Trainer, Pilates and Yoga, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I’m talking to yogis here. Have you ever had a class and connected to your instructor’s way of doing things? Sarah teaches both Pilates and yoga in Kuala Lumpur. She is tough, calm and does not let up if things are not done in a proper alignment. I wanted to get the story and background of this serious teacher, and incredibly fit woman. How does one pursue passion in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. What are the steps to get going in this part of the world?
Additionally, it’s incredibly brave to open up about tough past and life experiences in an open forum like WOW Woman, and I commend Sarah for doing that in the answers below, in her own words. I’m happy that she has found her joy and calling in life, because I believe that she is amazing at it. I’m glad that I met this passionate woman, completely by chance. Now I get to cheer her on from afar, and watch her grow and succeed.
The following answers are written by Sarah (with very minor spelling/grammar tweaks from me). Please keep in mind that English is a second (or third/fourth..) language and is not 100% perfect . Perfect is boring anyway! Enjoy.
Sarah Low Wei Kim.
2. Where is your hometown?
I was born in East Malaysia, Kuching, Sarawak, but I’ve lived my whole life here in Kuala Lumpur.
3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?
I’m a trainer for Pilates and Yoga.
4. What was the journey like to get where you are (in life and career-wise)? What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of, and what was the turning point to set you on a current path in life?
Like most people I knew at the time, right after high school I had no clue about what I was going to do with my life. My parents required me to achieve at least a degree, so I just plunged into any degree without any passion about what I was doing. Those years in university were spent mostly having fun rather than focusing on my studies. I was that girl who was almost never at home, going out for few days straight before heading back home. This was the time of exploration. I’ve met all kinds of people from different background and started getting into drugs and enjoying every bit of it. At some point, sniffing was even in a daily routine just like drinking water.
I started practicing yoga at that time but wasn’t particularly serious about my practice. I soon realized, after one particularly long night of fun, that some gentle yoga practice the next day made me feel better, even great. Later I took my practice more seriously to a point where I wanted to drop out of studies and head over to India to pursue my passion. My parents would not allow me to do so unless I’ve finished at least a degree. So I passionlessly sucked it up and pulled through. However I knew that I needed a backup plan, since I would never do Interior Designing as a career. I was determined. I was so miserable that I quit my internship and lied to the university about it. Upon completion of the degree I immediately flew to Mysore, India (a city in India's southwestern Karnataka state) and stayed there for three months.
I was so eager yet nervous to head over (to India), plus I’ve never travelled alone before to a foreign country. Those three months taught me more discipline than any one experience did before.
I’ve cut off from all my bad habits and managed to gain many good ones. While in India, I woke up every day at four in the morning to head to class, and practiced all day. For three months I was driven solely by passion and eagerness to learn.
When I got back from India it was difficult to find opportunities teaching yoga in Kuala Lumpur. To make the ends meet I had to work in Interior Design-related fields, but that did not last more than two months. After trying out two different companies I realized that the office job is just not something that I could do.
I started my search again for the opportunities to work in the area I was passionate about. I tried and pursued my yoga teaching career for a few months, sending applications everywhere that I could find. One day, just out of luck, I sent an email to Bhumi studio in Kuala Lumpur and they called me in for an interview. As this studio just opened, they were looking to hire full time Pilates teachers. This was new to me, especially the method called LiXin. I had to let go of (or add to) the previous things, “emptying my cupboard” to make space for new things. I’ve learned so much from working here. I was introduced to Pilates and the studio sent me to Beijing for training. I had to empty my cup from the things that I learned in India and learn a whole new principle. It was not easy for me to accept Pilates in the beginning, but eventually Pilates made more sense than anything else.
We never stop learning until the day we die. Every time after I finished a class, I felt like I had so much more to learn and explore.
5. What did you study in school?
I received a Bachelors’s Degree in Interior Architecture.
6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?
When I was 20 I pictured myself partying and going to festivals until my head was full of white hair. Now life may have different plans.
7. What was your biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?
8. Advice for other women?
It is perfectly normal to fall down and head down the wrong path sometimes. Do not beat yourself up for making a wrong turn in life; always have faith in yourself and in the unknown, we never know what the future holds for us. Have faith.
9. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it, for "feminist values"?
I believe we are moving into a different era where women will be treated equally to men.
10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?
My happy place is normally by the beach, under the sun, or diving.
11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?
I am most proud of my clients whose pain had gone away after a few sessions of classes.
12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?
I would like to be able to share my knowledge and teach other teachers who share the same principles and practice. The future goal is to become a trainer for other teachers.
13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?
The fear of the future is always at the back of my mind, not knowing what the universe will throw at me. But I always tell myself to be present and let the rest play out on its own when the time comes.
14. Anything you'd do differently, if you had another go at life?
Actually no. I believe that everything i did in the past has brought me to where I need to be today.
15. What inspires you?
Seeing the improvement in other people’s lifestyle after they had undergone some training (yoga or Pilates).
16. What are you hopeful about?
I hope for so many things. Hope that the people would bring back humanity, save the earth, the ocean. Hope that there will be awareness for the changes that occurred in our lifestyles. Hope that more people will be aware of how their actions now will have consequences in the future.
17. What are some ingredients to a good life?
Patience. I believe many people are starting to lack patience in this increasingly fast-moving lifestyle.
Acceptance. Some things might not turn out the way that was planned, but accepting the circumstances will definitely make things easier.
18. What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?
Whatever you are facing now might seem like it is the end of the world, but as time passes, things get better as we learn to adapt to the circumstances.
19. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)
The last books I read were “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma and “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
20. Who is a WOW Woman in your world who inspires you and why? Can you nominate three (or more) women you know who perfectly fit WOW WOMAN description?
21. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?
Where I work at: Bhumilifestyle.com