Zumba instructor Laura Tan says her life revolves around fitness workouts. By Joyce Teo
Ms Tan teaches Zumba five days a week, moves along with the students in her class and also does toning and other exercises while spending time with her family, including when watching TV. Photo: Courtesy of Laura Tan Weihong
ABOUT LAURA TAN WEIHONG
Ms Tan, a certified Zumba and “Fatburn Extreme” instructor, owns a fitness studio in Dongguan, where she has lived for 11 years. A Singaporean, she is married to Mr Erwin Limowa, 44, a Chinese Indonesian who is the managing director of GM Nameplate China. They have three daughters.
Q. What do you do to keep fit?
A. I teach Zumba five days a week. That is my exercise as I have to move along with my students.
I also like to do toning exercises at home while spending time with my family. For example, when I am supervising my children’s homework, I would do leg lifts and standing crunches.
When I am watching TV with the family, I would be on the floor doing sit-ups and other abdominal and butt exercises.
I am always on the lookout for new challenges. I have also tried Piloxing and have just picked up “Fatburn Extreme”, a new 20-minute high-intensity workout.
Q. Have you had this routine for long?
A. My love affair with Zumba started just three years ago, after I bought a few Zumba DVDs. I tried it and thought it was too easy. Nevertheless, I loved the music and the concept.
I am based in Dongguan, China, where Zumba was a very new activity then, so I signed up for Zumba training in Hong Kong.
I then tested the market by offering classes in a studio that I rented by the hour. Within days, word had spread and my classes were overflowing. That’s when I decided to open my own studio in New World Garden Clubhouse in Dongguan.
I was the only instructor when the studio started with eight members. A year later, we have five instructors and nearly 200 members.
Q. What is your secret to looking so fabulous?
A. There is no secret. Exercising produces endorphins, which are happy hormones. After each class, I walk around with a “high”. This feeling lasts for a while and I think (or hope) it shows.
Q. Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?
A. Yes, I had a lot of baby fat as a child and in my teenage years. Like a lot of women I know, I had body image issues and did the whole yo-yo diet thing.
But this changed after my children came. I am more at peace and contented with my body.
I also started exercising. Before I discovered Zumba, I was into belly dancing and had, for six years, held belly dancing classes for up to three people at a time at my house. I previously did aerobics and gym workouts.
Q. How important is it for you to keep up with your fitness routine?
A. When you are used to exercising regularly, not doing so can be very uncomfortable. I will feel tired and bloated if I do not exercise. It doesn’t feel normal to me.
I had a health scare once, when a doctor misdiagnosed me with a heart problem and said I could not do vigorous exercises. That shattered my world. I cannot imagine a life without exercise.
Q. What is your diet like?
A. I love food and I no longer go on diets. I eat everything and anything.
Q. What are your indulgences?
A. I love chocolate, cheese, fried food.
Q. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
A. This is hard as, besides teaching Zumba, I have to manage the instructors and handle sales and marketing as well.
Sometimes, I get carried away and give priority to my studio business over my family. However, my supportive husband always reminds me that my studio is just a hobby and, at the end of the day, my family has to be my priority.
I go on a lot of holidays with my family and with my girlfriends. These trips relax and refresh me.
Q. What are the three most important things in your life?
A. My children – Arielle, nine, Audrey, seven, and Abigail, five.
Q. How has Zumba changed your family’s lifestyle?
A. My whole family’s doing Zumba. My husband, who used to be overweight, lost weight after joining me in my evening Zumba classes. When he started, he was the only man in class but that did not faze him.
My daughters join my Zumba kids class every Saturday. It is now my most popular programme, and all my kids love it.
I decided to get certified in Zumba kids for the sake of my children and also because there are limited dance enrichment classes for expat kids in Dongguan.
Q. What’s your favourite part of your body?
A. I love my shoulders. My least favourite parts are my boobs. I think they need some “work”, after nursing three kids for 18 months each.
Q. What are your must-dos before teaching a Zumba class?
A. Before a class, I will tell myself to leave all my troubles at the door.
The next hour will be “me-time”. I will be at the class, in body, mind and spirit. I do not care if there are 100 people or just one person there.
Q. What is the most extreme thing you have done in the name of fitness or diet?
A. I took diet pills when I was a teenager and, for fitness, it would be the “Fatburn Extreme” training I did in Hong Kong recently with founder Dianne Teo.
After I did my first class, I nearly passed out. I had pushed myself to my maximum and it felt awesome. I am excited to start teaching this new programme that aims to push everyone to his limit.
Q. Would you go for plastic surgery?
A. Yes. It is not a priority right now but probably in the future.
Everyone is starting to do it and, if it is safe and makes you happy, why not? I have lots of friends who are already having nips and tucks.
Q. Do you think you’re sexy?
A. I certainly don’t roll out of bed feeling sexy, but give me some make-up, curls in my hair, a tight little dress, heels, a drink and, yes, I would feel so.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2016, with the headline ‘Staying fit by moving to the groove’.