If there’s anything I’ve learnt after having trained under the barbell for almost 2 years, it’s the notion of progressive overload.

In strength-training/weight-lifting nomenclature, we refer to progressive overload as a concept of stressing our muscles tissues above what it is currently adapted to so that it is able to get bigger and stronger.

However, over time, I’ve developed myself from a novice lifter to a not-so-novice lifter. Having seen my own growth in and out of the gym, I found the principle of progressive overload permeating into my approach towards life as a young person navigating through adulthood, affecting my overall perspective about dealing with challenges and how I perceive personal growth.

There were many times when I didn’t feel like coming to the gym or finishing my last rep of a set with proper form because I just wanted to get it out of the way.

In those instances, I would remember how much I was paying Hygieia to kick myself out of lethargy and get my butt in the gym. There were many times I didn’t feel like showing up, but I still showed up anyway. It was a commitment I disciplined myself to stick to; the financial portion definitely played a big part.

There were also many moments where I would find myself wincing and grimacing as Coach Marvin approached me to check if I was ready to proceed with my next set. Sometimes, Coach Marvin could sense that I was slacking off and would promptly quip a sharp one-liner with a stern demeanour and deep voice from his arsenal of prompts to get my act together, such as asking me to squat deeper, set the knees properly before pulling the bar up for my deadlift.

Truth be told, it sucks to be called out like that, but deep down I understood that this was for my own good. Coach Marvin could have just let me do what I wanted, but a good coach wants the best for their lifters, and that might entail dishing out some occasional tough love to ensure that trainees take their training seriously.

There were times when I didn’t feel mentally prepared or ready to perform my lift. Because I couldn’t take all the time I want to get ready, I had to start the set, or I wouldn’t be able to finish my program in time before the session ended.

Being forced to start the workout or set before I was mentally prepared can be daunting and scary (especially if I was squatting heavy), yet more often than not, I found myself performing better than I’d initially expected – I was able to perform the lift with little to no mistakes. Sure, there was always room for improvement but the overall form was ‘passable’ for Coach Marvin’s standards based on his intense scrutiny.

Through this, I learnt that our minds are very adept at conjuring fear and self-doubt. Our minds like to play tricks on ourselves, amplifying our doubts and uncertainties to an exaggerated degree. Even so, we should still try our best, even if we aren’t all that sure if we can do it or not. We might fail, and even if we did, at least we would have known for sure that we couldn’t have performed the rep with the utmost certainty, or in my case, you might just be pleasantly surprised and feel accomplished from achieving something you initially thought impossible.

After all, it’s about finding a good balance between challenging oneself (by doing hard things), yet not attempting to achieve insurmountable feats that are unrealistic and impossible to accomplish. So long as one isn’t bound by inertia, one will experience continual growth in their lifting journey and life.

The idea of showing up and doing the hard work when I don’t feel like it resonates with me as a budding young creative. I get excited by learning new software, and learning more about my industry, be it through reading articles, keeping abreast with podcasts, or just doing work that would help me become a better creative. Similar to how one experiences good and bad days in the gym, it’s really just about showing up and being present.  

Overall, strength training at Hygieia has improved my quality of life physically and mentally. Moreover, it has instilled a propensity for stress adaptation that trickles through my daily life.

Such cues are little nuances that might seem confined to the context of strength training and gym nomenclature, but it’s always the little things, the small stuff that makes a huge difference. Details that might be overlooked or missed might just make all the difference in nailing that perfect form/workout set, or landing that job opportunity,

Starting Strength Coaches are awarded the SSC certification because they have a thorough understanding of the mechanics behind the lifts, its application as it relates to different body types etc. The nuances of performing the barbell lifts do not escape a Starting Strength Coach, and it is this quality of thoroughness and paying attention to the little details/nuances of one’s craft that I acquired from Coach Marvin that I try to apply and exemplify in my day-to-day life as a budding creative.

After all, it is by paying attention to the smallest of details that distinguishes an expert from an amateur hobbyist.

It’s been about 2 years since I took a leap of faith to join Hygieia under Coach Marvin and invest in myself. Since then, the growth I’ve experienced as a lifter and person has been humbling and encouraging. I’ve learnt a lot from the little interactions and chit-chats with fellow gym members and coaches, the insights gleaned from my experiences have helped to inform how I lift and live, perhaps you might have discovered your own personal nuggets of wisdom under the barbell, and if so, I would love to hear it someday.

Till then, cheers!


My interest in fitness started when I was around 19 years old. Being overweight for most of my growing up years, I decided to do something about it. After months of not being able to achieve the desired results, I began poring through books and articles about training and nutrition. The more I read, the more interested I became in this field, and got better results when the the newly discovered knowledge was applied. After 1 year of persistence and hard work, I lost 24kg and felt fantastic. The sense of achievement motivated me to pursue a career in working with people to help them achieve their own fitness goals.

After achieving my weight loss goal, I tried a variety of training programs for a few years, looking for a new goal to train towards. After aimlessly moving around from program to program, I chanced upon a book called Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, written by renowned strength and conditioning expert, Mark Rippetoe. Little did I know that this book was about to change my life and coaching career.

At that point, I had experience training with barbells and was relatively familiar with it but never have I come across any material that gave such explicitly detailed explanations of how to perform the barbell lifts. I devoured the book and modified my lifting technique and program. In just a few months, I was pleasantly surprised by how much stronger he had become. I now had a new goal to work towards – getting strong.

With full confidence in the efficacy of the Starting Strength methodology, I began coaching my clients using this program and got them stronger than they ever thought was possible. The consistent success my clients achieved through the program cemented my confidence in Mark Rippetoe’s teachings. I then decided to pursue the credential of being a Starting Strength Coach and I’m currently the first and only certified coach in Singapore and South-East Asia

In my 9 years of experience, I have given talks and ran programs at numerous companies and worked with a diverse group clientele of all ages with a variety of goals. Today, I specialise in coaching people in their 40s, 50s and beyond because it brings me a great sense of satisfaction to be part of the process of improving this demographics’ health and quality of life by getting them stronger.