A quick glance at her Instagram page sees her burning a year’s worth of calories, but we’re also amazed by her pretty bakes, awe-inspiring paintings, and envy-inducing music making that involves playing the piano and guitar, as well as singing.
If all these sound like superhuman achievements, it’s because they are. Many of us plan fancy bucket lists, only to chuck them because “there’s no time” or “it’s too hard”. In Jaime’s world, nothing is too time-consuming, or too hot to handle.
In this interview, she shares her workout secrets and how she juggles her work, workouts and other hobbies:
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We see you have different zones for your favourite activities: working out, painting, playing piano and guitar, and baking. Which of these spark the most joy for you?
Everything that I do successfully makes me happy. A good cookie makes me happy. Yes, I have baking fails – but I don’t post them. A nice painting makes me happy. It’s about trying every day. I’m in a very special and fortunate phase where I can do the things I enjoy, and get an income from it. Honestly, I’m at the happiest, most independent point of my life. I feel most centred now.
How have things changed for you on the personal front?
Three years ago, Daniel (Ong) and I had already separated but I didn’t talk about it. We were also selling off Twelve Cupcakes, so there was a lot of closure in my life. Working out was my way to de-stress, and I felt I had to be stronger then. I’m glad to still be on this fitness journey. I’ve seen how physical fitness translates to emotional strength that I didn’t know I had.
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So what do you do with your daughter Renee? Do you guys work out together?
We do everything indoors, because I don’t like being in the sun! Sadly, we don’t work out together. Renee’s always been her own person. She likes singing, drawing comics, making slime, and editing videos on mobile apps. I’m quite easy with what she wants to do, as long as she’s not always on the iPad. And oh, ting xie (Chinese spelling)! I spend a lot of time coaching her on that.
Speaking of time, what does a typical day for you look like?
On a regular weekday, I wake up at 6.30am, prepare Renee for school and send her off at 7ish. I’d go back, do my social media stuff, and then work out. That would be either squash, dance, HIIT or a strengthening workout. For lunch, I’d cook or head out to eat.
In the afternoon, I’d find something to do, like paint, cook, bake or play mahjong. Sometimes I’d go to Fly for work. I’d also schedule meetings with my mum. My days are very free-flow, but one thing’s for sure: I cannot sit still.
About your paintings… how did you get started?
I’d never been interested in painting before. I’d always thought I couldn’t draw until my friends brought me to Arteastiq one day to try painting. Then I realised that it was actually quite fun. A blank canvas became something I’d never imagined I could do. Painting opened up so many possibilities. It’s so empowering, knowing that I can do anything I want if I set my mind to it.
Since then, I’ve sold more than 100 paintings (via @thejmespace), and I now have a gallery in *Scape to showcase my works. That’s quite a milestone for me.
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On the kitchen front, what are you up to these days?
Nowadays I like baking rum cakes, banana cakes, cookies and Swiss rolls. I love creating things, so I bake every other day. I’d usually give them away.
Is that how you stay in shape? Do you eat your own bakes at all?
I do, in moderation! I watch my diet closely, and have a rough calorie counter in my head. If I have had a couple of cookies, I’d eat less carbs at the next meal, or skip the meal entirely. It’s very easy to overeat, especially after a workout. Having been through eating disorders when I was younger, I must say I have a much healthier relationship with food now.
Having tried your hand at so many things, is there anything you absolutely wouldn’t do?
If there’s something new to learn, I would. But as I get older, I’m more concerned about staying injury-free. Because once I get hurt, it’d throw my workout routine out of whack. Unlike my younger days, when I felt invincible and learnt to do handstands and other gymnastics moves from YouTube, I don’t seek that adrenaline rush anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m on my own now, and I have a kid to look after.
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What about workouts? Anything you wouldn’t do?
I like efficient workouts, those that burn a lot of calories in a very short time. When it comes to slower-paced stuff like yoga, I cannot… I tried hatha yoga with (celeb friends) Michelle Chia and Jamie Yeo, and it felt like a stretch for me. Even aerial yoga didn’t give me a burn.
My idea of a good workout? I’ve to perspire, and my heart rate needs to go up.
Has your attitude towards fitness changed?
To be honest, I don’t feel as strong now compared to three years ago. I was more unforgiving when I started out. Now, I hold a more relaxed mentality, and a longer-term view of fitness. Fitness is for life. I won’t force myself to work out if my body isn’t feeling up to it. Nor would I beat myself up if I miss a HIIT or strengthening session. I’d just do it the next day.
Having said that, I wouldn’t stop exercising for too long for fear of the inertia to start. The longest I’ve gone without a workout is three days! I like being strong and able to do things for myself, like pick up a table and move it to the side effortlessly.
“Now, I hold a more relaxed mentality, and a longer-term view of fitness. Fitness is for life.”
How do you squeeze in a workout when you’re travelling or super busy?
When I travel, I bring my TRX suspension trainer or jump rope along. Or I’d do 20 reps of whatever bodyweight exercise comes to mind – usually those I hate, like burpees, switch lunges and reverse plank toe touches. When I was chatting with Michelle and Jamie on how we stay fit, I realised that there’s one thing we all do when we have been inactive that day: squats in the shower while waiting for our hair conditioner to take effect! It’s funny how we are all closet bathroom exercisers! I usually do three sets of 20 reps.
This is a whole new level of working out. Are there any other exercises you do while in the shower?
On a wet floor, I’d do squats, standing side crunches and wall sits – nothing that requires big movements or jumping. On a dry floor, I’d do plank variation exercises and push-ups. Trust me, there’s a lot of pain you can inflict on yourself when you’re alone in the bathroom!
Hold on. Why do you even work out in the bathroom?
I hate to wash my hair when I don’t work out. So, I’d make sure to do something just before my shower, to break a sweat or get warm. In the bathroom, I can exercise naked or in my undies, without having to change into activewear. Less laundry! Of course, I’d avoid bouncing or jumping movements since my chest is not supported. And I don’t do this every day.
Okay, TMI! We get it. What’s your fitness message to followers then?
Do some kind of exercise every day, because it’s good to be fit and strong. My new hashtag is #remindertoworkout. Honestly, anyone can spare a few minutes, even if it’s in the shower!
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Text: Estelle Low/Shape, Photos: Darren Chang
A version of this post first appeared on Shape Singapore.