Andrew Johnson believes that the fastest way for kids to learn, is to get them involved. As a wine ambassador, chef and Strongman athlete, he gets his children – twins, Brad and Ariel – involved in his activities.
“I want my kids to share and understand what I do professionally and for leisure too. My wife and I are both competitive Strongman athletes, so my kids have been exposed to training in the gym from young. We do it as a family,” said the 48-year-old who place second in the ISF Australia's Strongest Man 2015 competition (Masters division). “I also get them to help me out in the kitchen.”
When they were five, Andrew started exposing them to training. With both parents in the sport, it was not difficult to get the children interested in lifting weights. (Of course, they started with baby weights.)
At 6 years of age, Brad and Ariel were timekeepers at the Singapore Strongman Series Log and Deadlift Championships. Finally, this year, at the age of 7, the technical director of the competition Ahmad Taufiq, said they could compete.
They took part in the Asia Pacific Deadlift Championships 2018 and both managed to impressively deadlift 50kg, receiving awards for being the youngest competitors to take part in an Asia Pacific competition.
Besides Strongman training, Brad is playing junior league rugby with Vikings Junior Rugby and Ariel is being coached in athletics by Singapore Masters Athletics.
“I believe in leading by example. Show your children that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and always support their aspirations. Let them learn from failures and don’t shadow them from life.
“Becoming a father has certainly changed my priorities in life. Although I run my own businesses, time with them is my priority. There's always time for your kids; it's just a matter of managing what's important in your life.”
Training for Ironman triathlons (a series of long distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation) is time consuming. Put a baby into the mix and time becomes even tighter. Airline pilot, Ian Ang, is more mindful of time management now that he has his one-year-old son, Oliver.
The 37-year-old will wake up very early to get his workouts in – like swimming at 5am – so that he can get home as Oliver gets up. He will also try to do his longer workouts when he’s overseas, so he can have more time with the family when he’s back.
Although he is too young understand it yet, Ian hopes that Oliver will “learn to be motivated and disciplined in life” as his son watches him train for triathlons. “I hope he will be able to cope with failures and fight through tough situations,” he added.
“As parents, we are the very first role model to our kids and we hope to create a very secure and loving environment as a family. I hope when he watches us communicate and interact, he learns to love and be loved.”
After getting married, the next natural thing for Ian – and his wife Jaime – to do was start a family. Fatherhood was a steep learning curve, but Ian can now change diapers in near pitch black conditions, among other duties that had initially seemed challenging.
“We try to keep our lifestyles as balanced as we can. We’ve done quite a fair bit of traveling with Oliver and we strongly encourage new parents to do it as early as possible. It really forces you to trim down a lot of unnecessary logistics and fuss, and soon you’d find your daily routine with a kid very much less stressful.
“We had not made big changes approaching parenthood. Mostly, we try to be conscious of our emotions as individuals, which is so important in a relationship. I think working towards a very solid relationship with your spouse is first and foremost. We hear often how stressful it can be and how you lose yourself when a kid comes into your life – that’s something we are constantly aware of and try to work on. Happy parents, happy baby!”
In order to achieve a good balance between work and family, it is important to maintain a healthy body and mind, Ivan Chan emphasises.
“About three years ago, I used to fall sick easily which meant not being able to spend quality time with my family. After witnessing the positive changes that running brought to my wife, Wendy, I started to run regularly and my health and immunity have improved a lot since,” the 43-year-old deputy registrar shared.
“I started to eat healthier, adding more real food proteins in my diet as well as taking healthy snacks such as nuts in between meals. I started to work out in the gym to gain more lean mass. Within a few months, I gained about 10kg and I was not as frail as before. I’ve even ran a full marathon and 7 half-marathons!”
Even though work can get demanding at times, Ivan religiously runs 5 to 10km at least twice a week – with ROCKrunners on Tuesday evenings and another session on his own over the weekend. He also does weight training in the gym twice a week.
“There is never enough time, but I will try to squeeze in pockets of time to exercise and train, such as when my kids are at tuition or ballet classes. This way, I can have time to take them for meals and outings. I also bring them to ROCKrunners, which has become a regular family bonding session for us,” he added.
When Ivan was younger, the thought of marriage and fatherhood was a distant one. But after 5 years of marriage when turning 30, he decided with Wendy that it was time to plan for a family.
“Becoming a father has definitely made me more mature. Every decision I make now, I take my family into consideration first. I hope to inspire my kids to know that hard work and investing your 100% is essential to success in both school and career, and when they form their own families in future.
“I hope to lead by example and show them that good things don’t come without hard work. I want them to grow up healthy so that they can each pursue their dreams.”