Cover Photo: Instagram @juliewoon

There's a silver lining in every cloud, and Julie Woon used the Covid-19 lockdown as an opportunity to embark on her fitness journey

'Lockdown Series' is a new limited series where we ask people in our Tatler community what new skill or routine they have picked up during this extended quarantine, something they most probably would not do or even consider doing if it hadn't been for this lockdown. Hopefully their stories will inspire you to stay positive and be the change you want to be during these uncertain times.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has posed a slew of challenges for many. From the abrupt shift in day-to-day schedules to careers and livelihoods being derailed due to the changing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to juggling the very grey area between home-life and work-life and, for some, managing e-learning for their children or doing what they can to keep them entertained at the same time.

As a result, Malaysians have turned to different outlets to manage their cabin fever and the inadvertent stress and uncertainties that came with the various versions of the Movement Control Order (MCO). Some have used the change in routine to invest in skills and other means of reward such as honing their baking and cooking skills, learning a new craft, catching up on reading, binge-watching movies and TV series. More than a few also ventured on a whole new journey like fitness.

Read more: #OurBestShot: Why The Tatler Community Is Getting Vaccinated Against Covid-19

For Malaysian event emcee, TV personality, and mother-of-two Julie Woon, the Covid-19 pandemic has afforded her a great opportunity to find her ‘fit’. 

Tell us how the MCOs and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have affected your work.

The pandemic has certainly affected all industries and my line of work as a TV and event presenter is no exception. Live events had to pivot to studio shoots or Zoom recordings from home depending on the SOPs, which can change in a matter of days or weeks. The scale and quantity of events being held have reduced significantly compared to pre-MCO days as we do our parts to stay home in a bid to end the Covid-19 pandemic.

See also: 5 Young CEOs In Malaysia On The Perks Of Working From Home

Did it significantly impact (positively or otherwise) your fitness as well? In what ways has it done so?

I wasn’t used to staying at home so much so I had to find an outlet to release all the pent-up energy that I had and thus began my fitness journey. Having so much time on hand, I was able to clock in a good amount of time working out each day. It had a cathartic effect and helped me stay focused on getting through the day. As I started seeing results, I got even more motivated to continue exploring what my body is capable of and consequently, helped me achieve a stronger body and healthier mind, which are now more crucial than ever as we go through these trying times.

Changing the mindset from 'I have to workout' to 'I want to workout' helped me to enjoy the process

How have you redesigned your workouts to stay fit? Tell us what your routine has been like.

The first MCO was the beginning phase of my workout journey where I explored different movements to discover my strengths and weaknesses as well as the types of exercise I enjoyed the most. As my body got used to certain workouts, I would level up by adding heavier weights. The body is smart and adapts quickly so progressive overload is important so your body doesn’t hit a plateau.

I discovered that I enjoy strength training and HIIT workouts the most. I’m not much of a cardio person so cycling and jogging are not in my books. My usual workout routine would comprise of five to six days of training alternating between muscle groups to ensure ample rest to recover and grow the muscles.

For example, Monday, leg day (glutes-focused); Tuesday, upper body (biceps and back); Wednesday, HIIT workout/core; Thursday, rest day; Friday, lower body (glutes/quads/hamstring-focused); Saturday, upper body (triceps, shoulders, and chest); and Sunday: HIIT/core.

Read more: 4 Full Body Exercises You Can Do At Home, By Pilates Instructor Siu Lim

Where do you find your motivation?

I love reading up on the anatomy and science behind different exercises, then trying them out to see how they affect my body. Changing the mindset from "I have to workout" to "I want to workout" helped me to enjoy the process and progress instead of viewing fitness as a chore. It helps to have good friends around me who are on the same fitness journey to help motivate and keep each other in check. 

What are your tips to those who want to find their 'fit' in this lockdown environment?

Find a workout style that you truly enjoy and be consistent. The results will come. Set mini-goals that are attainable (one of my mini-goals were to do pull-ups and slowly work my way to increase the amount of reps each week). Follow fitness icons that inspire you and read up on their fitness journey. Nutrition is key in transforming your body. I enjoy intuitive eating whereby I’m mindful to eat an adequate amount of protein and nutrients in each meal but occasionally allowing myself space for treats that I enjoy, all within the required calorie count per day.

See also: 5 Fitness Apps To Help You Stay Active And Healthy At Home