Farahana Azmin is not your average Malaysian ex-athlete – we enter the world of this full-time strategy manager who swears by her fitness side-hustle and offers tips to to stick to workouts, in this Fitness Kickstart episode.

Each Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon, a group of students trickle into the Urban Spring Pilates central studio in Bangsar for an Xtend Barre class by former national gymnast, Farahana Azmin. The 1-hour ballet/Pilates class is grueling and literally ‘breathtaking’, as Farahana, with her dancer’s gait and disciplined movements, transitions from Relevé Plié to Passes, moves across mat to barre, with the occasional resistance band and ball to fire up muscles. There are a number of reasons Farahana’s classes are booked solid most days – besides her athletic credentials, the full-time strategy manager for a prestigious developer is adept at the art of side-hustling, an energy that permeates her sweat sessions. We pulled through a Sunday class then caught our breath with a chat on work-life balance and fitness resolutions.

See also: 11 Fitness Kickstart Videos To Get You Pumped For A Year Of Healthy Habits

How has gymnastics and ballet shaped your identity?

Rhythmic gymnastics and ballet are about discipline, determination, drive, perseverance and grace. I believe I carry these traits with me in everyday life, at work and almost everything I do. A competitive streak has helped me professionally and in all aspects of my life.

You’re a full time strategist but what made you take up Xtend Barre as a side hustle?

When I was a strategist consultant at Ernst & Young, it was a stressful, high-pressure job and I wanted an outlet to dance, do ballet, and keep fit at the same time. I attended Xtend Barre classes at Urban Spring Pilates and after a few classes, the owner asked me if I wanted to teach, and I thought ‘why not?’ I went for a 7-day training and here I am, teaching twice a week at Urban Spring.

How does your training as a gymnast and ballerina make a difference to your Xtend Barre classes?

My style is dancer-body based and I focus on technique and alignment. I love correcting the students and making sure they focus on the right muscle when they are completing the exercises.

It’s January and people are jumpstarting their fitness resolutions. What’s the best way to follow through?

It’s about setting goals and really pushing yourself to follow through these targets. I also think having a workout buddy helps, so if one or the other is lazy, then the other person will egg the other on! After class you can reward yourselves with a catch up session. Choosing a good workout which is fun and doesn’t seem like much of a chore will motivate you to attend these classes, too.

After a day’s work and Xtend Barre classes after, what’s your go-to self-care indulgences?

Running a bath and having a good book to read. I like reruns of favourite movies, massages and facials. I also love spending time with family and look forward to my really cute nephew.

  • VideographyDean Shaari
  • PhotographyDean Shaari
  • WordsJessica Liew
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