Elijah Ong

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Age: 26
Occupation: Student/Fitness Instructor
Instagram: @elijah.ongg

Elijah is currently a fitness instructor at CruBox, a boutique studio that holds boxing classes that follow the rhythm of the music played. He’s also studying finance. His plans after completing his degree? To learn how to code at a high level. What’s the link that connects all the above, you ask? There’s no link, really. But that’s exactly how Elijah is living his life—being the jack of all trades. Read on to find out more about him.

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Shearling denim jacket, $89, Indicode Jeans. Button-up shirt, $57.90, River Island. Crew-neck tee, $32.90, Only & Sons.

He picked up the guitar because of Taylor Swift

There are millions of T-Swift fans, but how many would actually pick up the guitar to learn how to strum along to “We Belong Together”? Elijah did. He says he started playing the guitar when he was around 14 to 15 years old because he “loved her so much”. He bought his first Taylor Guitar (the brand, not the singer) and learnt how to play it via YouTube and Google. He recently sold it off, and while he was sad, he says: “But if I want it, I will get it again.”

He calls himself “a jack of all trades but a master of none”

The fitness instructor doesn’t only know how to box, but can also make a mean cup of coffee (not the instant kind, mind you) and cook. In fact, he worked as a chef for four years before making a career switch to be a fitness instructor. He’s passionate about learning things, but only if it’s hands-on. “I’m not much of a book person. … If anyone were to ask me about current affairs, I’d draw a blank, but if you were to talk to me about hands-on stuff, I’d be interested.”

 

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He burned down the kitchen once

Elijah’s culinary journey started very early: he cooked his first Maggi noodles when he was nine, and burned down the kitchen in his house when he was 12. “I was trying to cook fried rice. I put in too much oil, I tilted the wok, I walked to the sink, and the next thing I knew, I turned around and the kitchen was on fire.” Thankfully, there was no need to call the SCDF. “My maid happened to pass by, and she saw it. She ran to the toilet, took two pails of water and started splashing water onto the fire. My mum came home, and I got a good tongue-lashing.”

He cooked a notorious egg soup

After the kitchen disaster, he banned himself from cooking… until his family got an induction stove, that is. Unable to resist, the chef-to-be started cooking “simple stuffnothing too crazy just in case I burn down the kitchen again”. But when his friends came over when he was in secondary school, he decided to try something new and made them egg soup. “When I opened the fridge, there were only eggs, soya sauce and salt. They wanted something soupy, so OK, egg soup then.” Needless to say, the dish was less-than-satisfying. “They scolded me for a good three years about it, because it sucked so badly. When he started working at a restaurant, it took four years for his friends to visit him and try the food he made. “Before I served them, they told me, ‘Do NOT make egg soup.’ I said, ‘OK, I got it. Don’t worry, we don’t have that item on the menu, anyway.’”

He has three personas at work

Part of Elijah’s job involves curating playlists for his clients at CruBox, and his choice of music reflects his mood. The vibe of each playlist is so distinct, that his boss calls him different names to match each one. “My boss sometimes calls me James, sometimes Elijah, and sometimes Jeremiah. … James is more flamboyant, while Elijah plays very heavy bass and hard trap. Jeremiah is just a mix of Elijah and James.”

 

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His former boss pushed him to be more extroverted

You might find this hard to believe if you just got to know Elijah, but he used to be an introvert. He said it all changed when he met Vincent, his former boss at a cafe he used to work at after NS. Back then, he was more of a Mandarin speaker, but his former boss pushed him to improve his English and interact with customers. “He said something to me that I live by to this day: ‘Do everything like it’s your first and do everything like it’s your last because you never know when it’ll be your last time doing it.’” Elijah speaks fondly of Vincent and describes him as a father figure. When he wanted to quit his job to go back to school, Vincent supported his decision and paid for half of his school fees. He also gave him his first taste of boxing and he hasn’t looked back since.

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