Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more! Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook!
Name: Melissa Teo (@m3lly.t)
Occupation: Account management in advertising
Food: I don’t restrict myself and I eat pretty much everything I want/like but for the past three years, I’ve been adding more whole grains and whole meals into my meals to reduce processed food in my meals. I believe that moderation is key, especially when it comes to food.
Exercise: I teach HIIT group training two to three times a week. On my remaining days, I do strength training focusing on different muscle groups. For example, Monday and Friday for upper body, Tuesday and Thursday for lower body, vice versa. On active recovery days, I cycle, do yoga, Pilates and work on my mobility.
Q: When you were younger, were you active in sports?
A: I used to be in my school netball team in secondary school and continued playing in a netball club until I was 18 or 19.
I was active until I tore my meniscus on my right knee during Muay Thai training and was inactive for a couple of years until I was 24 years old and that’s when I started spinning regularly and took barre classes.
What sports did you get into as you got older?
When I stopped playing netball, I explored wakeboarding and Muay Thai to stay active. I started going to gyms when I was studying abroad in London for about two years too.
However, I stopped due to my knee injury. Then during the COVID-19 pandemic, I took up cycling so that I could commute from home to CBD to teach.
Let’s talk about the knee injury you mentioned.
It was about nine years ago. We were doing conditioning work when I felt an unusual movement in my right knee cap. I immediately knew something was off and heard something pop. However, I continued with pad work and lasted to the end of the session nonetheless as I couldn’t feel any pain.
Fast forward a week later, when I was randomly kneeling down, my knee got locked and something got stuck within my knee cap. I was probably limping for about five to six months before I could straighten my leg again and take regular strides.
Post-injury, I was out for about two years. During the first six months it was pretty hard and painful to walk around with a limp. I had pretty much zero faith that I would be able to go back to 100 per cent. I also gave up on physiotherapy and remained inactive for the entire year. My right leg shrank in size quite drastically and the difference was pretty jarring. It definitely affected my self esteem because I couldn’t be my usual active self and lost all motivation during recovery completely.
Thankfully all that is behind you now!
When I could eventually walk properly again, I was still very careful about the activities I engaged in. Eventually, I started playing futsal and going wakeboarding from time to time.
It was only in the year 2018 that I started going to the gym again as I needed a healthy outlet away from my hectic work schedule. That was when working out became a regular thing in my schedule.
What led you to become a fitness instructor?
During that period in 2018 when I decided that it was important for me to start getting active again post-injury, my love for fitness, health and general wellbeing grew. My love turned into passion and I realised that I wanted to help others through their fitness journey which prompted me to audition for a group instructor fitness role and it got me to where I am today.
At the moment, I am taking my PT certification and am hopeful to start Personal Training soon.
What do you like about teaching fitness classes?
After being on my own fitness journey and discovering a love for health and wellbeing, I wanted the chance to make positive changes in people’s lives. I love teaching group fitness classes as it allows me to reach multiple people through just a single class experience.
Nothing beats getting a "woooooooooo" or "OMGGGGG" back from the class to let me know they are in it with me.
When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?
I had low self esteem growing up as I was surrounded by beautiful and smart friends which led me to feeling less. It came to a point where I felt so exasperated by my own negativity that I started to turn these bad thoughts into positivity and focused on how I can improve myself.
Eventually, I learnt to stop comparing myself with others and naturally the bad thoughts didn't affect me as they used to. Right now, I would say I am more confident than I have ever been.
What about now? Any occasion where you didn’t feel confident about yourself?
When I was training to be an instructor, I took the longest in my batch to understand tempo. This really made me insecure as I wasn't catching on as quickly as I felt I needed to. I would always overthink the music while trying to find the right cues to say.
Practising really helped and it almost feels like second nature to me now.
Did you ever struggle with your body?
During my teen days, I was always the ‘bigger' sized girl in my group of friends and felt the need to starve or eat less. I was constantly watching how much I ate, which became unhealthy physically and mentally.
That really changed when I started learning to love myself and learnt to block out what I thought people may think of me.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I would be lying if I said I didn't want to look leaner or have beautiful 8 packs, however, I believe that I am a work in progress just like everyone else.
Instead of chasing for a particular physique, I focus on performance/progression and I believe, looking good/strong will follow.
If you could change anything about yourself, would you?
I believe that everything happens for a reason and we learn from the life experiences we go through. As cliche as it may sound, it moulds us into the best version of ourselves.