DARREN HO - entrepreneur, Singapore
Darren Ho is a 34 year old triathlete, entrepreneur and former competitive tennis player from Singapore who, when looking at him now, is a beacon of success and shining example of what hard work looks like. Of course for Darren, the person he is now is very different to who he was just a few short years ago when he was “distracted” from fitness by his career – and as such, was double the weight of today. We talked with him about just how far he has come, and the habits that paved the way for his change – and his success.
This interview is part of the habit series. To see all interviews, click here.
So Darren, let’s jump right in to it. Take us through what an average week now - between, work, fitness and everyday life - looks like for you?
Its hectic. I wake up between 3 to 4am on Mondays to Fridays where I will hit the gym for daily strength and conditioning work together with a short session of cardio (1 – 1.5 hours). I’m usually done by 5 or 6am (sometimes I sneak in a recovery swim). Then its breakfast and I begin my work day by 8 – 9am. During lunch, I hit the pool for my swim (swimming is my weakest part of the triathlon) as I just learnt how to swim 8 months ago. Then it’s back to the grind for me, where I manage startups, new initiatives and as a mental skills trainer. I’m usually done by 6pm where, on alternate days, I have my main session prescribed by my coach. Then I’m usually off to bed by 10pm. In between all of this, I have meals with my girlfriend who has been most understanding as she used to play competitive tennis as well. There’s very little time for anything else. Weekends are my longest sessions and I can be out on the roads by 5 or 6am for my long cycles either followed by a brick session or a long run in the evening. In between all of this, I’m replying to emails, messages and working off my laptop and mobile phone where its required of me.
Has it always been like this? What got you to this point/what was the catalyst to kick off your dedication to fitness?
Its hasn’t always been like this, no. When I stopped playing tennis competitively, my weight started to really skyrocket.
I hit my “peak” in 2011 at 150kg and my health was really backsliding.
I was drinking every day, eating fast food between meals due to stress and completely sedentary. Mentally I faltered to a point where I would consistently give myself excuses to not get off my feet. My doctor was truly worried for me as my heart and liver was showing serious signs of deterioration. I hit my lowest point in my life when I witnessed my uncle pass away due to the same reasons as me and how the entire family stood by helpless. I decided that things had to change. As an ex-competitive tennis player, I was too young to understand the importance of maintaining my fitness and imagined that it was something that would never leave me and hence did not put in the necessary effort to work on it. Once we let go, mentally we backslide and this proved to be extremely painful for me. Starting at the end of 2012, I began to make a change and decided that enough was enough.