Boosting Body and Mind

Boosting Body and Mind

Dealing with chronic back pain and depression for years, Member Jamie Chie explains how regular exercise changed her life.

Most of us are used to the Club’s international environment. But growing up in difficult family circumstances left me with some mental scars and maybe contributed to the depression I later developed.

When I moved to Singapore in 2011, I suddenly felt lonely and isolated because I didn’t have any close family or friends around. On top of that, I had two small children to take care of.

Getting myself to wake up or to get motivated to do anything was a challenge. I hit rock-bottom and needed a desperate change. Medication never worked. I constantly felt like I had a big cloud over my head. 

I also had chronic back pain and sciatica from years before, so even sitting and having a proper conversation with friends left me feeling agitated all the time.

Singapore had a different lifestyle. Mothers seemed more relaxed delegating their responsibilities and taking care of themselves through exercise like jogging or relaxing by the pool. 

I couldn’t get myself to the gym because I was shy and socially uncomfortable, but I stumbled across a DVD by Jillian Michaels, which became a lifesaver. It’s called “Six Week Six-Pack”—30 minutes a day with a dumbbell and a mat in your home. I thought, “What do I have to lose, right?” 

I was pretty athletic from a young age and felt like I wanted to pick up from where I left off at school. I started following the workout at home and, as promised, I got a six-pack in six weeks. 

I loved the feeling I got from exercising, and I still do. My mind was clearer and I felt more alive and motivated. I took further steps and hired a personal trainer, who introduced me to TRX suspension training and resistance training.

By the time we moved back to Tokyo, I was addicted to exercising and converted one of our bedrooms into a home gym. Even during holidays, the hotel gym was a must.

I slowly started venturing out to the Fitness Center at the Club. I met Taka Komatsu, my trainer now, and began weight training with him. Members noticed and started asking me for advice. But for me, working out has been about feeling good rather than looking good.

The Club has opened so many doors for me. I was asked to join the Recreation Committee, which has been rewarding. And just simply coming to the Club almost daily and meeting likeminded Members at the Fitness Center has been comforting and has helped me on my path to recovery.  

Years of overtraining led to a torn ligament in my wrist and then surgery last November. The experience has taught me the importance of listening to my body and finding balance in my life. It’s all about quality, not quantity. 

I now have a certificate in nutrition and personal training and TRX instructor certification. The next challenge for me is learning how to share what helped me. Honestly, though, there is no one approach to fitness. The advice I can give people interested in getting back in shape is to find the type of sports or exercise that gives them joy. 

Exercise is a never-ending journey, not a destination.

As told to INTOUCH’s Nick Jones.
Image: Kayo Yamawaki