By Gary Yang
Rita and her children at the Yellow Ribbon Run in 2014
As a parent myself, I know how hard it can be to keep up with my kids as I get older. Over the years, I realised that I am no longer as fast, flexible or have as much stamina compared to my 30s. Which is why my emphasis on health and fitness has gradually increased over the years, simply because I need to be in good shape so that I can be there for my little ones.
It is no different for 64-year-old Rita Cheok who is a mother herself. In her 40s, Rita has completed several full and half marathons, and other races like the Great Wall of China marathon. Inspired and supportive children who are in their late 20s to mid 30s have also joined her in local races like the Yellow Ribbon Run and overseas races in Adelaide and Portugal.
Rita’s children joined her in their first overseas race 10km Adelaide Marathon 2013
She started from running at first, and then ventured to swimming, cycling, hiking, trekking when she met more like-minded kakis. She first came across Active Health at a Car-free Sunday event a few years ago at City Hall. Her focus in keeping an active lifestyle is not to lose weight or to have 6-packs but more on being fit and healthy because the best gift she can give her children is to be healthy.
As parents, the last thing we want to be for our children is to be a burden. By being fit and healthy, we are able to keep up and have fun with them, while being independent at the same time. Before she retired in December 2019, she made sure that she had time to exercise every day even though her workday may be long and tiring.
Rita’s first health assessment was at the Active Health Lab located at Our Tampines Hub in May 2018, guided by Active Health Coach Stuart). Subsequently, she switched to the Active Health Lab located at Decathlon Singapore Lab where she met Active Health Coaches Joelle and Christopher.
Rita completed the 120km Foz Coa Duora Trail Adventure - 5 Stage Race 2019 in Portugal
Rita used to take supplements thrice a day to relieve her knee pains but stopped doing so a few years ago. After joining a variety of Active Health workshops that were focussed on different modalities like mobility, balance, weight, strength and cardio, she no longer experiences knee pains and can enjoy her workouts freely and pain-free.
At the beginning, she used to join the free sessions held at the National Stadium on a daily basis and became an advocate by getting 40 friends to join her! She then switched to alternate days of workout at the Active Health Lab for weight training, which she found very beneficial as ageing well requires building of muscles and maintaining them.
Although Rita is very active on her own, she values the Active Health workshops and keeps coming back for more because they are more structured as compared to other classes where the instructors simply lead a big group in a workout.
Furthermore, she loves the passionate and professional Active Health coaches, who are very encouraging and motivating. They also educate and guide participants with the details (e.g. how one should swing a kettle bell), share about the purpose behind a certain movement, give clear instructions and demonstrations that are easy for beginners to follow, observe and correct the forms and techniques.
She has gained lots of knowledge from the Active Health coaches, and in return she would share what she learnt and the resources with her family and friends, and try to reframe their mindsets that they should stop exercising when they experience aches or pain.
► Check out: Experiential workshops led by Active Health Coaches
Rita and friends enjoying a walk at the Central Catchment Area
She also picks up health-related articles, e.g. those relating to strengthening of muscles and share them with her family and friends. Rita also enjoyes mixing with participants from different age groups like the seniors and those in their 30s and 40s.
Rita lives by the mantra of knowing your limits and body. She has observed several young ones who over exert themselves until they sustained injuries and had to take a break from exercising. In view of her regular workouts, there are days where she adjusts her routine to better suit her current condition and often consults Active Health Coach Joelle for tips.
► READ: More articles and tips to help you Move Better
At times when she’s off form or injured, she does not rest but switches to swimming or adjusts the intensity to maintain her physical activity levels so that can continue in the long run.
In summary, everybody is unique and no one can help you except yourself. Don’t follow others blindly, or attempt to compare and compete with others. With self-awareness and discipline, follow your own pace but be consistent.
Fun Facts About Rita!
Rita and friends taking a break from a walk at Labrador Park
- She has attended more than 70 workout sessions conducted via Zoom
- She also heads outdoors for runs or long walks with her family or friends to enjoy nature and fresh air (eg, Labrador trail, Bukit Timah, MacRitchie, Mt. Faber, Alexandra trail, Gilman Barracks, Kent Ridge, etc)
- She used to love spicy food with gravy and curry but has not eaten briyani for a long time
- She has chicken rice less than 5 times a year
“Rita is an enthusiastic and encouraging participant of Active Health who has been joining our workshops and programmes regularly since Active Health started. Always spotting a smile, Rita is interactive and inspires others with her positive attitude and unyielding spirit that can be seen during the workout classes. She has also been a strong advocate of Active Health through spreading good words and encouraging others to join the workshops, and getting her group of friends to exercise together regularly at Active Health Labs. Even with the COVID-19 situation, Rita still participates in our e-workshops frequently and is always on the look out for new content to improve herself. Rita never fails to show her support and appreciation through positive feedback and words of encouragement to Active Health coaches, and we are really grateful for that.” - Active Health Coach Joelle
Gary Yang is a myActiveSG Editor and Presenter. Gary started his career as a suit cum copywriter at an advertising agency, followed by a successful stint in Corporate Communications with Singapore Press Holdings and Asia Pacific Breweries, before eventually joining the editorial team at Sport Singapore. He now turns his attention to fitness and wellness headlines and sniffing out news angles in the sporting arena.