He is getting fitter with age

Mr Richard Lim.

How do you keep fit?

I swim, cycle and run. Every Monday, before I conduct swimming classes, I swim 50 to 100 laps, using only my hands to do the freestyle stroke.

On Tuesday and Thursday nights, I cycle about 17km on my road bike, from Woodlands to Sembawang and back again. I complete this in about 40 minutes. If it rains and it is not safe to cycle, I will go for a 5km or 10km run.

On other days, I do muscular endurance training, such as lateral raises, triceps extensions and lunges - all done while holding 1kg weights.

I am most active on Sundays, when I do a sport called playboating (also known as freestyle or rodeo kayaking) for up to two hours. This is followed by an hour of badminton.

Has there been a time when you were not fit and fabulous?

There was a time when I thought I was fit but, while running at the park, I was overtaken by an elderly man who was running with ease.

Now, I often share with my friends that I'm getting fitter with age, as my timings for the People's Association Water-Venture Round Ubin Kayak Race are improving each year.

Were you ever forced to stop exercising?

Since I was a child, I have loved sports.

A decade ago, I had a major operation on my abdomen, so my sports training had to stop for more than a month. But I believe that my active lifestyle and fitness helped me to achieve a speedy recovery.

Three months after the operation, I was able to do surf kayaking (surfing the waves on a kayak).

What is your diet like?

I consume many small meals throughout the day, when I get breaks in between my classes.

Most of my meals are high in protein and low in cholesterol. Fruit and water are a must daily.

I do not watch my calorie intake because I am neither weight-conscious nor keen on building muscle mass.

What are your indulgences?

My indulgences are seafood, such as chilli crab, which are high in cholesterol. I allow myself to indulge only during special occasions, such as Chinese New Year and, even then, for only the first two days.

I also drink mocha once a week.

Does your job also allow you to exercise?

People often tell me that I am so lucky to be a coach as I can keep fit while working.

But as coaches, we exert ourselves only slightly as we are more focused on making sure our students get the strokes right and achieve better timings.

Self-training or exercising in our own time is different, as we stress our bodies, but the mind enjoys the process. For me, I enjoy the endorphine rush after every workout. My body may be tired, but I feel good. I also enjoy self-reflection while swimming.

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

Being serious about my passion, having fun during training sessions, sharing my skills with others and having a positive outlook.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

Never, because I'm already confident with who I am.

Do you think you're sexy?

When I'm performing on my playboat, I think I look cool.

joanchew@sph.com.sg

Bio Box

Mr Richard Lim

AGE: 40

HEIGHT: 1.63m

WEIGHT: 61kg

It is not unusual for Mr Lim to capsize up to 50 times in two hours while playboating (also known as freestyle or rodeo kayaking).

It happens when his stunt attempts fail, and he ends up upside down in the water.

Yet he is able to get the boat - which is about half the length of a typical kayak - right side up again, all the while remaining seated in it.

This "bombproof roll" is an essential skill for playboaters to master, he said, so they do not have to waste time and energy paddling back to shore.

At 19, Mr Lim picked up kayaking after attending a course by People's Association (PA) Water-Venture.

He loved the sport so much that he spent every weekend kayaking at different PA Water-Venture outlets.

A year later, he was competent enough to teach others. He has been a volunteer trainer with PA Water-Venture since 1996.

Kayaking has helped the bachelor to explore new places. He recalled paddling in the crystal-blue waters of the Maldives, spotting sea turtles and sharks around the waters of Pulau Sibu and Pulau Tinggi in Malaysia and engaging in white-water kayaking in Korea, where he had to avoid rocks which threatened to capsize his boat.

In 2008, he picked up playboating after watching a friend do a stunt.

Over six years, he taught himself cartwheels, loops, spins, flips and pirouettes using his playboat.

Mr Lim, a freelance swimming coach, said playboating is thrice as difficult as kayaking, and works the body differently.

Kayaking requires strong arms to paddle for long distances, while playboating involves balancing and using muscles in the lower back and legs to execute the stunts, he said.

In the last five years, he has completed the Round Ubin Kayak Race, organised by PA Water-Venture, in under two hours. This placed him in the top six of more than 130 participants each year.

"Being able to challenge students who are 15 to 20 years younger than myself makes me feel young at heart," he said.

"The fun and thrill of racing is not only about winning, but also about trying to challenge the kayaker in front of me."


This article was first published on May 21, 2015.
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