DR ELLY SABRINA
Located at the back of her house, overlooking a field of green is Dr Elly Sabrina’s fitness corner. Outfitted with a punching bag, kettlebells and weights, it attests to her commitment to living a healthier lifestyle — a decision she made about five years ago. More recently, the general practitioner has also stepped up to a voluntary leadership position within Geng Sihat (The Healthy Geng), a community movement founded to motivate Singaporeans to adopt a mantra of healthy living.
What started you on this fitness journey?
I was slim all my life till after my kids — Anastasia Sabrina and Edel Hakeem, now 17 and 15 — were born. Back then, I was preoccupied with my training at the hospital and later, running my own clinic. I neglected my diet and didn’t exercise. One day, I got on the scale and was horrified to see it read 80kg — 20 more than I was pre-kids!
What kind of exercises did you start with?
I started with 90-minute walks, which progressed to running. When I had knee and back pains, I switched to core strengthening. Now I work with a trainer at the gym and typically clock an hour of weights and half an hour of cardio. As a family, we play tennis and kickbox.
Tell us more about Geng Sihat.
The initiative was started by cardiologist Dr Abdul Razak, who invited my husband (and President of the MHPA, Dr Zuraimi Mohamed Dahlan) and I to join him in driving the cause. A collaborative effort by the National Kidney Foundation, the Muslim Healthcare Professionals Association (MHPA) and newspaper Berita Harian, it provides a platform for healthcare professionals, fitness trainers, and nutritionists to come together to spread the message of healthy living. We organise regular exercise classes, health screenings and forums for the members. There is a sense of fulfillment in being able to initiate that change towards a healthier lifestyle.
Star examples to share?
We had a 70-year-old lady who walked with a stoop when she joined us. Now she can kickbox and walk upright! We also know of a housewife who lost 7kg with us. She used to lead a sedentary lifestyle, but is now an advocate for healthy living, and introduces it to all her family and friends. To me, that is the goal.
Read more about others from the series here: