Shape Fit Girl is our annual search for the most inspiring, fresh-faced fitness personality who embodies the values of Shape: strength, balance, sustainability and beauty from the inside out.
As part of the competition, 19 shortlisted finalists put their strength, endurance and grit to test in a surprise fitness challenge at TFX Funan. They went through seven stations, pushing their limits doing: 500m rowing, eight-stage plank, chin-ups, 1min push-ups, 1min plyometric lunges, barbell squats and deadlifts. Scores were tallied based on their performance at each station.
After sweating it out, the finalists received another surprise challenge: to come up with an active beauty look within three minutes, using products sponsored by Guardian.
Judged by their creativity, confidence, eloquence, style, persuasiveness and presence, these women, along with Shape Fit Girl 2019 winner Ng Hui Ru (featured on the cover), emerged as the top finalists. Get to know them through these fun facts.
JONA MAE DE GOLLO, 32, TECH TALENT SPECIALIST
FIT FASHION Colour block sport bra with matching tights and sneakers, from Puma.
SHAPE FIT GIRL 2019 FINALIST JONA MAE MAY HAVE GONE SEVERAL SIZES UP OVER THE YEARS, BUT EVERY OUNCE OF STRENGTH AND CONFIDENCE SHE HAS GAINED ALONG THE WAY HAS MADE IT WORTHWHILE.
Jona Mae De Gollo (@jm.degollo) – JM for short – calls herself a sporty fashionista and proudly lives by motivational quotes like “strong is the new sexy” and “train like a beast, look like a beauty”. Besides working out up to five times a week blasting through strength training, pilates, yoga and more, the 32-year-old tech talent specialist and former full-time model dedicates her weekends to even more sweat time – bootcamps, road cycling and even wakeboarding – all because it brings her joy. Her fitness goal for 2019? To improve her flexibility and mobility with reformer pilates and yoga classes. Here are five things to know about JM and her fitness journey.
I BELIEVE THAT I AM ALWAYS A WORK IN PROGRESS. When I first started exercising in 2014, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I do now. My turning point took place when I was exposed to functional training classes and worked with personal trainers. I came to love the learning process, as well as how my body responded to each workout and got stronger along the way. There is always something new to learn and to work on in the fitness world, especially since I am on the constant lookout for different sports and workouts to try. After yoga, pilates, strength training, paddle boarding, cycling, surfing and Muay Thai, I’ve recently picked up wakeboarding on weekends.
KETTLEBELLS ARE MY LIFE. I love how much you can do with them – with proper form of course. On top of squats, deadlifts and thrusters, you can also do overhead presses to work the shoulders, which are my favourite body part!
I AM A SKIN NERD. I’m always scanning products to ensure they have the best ingredients. My friends often consult me on my skincare routine, which I love telling them about. On top of basic products like toner, eye cream and moisturiser, I make sure I use essence at night because that’s when our skin cells regenerate.
I LOVE CARBS. And thankfully, it works for my diet. For me, it’s all about balancing my input and output. My picks for a fuss-free lunch are usually brown rice or quinoa with salmon. For dinner, I love cooking pasta with lamb chop or basmati rice with chicken.
MY FITNESS JOURNEY MADE ME REALISE THAT MY WORTH IS BIGGER THAN BEING A SIZE 0. When I first started out as a ramp model, I was told I had to be a certain size to fit in and I often felt I wasn’t pretty, skinny or good enough. That mindset changed once I started eating healthier, having a regular workout programme, and found new friends who had the same fitness goals as me. Five years later, I may be several sizes up, but I love every bit of the new me. I’m stronger and definitely more confident!
MAKEUP RINA SIM, USING LANCOME
WANY MISBAN, 31, PILATES AND GYROTONIC INSTRUCTOR
FIT FASHION Colour performance sports bra, polyester stretch tights and performance sneakers, from Nike.
SHAPE FIT GIRL 2019 FINALIST WANY MISBAN IS LIVING PROOF THAT YOU CAN BE BOTH SMALL AND MIGHTY AT THE SAME TIME.
Noorzawany Bte Misban (@oneknee) – Wany, for short – had always been an active kid, playing competitive netball and bagging medals during sports day. Today, the certified pilates and gyrotonic instructor fills her schedule with 7km runs, weights training, HIIT workouts, gong meditation, yoga and her new favourite sport – Muay Thai. The adventurous 31-year-old once intentionally stopped her regular workouts for one year, relying only on resistance training using springs of pilates machines, to test if it was possible for her muscle tone to maintain. Conclusion: Yes, it was. Though she has a healthy diet on the whole, she does have a mega sweet tooth and a weakness for milk tea of every kind – from teh c to bubble tea. “Before I indulge, I’ll think if I had eaten well and trained enough to balance it out,” she says. Learn more about Wany through these five facts about her fitness journey.
