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In championing and empowering people, Under Armour finds a ‘higher purpose at its core’

UA wants to support the underdogs who are hungry and bold in striving for excellence, competing against the best and winning.

In commemoration of the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Under Armour rolled out its #UACelebrateWomen initiative across the Asia Pacific to reinforce its commitment over the years to champion and empower women.

The initiative, which will last till the end of November, will see Under Armour hold a series of practical workshops, runs and yoga sessions organized specially for women, building and amplifying on its close relationships with women around the world, and with its female community in APAC, to provide them with specific practical guidance to kickstart or elevate healthy lifestyles.

Yvonne Tey, the marketing director of Under Armour Sports, South East Asia, tells The Drum that initiatives like #UACelebrateWomen, as well as Test of Will, an urban fitness challenge in APAC for people who are driven to succeed and push their limits, is in line with Under Armour’s pledge to find a ‘higher purpose at its core’. She says this means supporting the underdogs who are hungry and bold in striving for excellence, competing against the best and winning.

“Under Armour is a performance brand created with an underdog fighting DNA. We are constantly innovating and designing products that allow for maximum performance and comfort, while being stylish and versatile for wear from the gym to the street,” Tey explains. “The initiatives are in line with our aim to invest in individuals with the willpower to push boundaries, from both male and female amateur athletes to professional sports stars.”

Aside from these initiatives, the brand says it takes an omnichannel approach for its marketing, tapping into its brick-and-mortar stores as well as its e-commerce site and mobile retailing platform. Its Connected Fitness portal also aims to power the digital health and fitness community globally through a suite of applications like Under Armour Record, MapMyFitness, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal.

In Singapore, it also holds events and various community partnerships in streetwear, to aid its evolution into a ‘Performance Meets Lifestyle’ brand. It will be the two-time official apparel sponsor for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2018 in December.

“In the months leading up to the marathon, we are actively holding pacer runs and ‘women’s squad runs’ for the public to train and get access to exclusive discounts,” says Tey. “We also recently debuted in Street Superior Festival 2018, an event dedicated to Singapore’s subcultures combining streetwear and sneakers, music, digital and street art. At this event, we set up an interactive basketball universe – where consumers could shoot hoops at a retro basketball arcade machine and try on Stephen Curry’s footwear line (Curry 5), as well as explore Under Armour’s high-performance HOVR range and vintage Forge 96 sneakers.”

One of the practical workshops in #UACelebrateWomen will be conducted by Marie Choo, a dog behaviourist and ultra-trail marathoner, who will hold a 5km Starter Run workshop for women. Choo previously started an ‘I run for rescue dogs’ campaign, which Under Armour Singapore supported by sponsoring her training gear, as she wanted to help abandoned and stray dogs living in Singapore.

Choo is part of an elite group of personalities like Muhammad Ali, Misty Copeland, Michael Phelps, Stephen Curry, Jordan Spieth, and Lindsey Vonn, as well as celebrities like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, that promotes Under Armour’s message and represent the brand through their work. The 42-year-old Singaporean, who started running at age of 38, says she wants to advocate women that it is never "too old, too late, too weak” for them to kickstart their fitness journey as she started out not being able to run 2km and went on to complete her first full marathon (42.195km) in 10 months.

Choo has since gone on to ultra-trail marathons, running 50km and 100km races on trails and in the mountains. “I think my fitness journey has given hope to my friends on Facebook and followers on Instagram that they too can attempt to achieve some of their own fitness goals,” Choo tells The Drum. “I am really happy that Under Armour Singapore has given me a platform with the 5km Starter Run workshop as part of its #UACelebrateWomen initiative, so I can connect and share my experiences with the women who signed up.”

Choo’s workshop, which will be conducted over five sessions, will see her teach participants how to build their base and start their own 5km training, brisk walk to get familiar with the route and make friends, prevent injuries and recover well. Participants will also learn what to wear for the runs to feel comfortable and look good, what kind of waterproof makeup they can use during races, what to eat, how to progress to longer distances, how to prep for their first race, how to execute the race and the importance of cross training.

#UAxSCSM2018 Session 2 What a great night with these amazing ladies at Under Armour 5km Starter Run! The workshop was started to inspire ladies to run and sign up for Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018’s new 5km category as Under Armour is a sponsor. Last week was a sharing session and last night was the real run/walk/run according to their own aerobic base zone, a.k.a fat-burning zone. Running to their own heart rate and abilities, everyone completed 6km, which they thought was an impossible feat prior. The main objectives for this workshop is to help the ladies to be less intimidated by running, fall in love with running, make new friends or running buddies, while they also learn about injury prevention, nutrition, and how to balance health and fitness. The weather was nice and cool as we completed the distance around Gardens By The Bay. So lucky that the weather held up for us, and the storm came after we were done and made our way home. It was lovely seeing familiar faces from Running Department. Thanks for the shout out Roy Tay Tracy Sim Edmond Kwek Peggy Teng! All the best for Pacer training. A big thank you to Clarence Lee for volunteering and helping me as the “sweeper”, looking after the ladies and sharing his own inspiring transformation. Thank you Alicia Chia for sponsoring the No Pong deodorant for this week’s goody bag! This is my fav deodorant and I swear by it. For next week’s session, it will be on Thursday, instead of Wednesday. We will have Aldrin Ho from Ziklag Fitness as our guest and we will take about running and the common injuries, prevention and tips. Can’t wait to see the ladies again! My youngest runner at the work shop is 12-year-old Brandelle. ‍♀️ Ladies, remember to keep moving and clock your mileage within your aerobic base zone as much as you can on a weekly basis. Also, watch your nutrition. 80% Diet 20% Training. You can’t out exercise a bad diet. #UACelebrateWomen #underarmour #wewill #underarmoursg #i_m_possible #runner #running #ultrarunner #irunforrescuedogs #run5km #uaxscsm2018 A post shared by Marie Choo - The Dog Alchemist (@mariechoo) on

