Chan and Greg Corry: An Inspiring Marriage Bound by Love and Sweat.
As I stepped off the elevator to meet with Chan and Greg for a home cooked meal, I was suddenly hit by a myriad of smells so delicious that they transported my foodie soul from the buzzing streets filled with scooters and shouting Ayis in Xuhui straight to the heart of Ho Chi Minh’s world-famous street-food quarters. Glazing at the various ingredients Chan had traditionally prepared and displayed on the table, I knew I was in for a treat.
Beyond the fresh spring rolls I was about to stuff my face with, I was also excited to learn more about yet another powerful and inspiring couple many FitFammers have come to admire and sweat with on a regular basis.
This is their story.
Meeting on a two-way street.
Born and raised surrounded by the spectacular wilderness of British Columbia in a city called Kelowna, Greg moved to Vietnam in 2010 where he worked at an American school as its Principal. While living in Ho Chi Minh, he developed a routine of visiting the same Singaporean restaurant located near his apartment where Chan was serving tables on a part-time schedule while attending Business school. Once Greg had become a regular customer (for the food, of course…), Chan asked if he could help improve her English, to which he agreed under one condition: “I’ll tell you what: I’ll help you with your English if you teach me Vietnamese” Greg suggested.
They took their lessons to a nearby cafe where a beautiful friendship that would remain strong as the years (and marriage) went on would take shape. After a year living in Ho Chi Minh, the newly-formed couple moved to Shanghai where Greg was offered the opportunity to run a Canadian school connected with Nanyang Model High School. This was the first time Chan would travel beyond the borders of her homeland. Her initial reaction upon moving here, however, was met with surprising delight: “It was much better than what I’d seen on TV” she recalled.
And off they went to the Pearl of the Orient to start a new life.
A tenacity no one should dare overlook.
Greg signed a 3-year contract with the school and was able to settle in China with a working visa. Chan, on the other hand, could only enter the country on a tourist visa and thus needed to return to Vietnam shortly after. Because of how complicated long-distance relationships can get (am I right?) Greg suggested Chan enroll in a Chinese program so she could move back on a student visa while learning the language.
Although the program was set up over a 3-year period, she was able to finish it in barely 14 months: “She studied like crazy and they accelerated her up because she was learning so fast” Greg proudly noted. “Now her Chinese is better than her English.”
Amongst other things, FitFam is known in Shanghai for getting groups of inspiring (and crazy?) individuals from all walks of life at 6 o'clock in the morning to exercise. But you think waking up at 5:30 am to go work out is tough? Try waking up at 4 am every day to prepare food for dozens of others, then having to go to Business school for the day followed by a restaurant shift; a tight schedule Chan put up with for almost 6 years back in Ho Chi Minh.
A typical day went as follows: “My mom had a food cart business.” Chan explained. “She woke up at 3 am and I at 4 am, we would prepare all the food and sell it from 6 am to 10 am, then I’ go buy some food for lunch for my mom. We’d have lunch together, I would have a little nap and then we’d go to the market to buy more food for the following day. I’d go to school and work at the restaurant until 8 pm, go home and help my mom clean up and went to bed around 11 pm.” All day, 7 days a week.
Hard work didn’t bother her then, and it doesn’t bother her now. She is taking care of their 2 young boys while Greg works at his school, and with a severe ankle injury he has been dealing with since their trip to Canada in August, Chan took on more responsibilities by helping her husband through his recovery process: “I was basically immobile” Greg explained as I was struggling to focus solely on the story and not on the food that was left to eat. “She took care of me, bringing me food, helping me move around the apartment… She was now taking care of 3 kids!”
Rain or shine: our motto lives on.
Undoubtedly, WeChat (a Chinese social networking and media platform) does wonders to all aspects of our social life, from instant messaging to paying bills, ordering cabs and movie tickets. And, perhaps, helping you find out where to drop a few morning burpees.
Chan first learned about FitFam on her WeChat Moments (a hybrid of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) where Anh Thu, another regular from Vietnam whom she had met when the Corrys first moved to Shanghai, posted a selfie after a rainy outdoor session a year ago. Only a few brave souls dared come out in the rain that day: “When I saw that I thought ‘Oh that’s cool, I’d love to try!’” Chan first joined the Jiaotong University and Luwan Stadium locations during the week sometime in October 2016 and quickly added the West Bund location to her weekends.
FitFam served as a break from everything Chan had to think about and take care of for an hour. Upon coming home she felt rejuvenated: “I’m ready for my day!’ she’d happily shout. A month later Greg was convinced to give it a go, starting with West Bund on Saturdays due to schedule conflicts with work during the week. But it wasn’t uncommon to see him sweat it out a couple of weekday mornings once in a while whenever he could spare the time.
Greg has done a lot of various exercises over the years, thereby developing an active lifestyle that included 8 completed marathons. Chan, on the other hand, strongly disliked running before joining FitFam, but it was through consistency and commitment to our community and her own personal goals that she was able to build up a momentum that would eventually lead her to finish her first-ever competitive 10K race this past month!
Through Chan’s own accomplishments, one can see how truly impactful our community is and how, with the right kind of people to support, you can find the strength and will to make it to the finish line.