Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self.
The journey doesn’t end.
― Michelle Obama

Grit. The constant in defining success and happiness on your own terms.

Guided by passion, Shine actively pursued an acting career after studying accountancy, appearing in various local TV productions for a number of years. In 2019, she made a decision to prioritize her health and weight gain – ignoring industry beauty standards and re-building her entire relationship with exercise.

Her progress has been nothing short of astounding.

Equally comfortable in the great outdoors, at home or in the gym, Shine delivers impressive shows of explosive power, endurance and flexibility in her workout clips on Instagram.

Despite a recent knee injury, Shine continues to document her rehabilitation in a positive light – resolutely working towards recovery, and wisely embracing what many of us have yet to realise: that unlimited strength lies in the mind.

In living authentically, Shine advocates exercising for the pure joy of what your body can do – a timely reminder we can all partake in.

Now, meet Shine.

How has exercise enriched your life–physically, mentally, spiritually?

I have always been an active person since young. ‘Exercise’ plays a different role for me at different stages of my life. I played Netball since I was 9 – so exercise for me came in the form of mainly team sports during school days. I learned a lot of life lessons from it. Teamwork, responsibility, persistence and losing with dignity – just to name a few. It helped me greatly with my personal growth during my younger days.

And now, ‘exercise’ becomes an important aspect of my life, on a deeper level. It helps me to maintain my high energy level at work, allows me to feel and look my best, provides me an avenue to release negative emotions and thoughts, increases my resilience to stress, and keeps my mental health in check.

How do you stay motivated and dedicated to fitness–not just when the workouts get hard, but when life happens?

When work gets overwhelming, instead of being upset that I am unable to commit as much to my fitness plans, I just make sure that each precious session that I have, I make it count! Even if it is just a 20 minutes session – it can be a fruitful one.

Be hard on yourself during workouts, but go easy on yourself when life happens.  

Honestly, staying dedicated to fitness is not tough for me, because I genuinely enjoy and love the adrenaline rush. Of course, there are days when I question myself in the midst of a workout on why I push myself so hard when I could just be lazing in bed after work. But the truth is, I never ever regretted choosing to workout instead of lazing around. Think of the satisfaction you will feel after each good sweat sesh!

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to fitness. Every body is unique and thrives differently. Can you share with us your journey in understanding your body, and how you found an exercise and diet plan that truly nurtures you and gave results?

Back in 2018, when people kept telling me that I was very skinny, I felt that it was ok and that it was supposed to be a norm for me because of my job. On screen, I would look ‘just nice’.  I was still acting back then – and somehow in the industry, there is this pressure and expectation of how we should look. I was not on any diet, but my exercises back then consisted of a lot of cardio sessions. Maybe like 80% cardio, 20% weights – using lightweights.

Some time in 2019, I stepped onto the weighing scale and saw my weight at 45+kg (I am about 1.68m tall).

It finally hit me that this was not healthy, and I could not allow my weight to continue dropping.

I stared at myself in the mirror for a long time and made a decision that I wanted to put on some muscle mass.

I started planning my workout routines – I cut down on cardio and added in more strength training, watched many videos to learn the form, and basically really stayed committed to my workout plans.

Diet wise – I was not looking at bulking up massively so I did not want to eat a lot more just to increase the calories intake intentionally. My meals are pretty much the same as before, except that I do try to increase my protein intake via food whenever I can!

It was not about wanting to look a certain way anymore, but simply wanting to be healthier, stronger and fitter.

The past 2 years of committing to this journey has been amazing. Sometimes, when I look back at my older workout videos, I feel a sense of satisfaction from knowing that my determination and hard work has paid off.

It did not happen overnight, and there was no ‘7 days/14 days to achieving a certain body shape’ kind of magic. It was really consistency and commitment that brought upon the changes. I don’t know my weight now – because I have not stepped onto a weighing machine for a long time! Pretty sure I put on both muscles and even fats along the way.

But more importantly, I am now stronger than ever – physically and mentally.

Am I still going to look “just nice” (or rather, skinny enough) on screen? I don’t care anymore.

What would you tell someone who exercises because they feel pressured to lose/gain weight to fit today’s beauty ideals?

These unrealistic beauty ideals are always shifting, and it is a never-ending ladder. Your body shape/size does not determine your health. What matters more? Health or how you look?

Will you love your best friend less, just because he/she lost/gained weight? No right. Then why can’t you love yourself the same?

Accept your current body shape, and at the same time - think of sustainable workout routines and set realistic goals to work towards. Put focus on your overall health and how you feel.

Exercising should be something that you enjoy doing, not a punishment!

Some struggle with exercising well during gym closures. You mentioned that you were your fittest during the circuit breaker (Covid-19 lockdown in Singapore). How did you do it?

During last year’s CB, I would plan my workout routines for the entire week ahead – making sure I spread out the training of different body parts. It was the best time for me to work on my forms for bodyweight movements – I did my first few official diamond push-ups and also managed to hit 9 pull-ups reps (had a bar at home back then) during this period!

It was the best time to set mini-challenges and goals for myself.

The best part was, since I was at home most of the time, I could easily do my workouts in between meetings/trainings (sometimes in my pyjamas!) I also added rice sacks, shampoo bottles and chairs to my workouts to encourage people to try out different exercises even if they do not have dumbbells at home. I exercised 5-6 days each week. Ah.. great memories!

The past year was a universally challenging period but also one of growth. What were some lessons you learnt, about yourself and other people?

Last year was definitely a tough year, yet at the same time, it was one of the best years for me in terms of personal growth. I understood myself on a deeper level. I uncovered strengths I never knew I had.

Spending more time to focus on myself also helped me to identify my triggers and eventually, learning to cope better. I also learned that at times when the noise surrounding us seems overwhelming (things we see on social media, unread messages, group chats that keep popping up with notifications, or even unwanted comments from colleagues/friends), it is ok to ‘shut off’ and stay away from these noises to focus on our own internal voices and thoughts. I also learned that it is ok to mute group chats (haha!)

At the same time, I learned that during a difficult time like this, people could still choose to be courageous and kind.

I know of people, who were struggling themselves, yet instead of being difficult or resentful, they offered help to people around them in whatever ways they could manage. They provided light to others even at times when they could not see their own path clearly.

These people never fail to put things into perspective for me.

What is one word you will use to describe your fitness journey and why?

Transition. Over the past 2 years of consistent training, I managed to build my strength and improved my fitness level to the fittest that I have ever been. And then, a knee injury hit me recently.

Suddenly, I am at a stage where my exercise routines are badly affected and I cannot be as active as before.

Experiencing this down period when I was at one of my peaks right before this injury has been a little tough to manage honestly. Maybe I will stay at this stagnant or downslope stage for a period of time, but I have faith that I will pick my fitness level up again and probably even breakthrough from my previous state.

Then maybe if I am lucky to have kids, I will go through another different cycle and changes again.

That is the beauty! Each of us has a different path and will go through different experiences and emotions along our fitness journey.

We just learn to accept and love ourselves at every stage, while we continue to strive towards a better state!

Shine is 168cm and wears:

Size 4 for the Fervour Training Shorts in Bondi.
Size 6 for the Fervour Crossback Bra in Bondi.
Size 6 for the Street-To-Studio Top in Cyan.
Size 6 for the Clarity Longline Top in Blush (Coming soon).

Size M for the Essential Seamless Leggings in Tie-Dye (Coming soon).

Follow Shine on Instagram @_shinekoh.