Wing Yee: “I train for confidence, empowerment, discipline and mental clarity”
An avid runner, Wing Yee’s exercise regime used to revolve around training for different races – 10km, half or full marathons. She hardly did any strength training. Whenever she went to a gym, she would always be looking for the treadmill. Once in a while, she would pick up the lightest dumbbell to do a bicep curl (if she was in the mood!) Gym work felt boring to her and she never felt motivated to strength train.
However, in 2018, she stumbled upon Level and attended her first class with Tiffany, then John Cheah.
“Ever since my first class at Level, I’ve always liked how the class sizes are deliberately kept small and the coaches go around making sure that we are doing the exercises correctly. We don’t work out to a beat, but we make sure every rep is a quality rep.”
John Cheah was the first trainer that taught Wing Yee how to use a barbell and she learnt how to squat and deadlift – first using an empty bar back in 2018, and now up to 75 kg and 101 kg for her squat and deadlift.
From attending Skill classes, Wing Yee now does small group personal training with John. A typical small group personal training session would involve warming up, followed by the main barbell movement, superset with another exercise. The second part of the workout would focus on accessory movements to train complementary muscles.
“I had hit a point in my training where I needed something more customised and tailored and I was ready to progress from classes. Personal training also allows my trainer to target my weakest links.”
“John uses the best analogies and cues, mostly involving food. I guess that’s why it sticks.”
When asked to elaborate, Wing Yee said “John likes to say “glaze the cake” or “imagine a tofu between your knees” when he wants us to keep the barbell close to the shin for example”
“I like John’s enthusiasm when he teaches and how he does not sugarcoat things or bullshit you. He holds himself to a very high standard given his weightlifting background and he holds his clients to the same standards too.
If we made a terrible lift, he would just say “nope”. If it was a good one, he would reward you with “beautiful”. Training with him made me realise how fun and empowering lifting can be. That’s why I keep coming back”.
Wing Yee also remembers asking John a few years ago what his goal was when coaching. “John replied that he wanted us to be able to go outside of Level and lift such that other people would ask where we train, that’s when we say “Level”. Recently she did a workout in Bali and took a 30kg dumbbell to do a hip thrust and both the trainer and another male class participant asked, “where do you train?”.
Currently, Wing Yee hopes to achieve her first chin-up and hit a new personal best for her squat with good depth.
“I’ve gained so much from strength training at Level! Firstly, I’ve increased my muscle mass. I was skinny fat before I started training at Level. Secondly, I’ve gained a ton of knowledge on training and movements. Training at Level reaffirms my decision that movement should be a part of my career, hence my mid-career switch to physiotherapy.”
“My fitness regime has also changed – I used to run a lot because I felt like I needed cardio to maintain my metabolism but now I focus on strength training because I want to become stronger.
I am more in tune with my body and I can feel the benefits of being stronger. I like the mental benefits such as an increased sense of well-being, improved concentration, plus I am calmer and happier. Finally, I now have better movement patterns when I do other sports like bouldering or wakeboarding.”
On why she likes training at Level, Wing Yee said,
“I love the environment at Level – there is no loud music or flashy lights. I always tell my friends that Level is special. It’s not like other HIIT gyms. It’s more like a little boutique strength-training gym.”
More than just the environment, Wing Yee also enjoys training at Level because of the quality of the coaching.
“I love the coaches at Level because they insist that you do an exercise with correct form, using a weight that you can manage. One good rep is better than ten bad reps. That’s not the case in other gyms.”
“The coaches here know when I’m slacking off and will tell me to pick up a heavier weight. But they also know when my ego is getting ahead of my strength or when I am pushing myself too hard. They’re superb at progressing or regressing your workouts to work on your weaknesses.”
“I think my coaches know my body as well as I do (or maybe even better). You can’t find this anywhere else.”
Programmes at Level are designed differently, feels Wing Yee.
“The workout programmes are very well designed. It’s not about learning 10-20 new movements every week. We focus on the same 8+ major exercises every session. This also helps us to track our progress over time.”
Wing Yee also loves the community aspect of Level.
“The front of house, coaches and other clients at Level are a great community. You feel supported here. There are no comparisons or competition. Just everyone else cheering you on and vice versa. Level brings together a unique community of like-minded people who like lifting heavy, like crushing their PBs, and who know that no matter how shitty your day was, it always ends better once you lift those barbells.”
On whether fitness has improved her mental health, Wing Yee said,
“I get my dose of dopamine and serotonin from the barbells. I find it absolutely necessary for me to lift weights to maintain my mental well-being.“
We also asked Wing Yee what advice she would give to women who are afraid to lift heavy. She said,
“Lifting heavy weights is probably the next best anti-ageing skincare after sunscreen and moisturiser.”
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Meet some other clients who train at Level
Kelvin has been a regular at Level’s classes since Oct 2020. In Feb 2022, he decided to try small group personal training for a more structured and focused training programme.
Having trained with John since 2019, Audrey loves her lean physique but most importantly, she loves how John does not restrict her diet.
When Mai stopped making progress in her HIIT classes, she decided to start personal training with John Cheah to elevate her fitness levels.
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