Let’s Talk: Fitness
“I was comparing myself to other girls, I wanted to be skinny, that was a thing.”
Dealing with our flaws. For most of us, battling with our insecurities is a daily struggle. Some days we win, some days we let the emotions get to us.
Recently we sat down with Nikii Adriana, a 24-year-old final year NTU student who is also a fitness enthusiast, for a new episode of Let's Talk where she shared with us how her fitness journey has evolved over the past five years, and she gave a few motivational pieces of advice to everyone, and especially women.
In most gyms in Singapore, the women’s corner is usually hidden away from the bustling gym. Usually, the women’s corner would only have smaller weights, yoga mats, and maybe a few bike machines as well. When Nikii first started going to the gym, the women’s corner was where she would stay - that was until her friend encouraged her to try lifting heavier weights in other parts of the gym. Nikii shared with us that through her friend’s encouragement and coaching, she slowly gained enough knowledge and confidence to try something new - weight lifting.
“At first of course I was insecure, there were so many men around, it was very intimidating. But I realised maybe this is what I should do, something to help build my confidence. And then it did, because I feel like I got quite a comprehensive crash course. And from then on I started going to the gym alone, and I just kept growing my confidence from there. I felt like I acquired some knowledge and I think I can do it myself.”
Slowly but surely, Nikii was learning things she didn’t know of before. Her friend shared his knowledge with her - the right forms, techniques on upper body, lower body, abs. After a few years later and during her years in University, Nikii even started passing down her knowledge to her female friends, those who were keen to start lifting weights but didn’t have the confidence nor knowledge to do so.
“A lot of the girls wanted to go into weight training, start lifting weights. And I help them in a way, kind of a one-off session. And slowly they grew a bit of confidence to go on their own. They feel like, oh my god I can lift so heavy. They don’t realise how much strength they have. And I think it’s also very empowering for them at the gym, to not feel so afraid to carry weights or to lift heavy. And I think they can also see that once you have that confidence in yourself, then I feel like you can do so much more, not only in the gym but also outside.”
For everyone, be it male or female, taking their first step towards their own fitness journey entails not only the physical challenge, but also a mental barrier to overcome as well.
“When you are lifting, there’s physical strength - you grow physical strength. But at the same time you also grow mental health strength. And that also translates into confidence, which translates into happiness. So they really enforce each other I think, physical health and mental health. They just naturally realign when they are both in very good spaces.”
Nikii’s journey is especially unique as she transitioned into wearing the hijab during the course of her fitness journey. She shared with us that she went through some struggles during that transitioning period. Despite this, it did not motivate her any less, nor did it dampen her fitness and weight lifting journey.
“It was funny because I was more self-conscious when I started wearing the hijab. Because I didn’t know how people were going to react to a hijabi in the gym. I felt more aware of myself and I feel like everyone’s like looking at me, actually no one’s looking at me. It’s really about goal-setting, what is it you want for yourself. And it starts from there. What is your intention in the gym? You want to keep fit,to be healthy, then go for it. I feel like it’s so easy to consume all these stereotypes and let it get in the way of what you want for yourself and your goals.”
Amongst her other advice and tips, Nikii also recommends getting a friend to go to the gym if you are just starting out - someone who has acquired some knowledge about fitness. A friend who can guide you along and show you the right techniques and forms - someone who can push you to do your best, and give you the confidence you need. That, and an open mind to learning.
“I think really it’s what makes you comfortable in the gym - go with it. I would say also plan your workout before you go to the gym so you don’t feel so lost. I think fitness is not worrying, it’s actually very fun and you can get creative with fitness. But of course with good form. Just don’t be afraid.”
Nikii has definitely learned so much throughout her fitness journey, and she is still learning everyday. But the real reward is being happy with your own body, being confident in your own skin, and to feel safe, healthy and grateful.
“Initially I wanted to be skinny. And that sort of change when I started weight training and lifting weight. You realised, I’m strong. When you feel strong, it doesn’t really matter how you look because you feel so good inside. I guess I can only speak for myself. But that was how I felt, I felt empowered and it made me feel just really good. From wanting to be skinny, I don’t want that anymore. I just want to be strong, and I want to be healthy, not only physically but also mentally. I want to feel safe in my body and feel like I don’t have to be so worried about my flaws. Just be grateful.”
Catch our Let’s Talk: Fitness episode on IGTV to learn more about Nikii’s story!