Choo, a former marketer, adds it is heartening to see a rise of women in the sports and fitness scene and to see how they lead by example in their chosen sports. She points to the likes of the 86-year-old “Iron Nun” Madonna Buder who competes in Ironman to 82-year-old Ernestine Shepherd who only picked up bodybuilding at the age of 52, as her inspiration.

“I hope that I can do the same for the younger women in the scene, to set the example that we can do what we want if we have discipline and determination. I am an advocate of good clean eating and staying away from enhancement substances such as steroids, as I believe that there’s no shortcut to good health and fitness,” she explains. “I learned through my own experiences and believe that health and fitness are based on five pillars: cardio, strength, nutrition, mobility, and recovery. I hope I can share with more women, especially younger women about this.”

“We have only one body and we must take good care of it, even in the pursuit of fitness. Health and fitness are two separate things but tend to be confused. You can be healthy (no injuries and hardly falling sick) but may do not have fitness (cannot run 2km to save your life), or you can have the fitness (run a marathon) but not be healthy (constantly sick, plagued with injuries from overtraining and lack of rest). The ideal goal is to have a balance, which is to be healthy and fit.”

I recently learnt the difference between fitness and health. A runner may have the fitness (speed and endurance) to run a fast marathon but may not be healthy, for he doesn’t look after his nutrition and is plagued with injuries. If he is constantly training in anaerobic state, his body will be producing lots of lactic acid, cortisol (stress hormones) and relying on glucose as fuel. Recovery will be hindered and chronic fatigue sets in. I was one of those runners before, constantly running above 155 heart beats per minute, even on my long runs. I thought that was the way to go, training based on pace! # Fast forward to September this year after my long travels. I decided to adopt the primal endurance approach. I applied what I learnt years ago about running in the aerobic state, a.k.a fat burning zone, watch what I eat, train intuitively instead of pounding the pavement for junk miles in an anaerobic state, and I diligently dedicate time daily to do yin yoga stretching and foam rolling. Instead of eating whatever I want because I can “afford” it with the many calories I burnt, I replaced processed carbs (bread, pasta, noodles, rice) with whole foods and cut down on my sugar intake (usually in the form of sweet treats). # Sure I may not run as fast as many runners who overtake me on my run training, not because I can’t but because I must not. I know my lean and fit body (my abs get many admiring looks) is a reflection of my good health and I am going “slow to go faster in future”. Speed is nothing if you can’t sustain it. Worse, if it brings you health issues and injuries. I remind myself to curb my ego and follow my heart (rate) to stay in the fat burn zone. # I am advocating smart training as a primal endurance athlete and I focus on the 5 pillars of training that comprises cardiovascular, strength, stretching/conditioning, nutrition and recovery. I’ll be sharing more at the Under Armour 5km workshop sessions. Link in my bio for registration deets. # #UACelebrateWomen #underarmour #wewill #underarmoursg #i_m_possible #runner #running #ultrarunner #irunforrescuedogs #run5km

A post shared by Marie Choo - The Dog Alchemist (@mariechoo) on

Tey says personalities like Choo embodies UA’s DNA, which is while they are prominent in many different areas, they all have unique stories of grit to tell and truly personify UA’s ‘We Will’ trademark.

“Traditionally, UA has celebrated the various ways that sports can unite, inspire and change the world. We engage such athletes in different ways to tell the UA story; for example, Dwayne collaborated with Under Armour to launch The Rock Collection, most recently releasing a new line titled ‘All Day Hustle’ – a wide swath of men’s and women’s gear that enables all athletes to push past their limit and build stronger versions of themselves,” she explains.

“These collections are a nod to Dwayne’s relentless go-getting attitude that inspires millions every day. Misty Copeland also recently launched her Fall/Winter collection with Under Armour.”

“Closer to home, Choo demonstrates UA’s ‘We Will’ proposition through her determination to achieve – despite her hectic career, she has progressed from starting with 2km runs to now running ultra-marathons of 50km and 100km, whilst also balancing a stint as a dog behaviourist and trainer. By collaborating with her to helm the ##UACelebrateWomen workshops, we hope to inspire women around Singapore to emulate her active lifestyle.”

Julie Sukosd, Under Armour’s senior manager of global CRM, has previously said that having a genuine and individual relationship with customers is paramount, especially in today’s data-driven world where customers can grow increasingly frustrated by poorly targeted messaging. That starts with using personalities like Choo to help empower both men and women.

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