The winner of Shape Fit Girl 2018 coolly conquers whatever life throws at her, be it financial woes, a failed business partnership, and gaining 10kg over eight months from stress plus emotional eating.
In many ways, Roxanne Gan is a star. On Instagram (@roxanne_yoga), she has an impressive 119K followers and growing, most of who follow her for yoga tips and tutorials, as well as her fitness and body transformation journey. (More on that later.)
Preparing for Bakasana Crow ✨ Let's start by warming up the wrists, opening the shoulders and upper back from Cat to Eagle pose while working the core when we actively draw the belly in, lengthening the tailbone down to the knees. Do both sides. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In Low Boat variations, make sure your lower back is not arching off the ground. Hug your ribs into your spine as you press the back of your kidneys down. When you reach Supine Crow, squeeze knees to triceps, heels to bum as you push your palms up to the sky to lift the shoulders higher. 🔥🔥🔥 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Hold each pose 5- 8 breaths Eagle Boat variation: 5 times each side Repeat sequence twice. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #wanderfulyogis @kittycatdang @woodspine @micoldelloro @yogajosey @mollycatherineyoga @eirascheper @roxanne_yoga ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @prAna @yogoanaywhere @yourbondhu ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Poses By Day: 1. Tree Pose: @kittycatdang 2. Sugar Cane: @woodspine 3. Wheel: @micoldelloro 4. Splits: @yogajosey 5. Pincha: @mollycatherineyoga 6. Compass: @eirascheper 7. Crow/Yogi Squat: @roxanne_yoga ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #foxyroxyyoga #practiceyogachangeyourworld #practiceandalliscoming #yogatutorial #yogatips
Besides offering workout tips on social media, she’s also a full-time yoga instructor at Virgin Active, where she teaches classes and does yoga programme planning. This position comes after her yoga and fitness-teaching stints at Hom Yoga, now defunct Affinity Yoga, True Fitness, True Yoga, Pure Yoga and private clubs over the last seven years.
Her fitness credentials are amazing and life smooth-sailing, but the road to success was not easy. In her early twenties, Roxanne struggled with almost every aspect of her life: studies, finances, relationships, fitness, diet and body image.
“It went downhill after I exited a relationship in 2009,” she shares. To refrain from dwelling on it, she threw herself into exercise, doing a mix of running, yoga and body combat for two hours a day, six times a week.
All those workouts did not stop her from piling on weight, as she neglected her diet, often binging on junk food and fast food due to stress. As an undergrad majoring in economics and finance at the Singapore Institute of Management, she dreaded studying, and had to take on various part-time jobs – such as giving tuition and teaching spinning classes – to finance her private school fees.
“I was doing what my parents expected of me, to get a degree before finding a stable job. But I’ve never been strong academically, so those three years of university were painful,” she recalls.
In eight months, her weight ballooned from 48kg to 58kg – the heaviest she’s ever been. “My self-esteem was at an all-time low. I just wanted to hide at home every day. If I had to go out, I would put on the baggiest clothes.”
Women have: Said that I’m not pretty Said that I used to be prettier Called me ugly Called me nasty names Verbally attacked me Said things about me that were untrue Said that I’m stupid Said that I’m fat Asked me to lose weight to look prettier ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ JUST STOP IT! We need to stop saying negative, nasty and unpleasant things to one another. I remember feeling very depressed when people kept telling me what I needed to do to “look and feel better.” I had friends telling me to consider losing weight so I could look better as a yoga instructor. When I got upset, they felt that I was too sensitive and couldn’t take a harmless joke when they talked about my weight. Thing is why do we feel the need to even say that? It’s because we are insecure! Something “harmless” to you can actually have the power to harm someone. So let’s all think before we say something negative to someone because that can ruin the person’s life. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Women should be kinder to one another. Uplift one another instead because you have the power to change someone else’s life. #loveandalliscoming #transformation #happyness
Despite exercising more, the extra kilos did not budge. That weight loss crisis lasted four years, until Roxanne made some life-changing decisions.
Fast forward to today, Roxanne is a figure of inspiration, from her toned physique to clear-headedness to disciplined lifestyle. “My friends used to tell me that life would get harder and I would gain even more weight after turning 25, but it’s the opposite for me. Things picked up at 25 – I’ve never been fitter, healthier and happier than now,” says Roxanne, who turns 29 in December. (Did we mention, she’s also a glowing bride-to-be?)
After a day of hanging out with her, including having a heart-to-heart talk over Toast Box toast and iced milo (she loves her food as much as we do!), we gleaned the following wisdom from this Shape Fit Girl.
