We all have many roles to play – the first role being our public role. That means who we present ourselves in front of others. For me, I’m a lifestyle coach. The other role is our personal role – who we are when we are relaxed and chilling out at home.

Many would already know my public role from the numerous grooming workshops, health and fitness talks and other trainings which I conduct. But much less is known of my personal role.

Well, at least until today when The Straits Times Life team interviewed me and shed more light of the personal life of Lionel Lim in the Collector’s Series.

Reading the papers on a lazy Saturday morning, it may come as a surprise to many that I actually collect toys. What makes for double the surprise is I have a private glass toy museum at home to house all my toys from my childhood days.



When I was approached for the interview, The Straits Times Life team decided to pitch it around my collection of 103 Smurfs. After all, the first Smurf movie was going to open in local cinemas in barely two weeks’ time. We all agreed it would make an interesting read.

But as the Life team dug further, they realized that I actually collect more toys than just Smurfs. Like most other guys who grew up in the 1980s, I also collected Star Wars (mine is the original 1984 collection), Masters of the Universe (think He-Man and Skeletor), MASK, Matchbox Toys and Transformers. In more recent years and from my travels around Asia, I started collecting Momo Bears as well.

I love Smurfs because they strike a chord with me being small, blue and cute. They also teach us the right values such as respect for your elders (think Papa Smurf), community before self (protect the Smurf Village) should Gargamel invade. Also interestingly, Smurfs project the different personas that are in all of us. We have Grumpy Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Vanity Smurf…the list goes on. 

Life to me was more than just growing up with the small, blue, barely three apples tall Smurfs. It was a time for bonding with Dad who started buying me toys and getting me interested in them. Growing up with no Internet back then, my only playtime was with my toys and with Dad teaching me how to take good care of them…to such a great extent that the toys are still in excellent condition today.

Looking at the creatures behind the glass toy museum, happy in their new enclaves, I cannot help but reminisce about the good old days when Dad was still alive. This was a legacy which father and son shared, a bond so intimate that only the toys themselves would live to speak of the tale. And this would be the same legacy I would share with my children and grandchildren in time to come…


PSClick here to read about me in The Sunday Times: Dressed For Success (4 Sep 2011)

Click here to read about me in The Straits Times Mind Your Body Fit & Fab: Mr Confident (12 Jan 2012)

PPPSClick here to read about me in Lianhe Wanbao Health & Wellness: Resistance Tube Exercises (29 Jan 2012)

PPPPS: Click here to read about me in Lianhe Wanbao: Fitness Ball Exercises (17 Jul 2012)  

It’s not often you get to see a silver-haired uncle in the gym pumping iron. You can tell from the lines on his face, sunken eyes and slightly dwarfed frame that he is well past his prime. But there’s something so different about him compared to the rest of the nondescript young boys. For one, he still has the built and fervour.

While waiting for my client to catch his breath, Uncle came forward to chat with us. And it turned out to be the most inspirational life lessons regarding fitness I have listened to thus far. 

Since most of you will never have the chance to meet Uncle and learn from him, and since I’m in a generous mood, I’ll encapsulate the essence of his sharing in this blog post. Uncle is the true gym veteran.

If you like what I shared, drop me a comment and let me know :)

Lesson 1: Fitness Is For Life 

I cannot help but agree 100% with Uncle that fitness is for life. He remarked that in his years of training, he has seen so many people drop out because of a lack of consistency. Uncle is the epitome of this mantra he holds dear. For the record, he started training at the age of 19 years old and he’s now nearing his 80th birthday! More interestingly, he was among the same few who trained with Tan Howe Liang, Singapore’s first Olympic medal winner. 

Consistency is key to doing anything in life. The same applies to fitness. You cannot exercise as and when you want to and yet expect to see results. That’s also why when I first do fitness consultations with prospects, among the first few questions I pose is the commitment level. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Similarly, there is no magic pill for you to take and transform overnight into a dreamboat hunk or sexy babe.

Lesson 2: Lift According To Your Ability

Shaking his head while sharing this, Uncle remarked that he has seen scores of guys lift beyond their own ability only to result in injuries. 

As much as we want to challenge ourselves and push beyond the limit, we should also know our own threshold. It’s good to set new milestones for ourselves so as to seek continuous improvement but expecting a giant leap from 10kg to 30kg at the snap of one’s finger is never going to happen.
Lesson 3: Move Around Constantly 

Keeping our bodies in constant motion cannot be overemphasized. After one set, we should not sit and rest. Instead, we should stand up and move around  so as to keep the body in constant motion. This is while waiting for the next set.

Sitting and resting relegates the body to a resting mode which is not ideal for maximum muscle gains.
Lesson 4: Train For Strength And Definition

Uncle validates my own school of thought. Unless you are going to be the next WWF wrestler or bodybuilder, no one in this new age and time still trains to be an Incredible Hulk. Gone are the days when the Arnold look was deemed the zenith of macho-ness.

A fabulous beach body these days is much closer to one that is chiseled, with the right upper body and lower body proportions. Besides this, it’s also about the true strength that you can unleash within.
Lesson 5: Focus On Major Muscle Groups

Like how I train my own clients for personal training, I choose to focus on the major muscle groups. Uncle concurs that it’s foolhardy to keep training the minor muscles and neglecting the major ones. Ironically, when you train the major muscles, the minor muscles are also trained in the process.

The minor muscles are what we in the fitness fraternity term the vanity muscles. Yes, they look good. But at the end of the day, should you neglect the major muscles, they will hit you hard. The major muscles are the ones that support our body frame. Do the important tasks in life once and you will be rewarded in the future. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

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