Health & Fitness

Fighting stress with strength!

Award-winning chef MAY CHOW started a fitness programme with ATP Personal Training 12 months ago. At the time, she was stressed and tired, and looking for balance in her life. We find out what happened.

Striving for balance

May Chow has had a busy time of it in recent years. Voted Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2017, she was running her restaurants Little Bao and Happy Paradise while working up to 16 hours a day, feeling stressed, and losing touch with her work-life balance.

“I was about to turn 35 and I thought ‘Wow – I’m never going to be less busy; there’s no chance of me being healthier later’,” she says. May had never had concrete fitness goals; when she first started with ATP, she jokingly said she wanted to have “abs”. “It was something I thought I’d never care for. But the plan put in place after my initial consultation was so concrete I could see it was achievable.”

That consultation was with ATP gym manager Alex Hunter. Alex says, “It was clear that we required an approach tailored around May’s role as a chef and taking into account her previous personal training experience. We looked at her goals through our lens of Daily Routine, Nutrition and Activity and built an integrated approach.”

Award-winning chef May Chow during personal training with ATP fitness

Getting started

May was impressed, and she quickly realised that ATP was right for her. “I genuinely love my gym, I love the crew, and I love my coach Jon Turton who I call a good friend and who is someone I look forward to seeing.”

According to Jon, the first step was to go through a “movement screen”. “This showed me how to tailor programmes for May. Even then, I continually observed and adjusted exercises where necessary. Skill development was the priority – I didn’t want her just doing however many reps I told her. I wanted to heighten that mind-muscle connection.”

Following this tailored and ever-evolving approach meant that May could train safely and sustainably using the most efficient methods to achieve her goals.

“This journey has redefined my lifestyle and reset my work-life balance. Before, I would prioritise work over other activities. Now, fitness has a scheduled time in my diary. I see pictures from 10 years ago and can’t believe how I looked. I still work up to 16 hours a day, but I feel really fit.

Award-winning chef MAY CHOW pt

New outlook

Another groundbreaking change for May has been understanding how food makes her feel physically. “How it makes me feel emotionally is different – I can have a great night out enjoying the greatest foods; but before this, I didn’t notice how these meals made me feel afterwards – lethargic and bloated. Now, I’m far more aware of what I eat, and I really notice a difference. I’m more clear-headed and have longer energy throughout the day.”

She adds, “Many women have lots of things to juggle in life – being top of their game in a professional environment while balancing family life and more. But they should never forget a fitness focus. Fitness creates more stamina and better mental wellbeing for excelling in all those other areas.”

Chef May Chow - before and after personal training programme with ATP Fitness

A final word

For May, it’s also important that people see that the fitness journey is a happy one. “I love food and wine, I love to travel. I have a long work schedule, and I still want to see my family and hang out with my friends. It’s achievable to get fit and have all these things. Once you gather momentum and achieve success, it empowers the other aspects of your life.”

If you’re interested in making changes in your own life, check out ATP at or alternatively email


This article first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.