'I've lost 100% of my income from my main job': A day in the life of a fitness instructor during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)

PHOTO: AsiaOne, Instagram/iamjiaen

It's probably an understatement to say that it's been a tough year for gyms, personal trainers, fitness instructors and the likes.

Amid a string of stricter Covid-19 measures announced on May 4 by the multi-ministry task force, indoor gyms and fitness studios have been classified as high-risk settings and will be closed from May 8 to May 30.

They were also one of the first ones to go in 2020 back when the pandemic had just begun.

Tighter curbs to stem the rise in coronavirus cases here have led to many self-employed trainers losing a bulk of their income.

In our interview with boutique gym Absolute You's fitness trainer Tiong Jia En about the new restrictions during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), she tells us that she's taking it in stride despite having no income from her main job as a spin and pilates trainer.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

More commonly known as JE to her fit fam, the 26-year-old shares that she has been "going with the flow without any plans", and is taking on side projects to keep going.

From working with organisations to host online fitness classes to creating content for her advertising clients on her Instagram account, her sunshine personality continues to shine.

Below, JE takes us through a typical day at home, and shares how she looks after herself while still providing sweat sessions to her followers.

9am I keep my mornings very light and free now. I used to wake up at 7am for work, but now I'm up at like 9am!

For most mornings, I just keep my skincare routine very simple — cleanse, moisturise, and sunscreen. Sunscreen is very important even when indoors because of the rays from the television, and from outside (through the balcony windows). Then, I'd head to the kitchen to get my breakfast. It's usually overnight oats and some avocado toast.

10am After breakfast, I'd usually upload some stuff on Instagram, then I would do some reading. I like reading books about history, health and fitness, and those related to motivation, leadership and self-improvement. 

I didn't study anything related to fitness and nutrition, but the interest developed along the way. I also feel like doing my own reading is more than enough (to learn about what I'd have learnt in school). 

I enjoy books that revolve around the theme of being a better version of yourself. My next book would be Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.

12pm Lunchtime comes by really quickly. I like dabbling with recipes a lot more recently, but if I were to buy my own lunch, I'd just go to the hawker centre or cafe nearby. Anywhere is good, as long as they allow me to use my own containers. 

Sometimes I'd take the train to Eunos just to go to a market where they sell everything loosely in boxes. I'd bring along my grocery bags to fill them with vegetables I need just so I'd have minimal waste.

1pm After lunch, I'd do stuff like water my plants — check which ones are dying, fix them — clean my house, do my laundry, then make myself a midday juice. I like using my homegrown basil recently to make lemonade with basil.

2pm This is the time I really start 'work'. It's the time I usually film my workout videos, reply to emails, make calls with clients, or write my workout sequences for future workout videos.

I am not doing lots of livestream workouts this time around (as compared to circuit breaker last year) because I don't want to take jobs away from other studios that are really trying to make money to hold up, but I still do on-demand workout videos that I put up on my IGTV. 

5pm Evenings are the time I do my workouts. The only reason for that is so I can just shower once the entire day since showering too often isn't actually good for you. I do a range of exercises, so every day, I'm doing something different. Sometimes I do cardio, pilates, stretching, or just work on my booty or abs, it depends on how I'm feeling that day.

If I'm not doing my own workout, I'd be testing out a routine that I have written so I can gauge its difficulty. I don't want to teach a class if I haven't tried the workout routine before. I need to know if it burns too much or too little, so I use my body as a gauge.

My evening workout time slot now used to be the time I wrote out exercise sequences for the next few days. When I was working, I didn't do an evening workout since I perspired a lot in the daytime. 

6pm I cook my own dinner these days just because I can minimise waste. My favourite dishes to cook recently are ABC soup or pumpkin soup. I eat a lot of vegetables for health reasons, and soups are one of the easiest to make.

I try to find recipes and whip up healthy food that I can have, even before Phase 2 (Heightened Alert). I like changing my diet, experimenting with different diets, and eating better. When I read more about nutrition, how the body really works inside, and all the different types of diets, like why it's working or why it's not. This way, I can be more informed in the future because I want to make health and fitness a whole package.

ALSO READ: I need to find a way to do HIIT at home, fitness buff says before tightened Covid-19 rules kick in

10pm Because I'm usually in bed by 11pm, I try to avoid using digital devices an hour before I sleep because they affect the quality of rest I'm getting. So no phones, television, or ebooks in the room. If I feel like reading, it'd be a hard copy.

During this time, I wear almost no make-up, so I just cleanse and moisturise. If there's a shoot that day, a facial mask is a must for me.

No devices that emit blue lights for JE an hour before bedtime. PHOTO: AsiaOne

11pm Closer to bedtime, I just close my eyes and listen to spa music. I also think back about my day and the things that make me happy. I used to live a very hectic life, and I don't want that anymore because it's not good for my quality of life. The way I'm describing my lifestyle now is so different from what it was like six months ago.