Older stronger

SINGAPORE - Age is just a number.

Mr Ngai Hin Kwok is 64, but his level of fitness would put those half his age to shame.

The grandfather of one can do 33 chin-ups, 28 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 600 squats and run 33km. Not all together in one session, but just one of these tasks could make weaker and younger men quiver.

His hair is silver-grey, but the retired jeweller's dedication to staying active and healthy shows in his muscular physique.

And he's not doing it alone. His friends, Mr Ng Bee Kia, 69, Mr Michael Lek, 60, and Mr Ng Siu Chi, 56, are also fitness buffs.

They often performs feats of physical strength balancing on each other, muscle and sinew visibly bulging and straining.

Together with team facilitator Robert Ho, 44, they make up Team Strong Silvers, a group dedicated to encouraging senior citizens to have a healthy lifestyle.

Mr Ngai, who exercises daily for at least half an hour, says in Mandarin: "Don't wait till you are old and your body starts to decline to start exercising. We want to encourage people to start early."

While Mr Ngai has been active for many years, the younger Mr Ng started training only last year after finding that his cholesterol levels had shot up.

Yet, the mechanic can already perform physical feats such as supporting his full bodyweight on his hands.

His training regimen includes weight and bodyweight training in the Cheng San Community Club gym three days a week.

Mr Lek sports an enviably flat stomach. So flat it's hard to imagine that just seven years ago, the retired taxi driver had a very flabby 36-inch waist.

He says the bulging belly was due to his sedentary work habit of "eat, drive, eat, drive".

Thanks to activities such as cycling and even the extreme running of parkour, his waist is an enviable 30 inches now.

The grandfather of five says that for him, exercising is about learning new techniques.

"I don't want to keep doing the same activities. Once I master a technique, I will attempt to learn a different one," he says.

These men have chosen to be role models for encouraging the elderly to live an active life, says Mr Ho, who used to work for the People's Association.

He explains that young and chiselled instructors are often unable to connect with senior citizens who may see their bodies as unattainable. That's where the team comes in.

They have held two demonstrations so far.

Mr Ho hopes that by having seniors demonstrate what can be achieved, their peers will "respond positively" towards improving their fitness.

While they do not hold any classes, they hope to do so soon. The members are training to be floor exercise leaders so that they can be more hands on.

The quintet focuses on calisthenics - bodyweight workouts that do not require equipment - as "senior citizens do not like gyms because they feel intimidated by the younger, larger and fitter gym users".

Pointing at a group of seniors sitting and singing karaoke at a void deck near where Team Strong Silvers is showing off some moves, Mr Ho says the group's aim is to get seniors to realise that old age does not necessitate a lifestyle of sitting down.

Team Strong Silvers certainly captures interest during its demonstration. Throughout the display, a small group of seniors - predominantly men - stand watching nearby, craning their necks in curiosity.

As their motto says: Never too old!

marielim@sph.com.sg


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