If you spot Lisa Clayton jogging down a Singapore street, you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve just had a supermodel sighting — tall, blonde and impossibly lean, you’ll be relieved to learn she does work hard at her enviable physique! She’s the founder of OZFIT and head of UFIT Bootcamps (yes, those ladies we see hopping up and down in the Botanic Gardens like loons while we’re lazily sipping our lattes), a booming business she has built from scratch armed with a passion for exercise, a sunny disposition and whatever energy is left over from caring for her three little boys. Phew, we’re tired just thinking about it. We caught up with her for a much-needed sit down and a chat about how she does it all!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your company?
I’m a mama of 3 young boys: twins Cooper and Max 3.5 years old and a 16-month-old boy, Benji. We’ve been in Singapore nearly 7 years now and are originally from Sydney. I’m the founder and director of Singapore’s largest outdoor exercise company, OZFIT. We operate nearly 170 classes a month across Singapore and have a mixture of Bootcamps, Runfit, Women’s only classes, Boxfit, Yogafit, Corefit and a new stream of classes called Training for Warriors, which are held at Tanjong Beach and Sentosa Cove on the weekends. Being outside is truly my passion which led to me starting up this business before I had the kiddos; you won’t find me getting my kicks from running on a treadmill! I’m passionate about creating workouts that make exercise fun and challenging, yet achievable. We recently partnered up with UFIT to bring our clients together from two great companies and offer them double the amount of classes, with more variety and a larger team.
Can you talk us through your career path pre- and post-babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having little ones?
I’ve got a background in so many things! Events, modelling, advertising and nannying were the different paths I have taken pre-OZFIT but none kept me interested for as long as I’ve been a trainer (5.5 years). I’ve loved sports for as long as I can remember but at school it went from a competitive desire to something I couldn’t simply live without. I loved the way it made me feel and that I could always make the time to fit it in around study or work. I had reached a new level of fitness by the time I finished college and it taught me to be adventurous with everything I tried. When I met my boyfriend (now hubby!) he also shared that same enthusiasm so I really didn’t have a choice to give it up! I fell pregnant with my twins but I was enjoying having this small hobby business so we managed to make it work. I’ve actually not stopped working since OZFIT was born either! When our third baby was born in May I was in hospital replying to trial emails as I was still overseeing all aspects of the business and following up and doing marketing the day after he was born! By July, I was back taking sessions, but I was happy to be as well and felt great. So it went to a full time job pretty fast and at one point I had thought I don’t know how I’m going to keep this up with three kids but when it’s your own brand and you’ve put your heart and soul into it from the get-go and it deserves to keep growing, I just kind of went into flight mode and continued on.
With three little boys at home, how do you balance work and motherhood?
For me being a parent is the most important thing — my schedule is full on! It’s a constant juggle and something that I have still not perfected as running a company means that I need to be present and hands-on at all times, even when on holidays. Home can sometimes be like chaos, and that’s how its supposed to be with young children, right?! It’s so rewarding to be able to do both and especially when this company has given people so many wonderful memories of their time in Singapore and I have met so many amazing people through it. With so many milestones for our kids at such a young age, I don’t want to miss out on any of it. I’m still learning how to switch off, but I don’t think that’s something that can happen overnight when you have a business that is still growing.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
The pressure is always on and sometimes the schedule is so busy it comes down to how you manage your time. Prioritising time is extremely important. I’m a big routine follower, I always have been. I can get thrown off by last-minute changes. I don’t think I have any tricks other than trying to get the items done on the to-do list that are important today, not tomorrow otherwise you end up getting so overwhelmed by this massive list!
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Singapore?
In a nutshell I think passion, knowledge, perseverance and modesty are the keys to success. I will never claim to know everything so its hard to give advice and all I do is aim to please and as long as everyone is happy, then I’m happy! If you’re chasing perfection in your business, then you will probably go through life disappointed. I think it’s important to focus on enjoying what you have now. Having said that there is no harm in having goals and bettering your situation, but the grass is always greener, so it’s good to stop and appreciate what you have from time to time.
What are your best tips for mamas who want to fit exercise into their busy schedules?
No matter how busy the day looks or how tired you may feel, remember that after a workout you’re going to feel rejuvenated. There is a feeling of contentment, calmness and clarity. Our SHEFIT programme allows women to feel comfortable in a female-only environment when returning to exercise with trainers who are also mums and understand the changes bodies go through and are Pre- and Post-natal qualified.
What are the top 3 exercises all mamas should be doing once they’ve had a baby?
1. Kegels, you’ll need to tone your bladder muscle!
2. Walking is a great way to show off your baby and breathe in the fresh air, even when you are tired and it helps decrease the risk of postpartum depression. It might not sound like a hard workout but its one of the simplest ways to get back into fitness.
3. Pushups build your upper body strength for carrying your little one.
Do you have any advice for mamas who want to get their families involved in regular exercise?
Exercise is empowering and it is about strength and setting goals. There is nothing wrong with teaching our children about exercise and good nutrition at a young age. This means encouraging them to play outside more and have less time watching TV. We show the boys that we regularly do exercise and they now show a fascination with it and ask where we are going and what we are doing. They want to know what a jump is, what a squat is and what boxing means and we are happy to show them, plus I think it is just a boy thing to naturally need to burn off energy! If we teach the next generation to love your body enough to use it, I think it’s a great thing.
Favourite activity with your kids in Singapore?
Now its Sport4kids on Sundays at Tanjong Beach club at 9am! We’ve also just launched a family friendly class so that adults can participate in the Training For Warriors programme (an hour of bootcamp on the beach) and the kids can play sports too on the beach. It’s very exciting that a lot of families are thrilled to have this option to spend their Sunday morning! To be on the beach on a Sunday with your family is a great way to spend a Singapore Sunday!
At home we love scooting and swimming. We are in the pool every single day and find it extremely relaxing and the boys are very confident swimmers as they have grown up with it. Scooting is a great way for me to go for a walk with the dog and the boys whiz around, often I am forced to have to chase and race them! I also love taking them to live shows, and Universal Studios.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
Bali InterContinental Hotel Jimbaran Bay as it has a fantastic pool, kids’ club and beach! You don’t need to step outside the hotel for anything.
Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
Painting — I don’t have an artistic bone in my body!
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Like everything it requires nurturing! Having a mutual understanding and respect for one another helps, and to make sure you’re always planning quality time together. We like to take it in turns to plan date nights so it’s not always left for one person to organise.
As a mama I wish I were better at… Listening and having patience.
My most humbling mama moment was… having my twins meet Benji, I couldn’t wait and was so proud and humbled to see these three gorgeous boys meet for the first time. It was the best moment of my life.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about… the to-do list!
My favourite moment of the day is… seeing my boys’ faces in the morning when they wake up.
I always feel saner after… a workout and a coffee!
Thanks to the ever fabulous Gunilla from Sugarlight Photography for taking these stunning photos of Lisa!