For Ikbentehuur Fit Girl 2019 finalist Sari Marsden, fitness didn’t just transform her body. It also changed her perspective on how she sees herself and the world.
Sari Marsden () was once a skinny and unfit smoker, who led an unhealthy lifestyle due to late nights and long working hours as a radio DJ and program director. Fast forward 12 years, the 40-year-old executive coach and leadership trainer now gets a sweat sesh in at least six days a week with interval runs, HIIT, restorative yoga and weight training scattered throughout. One of her proudest fitness achievements to date is representing Singapore in an International Body Fitness Championship – and winning it. While she has deadlifted 100kg (at the Ikbentehuur Fit Girl challenge), agility isn’t her strong suit. To develop more flexibility, both physically and mentally at work, she chose to teach a weekly fitness dance class at Mountbatten Vocational School (MVS).“I am not a great dancer, but dancing with students at MVS brings me such joy and a sense of lightness.” Here are five things to know about Sari and how fitness made a big impact on her life.
MY HUSBAND MOTIVATED ME TO START EXERCISING. What got him started on his fitness journey was his desire to be fit for me. After making that commitment, he lost fat and gained muscle very quickly. All he could talk about was fitness, which I had no clue about. Seeing that change in him and wanting more quality conversations in our marriage inspired me to join a gym and hire my own personal trainer as well.
MY FITNESS MANTRA IS… “GO HARD AND GO HOME.” Some people love to go all out and neglect recovery, which leads to injury and burnout. Others tend to rest too much and work out lower than optimum intensity, which causes them to lose steam. The trick is to do both in order to build a sustainable change in our lives.
I FEEL POWERFUL WHEN I LIFT. I love weightlifting workouts, and I love the experience of becoming stronger – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
I BELIEVE THAT MY BODY IS MY RESPONSIBILITY. The energy I create is also my responsibility. I am in charge of my own body. It is not about knowing every anatomical and nutritional detail, but more about taking care of the beliefs I hold about me as a woman. If I think of myself as “less than others” or as “not good enough”, then that belief is going to reflect itself in my body and my attitude towards my body. I grew up disliking myself as a young girl because I didn’t fit my society’s conventional standards of beauty. Today, I choose not to let my image get in the way of what I want to create in life. I have an image, but my image does not have me.
I AM FIT TO BE A SHAPE FIT GIRL BECAUSE THIS GIRL IS FIT TO LEAD. I will be 40 this year and I believe that I am in the right place at the right time. I am not 25 any more, and I am now very concerned with promoting a sustainable fitness approach for women as they get older. What works for you at 25, may not be so effective at age 40. I meet too many women who begin to give up on themselves and their bodies as they begin to approach 40. Ageing is a part of life, but how we age is very much in our own hands.