Sandra Riley Tang

Sandra Riley Tang reveals the secrets to her #bodygoals.

Sandra Riley Tang of The Sam Willows - ZYRUP #FITSPO

Sandra Riley Tang may be packing a bangin’ bod now, so it’s hard to believe that she once suffered from body image issues.

The chiseled and slender Sandra we know today was unmotivated and lacked direction just five years ago. She felt “pudgy”, and extensive dieting and expensive weight loss supplements all proved to be futile. Strangely enough, it was a Groupon promotion (we’ve all been there) for a yoga class that started her fitness journey.

She has since tried her hand at Muay Thai, Crossfit and even powerlifting, but her current favourites are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and yoga. While both practices vary greatly in nature, she explains that they in fact complement each other: “In BJJ, you have to think – it’s a very strategic kind of game and I was always never patient enough for it. But yoga taught me to calm down and see past the current situation!”

For Sandra, true fitness entails a trifecta of qualities – strength, stamina and flexibility. Both BJJ and yoga allow her to be strong and flexible. “It is about having functional fitness. When you have these three things, your body can do what you want it to do which I think that is the most important.”

"It's Like Street Fighter" Sandra Riley Tang of The Sam Willows - ZYRUP #FITSPOOn one hand, BJJ requires strength and aggression. Adapted from judo, the martial art form focuses on complicated ground work. “You are constantly learning so many techniques, it’s kind of like when you play [the video game] Street Fighter!”

Yoga, on the other hand, demands flexibility and grace.

She readily admits that she struggled when she first started: “I was watching everyone else bending and folding and I couldn’t do it. It was really hard!”

Sandra’s competitive nature soon took over and she started attending yoga classes up to four times a week in order to hone her craft.

Eventually, she got so good that an opportunity presented itself for her be a teacher. “I’ve always enjoyed teaching and it has always been very natural for me,” she shares. Today, she is a proud co-owner of yoga studio The Yoga Collective (YoCo).

There is no doubt that Sandra’s fitness journey is impressive (just look at her Instagram page), and she has come a long way since she plunged headfirst into adopting an active lifestyle. Long gone are the self-esteem issues that once plagued her, and in their place is a strong-willed determination to better herself daily.

As the first person to be featured in ZYRUP’s #FITSPO, the zesty singer shares three tips on how we can emulate her mentality.

Sandra Riley Tang of The Sam Willows - ZYRUP #FITSPO

Tip 1: Be Disciplined

Apart from running a yoga business, you might also be aware that she’s one-fourth of a little band called The Sam Willows. It’s no surprise that the overachiever’s schedule is packed with activities (fun fact – she had appointments scheduled both before and after this interview).

However, no matter how busy she is, she still makes it a point to go for training sessions during the pockets of time available between work commitments. So if Sandra ‘Workaholic’ Tang has no excuses, neither do you.

Tip 2: Don’t See It as ‘Exercise’

Instead of simply thinking about the need to exercise, create realistic fitness goals to work towards.

“I don’t really like the word ‘exercise’ because it just seems like something people would dread doing! When you’re training for a goal, be it to lift heavier, or have more stamina – you become a lot more motivated.”

Tip 3: “Train Insane or Remain the Same”

Yes, you actually do have to put in the effort in order to see results: “You need to believe it, appreciate it, suck it up and just do it. Don’t expect to get abs if you just sit at home and eat your ice cream.”

“If you want something to happen, you’re going to have to work for it.”

Photography: Isaac Chu
Art Direction: Sharmayne Ng, Kapilan Naidu
Graphics: Ang Kai Lin