Sofa Sessions with Chief-Trainer & Founder - Chi Seng/Evans
Some people know him as Chi Seng and others, as Evans.
Either name, he is the guy who beat all odds more than a decade ago when he lost all that he knew to be his life. In case you missed out on the details to the accident that changed his life, here’s the story to it.
Let’s get to know the guy who created the programs you have been experiencing in the studio.
Hi Chi Seng, how does it feel to be moving again - this time, to a bigger space and more upbeat district in Singapore?
My parents used to work in the CBD when I was a kid. I have many memories of eating at Amoy Street Hawker Centre. Also, as a triathlete, I had to cycle through Robinson Road to head towards Changi Coast as part of training frequently. So there is definitely an emotional bond between myself and this locale.
Though, while I was growing up, I had never imagined that I would be in the fitness industry. My mother wanted me to become a banker in Citibank (talk about a high quality and specific goal), and my father just wanted me to be happy.
We definitely see that the needs of the ordinary Singaporean becoming more nuanced and discerning. I like to think that Millennials have more diverse hobbies, and it is definitely reflective of their curiosity towards life and their achievement-oriented outlook.
In totality, we believe that we have struck a chord with our clients as our services are timeless and distinctive enough to stand out in the CBD.
What do you do in your free time?
I read a lot of books on the go, play computer and console games and play the guitar and the cello. I love watching historical documentaries as well.
Valerie (Chi Seng’s wife) mentioned that you have the mastery in the electric guitar, how did you make that happen?
Growing up, I was disinterested with traditional school-based curriculum. Right up until the time I went to study something that I really wanted to in Polytechnic (Film Studies), was when I started to take more responsibility for my own life.
One of the first commitments I embarked on was to actually try and master the guitar, an instrument that I started playing when I was 12. I grew up listening to the great guitar heroes of my time - Eric Clapton, John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani and Neal Schon - but I never actually focused on improving my own skills until then. Compared to the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar is a lot more experimental and encompasses a much larger set of techniques, that can be used to convey subtle emotions more accurately which was what really interested me that was why I picked it.
What I did was to deliberately take 1 hour a day to work on something that I was new at and therefore, uncomfortable with. Before I knew it, 6 months had passed and I was practicing to improve for almost 3-4 hours a day.
After the Polytechnic, I went on to study at Monash University in Melbourne and because going out was expensive, I chose to stay home which gave me time to practice even more, averaging almost 6 hours a day. I made sure that each practice was about striving for excellent practice and not just playing for the sake of it.
Another thing that I made a point to note was the duration of my practices, and by the time I returned to Singapore after my graduation I had clocked in almost 21K hours of purposeful practice.
I always tell my trainees that there is a lot of similarity between fitness and music because of this. All you got to do is start where you are, and work on the aspects that you are weak in. This will guarantee progress in the long term.
How do you fit in training now that you are a father? We know that becoming a parent changes your entire life!
It certainly changes everything. Time to train can be elusive! I focus on training with wisdom. I know that sounds very abstract but my training, along with the program that everyone experiences in the studio is about efficiency and intelligence. Efficiency is not just simply about the time you put into the workout (for e.g. 150 burpees in 5 minutes), thats just being expedient. However, if you stop and think about it, your exercises will depend on how much mental exertion you experienced at work for that day, and what activities you have lined up for the near future (wedding dinners, chores, adulting stuff etc). The common refrain that we get at the studio is a “I’m too tired to workout”, and this comment usually hinges on the assumption that you have to smash yourself/bust your butt in order to make good progress, which simply is not true.
Making fitness a wise and conscientious lifestyle is how we make fitness accessible for everyone at The Brave Shapes Co.
Compared to my pre-dad days, where I could train frequently (sometimes 10-12 times a week), I have to select high efficacy exercises to guarantee progress. Also, the algorithm that I have developed helps dramatically, as it allows me to train at the right volume and intensity without getting too fatigued (certainly not a good idea to be so exhausted that I might drop my son, or not be alert enough).
How is Puffy’s training plan shaping up and what do you see for him in his future with regards to his fitness?
My focus is for him to learn movements that allow him to grow up with fun. The other aspect is to allow him to gain a bit of strength and retain his flexibility as he grows up.
I used to joke with Val that our kids will have to walk to the dining table for meals on their hands haha!
Why are your programs different from other gyms?
We like to open a conversation with our trainees to understand how to motivate them to adopt fitness as a permanent and sustainable lifestyle habit. To us at The Brave Shapes Co., the change is not worth pursuing unless it is sustainable and lasting.
We do this by prioritising comfort over results (yes, you read that right), because honestly, we know that a person can achieve complete body transformation physically, but can still be downright depressed inside.