This extremely busy personality has no excuses not to exercise

By Eric Nicole Salta

Tim Yap is an extraordinaire at everything. He runs clubs, edits lifestyle stories, and hosts a show—barely the tip of the iceberg—so it only makes sense to think that staying in shape is a breeze. And even if it’s not, he sure damn makes it look so easy. Style-wise, he’s effortlessly chic, a picture of majestic poise. But work is a different story where he admits an inclination to being too hard on himself. But what resonates from him when talking about his active lifestyle is an altogether fascinating revelation.

“I try to be kinder to myself when it comes to my fitness. I don’t know if that’s right but that’s how I approach it,” he says. Well, it’s good advice for someone who once ran without sleep—“I’ve done that in the past and I’m not doing it again… my coach Ige Lopez told me not to do it”—and while following tried-and-tested rules of fitness is integral, getting to grips with how something really feels for you is just as essential.

So how then does someone of his stature with quite arguably one of the most heavily loaded schedules in the industry manage to take on the rigors of exercise and endurance sport? Could his approach possibly work for others too? If his mental  toughness is any indication, then Yap’s method to his madness is a lesson in balancing life with fitness. You don’t just get bogged down by a hectic schedule and then end up on the podium of a triathlon relay by sheer luck. 

Do you feel pressure to be fit?

We all live in a world where ‘You look fat’ has replaced ‘Hello!’ I wish it was another way, but I just have to deal with it. I love my food and my travels, so the best way to achieve some sort of balance is to be fit. I try not to pressure myself too much with speed (I’m trapped in a circle of overachievers) and just tell myself that to be able to finish a race is an achievement enough.

Often, one of the major challenges of a busy schedule is making sure you block off time for exercise and healthy meals. Where do you get your energy and motivation to work out with your kind of schedule?

I get it from myself. I’m honestly the most energetic person I know. And I don’t even take coffee. I am also an early riser and I happen to be self-motivated. It’s easy for me to convince myself to get into something. The motivation comes in when I’m halfway there and all of a sudden I ask myself ‘Why am I doing this?’ ‘Where do I go from here?’ ‘Why am I doing this?’ I repeat those for about 20 times then all of a sudden I’m on my last kilometer and so I just go for it. Same goes for food, I just go for it knowing I’ll burn it anyway, I hope.

What’s your typical workout routine? What activities do you like to do to stay in shape?

My friend Gabb Rosario, an expert in bodyweight training, comes to the house three times a week to train me. I run Tuesdays and Thursdays and I swim in between and take a bike class when a friend invites me. Nothing too punishing. I want to enjoy my exercise and not dread it.

What’s your usual running distance?

I run a regular 8K on weekdays. A 10K if I’m forced to by my running group.

Are you the type who works out when they can? Taking advantage of whatever free time you have?

Yes. I rarely have free time so what happens is I have to wake up earlier than everybody else to make time for a good workout. Time management is really key.

Do you like to work out alone or with other people?

I like both. There’s that meditative side to being alone with your thoughts that’s really calming and peaceful, and there’s that fun and social side with a group of like-minded, inspiring people.

How do you track your progress?

My Garmin watch tells me. But in general, it’s about how I feel. Again, I don’t punish myself over it. I am already ultra competitive in all other aspects of my life and so with sport, I want to enjoy it. Look around, see the sights, smell the flowers.

Are there ways of making exercise more fun?

Fun is a mindset. You must prepare your mind and body for semi-torture and learn how to enjoy it. In this world of multisport, I have met the most fun-loving sadists there are. Once you get into their heads, you realize that there’s really so much joy to be had in this side of the sport.

What do you like best about your body?

I like my metabolism. It’s fast. I wish my running were as fast as my metabolism. But I’m not complaining.

What are your fitness goals right now? Are you looking to race or compete at specific events?

It is my dream to run the New York Marathon and be at the Burning Man Festival. Both require extra endurance and training (the latter I think I’ve trained all my life for)  but in the meantime, I join most of the races that happen in the metro whenever I am in town. I joined a triathlon relay at Musaman in Davao Del Norte and placed third! That was fun.