Photographing them for this spread isn’t hard – the shoot location at the LINC KL is a serene set up with a beautiful, green courtyard, giving us just the right amount of natural light to work with. But the stars of the shoot, winners of SHAPE Fit People 2019, Jaclyn Choo and Raj Ahmed, are also both diligent when it comes to taking instructions from the team for thesephotographs. Jaclyn keeps heading back to the camera screen to check her poses after a series of clicks so she could improvise.Perhaps it is a habit borne out of her pole dancing background which also requires her to get into visually-pleasing poses.“Looking at these helps me to pose better,” says the 33-year-old pole dancer and chair fitness instructor, who recently came in first place in the Exotic Chair Dance category at her first international level competition in Manila in March.
On the other hand, Raj, 41, a Spartan Race ambassador, who isn’t as used to posing upon instruction, is making great progress, too.He isn’t camera-shy, as he weighs in every bit of instruction from the team like a pro. We had a little chat with them about what keeps them happy and healthy, and here’s what we know:
What does winning Fit People 2019 mean to you?
JACLYN: “I am still wrapping my head around this title! Twelve years earlier, I did not see health the same way as I do now due to the perception that skinny is beautiful. I used to have a very unhealthy relationship with food, and was throwing up food, while relying on slimming pills and detox teas. The turning point was when I ended up seeing a doctor due to health concerns, and that’s when I questioned my life decisions. Today, I’m feeling fit, and I am the best version of myself, and this title certainly marks a big milestone in my fitness journey.”
RAJ: “I am extremely honoured to win this, considering the other fit and good-looking men I was up against. I also see it as a recognition for my contribution to fitness in Malaysia since I’ve been living here for the last 12 years. Besides, it’s also been my long time ambition since my days in the UK (I come from a small town called Wallasey, just outside of Liverpool), to be on a cover of a fitness magazine. ”
What’s your mental health/ fitness strategy?
JACLYN: “All I need to get going is good music, and a positive mindset. On sluggish days, I tell myself that the workout will only take 30 minutes of my day, and that usually works. Instagram and Pinterest are my no. 1 source of inspiration. I fill my feed with all things fitness like workouts, fit Instagrammers and clean-eating recipes, to keep me on track. I also go by listening to my body as it is not a machine.”
RAJ: “I have a stressful finance project management job, so to reset, I try to leave my work in the office as much as I can, and spend quality time with my wife and son, which usually ends up in all of us either laughing so hard that my sides hurt, or just being impressed with my son’s antics! Working out and training generally require focus and concentration, which allows me to build up mental toughness. I think mental fortitude can only come when you push through physical challenges.”