine that is befitting of his own schedule and goals. It is crucial that they adhere to an interval that suits them, even on weekends and holidays.
Diet is also a considerable factor many neglect – maintain a balanced diet (determined by your fitness goals) and keep to it even during your breaks (it can be tempting to go wild on “cheat days”!). And like anything else you do, always make sure you keep it safe.
Q: For those who are waiting to enlist, how can they best use their time to work on their fitness?
SWO Leong: A huge concern for most enlistees is definitely IPPT. However, I have observed that most pre-enlistees have sedentary lifestyles that have encumbered their progress.
Remember the golden rule – always start early! Months before your IPPT or even enlistment, start focusing on specific components you’d like to work on. For IPPT, decide on the criteria that you may be lacking in, and use that as a guideline to how you structure your workout habits.
And it never hurts to have a workout buddy! A friend with shared goals can provide you the push you’ll need to see this through.
Q: The trouble begins after National Service (NS) for most! How do you encourage NSmen to keep fit despite their overwhelming schedules?
SWO Leong: It can be especially difficult to maintain an active lifestyle when many are burdened with a heavy load of responsibilities. Many things are just not within our control.
However, one thing we can control is our choice of food – nutrition becomes more important than ever. We tend to overeat, resulting in a food intake that can easily outweigh our exercise output.
There is definitely no easy way about it. You have to truly understand your personal schedule, and the frequency that you can commit to your fitness regiment. Grab a friend or a loved one along on your fitness journey; that will encourage a stricter commitment to your pursuits.
Q: Not many are aware of your distinguished military career. Can you share some of your most memorable accomplishments?
SWO Leong: I have been in the military for over 37 years – can you believe it? In my time, I had the honour of serving as an Officer Commander in the Specialist Cadet School (SCS), and as a Chief Master Trainer of the Infantry Training Institute (ITI) and Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance (CESP), amongst many other appointments.
The time there has been absolutely eye-opening. I have had the opportunity to oversee the set-up and opening of Changi’s Regional Humanitarian Coordination Centre, be part of United Nations peacekeeping operations in Timor-Leste in 2002, and a humanitarian relief mission in Nepal.
Q: In your videos, you stress that diet and nutrition is crucial to body fitness. What does your own personal diet look like?
SWO Leong: I’m not usually fixated on a specific diet plan, instead relying on the old saying – never eat until you are full, eat until you are no longer hungry. Especially for any anticipated high-intensity workout (for example, a marathon), I will consume sufficient carbohydrates and proteins, alongside an abundance of water so as to keep myself light and agile. I avoid spicy food days before the event, or food in general two hours prior to heading to bed.
While dieting is crucial if you have fixed fitness goals, it isn’t as confining to me given that my fitness lifestyle is actually one that I enjoy. Working out often is honestly a great pleasure of mine, and losing calories is more of a side benefit than a defining goal! I also greatly enjoy food, especially hawker food, and I do not restrict myself to any specific food types generally.
Q: What are some of your personal fitness goals for the coming year?
SWO Leong: At my current age, I mostly want to continue this venture of assisting and inspiring people around me to kickstart their own fitness journeys. While I may have cultivated my own experiences in this field, the fitness scene has seen drastic developments that I would love to explore!
I want to take up fitness and nutrition courses and use this knowledge to improve the current workout sessions that I conduct on weekends and holiday periods for people as equally passionate as me!
Q: Given how well-received your TikTok videos are, would you consider creating your own TikTok channel?
SWO Leong: That is if I can get it operational! I’m still trying to understand TikTok, and its many functionalities. Perhaps, if I do intend to create an account, I will have my daughter be my manager! (I’m joking!)
For now, I’m definitely keen on any collaborations as long as it spreads awareness on the continued importance of fitness.
Q: You are best known for your prata comment as seen in the TikTok video below that shot you to fame. Do you personally enjoy roti prata? If so, what is your favourite combination?
SWO Leong: I may love prata, but I definitely do not eat it every day! My favourite combination would be cheese prata with a sugar dip on the side – shiok!
@jksg98 The Legend is back to give you #AHM tips! #SSBRandAHM22 #1000crunches ♬ Big Gym – Workout Stars
If you have yet to witness this legend on TikTok, make it a point to catch his motivational speech at Army Open House 2022 and his top tips for physical excellence!
Better yet, look for him at his free fitness classes at Jurong Stadium, which he conducts every weekend and public holidays. You may just be inspired to join in!
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Photos: Courtesy of SWO Leong Teng Kee