I STARTED EXERCISING BECAUSE I WAS DETERMINED NEVER TO HAVE “BYE-BYE ARMS”. When I was 13, I was afraid of the arm jiggle phenomenon, so I did tons of push-ups, bicep curls, dips and focused a lot on arm workouts. Thankfully, they didn’t go to waste – my arms are definitely my favourite body part now!
I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT I WAS TOO MUSCULAR AND MANLY. This happened when I was working on putting on more weight through building muscle. I have learnt to take comments like these as feedback because people are going to say whatever they want to say. If it feels important to me, I’ll work on it. My body is my temple and I’m the only one who lives in it. What’s most important is that I am healthy.
I’M LIKE CHILLI PADI. I may be petite but I have enough strength and power for explosive movements. Through this Shape Fit Girl 2019 competition, I also hope to inspire others to have the confidence to try a task they deem di cult, and change their mindset from “cannot” to “can one lah, just got to practise!”
MY BODY FAT WAS 11% AT ONE POINT. I have dabbled with intermittent fasting, which definitely made my abs more defined, especially since it was coupled with consistent workouts and possibly because I was more dehydrated, in a way. But once I discovered that my body fat percentage was so low, I got scared and became concerned for my health, and stopped the fasting technique.
MY GOAL FOR 2019 IS TO DO A STEADY HANDSTAND HOLD. While I do have upper body strength, I lack mobility in my shoulders. To work on that, I’ve been going for yogasthenics classes, a hybrid of yoga and callisthenics. One of my good friends, Sara Wee, who is a yoga teacher herself, also tasks me exercises to do at home to improve my core strength and flexibility. She knows my strengths and weaknesses since we’ve been training together for a few years now.
MAKEUP GINGER LYNETTE, USING FENTY BEAUTY PRODUCTS
SARI MARSDEN, 40, EXECUTIVE COACH AND FITNESS TRAINER
FIT FASHION Polyester stretch sports bra and matching tights with sneakers, from Nike.
FOR SHAPE FIT GIRL 2019 FINALIST SARI MARSDEN, FITNESS DIDN’T JUST TRANSFORM HER BODY. IT ALSO CHANGED HER PERSPECTIVE ON HOW SHE SEES HERSELF AND THE WORLD.
Sari Marsden (@sarisarius) was once a skinny and unfit smoker, who led an unhealthy lifestyle due to late nights and long working hours as a radio DJ and program director. Fast forward 12 years, the 40-year-old executive coach and fitness trainer now gets a sweat sesh in at least six days a week with interval runs, HIIT, restorative yoga and weight training scattered throughout. One of her proudest fitness achievements to date is representing Singapore in an International Body Fitness Championship – and winning it. While she has deadlifted 100kg (at the Shape Fit Girl 2019 challenge), agility isn’t her strong suit. To develop more flexibility, both physically and mentally at work, she teaches a weekly dance fitness class at Mountbatten Vocational School (MVS).“I am not a great dancer, but dancing with students at MVS brings me such joy and a sense of lightness.” Here are five things to know about Sari and how fitness made a big impact on her life.
MY HUSBAND MOTIVATED ME TO START EXERCISING. What got him started on his fitness journey was his desire to be fit for me. After making that commitment, he lost fat and gained muscle very quickly. All he could talk about was fitness, which I had no clue about. Seeing that change in him and wanting more quality conversations in our marriage inspired me to join a gym and hire my own personal trainer as well.
MY FITNESS MANTRA IS… “GO HARD AND GO HOME.” Some people love to go all out and neglect recovery, which leads to injury and burnout. Others tend to rest too much and work out lower than optimum intensity, which causes them to lose steam. The trick is to do both in order to build a sustainable change in our lives.
I FEEL POWERFUL WHEN I LIFT. I love weightlifting workouts, and I love the experience of becoming stronger – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
I BELIEVE THAT MY BODY IS MY RESPONSIBILITY. The energy I create is also my responsibility. I am in charge of my own body. It is not about knowing every anatomical and nutritional detail, but more about taking care of the beliefs I hold about me as a woman. If I think of myself as “less than others” or as “not good enough”, then that belief is going to reflect itself in my body and my attitude towards my body. I grew up disliking myself as a young girl because I didn’t fit my society’s conventional standards of beauty. Today, I choose not to let my image get in the way of what I want to create in life. I have an image, but my image does not have me.
