The reality of fitness according to the Sarawak-born instructor and model.
Dress by Alia Bastamam.


My fitness story began when I joined Miss Universe Malaysia in 2016. I found out that it’s something that I really enjoyed doing and I was all in three years later. It has also helped me find my place in the modelling scene because fashion has become more inclusive and models today come in all shapes and sizes. I’m not your average skinny type of model. I’m more lean-muscular and I think that is how I want to distinguish myself from others. I have received a lot of athletic jobs since I first started but I still distinctly remember the first one that I booked which was Nike for Zalora in 2021. 

It was the same year I co-founded Afterburn Fitness Studio. Getting it up and running was hard given that it was in the middle of the pandemic and we were in and out of lockdowns. The only way for it to work was by having online classes. But still, we managed to have our own humble studio in Sentul and now, after a year in business, we are moving into a bigger space in Bangsar which will start operation this month. Right now, I’m currently doing two classes a week but I’ll be conducting more classes, group ones specifically, as we move forward. We’ll have it all figured out once the schedule is out.

To me, fitness is an idea of what a person wants to be. It gives you a goal and it varies from one person to another. It is what you define it. Can a fat person be fit? Of course—as long as you continue moving. Fitness comes in all forms. It doesn’t mean that you have to lift weights, go through high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes, or do spin sessions. It’s not all that. It can be as simple as going out for a walk or a jog every day. That being said, it is also hard work especially when you are just starting out. I think that is something that a lot of the fitness influencers out there are not being upfront about.

I would like to see those in the fitness industry share their struggles because I myself struggle. I still find it challenging. It’s a lot of effort for you to put in, especially if you have a full-time job. Taking up one hour of your day to work out is actually a huge commitment. But like I always tell them, take baby steps and do not be discouraged. For example, start with a three-kilometre walk if you cannot run that distance. Maybe two days after that, after getting proper rest, you can go for a four-kilometre walk and increase your speed gradually. That’s how you track your progress and see the changes. 

At this stage, fitness has become an inseparable part of myself. I am going to Bali in a couple of months and I have already signed up for a fitness retreat that encompasses everything including HIIT and weightlifting classes. Beating my own personal deadlift record, 75 kilogrammes, would be so satisfying and the same goes with HIIT—doing a hundred burpees in less than 10 minutes would already be a win for me. I am a rugged person so things like yoga are not really for me. But every now and then I would go to a spa and sign up for some massage sessions. I don’t necessarily enjoy it but I know that it’s good for the body.


This article was first published in the print edition of Grazia Malaysia March 2023.