Close your eyes and try to picture an image of a CrossFit athlete, do you see a snarling colossus straining every muscle in his body as he flips tires and counts reps? When I heard that one of the new Sport Singapore Ambassadors was an elite CrossFit athlete, that was all I could imagine. My mind branded with the stereotypical alpha male image that I’ve seen splashed out on fitness magazines and CrossFit games highlights.
But then I met Samuel, soft-spoken but eloquent, baby-faced but with an air of maturity, slight in stature but strong of mind and body and the image that I had built up vanishes as we chit chat about CrossFit, our young daughters and our shared uncle-ness.
Why did you start your own gym?
Uncle Sam: When I got into CrossFit in 2007, the community around the world really inspired me. The amount of information, the coaching, the life stories were publicly shared everywhere. If I had a question it’d be up on the chat boards already and people were willing to help and give advice.
So, community is the reason why we started the gym. Going back in time, I was a trainer in the military and during that time I found that I really do enjoy working out, sharing my knowledge and experiences and motivating people to do something with their lives.
After that I went through many races and activities to find out what would be of interest to people whether it be marathons, triathlons, vertical marathons, Spartan races, etc. What I found out was that no matter how interesting the activities were, as a trainer you have to find out what intrinsically motivates your clients. It could be physical transformation, medical, rehabilitation and once we find that it’s a lot easier to tell them: “hey you know that you’re diabetic and have high blood pressure, it’s not about running a marathon, it’s about being alive for the next 10, 20 or 30 years.” This kind of connection inspires me to carry on and to help people find it (their intrinsic motivation) and move them forward.
Samuel Lim, nicknamed "Uncle Sam", signing his appointment letter and contract. Photo: Sport Singapore
What does becoming a Sport Singapore Ambassador mean to you?
Uncle Sam: Having the opportunity to become a Sport Singapore Ambassador means that I will be able to meet more people, share my stories, share their stories with others and remind them that when a 50-year-old person comes to the gym and feels inspired, it’s also the other way round because more often than not, when the younger ones see an older person come in they think to themselves “I hope when I’m fifty I will have the courage to step into the gym too.”
How do you convince people who say that they have no time for exercise to change their lifestyles?
Uncle Sam: What I try to do is display the lifestyle that I have with my clients, I am training, I am coaching, but I am also a dad, I have to find the work life balance so that others can’t use the excuse that they can’t train because of work or family commitments.
Samuel Lim making his debut as a Sport Singapore ambassador in the GetActive! Adventure Reality Series @ Sentosa. Photo: Sport Singapore
How did you get your nickname Uncle Sam?
Uncle Sam: I don’t like designations and I find it weird when people call me coach or what not, so I tell them just to call me Sam. A bunch of undergraduates who work out at the gym thought it’d be funny to call me Uncle Sam and it stuck! So since then, I am Uncle Sam.