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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Staying tip-top with lindy hop

Singapore's lindy hop maven tells how she manages to keep fit with three young children
The Straits Times - February 9, 2012
By: Ng Wan Ching
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Staying tip-top with lindy hop -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

What do you do to keep fit?

I do one hour of circus class (using traditional circus equipment to work body muscles), one hour of jazz dance and approximately two hours of lindy hop, which is a swing dance, once a week. I also do one hour of tap dancing once a week when I can.

I'm not particularly good at jazz or circus, but every little bit of exercise helps.

It's important to find an exercise you enjoy. For me, lindy hop is perfect. I'm having a good time with my friends and also raising my heart rate.

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

I'm blessed with good genes and the humid weather keeps skin looking young.

But nothing comes easy. I do watch what I eat and make a conscious effort to work out.

I also believe that dancing keeps me young (in my head at least). My mentor, Frankie Manning, was dancing till he was 94. Another lindy hop pioneer, Norma Miller, is 92 and still dancing.

Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

Yes. I was skinny as a kid because I was very active. But when I started work and had a desk-bound job, I started putting on weight.

Then I moved to Britain and lived there from 1985 to 1994. I went to learn about advertising and ended up working there for nearly 10 years. The colder weather plus Mars bars made me pile on about 10kg.

When I came home, my friends were stunned at my weight gain. I took up lindy hop and danced four nights a week to trim down.

After my twins were born, my 'mummy tummy' was huge. I was exhausted looking after the babies and used them as an excuse not to exercise.

Now I accept that the mummy tummy is impossible to get rid off without surgery, so I view my fitness more in terms of stamina and strength rather than the size of my girth.

What is your diet like?

I try to eat a vegan, gluten-free diet which does not include any meat (including fish) or animal products such as eggs, or dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter. It also does not include wheat products such as bread, cakes and biscuits as well as udon and yellow noodles. Barley and oats also contain gluten.

My diet consists of 60 per cent raw food (fruit mostly).

For breakfast and lunch, I eat fruit; for dinner, a home-cooked meal of brown rice, a large helping of vegetables and tofu.

I was introduced to this diet by my husband and my in-laws. After sticking to it, they have seen improvements in health ailments of all sorts including eczema, excess phlegm, bad skin and so forth.

I am not 100 per cent strict with my diet.

I'm lucky that my mother-in-law is an avid and adventurous cook and that she lives one floor below us in our apartment block.

She makes vegan meals delicious and interesting. I also attended a raw food preparation course in Fort Bragg, in the United States, a few years ago and I make raw desserts and snacks to satisfy my sweet tooth. Raw cacao is awesome.

What are your indulgences?

I love chocolate and, currently, macaroons. I also drink a 'teh' almost every day though I am trying to cut that out. I also find a good chocolate cake irresistible.

What do you do to relax?

A relaxing time for me would be to go to a lindy hop event that I didn't have to organise.

Watching TV with the kids is another rare and special treat that we do only about twice a month.

Do your children keep you fit?

I have a 10-year-old boy and six-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. Just running around to keep up with their schedules keeps me fit. Also, in an effort to make sure they eat healthy food, I eat healthily too, which means we don't drink fizzy drinks or eat sweets or biscuits, except for the occasional treat. My twins have been vegan from birth and my elder son has chosen to cut out fish and egg from his diet, so now he is a vegan too.

What are the three most important things in your life?

My family, my friends and my business.

My family because I'm trying to guide my children through school and life, to teach them the balance between work and play and to learn to prioritise (while I try to do the same thing too).

And my husband because he is my partner and he makes such effort to support everything I do.

My friends because their friendship brings a true meaning to everything I do.

My business because it brings joy to people and because it is a very large part of me.

Would you go for plastic surgery and why?

I did toy with the idea of treating myself to a 50th birthday tummy tuck but as the day comes closer I know I am not serious about it.

I'm happy with the body I have and if people can't love me for my scintillating personality, then that's the thing I need to work on.

Do you think you're sexy?

Not in the conventional curvaceous, long-legged way but perhaps in a 'bright-eyed, have lots of verve for life, happy being me' sort of way.


AGE: 49

WEIGHT: 48kg

HEIGHT: 158cm

ABOUT HER: The creative director of dance company Jitterbugs Swingapore (seen here jitterbugging with husband Chong Chan Meng) has been organising a lindy hop camp called the SEA Jam every year for the past 10 years.

This year's camp will be held from Feb 17 to 19 at the City Beach Resort, near Labrador Park.

She brings in instructors from around the world for workshops and performances. There will be dance parties open to the public, including a free one at Sentosa's Boardwalk on Feb 19, from 6 to 9pm. For more information, see



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