Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more! Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? hit up on or !
Surname: Serene Mok ()
Occupation: Personal trainer/fitness coach
Food: I don’t follow any special diet, nor do I believe in any form of crash diet. A healthy and balanced diet with cheat days is sustainable for me. A visit to hawker center is a treat for me and I do eat fast food once in a while.
I eat two to three meals a day depending on daily activities. On a training or workout day, I would make sure I have at least three meals, as well as a healthy snack like a banana peanut butter protein shake in the afternoon when I am hungry.
Exercise: I work out at least four times a week. My weekly workout regime includes strength training and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) in the gym, yoga, trail running, hiking, climbing and leisure cycling. I also hit the gym with my 21-year-old son. If I have a race to prepare for, my training routine will change and the frequency will increase.
Q: You were physically active in school, but stopped after you became a mum. Then how did you start again?
A: During my school days, I was active in track and field, loved the outdoors, going to the beach and canoeing. Then I stopped and I only picked up a fitness regime again when my husband bought me a gym membership after my son started going to the nursery at the age of four.
Most mornings after dropping our son at the nursery, I would spend a couple of hours at the gym, run errands and get groceries, before picking him up. I would feel recharged after my morning workouts and ready to perform mummy duties again.
How did your fitness regime evolve after?
As a newbie in the gym, I started exploring all the different gym classes and became a regular at classes like body pump, body combat, circuit training, spin classes and occasionally yoga.
As I got fitter, I included more weights training and added running to my routine. Running is my least favorite exercise actually, so I hardly run solo and usually run with friends. I prefer trail running because I like the sight and smell of nature and it is more shaded too.
How did you get into obstacle course racing (OCR)?
My first encounter with OCR was the Lion Dash in 2014. Running and clearing obstacles makes running enjoyable to me, as opposed to just straight running. When the Spartan Race came to Singapore in 2015, I was injured with a ruptured herniated disc so I had to give it a miss.
Then in 2016, I signed up for my first Spartan Race with a few friends and started training for it. Over the next two years I took the race more seriously, trained progressively and transitioned to competitive races with podium achievements in my age group.
The 2018 Spartan Ultra elite race in Malaysia (50km with 60 obstacles) was my hardest earned achievement that came with months of training. I like OCR because it has taught me how to think quickly on my feet at any given situation.
You suffered a pretty serious injury in 2019. What happened?
In March 2019, I resumed OCR training after returning from an international pageant competition in Bulgaria. We were training at a children’s playground at East Coast Park, learning and practicing swinging under a netted bridge with an OCR coach.
I fell on my second attempt and shattered my ankle into pieces, breaking my tibia and fibula. It took three surgeries, two blades and 13 screws to fix my leg.
It was a very unfortunate accident that could have been prevented or at the very least minimized, if we did not let our guard down on safety. It took me two years to fully recover, including nine months of sports physiotherapy. According to my doctor and physiotherapist, my recovery was exceptional.
During the recovery process, what were some of the challenges you faced?
Physically, I could not bear any weight on the broken leg so moving around the house and doing the simplest thing like getting a glass of water or preparing a small meal became a huge challenge. We transformed our living room downstairs into a temporary bedroom for me. Thankfully, my husband worked from home and took care of my daily needs too.
Mentally, no matter how strong I was, I had my crying bouts where I felt sad, angry, frustrated and impatient. But I recognized that it was perfectly fine to feel that way and did not allow the negative energy to affect my goal of a full recovery. I also took this down time to study for a personal trainer course and set small weekly fitness goals to help stay positive and focused.
The most important life lesson I picked up from this is to never let your guard down or be complacent. When faced with adversity, we have a choice on how we respond. I hate to give up and if nothing works, at least I tried. This setback also taught me to have more patience, not make decisions based on emotions, and to stay focused and grounded during difficult times. Practicing mercy on those who hurt you is challenging but if you can conquer this, you will find peace within you.
You also compete in beauty pageants.
Yes! 2018 was a meaningful and fulfilling year because I turned 50 that year. I decided to celebrate that milestone with a checklist of things I wanted to do and achieve, such as the Spartan Ultra, committing to a non-profit charity amid others. Participating in Mrs Singapore Pageant was also on the bucket list and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I won the Classic Mrs Singapore Universe 2018 and went on to compete internationally in Bulgaria and clinched third runner-up. Preparing for a pageant is not a walk in the park!
Besides preparing for the talent segment, we had cooking competitions, prejudging and the final. I was also raising funds for both the pageant’s adopted charity, Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), and my own charity platform, Days for Girls Singapore.
This journey enriched me greatly and gave me a wider platform to leverage on more meaningful charitable causes. I also met many selfless ladies that walk the talk.
Do you struggle with your weight?
My struggle is maintaining weight. I have a high metabolism and I love to work out. However, the more I work out, the more I have to eat to maintain my weight and I find eating more meals very tiring. During race season, I would become too lean due to high volume training and I find it hard to keep up with more meals.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
I was a skinny, tall and tanned girl back in school. Schoolmates called me a giraffe and I hated being skinny and would be quite conscious when I wore a swimsuit. I’m naturally skinny and it became an image issue that bothered me until I took the courage to join modeling and grooming to gain confidence.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I am happy with my healthy looking physique and I do receive compliments for my consistency in maintaining it and looking trim and toned.