Look good, feel better

  • Fitness
  • Saturday, 19 Oct 2013

Model-turned-actress Jenvine Ong shares her secrets for looking good onscreen.

MODEL-turned-actress Jenvine Ong used to be an ugly duckling. The lanky 23-year-old recalls being a “nerd” with weight issues and skin problems back in secondary school.

“I was studying in the library one day, when someone walked up to me and said: ‘Miss, you are really ugly,’ and then he walked away.”

“I didn’t even know that guy,” she says, but his comment hit a nerve. “That was when I saw that no matter how well you perform academically, or how good a person you are, you will always be judged by your looks. That’s when I told myself, I have to be pretty no matter what.”

The following years would see the young lady transform into a swan that would stop any guy in his tracks. Ong went on to become a model, a beauty queen, and an actress.

While her exotic features have made her a much sought-after commodity among casting agencies, Ong admits she has lost a number of career opportunities because of her body. “Casting agents would tell me straight that I have a beautiful face, but I have a flabby body, and that I was fat.”

Earlier this year, Ong bagged the title of second runner-up at the Miss Chinese Cosmos South-East Asia pageant.

With her sights now set on the Hong Kong and Taiwan entertainment scenes, the budding entertainer is more determined than ever to cut the fat and shape up.

“I have lost weight since, but my manager still wants me to lose about six kilos,” says the 1.69m beauty, who currently weighs 52kg.

I was amazed at how much stronger I’d become (after martial arts training). My body has also gained a lot more tone. —JENVINE ONG

“You have to be really thin to look good on television.”

Ong shares that her problem areas are her arms and her thighs. “When you’re on screen or in front of the camera, it doesn’t matter how flat your stomach is, or how thin your thigh is. If your face and arms look fat, you will look horrible.”

To get herself camera-ready, Ong, a former state athlete who represented Selangor in table-tennis in her teens, shares that she follows a regular exercise routine to maintain her slender physique. They include:

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Ong, who juggles her time between modelling and acting, shares that she does not have a lot of time to hit the gym. To stay fit, she relies on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a form of interval training that alternates between short, intense bursts of anaerobic exercise and short recovery periods.

These short, intense workouts, varying from four to 30 minutes, have been shown to improve athletic capacity and condition, glucose metabolism, and facilitate fat burning.

Ong shares that she follows a programme called m100 by fitness trainer Mike Chang, who runs the popular online site sixpackshortcuts.com.

The m100 programme claims that you can burn up to 500 calories in just five minutes – that’s more calories than half-an-hour of running, she says.

“I start with three sets of 10 burpees, 10 mountain-climbers, and 10 squats, then finish with another 10 burpees. That’s 100 reps altogether,” she shares.

“Sometimes, I do it twice a day when I’m feeling fat.”


When she’s not busy posing for the camera, Ong enjoys a good session of hiking. “I used to go hiking about two times a week. I always go in a group, so it is really fun. It also helps build teamwork.

“The best thing is that hiking actually helps burn a lot of calories, and it certainly beats running or working out alone at the gym.”

A somewhat underrated exercise, hiking is a great cardiovascular workout. Going up and down hills provides excellent benefits for the heart.

It is also friendlier on the joints than high-impact exercises such as running, and offers psychological benefits to boot. Hiking takes you away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, resulting in feelings of relaxation and enhanced well-being that come on after a long walk in nature.

Martial arts

Ong’s first experience with martial arts came when she had to prep for her role as a police woman in her debut film, Gemeilia. Not only did the actress learn how to kick butt in the process, she developed a keen interest in the sport.

“The director thought I didn’t have the ‘style’ of a police woman, and decided that I should take kungfu classes to toughen up. So he sent me for a month-long training,” she shares.

“By the end of it, I was amazed at how much stronger I’d become. My body had also gained a lot more tone.”

Whether you are looking to improve your cardiovascular health, lose weight, or have a cheaper alternative to anger management, martial arts may just be what you need.

For those who are driven by aesthetics, martial arts can greatly improve the amount of muscle mass that you have, enhancing that “toned” look that you see in athletes.

The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic demands will be – this means you will be burning more calories every day, even while at rest.

While it is unlikely to give you the ability to navigate roof tops, regular sessions of martial arts training can help improve your agility and reflexes. Over time, these newfound skills will result in faster reaction times, and will seep into other aspects of your life, including daily activities such as driving or dodging an annoying colleague.

For optimum results, try to squeeze in at least 30 minutes for at least five times a week.

“I aspire to be a kungfu star, just like Michelle Yeoh,” says a smiling Ong.

Despite her blossoming career, Ong shares that she sometimes gets moody from the stress and her diet.

“Unfortunately, I gain weight easily, so I have to be careful with what I eat.

“The problem is, I like to eat, and my friends like to eat, and it can get very frustrating when I’m hanging out with them and I can’t enjoy the same food that they’re enjoying.”

She deals with the frustration by keeping her goals in mind. “I have been in this industry ever since I was 19, and I realise that I haven’t made it big yet, partly because of my weight.

“So whenever I get frustrated now, I always remind myself that if you want something, you have to work hard for it, because nothing ever comes easily, and I will work very hard to achieve my goals.”


Name: Jenvine Ong

Date of birth: Jan 12, 1990 (age 23)

Measurements: 34-25-35

Hobbies: Playing the piano, snowboarding, sports (gym), dancing, martial arts, and reading health magazines

Dislikes: People who are rude and don’t respect other people.

Status: Single

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Look good , feel better


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