1. Manage your stress level
Stress is a trigger for many things, including weight gain and diseases. And Roxanne is a walking testimony. “Whenever I go through a stressful or unhappy period, my weight goes up,” she says, referring to those four years when she struggled to lose weight despite exercising excessively.
2. Do more of what you love…
and less of what you don’t. For Roxanne, it meant veering away from an office job after graduating. “After taking up yoga in 2009, I had dreams of teaching and eventually setting up my own studio. I didn’t want a corporate life.” That’s what made Roxanne pack her bags for India to do yoga teacher training in 2011.
3. Nothing is impossible if you try
#upsidedown ✨ I love doing upside down and I’m fearless when it comes to that. I never ever thought that I would be doing this in my life, let alone carrying barbells and doing a pull-up. I honestly feel stronger and I have a functional body. I’m no longer as lean as before (I haven’t been watching my diet too) but does that really matter? Im just so proud of what my mind and body can achieve when I put in the effort to try. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Day 4 of #namastayinmay with Hosts @kittycatdang @roxanne_yoga @mollycatherineyoga @yogawithwen And Sponsors @baseathletica @yourbondhu @narabellabrand @liforme ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Pose Line Up : 1. Eagle Variation 2. Headstand 3. Wheel 4. Splits 5. Any Arm Balance ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #foxyroxyyoga #loveandalliscoming #strength #practiceandalliscoming #fitnessjourney #practiceyogachangeyourworld #yogajourney
When Roxanne started doing yoga to get over a failed relationship, little did she expect to fall in love with it. A year later, she was inspired to practise challenging poses like headstand at home, after watching others do it in class. The going was tough – she fell and landed badly once, with battle scars on her right leg to prove it – but she mastered the tricky inversion after 1.5 years of training. “Yoga has shown me that it’s possible to overcome my fears, as long as I believe in myself.”
4. But you should also learn to let go
In 2014, Roxanne founded a yoga studio with two friends. Running a studio was her dream, but she soon learnt that it wasn’t meant to be. She didn’t see eye to eye with her business partners, which led to frequent arguments that left her drained and depressed. “After hanging on for six months, I decided to leave the business and go back to teaching yoga full-time. I told myself not to let other people (and what they thought) affect me. That was my turning point, and one of the best decisions I’ve made. Within months, I felt happier and people commented that I looked better.”
5. Never settle in your comfort zone
AN OPEN MIND ✨ It’s scary to go out of our comfort zone for fear of underperforming, losing, failing, being judged and criticised by others. Hmmm I see the Ego. The Ego doesn’t want you to be seen as weak and vulnerable. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I know that pushing myself out of my comfort zone helps me grow! It helps me manage stress better, appreciate what I already have, and challenge myself to explore what my body and mind are truly capable of handling. I have grown so much as a person in the recent years and it has shown that it pays off! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I signed up for Crossfit for a month. I’m giving it a second try because @miryam_acosta had been nagging me and she wouldn’t stop, and @richmondloo has been nothing but awesome. Seriously I won’t know till I try… with an open mind 🙂 #actconfidentandnoonewillquestionyou @crossfitmobilus #crossfitmobilus #sponsoredbyroxannegan
This is one mantra Roxanne swears to live by, after discovering crossfit recently. “My close friend Miryam Acosta (a yoga and fitness instructor) convinced me to give crossfit a shot, for its strength- and endurance-building benefits. After one session, I was hooked. Now, I wake up early to do crossfit every weekday morning. I love the motivating vibes, and how the workout varies every day to target different muscles. It’s changed my perception of fitness.”
6. Less is more
Before & After ✨ Most B&A shots on ig are weight loss stories and I’ve had my fair share of them as well but this time it’s different- I have gained weight!!! ☺️ My clothes no longer fit me that well and everything feels tighter BUT I am not complaining. In fact I am very very proud of my #gainz. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ L: Only cardio and bodypump. They are great for endurance & cardiovascular health but it’s always the same thing and I didn’t get any stronger. My objective was to become stronger and I knew that could only happen by lifting weights, following a proper program that helps build strength. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So here I am… 3 kg heavier. I’ve not only physically but mentally grown stronger as well. I have never enjoyed fitness so much and Im so proud of myself, doing things aka lifting weights that used to intimidate me. Each and every week I push myself out of my comfort zone, celebrating many little unexpected breakthroughs which shows that hard work really pays off! It is such an amazing feeling knowing what my body and mind are capable of achieving. Probably many girls would prefer the look on the left but hey, I don’t need to be told what I should look like. It’s my own body so let me decide 🙂 You lead your life. I lead mine. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’ve learnt that being slim/ skinny does not always equate to better health and fitness level and we tend to focus on looking “perfect” and hence overlook what’s going on beneath the skin. Don’t just see, FEEL IT!!! I feel so much more confident being stronger right now that gaining the extra kilos don’t bother me at all. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Fitness is not a look but a way of life, and I’m extremely thankful for healthy gainz. #loveandalliscoming #beyourself #beyoutiful #progress #transformationtuesday #shapefitgirl2018
In the past, Roxanne spent two hours working out every day. But after she started doing crossfit, her workout duration has been condensed to one hour a day – and with better results. “By doing a wide range of strength and strength-based cardio exercises in a short period, I’ve become a lot leaner. In six weeks, my muscles became stronger and more defined,” she says. Her crossfit session comprises 10 minutes of warm-up, 15 to 20 minutes of high-intensity moves, 10 to 15 minutes of partner work, plus plenty of explanation and coaching in between. How’s that for workout efficiency?
