Dawn Sim, founder of Trium Fitness, tells us how working out during and after pregnancy has made her a strong and happy mum to four daughters.
It’s hard to imagine life without exercise when you are Dawn Sim. The 39-year-old yoga and pilates instructor, and founder of Trium Fitness, has been active every day for as long as she can remember.
From the tender age of six, she took part in swimming competitions, competed in track and field, and went on to race in triathlons and marathons. As such, her weekly fitness routine comprised running, swimming, yoga, pilates and resistance training at the gym. “I don’t take days off where I do nothing. I’m an advocate for daily exercise. Movement is therapy,” she says.
Even when kids came – four, to be exact, Dawn kept working out by making smart modifications. “During my pregnancies, I did power walking instead of running, and swam two or three times a week to maintain my stamina. I continued to practise yoga and pilates daily as that helped with nausea and improved my mood and energy levels. I also did resistance training during my second, third and fourth pregnancies.”
According to Dawn, exercising helped her avoid back pain, pelvic floor weakening and urinary incontinence, which are common complaints among new mums. Working out during pregnancy also let her maintain the strength she needed to manage her kids and household chores without help.
Of course, she has had a fair share of obstacles.
During her third pregnancy, Dawn had amniotic fluid leakage, which meant that her baby was at risk of a premature birth. And in her fourth pregnancy, she suffered from excruciating pelvic pain that made it difficult to get in and out of bed. “Throughout these challenges, I scaled down or modified my movements so I could still get some exercise in. The key thing is to know how to safely modify the moves to avoid putting myself and baby at risk,” says Dawn, who got certified in prenatal and postnatal training as well as active birthing after having her second child.
As if working out during pregnancy wasn’t challenging enough, maintaining a fitness routine after having kids proved to be trickier.
In her first few years of motherhood, she lived in France and the US, as her husband, a Lieutenant-Colonel with the Republic of Singapore Air Force, was posted to those countries for work. “I didn’t have anyone to help me watch my kids, so I had to be creative in order to fit in my postnatal workouts, housework, sending my older kids to school and back, and teaching yoga to the community where we lived,” Dawn recalls.
That meant having to involve her then-babies in her workouts, either having them on the mat or carrying them in the carrier. Dawn would also sneak in quick training sessions when they napped. Whenever she ran, cycled or hit the gym, she would take her kids along.
Now that Dawn is back in Singapore for good, the parenting load is shared with her helper and retired parents.
As you can imagine, Dawn’s sporty lifestyle has rubbed off on her daughters, aged 12, 10, six and two. The girls are often featured in her Instagram (@thatmomoffour) posts, imitating her movements or striking similar yoga poses.
Though the family regularly does a host of activities together – such as yoga, aerial yoga, swimming, skating and hiking – Dawn has no expectations for her children to emulate her. She says: “I only want for them to be healthy and happy individuals who enjoy being active. Seeing how they respect and care for one another and others is what brings me the greatest joy. If they decide to pursue sports that they’re passionate about, I’m fully supportive.”
Currently, her oldest girl Nyx, 12, bowls competitively, while second child Nya, 10, does gymnastics in school.
In Dawn’s words
I work out because… it improves the quality of my life and sets a great example for my children and those around me.
To me, being a good mum means… being able to carry out my duties and promises to my children, and inspiring them to be amazing individuals. The impact is not there when you’re telling them to exercise and eat well, and you’re doing otherwise.
What I love most about being a mum is… knowing that no one can ever take my place in my children’s hearts, and hearing them tell me “I love you mummy”.
My children make me… always want to be the best that I can be.
My biggest time-saving tip is… online grocery shopping! I dread waiting in line for anything.
If I only have five minutes to work out, I will… do sun salutations!
When other mums tell me they don’t have time to work out, I say… make time.
To me, working out is as important as… brushing my teeth.
My motto as a mum is… There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.