Ex-Sniper Is Handstand-ing His Way Around Singapore... And Into His 50s
STORY: Sim Ding En
18 November 2021
Ask most Singaporean guys, and they'll probably admit that they were at their fittest during their national service.
Some are inspired by their NS experience to take their fitness journey further, while others are motivated by reservist cycles - like Loke, a 52-year-old who does deliveries for his brother's food manufacturing company, and a very inspiring individual we're throwing the spotlight on to commemorate International Men's Day (19 Nov).
"I started doing sports seriously about 20-plus years ago while training for reservist IPPT. I never liked running back then, but realised I could actually go long distance after some training. So I started doing marathons, triathlons, Ironman and ultra running over the last few years," says Loke (who also goes by the moniker FreeMan Loke).
Some of the sporting events he's thankful to have experienced and completed: "A few Ironman races in Australia, Langkawi, Switzerland and a few other places. I also completed the Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji, a 160km trail-running race, in over 42hrs as well as the Racing The Planet 7-day 250km self-supported Gobi Desert race."
Fitspo much?! "I think endurance grows with age. As I grow older, my mind becomes stronger so I can endure better," says Loke.
Loke says that every handstand on an elevated surface is a challenge, especially in public spaces and when people notice what he's up to. "I do get a thumbs-up and claps from passersby - little gestures of encouragement that go a long way. I'm always thankful and appreciate them," says Loke, who strongly believes that health-and-fitness is a lifestyle that should be maintained and incorporated into daily life.
"It’s something we need to see us through old age - to help us stay active and mobile when we’re old," he says.
On occasion, Loke (above, second from left) has found himself doing calisthenics workouts with those half his age. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't look his age, and it's very apparent in people's reactions. "Usually when I tell people I’m 52 at the fitness corner, they look a bit stunned with disbelief," he admits.
When it comes to the relationship between age and levels of fitness, he has some sage words: "People used to say age is just a number. It’s only relevant when you work out and maintain your fitness. Every individual has their strength and weakness, so the golden rule is don’t compare. Do what you’re good at, and try to improve on what you’re weak at. Do it to better yourself and not challenge others."
In fact, his fitspo lifestyle has become a way to bridge generation gaps: "Fitness is a universal language that allows me to communicate with the younger generation. Usually they get inspired because of my age."
He tries to get his wife involved in some of the sporting activities he participates in (such as rucking and trail exploring), not only to maintain fitness but also "to spend time doing the same thing together". Aww!
But on a sobering note, he says: "Realistically speaking time is running out. It’s good to treasure and cherish the remaining days together."
What we really want to know is, what does wifey think of his popularity on Instagram? "I’m not popular on Instagram lah. Just sharing only. Hehheh"
Although he is fitter than ever, he might not have been in similarly good shape while he was doing his national service.
"Back in my NS days, I was only doing the usual physical stuff. It was later that I took up endurance sports and few years ago, calisthenics," says the ex-sniper who was from the 5th mono intake of 5SIR (1989-1991)
"NS was always fun and memorable - the camaraderie!"
He's even kept his ghillie suit (which still fits him after 30 years!) not only as a souvenir but also for sentimental reasons as "it was painstakingly sewn by Mom".
Another reason we're loving this guy: he has a heart of gold, regularly shaving his head for Hair For Hope (the Children's Cancer Foundation's signature head-shaving fundraiser) as well as donating blood.
"Not everyone is eligible to donate blood. We must be thankful we’re fit and free of illness in order to donate. It’s a privilege to donate part of what’s flowing inside us to save lives," he says. "Just doing my part for charity."
Now if Loke isn't, ahem, fit to be spotlighted for International Men's Day, we don't know who is!