This evening, I am seated by Bukit Gombak MRT – this adjacent carpark sees an incessant flow of “L-plate” drivers inching in and out of the carpark; once in a while, a manual car stalls and a queue forms quickly. The upward slope into the carpark is a tricky one, I would know. There is a quiet breeze that makes this spot particularly comfortable and today’s reflections are about a community project that has recently gained traction. The adrenaline from our three-hour back-to-back functional exercise sessions remains pumping in our veins though two days have already passed.
Strong Mind Fit Body is the brain child of my sister – passionate about exercise, her dedication to fitness as a means of empowerment could inspire anybody who carefully observes her lifestyle that amplifies her convictions. She has taught me to view exercise as a tool for empowerment. In her words, “anyone, with a strong heart and a healthy body, could lead a happy life”. With the privilege of our month-long holiday after graduating from Junior College, she made sure to have us all hit the gym at least every alternate day and to make smart food choices in the supermarket. My story with consciously leading a healthy lifestyle after I’ve left school really began from there and I am so so thankful to have learnt these lessons from her. Today, I alternate between running and working out in the gym (with the convenient ActiveSG FREE Membership) three times a week. The increased strength and fitness, indeed, gives me confidence to commit to other commitments I find meaningful.
The Strong Mind Fit Body project is currently funded by the Housing Development Board’s “Good Neighbour Project” that awards projects that fulfils the criteria of fostering neighbourliness in the community with a $1000 grant. Additionally, the project receives strong financial and moral support from our Residents’ Committee at Bukit Timah Zone 4. In promoting the adoption of functional exercises as a means of cultivating a healthy lifestyle, it has also been important to us that we use it as a means of bringing the Clementi neighbourhood in which we grew up, together. The movement is one that is inclusive exactly because of the accessibility of the type of exercise that is promoted – functional exercise rides on the idea that anything found in our daily lives can be converted into effective and safe exercise. In the future developments of the community project, we have hopes of reaching out to the MINDS community and the St. Luke’s Eldercare: both of which are within our neighbourhood. It is exciting to think of the possibilities we can achieve when driven by good intentions, big dreams and support from people who believe in our cause enough to invest in it.
From the proposal writing meetings of February and late night discussions at home since March, we have come a long way. In no more than a month, we conducted two engagement sessions to introduce the concept of functional exercise to neighbours, volunteers and our own family – one titled ‘The Dynamo Series’ and another titled ‘The Chair Series’. As their names suggest, each made use of a simple household item that was converted into a tool for exercise. Thanks to the valuable feedback accumulated from these engagement sessions, we were able to put together a decent anchor event last Sunday, titled ‘KICKSTART with Strong Mind Fit Body‘. This event saw a little more than 25 sign ups from neighbours who were inspired by the idea of a ground-up initiative by neighbours, for neighbours and from May, we expect to gather every two weeks for regular functional exercise sessions.
The execution of this project, though, has been no less than turbulent. The countless liaisons in order to obtain sufficient funding, meet with the Residents’ Committee members for more resources, or to pitch to suppliers to obtain partial sponsorships wherever possible only constitute the rollercoaster ride in the financial aspect of the project. I vividly remember the night my sister and I sat down for our first ever “team talk” – then, we had been at two-person team for a while, both cracking under the weight of our countless responsibilities. And memory of the morning my family came together in front of a whiteboard in the kitchen to list out responsibilities will remain clear as crystal for a long time.
Our dreams remain big, fire burning in the belly and the execution of the ground-up initiative remains an uphill battle. Cheers to the challenges that lay ahead, we’re ready!
Find out more about our project at bit.lyl/strongmindfitbody or email me at email@example.com.