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Miss Universe Singapore runner-up ready to give people her best

We learn how Miss Universe Singapore 2018 first runner-up Tiong Jia En worked hard to get where she is now and her fitness tips

On the podium, local rhythm cycling instructor Tiong Jia En is a natural, pedalling fast to snappy beats while still flashing a megawatt smile.

Less than a week after her inauguration as an instructor at Absolute Cycle Singapore, the 23-year-old was crowned first runner-up of Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2018 in August.

Miss Tiong said: "I feel like I'm living the dream right now."

Next on her list? Becoming a barre instructor. Her ultimate goal is to walk the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show runway.

Her journey thus far has not been always a smooth ride.

With a humble family background, Miss Tiong had to be financially independent from a young age. This meant juggling up to four part-time jobs to pay for school while pursuing her degree in communications and new media at the National University of Singapore.

Besides tutoring in the day, she did waitressing jobs through the night till 5am. She was simultaneously building her own swimwear label, Sorakini, which launched last year.

Despite having no background in business, she was adamant in powering through to fill the gap of premium yet affordable bikinis.

What gave her the energy boost daily were morning runs and regular home workouts.

"I rode on the adrenaline and it made me feel good," she said.

Shortly after graduation, Miss Tiong endured long nights working at an advertising agency for eight months before switching to a career as a fitness instructor.

With mostly 7am classes in her work schedule, giving up a part of her social life was essential as she is in bed by 10pm and up by 5am.

"I'm working when my friends aren't, and vice versa. No regrets though," she said.

How happy are you with first runner-up in MUS?

Although winning the title and representing Singapore on the international level would have been incredible, I went in with an open mind. Let's just say I still look at my sash once in a while and ask myself, "Did that really happen?"

Why did you decide to become a spin instructor?

Rhythm cycling is a sport I really enjoy, so I thought, "Why not make it a career?"

The best feeling in this world is to work at a job that doesn't feel like one. I wake up every morning eager to start my day.

What is your secret to getting your energy levels up in the morning?

My belief is that how you do one thing, is how you do everything. I am human too, and I don't wake up at 5am every morning feeling like I'm ready to rock the studio. But I am professional in what I do - if people are willing to wake up early to take my class, I will give them my best.

What is your personal fitness routine like?

I do a mix of yoga, pilates, swim, barre and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), scattered throughout the week. I'm a fitness fanatic and I work out for at least three hours a day.

When did you start being this active?

My secondary school (Cedar Girls') has a powerful track and field team, and I always admired how fast and strong the girls were. It motivated me to join the cross country team in Victoria Junior College and I've never looked back since.

What is your favourite fitness motivational quote?

Suck it up now so you don't have to suck it in later.

Do you follow a specific diet?

No, but I generally watch what I eat. I avoid fried food and soft drinks, but I do have an occasional milo kosong. Ultimately, it is everything in moderation.

For convenience, I usually have bananas for breakfast and I take a lot of plain silken tofu throughout the day.

Any beauty or skincare tips for girls who work out?

Try not to put on foundation when you work out so your pores can breathe. Also, drink a lot of water because the last thing you want is dull and dehydrated skin.

Any fitness goals for 2019?

Now that I am in the fitness industry, I would love to widen my skill set, get certified and start teaching barre and HIIT classes in 2019.

What does being in shape mean to you?

It means being a source of motivation for others to learn to take care and love their own body.

Miss Universe Singapore runner-up ready to give people her best

This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Shape Singapore (www.shape.com.sg)

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