We clutched the flyers we had prepared, eyes darting about the park and our hearts practically bursting out of our chests. We were trying to get our first SMFB class going. We didn’t have a logo. We didn’t have ‘track record.’ And the flyers that we were holding? They were designed from our bedrooms, after hours of brainstorming for a name. We didn’t even know if we chose the right colours.
Strong Mind Fit Body started out as a community project in February 2016, with funding of $1000 from HDB for a year-long project. It was born because Shereen had a dream of making strength training fun and accessible for stay-home parents and grandparents in the neighbourhood, while Shermaine had the desire to start from home and bring her neighbours together. And so we started Strong Mind Fit Body as a way of using fitness to bring people together.
At each session, we have participants bringing friends whom they go for brisk walks together, family members before they all went for weekend dinner, or grandchildren to get them away from their phones. We realise then that while fitness is empowering, age-friendly communities can only be formed when the communities to be involved. And so we thought about using fitness experiences to integrate community building and inter-generational understanding.
SMFB Academy was born to develop our SMFB Champions, who committed their time and energy to forging meaningful friendships with participants. Since then, we have grown from 1 neighbourhood to 6 neighbourhoods, from 5 participants at our first session to reaching over 800 across Singapore, and from just the 2 of us to over 75 champions under our Academy.
The enduring moments of joy and gratitude we have comes when participants tell us how they feel stronger, more energetic and more engaged with the people around them. What surprised us was when we also received feedback from our Champions, who talked about how SMFB has created safe spaces for introspection and self-discovery, how they learnt as much as they gave and how they gained as much as they served. And then we realise that every experience and activity when facilitated can become powerful opportunities to learn about compassion.
And compassion forms the bedrock of an age-friendly community.
That’s why today, we present to you fitness programmes that talk about body confidence and integrates with introspection using personal storytelling; student workshops and programmes that teach 21st century skills with emotional leadership and journaling techniques; and our in-house educational arm, SMFB Academy, for all champions to grow, learn and live as emotionally resilient, kind and compassionate individuals.