After 35 years in Banking, Agnes Liew knew her body and mind were telling her she needed to change. The result is her Singapore-based boutique fitness club Oompf! Fitness. Agnes tells us about her journey from banking to boutique fitness and how - despite leaving the banking industry behind - she still switches off at the end of the day by watching financial news!
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I was getting overweight and tired from a jet setting banker lifestyle and felt I had to do something different to rejuvenate my body and soul. I was approaching 60 years old and discovered my bone density was declining, to the point that I was going to get osteoporotic if I didn't act. So I did!
I started working out and doing strength training and discovered it helped me, and began to enjoy challenging myself physically and mentally to break thresholds. I wanted a private bespoke space to workout in, so I retired from banking after 35 years and started my own private fitness club Oompf! Fitness. It then grew to become a business, attracting many like-minded middle-aged and older clients who want to be fit for life.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I am the Founder and CEO of Oompf! Fitness, a boutique fitness club. I oversee the club's management, build relationships with our clients and partners with whom we collaborate, and undertake overall business development for the club.
What gets you excited about your industry?
When I see my clients, especially those who are middle-aged or older and de-conditioned when they started, make progress in their fitness journey and find themselves in a better shape physically and mentally. Their success, renewed enthusiasm for life and zest inspire me to spread the message even more. That message is that fitness is a lifetime gift to oneself, age is just a number, and it's never too late to start your fitness journey.
I see more people embracing fitness, and self-care these days, especially since Covid, and it's a great wake up call to everyone. There's still so much more to do in this industry!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Love yourself. If we can't love ourself, we can't be good wives, husbands, parents, colleagues or professionals. We need to recognise the vulnerability in each of us and look after ourselves. The body, mind and soul are in one body. Wellness and well-being are holistic, and no one can make us well unless we invest in ourselves and give ourselves the gift of fitness.
What, or who inspires you?
Like I mentioned above, my clients' progress inspires me to do more, to reach out to more people.
I also like Jim Collins' book: From Good To Great, and how it tells us that it's not enough to just be 'good' but to aspire to greatness and how organisations can progress towards that. Read his book!
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
I talk to industry folks to learn what they are doing. I read news and publications on what's the latest - not just in Singapore but globally. I join fitness, health events to share information, network, and make new friends. I enrol in specific fitness courses to learn more about the science of fitness and the human physiology of exercise, how our bodies function, partly so I can understand my own training.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
When Covid struck earlier this year, and we had to lockdown for more than two months. I wasn't sure if we could survive the crisis as the light was nowhere in sight then.
When we reopened in mid-June, we were grateful that many clients were just happy to get back! However, at that time, we also had to make the difficult decision to raise prices to suit new safety and social-distancing requirements, etc. We lost some, and we won some, but the net outcome was a better one. We also spent time and effort in building community and content creation to keep adding value, as that is what will be sustainable in the long term.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would still be doing what I am doing today because, unfortunately, money does not slow the ageing process! Besides, I can't take any cent of the $10million to Heaven (where I hope to end up)!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
A glass of wine or sake is always soothing! I also love to watch the news. Financial news is my favourite, so I actually unwind watching Bloomberg or CNBC, if you can believe that?!
Seriously, I find it fascinating watching and listening to how events - political, economic or industry - shape the financial markets for the day. You can say probably it's because I was in Banking for so long that it's wired into my DNA now!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That all companies and employers must have sponsored, or at least subsidised, wellness programs for their employees.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
From Third World to First by Lee Kuan Yew. It tells the story of how Singapore became what it is today, as told by the man himself, the nation's founding father. Lee Kuan Yew is someone both unique and special; highly inspirational and hard to emulate!
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me by searching for 'Agnes Liew' on LinkedIn, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or following @agnesoompf on Instagram.
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