NTUC FairPrice CEO reveals his keep-fit secrets

SINGAPORE - The Deputy Speaker of Parliament and chief executive officer of supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice is an avid golfer with a handicap of 18. Mr Seah Kian Peng also enjoys many types of ball and racquet games.

During his golf games, when he can, he walks on the fairways, sometimes even jogging to the next tee.

"Every little bit of exercise counts," he said.

It is also a way to get out and enjoy some sunshine, the greens and the company of his golfing buddies.

"Golf teaches you about patience, discipline, concentration and focus - these are all essential ingredients of helping one keep fit," he said.

Weighing 67kg for his 1.64m tall frame, he admits one needs more than golf in order to stay fit. The busy man makes time to jog and play other sports.

He will lead his staff at NTUC FairPrice's inaugural 4km walk - FairPrice Walks With U - at the Marina Barrage on June 29.

He and his wife, a housewife, have a son, 21, and a daughter, 18.

What do you do to keep fit?

I have always been an active person and once harboured the dream of being a professional sportsman.

This has helped me cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

I enjoy playing golf and many ball and racquet games, such as football, tennis, basketball and bowling. I try to run the 4km from my home in Serangoon Gardens to the Braddell Heights constituency office as often as I can.

There is no excuse not to exercise. Everyone can have a "gym" at home. From time to time, I do sit-ups and push-ups, skip and jog on the spot or climb up and down the stairs at home.

In my role as chief executive officer of NTUC FairPrice and Member of Parliament for Braddell Heights, I try to participate in staff and residents' sporting activities. For example, we had a FairPrice team of 50 which participated in the recent OCBC Cycle event, where we covered more than 24km.

I am also in the Parliament football team which plays in matches for charitable causes.When Parliament had a mixed netball team, I was in it, just as I am in the FairPrice mixed netball team.

What is your secret to looking fabulous?

I look far from fabulous. But I do believe in keeping an active lifestyle as well as having a positive attitude, an approachable personality and good people skills. These all play a role in how others look at you. You can have the trimmest physique, but you will not be attractive if you appear moody.

I also keep well-hydrated and ensure that I have adequate sleep.

When I am overseas for work or on holiday, I will pack my running shoes so that I will feel guilty if I do not use them at least once during the trip.

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

Too often. I have always had a busy schedule, which keeps me on my feet most of the time.

What makes me feel like I am not 100 per cent healthy is when I find myself burning the candle at both ends and rushing from meeting to meeting. This can be terribly unhealthy as one does not have adequate rest and time for personal reflection.

When I play football or go for a run during these periods, I am reminded of how unfit I am.

What is your diet like?

Eating is one of life's few renewable pleasures. No matter how much you eat, you will get hungry again.

My favourite dishes are char kway teow, carrot cake, laksa, prata and mee rebus.

I am not particular in my food intake but I believe in moderation. You should stop eating when you still have some space in your tummy and not eat till you feel like you are bursting at the seams.

What are your indulgences?

I have many, including those I have mentioned, as well as ice cream and chips.

The key is to eat in moderation and add a healthy dose of exercise.

How do you relax and maintain a healthy work-life balance?

My priority and commitment to my family has always been steadfast but it is tough to keep it on an even keel.

I try to spend quality time with my family, whether it is watching a football match with my children, having dinner with the family or going for holidays together. They are my anchor and remind me why I work so hard in the first place.

Playing sports is a good way to relieve tension.

What are the most important things in your life?

Making a positive difference in other people's lives motivates me.

Being part of a social enterprise gives me the opportunity to make a direct impact on our community, as FairPrice has a mandate to fulfil a social mission - to moderate the cost of living by bench marking prices and keeping daily essentials affordable.

And my family is most important to me.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

I have had this body for more than 50 years now and it has served me well. I like natural things and my philosophy is to always be content with myself and count my blessings. In short, I am happy with my body and all its imperfections.

Do you think you are sexy?

I almost choked on hearing this question. I believe that everyone has the potential to be sexy - some may be lucky to be born with the trait, while others can work on their strengths to nurture and develop that quality.


Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.