I AM FIT TO BE A SHAPE FIT GIRL BECAUSE THIS GIRL IS FIT TO LEAD. I will be 40 this year and I believe that I am in the right place at the right time. I am not 25 anymore, and I am now very concerned with promoting a sustainable fitness approach for women as they get older. What works for you at 25, may not be so effective at age 40. I meet too many women who begin to give up on themselves and their bodies as they begin to approach 40. Ageing is a part of life, but how we age is very much in our own hands.
MAKEUP RINA SIM, USING LANCOME
NATALIE YEO, 27, BANKER
FIT FASHION Polyester stretch sports bra, polyester stretch patchwork tights and cotton sport cardigan with performance sneakers, from Under Armour.
STRIVING TO BE THE HEALTHIEST AND FITTEST VERSION OF HERSELF, SHAPE FIT GIRL 2019 FINALIST NATALIE YEO WANTS TO INSPIRE LIKE-MINDED WOMEN AND BUILD UP THE FEMALE FITNESS COMMUNITY.
Natalie Yeo (@nattylifts) is #real. While many assume she works full-time in the fitness industry, the 27-year-old fitfluencer holds a busy day job in corporate banking, trading activewear for pencil skirts and heels once she has clocked her morning HIIT sessions. On weekends, she gives herself leeway to indulge in brunch fare and American barbecues. But she is also all about striking the right balance. Besides strength training, the ACE-certified personal trainer enjoys a mix of yoga, pilates and endurance runs to keep her fitness routine varied. One of the most extreme things she has done? Prepare for a bikini fitness competition, which involves a super strict diet and workout routine that she would strongly advise against for the long term. Get to know more about Natalie through these five facts about her fitness and beauty lifestyle.
MY FIANCE (THEN BOYFRIEND) INTRODUCED ME TO THE GYM 5 AND A HALF YEARS AGO. I had always been active growing up, going for yoga and body combat classes with my mum, taking part in 40km cycling challenges with my dad, and being part of the gymnastics team in school. However, I only became more invested in fitness when my fiance took me to the gym and showed me the ropes. As a certified personal trainer, he taught me the proper form for weights training and in less than a month, I managed to deadlift 60kg! Seeing the progress I made in the gym got me hooked.
@KELSEYWELLS IS MY BIGGEST FITNESS INSPIRATION. She is really fit and strong, and also both an entrepreneur and mum. Plus, she’s relatable too. She wasn’t always fit and fab, and had her fair share of body troubles. I think she’s a true inspiration to many women out there to become fitter and lead healthier lifestyles – something I aspire to be able to do!
I BELIEVE THAT FITNESS IS A LIFELONG JOURNEY. It is less of a sprint and more of a marathon. That is why I am a huge proponent of sustainable fitness and a firm believer in doing things in moderation, including diet and workout regime.
MY POST-WORKOUT BREAKFAST INCLUDES CHICKEN BREAST WITHOUT SKIN FROM THE CHICKEN RICE STALL ON MY WAY TO WORK. I try to include a protein source in the mornings since I typically start my day with a workout before heading to the office. You don’t need to order a salad to eat clean in the CBD. It’s all about making wise choices, even at the food court. Braised chicken thigh, steamed fish or lightly stir-fried veggies are great options.
HYDRATION – INSIDE AND OUT – IS KEY TO HEALTHY, GLOWING SKIN. I learned this the hard way. I used to be plagued by bad breakouts and my dermatologist prescribed me a slew of salicylic acid face cleansers and toners, as well as benzoyl peroxide and retinol face treatments. While they are really great at zapping away any spots, they left my face stripped of moisture, and extremely inflamed. Over the years through trial and error, and tons of reading on my own, I discovered that sometimes, less is more. I scaled back on spot treatment products and went for lighter moisturisers and hydrating serums, and my complexion has never been better! Studies have shown that our skin is 64% water, so I always make it a point to drink enough water every day.
MAKEUP RINA SIM, USING LANCOME
TEXT PEH YI WEN PHOTOS FRENCHESCAR LIM ART DIRECTION RAY TICSAY STYLING DOLPHIN YEO HAIR EILEEN KOH, HAIR PHILOSOPHY, USING KEVIN MURPHY