7. Listen to your body
While Roxanne can pretzel herself into you-name-it yoga pose, you will not catch her in the extended puppy pose, or any move that requires putting pressure on the back of her neck. “I injured my neck after falling from a chin stand. Since then, I’ve avoided exercises like tumbling and somersaulting that put my neck at risk,” she says. Diet-wise, Roxanne is all about eating intuitively. While she usually sticks to coffee, eggs and toast with peanut or almond butter for breakfast, and brown rice with chicken or salmon with eggs and veggies for lunch, she eats whatever she craves for when it comes to dinner. “It could be my favourite fried rice with eggs, Thai fried tang hoon with eggs, quesadillas, tacos, or order-in pizza. I’ll not let myself feel deprived. Life is all about balance and sustainability.”
8. Be yourself, even on social media
Good vs Good ✨ There are 1-2 days/ month when I have “abs” and it is said that you only get abs when you’re under 16% body fat. Hmmm I’m at 23-24% bf and honestly I think it’s the high-waisted legging that makes them appear because on most days I look like the picture on the right. I’m either bloated from food or my period lol! I don’t have a strict diet and I really just eat what I want… I exercise because it makes me feel good! I’m just a big foodie and a waffle addict who’s always whining “I’m hungry!” I just am no longer attached to looking good all the time because it’s mentally draining. #actconfidentandnoonewillquestionyou ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I guess I can say I workout to eat, and I eat to live. I’m happy when I have a flat belly and I’m also happy when my belly is a little rounder filled with happiness from meaningful conversations over dinners with friends. Since I got out of my darker days, I aim to lead a sustainable lifestyle where I can balance working out and eating my favorite foods 😋💗 Ps. I know when to stop if my indulgence gets out of control, and I’m also thankful for Crossfit for keeping me in shape! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #loveandalliscoming #beyoutiful
Roxanne attributes her Instagram success to the following: “I’m real and relatable. I’m me 100 per cent of the time, mostly without makeup. Instead of advocating perfection, I show others my true self on social media, flaws and all. I want to encourage my followers to be who they are, and help them find hope through seeing my fitness and body transformation journey.”
9. Lift weights
From Zero ✨ In the past I refused to lift weights and for many years of my life I only did Yoga and cardio. I wasn’t interested in getting stronger because Yoga felt enough and I was happy with the way I looked so why change things? But everything changed 3 months ago when @miryam_acosta finally convinced me to try Crossfit. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It was very very hard initially; I almost lost my balance lifting an empty bar (15kg) and for the first time in a long time I felt so weak!!! I asked myself why I signed up to torture and make a fool out of myself but I knew that was just my Ego speaking. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s been quite an eventful 3 months and I’m still amazed by what my body has accomplished. If you’ve been following my journey, you know that I really started from nothing. From 0 to something in 3 months… it really keeps me going and I know that with more practice, my techniques will improve and I will slowly get stronger. Thankful for Yoga because it has taught me to be very patient and that I know results will come when I show up and do the work I need to do. You don’t need to be strong to lift weights; you need to lift weights to be strong ☺️ Also the feeling of feeling strong…. priceless ❤️ Thankful to coaches and the community in @crossfitmobilus #wearemobilus #sponsoredbyroxannegan #fitnessmotivation #fitnessjourney #crossfit #practiceandalliscoming
Take it from Roxanne, who has seen her biceps and triceps shape up since she started weight training. “Girls should really lift more weights. It makes a difference to your upper body strength and overall proportions – you won’t regret it. And no, you won’t become bulky!”
10. Think like a winner
Even before Roxanne learnt about her Shape Fit Girl win, she was already a champion. “Being able to advance from the shortlisted 20 to 10, and eventually five finalists, I know in my heart that I’m already there, doing what a Shape Fit Girl should be. Even if I didn’t win, I wouldn’t sweat over it,” she shares. “Of course, this win gives me more validation and motivation to keep going. I’m very happy about it!”