Clad in a casual singlet but armed with a radiant toothy grin and amazing dexterity, "Mr Oh", as he prefers to be called, has been wowing the weekend Orchard Road crowd for the past six years. Termed as a ‘hulachain’, the equipment that this sprightly 72-year-old keeps spinning round and round his waist comprises of heavy wooden balls strung together by Mr Oh himself.
Mr Oh’s interest in this unique form of exercise started 11 years ago, where he was a part of a roaming group that performed in all the gardens, parks and reservoirs across Singapore. During that period, he sold hulachains for a minimal fee and taught many local aspiring hulachainers the skill of the sport. However, he lamented that the craze has now subsided, with locals generally losing interest in it. This has left him alone to pursue the sport in recent years, with his longest haunt being the Singapore Botanical Gardens.
The winds of change soon came again for Mr Oh when he decided to relocate to Orchard Road six years ago. In his own words, he said it is “the same” when people see him “everyday”. At Orchard Road however, he can pique the interest and awe of tourists and locals alike, and is more than happy for them to try out the sport with him. He starts as early as 1pm, and heads home at 6.30pm, taking breaking occasionally.
When asked about his motivation in taking up the hulachain, Mr Oh replies that it is mainly his “choice of exercise”. He elaborates that there are many kinds of exercises to choose from, and hulachaining is simply the one that he was interested in. Just as how other people take interest in other hobbies and activities, he derives fulfilment and meaning from hulachaining. With a laugh, he jokes that hulachaining not only keeps his “body fit”, but also his “pocket fit” – although the latter is not his primary motivation. It is more of an added benefit that comes with something he enjoys dearly. In fact, he asserted with pride that he has “no health problems” because of his exercise routine and his careful diet.
Whenever Mr Oh is not busting out his moves at Orchard Road on the weekends, he engages in other forms of exercise on the weekdays. Starting at 5.30am, he starts his day with a variety of workouts from jogging to stretching until 7.30am. Shortly after, he returns home to cook breakfast for himself before hitting the local market. This social butterfly enjoys sitting at the coffee shops and socialising with the community there – or as he puts it cheekily, “talking rubbish”. Needless to say, Mr Oh is so well-known that even during the interview, the staff at Ya Kun knew his regular drink!
As a proud grandfather of eight, and a father to three, Mr Oh also periodically lends a hand to his wife and children in taking care of his beloved grandchildren. On a parting note, in response to whether his grandchildren would be interested in taking up the sport, he grinned while gesturing to a smart phone, “they are too busy pressing all these devices”.