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Chitchat This Week's Fit Chiobu and Yandao - Mika Kise and Elise Teo



Singapore #Fitspos of the Week Mika Kise and Elise Teo: 'I love the fact that we’re both very active'​

Be inspired by the success stories of fitness influencers, celebrities, models, trainers and everyday movers in Singapore​

Cheryl Tay
Cheryl Tay
Sun, 19 May 2024 at 5:00 pm GMT-7·13-min read

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Mika Kise takes part in powerlifting, while Elise Teo is a personal trainer.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Mika Kise takes part in powerlifting, while Elise Teo is a personal trainer. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
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: Mika Kise (@mika_kise)/Elise Teo (@yiliyili_fit)
Age: 28/36
Height: 1.80m/1.51m
Weight: 93kg/43kg
Occupation: Photographer, videographer, marketing/Personal trainer
Status: Married to each other
Mika – I generally eat whatever I like because I believe that we should all enjoy the pleasures of food. That being said, I have a basic understanding of what my body needs for performing at its best for my sport so I usually keep in mind the protein for each meal and I can’t eat much spicy food. My mouth likes it; the other end, not so much.
I’ve been gaining weight consistently as I was too light competing in my weight class (under-93kg) at the 2023 IPF World Championships. I’ve gone up to 98kg at the end of 2023 and competed in the nationals in March, so I have started cutting down my caloric intake to decrease some of the weight I’ve gained. I keep the protein high and carbs higher around training sessions.
Elise – I’ve been rocking the pescatarian life since 18, all thanks to horrific PETA vids. Can't chow down on anything that could be a potential pet. Sweet tooth? Guilty. Snack queen? 100 per cent! I do intermittent fasting to keep those calories in check and I make sure I get enough protein. Huge foodie here, so it's all about balancing the super healthy with the crazy tasty.
Mika – The current structure is four days of lifting in a week, usually in the morning. I usually do four weeks acclimating in weight, then two weeks de-load where I let my body reset for the next block.
Elise – I enjoy mixing things up in my fitness routine. Currently, I'm in maintenance mode with no specific goals. I stay active every day, incorporating hypertrophy training at least twice a week, HIIT once or twice a week, and for cardio, I might attend a spin class, hit up a boxing class, or just run on the treadmill. Additionally, I make sure to squeeze in an hour of yoga at least once a week, sometimes twice. I prefer a well-rounded exercise routine to keep my strength, cardio endurance, mobility and physique in check.
Both Mika and Elise were active in sports during their younger days.

Both Mika and Elise were active in sports during their younger days. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Q: Were you active in sports when you were younger?

Mika: My parents always encouraged me, my brother and my sister to be active, and we all competed in sports when we were younger. I started off in athletics, throwing shot put when I was 10 years old, got a Singapore record and represented Singapore internationally by the age of 12. This set the stage for my competitive nature and when I went to Australia (my family moved there), I competed in many different sports like rugby, bodybuilding, boxing and even acrobatics.
Elise: I used to play volleyball for my primary school team and was involved in various sports, participating in every interclass competition – from soccer and basketball to track and field. As a kid, I tried my hand at everything, be it badminton or table tennis. Despite my activity taking a nosedive in secondary school, where I spent most of my time doing non-athletic things with friends who weren't very keen on sports, I was consistently doing well at every NAPFA test throughout my school years.

How did your fitness regime evolve as you got older?​

M: When I finished high school in Australia, I had to come back to Singapore to serve national service. All sports stopped and so did my motivation to train. I worked out occasionally to maintain muscle mass but I had lost all drive for training until I found powerlifting.
E: I took a fitness hiatus from secondary school into my mid-20s, leading a less-than-ideal lifestyle. When I finally snapped out of it, I turned to running as it was the only familiar option without anyone to play sports with. Unfortunately, bad form resulted in severe knee pain, limiting my runs to just 2km. That's when I discovered and fell in love with yoga.
Shortly after, joining a commercial gym became a turning point, helping me rediscover strength and explore various activities. It felt like a rejuvenation, turning me into my younger days again! Since then, staying active and embracing an all-rounded approach for longevity has been my motivation.

Was fitness one of the factors that brought you guys together and kept you guys together?​

M: This is quite funny because when we got together in 2013, I was into bodybuilding and Elise was active but did not frequent the gym much. She asked me to guide her through some workouts but I was always very distracted and we’d always end up fighting.
Despite not being in similar sports, Mika and Elise still support each other's fitness endeavours.

Despite not being in similar sports, Mika and Elise still support each other's fitness endeavours. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
E: Not really in the beginning, because Mika was into bodybuilding and it wasn’t my thing. When I started going to the gym, he lost motivation and was always messing around when I asked him to work out together. Our goals have always been very different, and we used to bicker a lot when we trained together.
Right now, we're extremely supportive of each other, and we do go to the gym together, but most of the time, we'll be doing our own thing. Mika has a lot of limitations due to his injuries, so many of the things that I do at the gym or in classes, he cannot join me. I love the fact that we’re both very active and also enjoy the outdoors, and are open to try everything, even if we end up not liking the other person’s interest; we make an effort to participate in any way we can to be involved in each other’s lifestyle.
There are many physical activities that we enjoy doing together, apart from training at the gym. Mika went the extra mile by taking a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) course just to accompany me on a yoga trip to India, despite not being into yoga. It was very sweet!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of both of you being in fitness?​

M: We’re very different, opposite in fact, in the way we think. Elise has trained for years, only for the joy of it, the shiok-ness effect of a hard workout, the sweat from a run, the perfection of a yoga pose, and maybe for the advantage of endless snacking. I only train for the purpose of competing, if I did not have an end goal, I would not be training-much.
However, there are many advantages because we are both so active. We can hike and travel through different countries. If there’s any knowledge I can help her with, I will, and if there’s anything I think she could help with, I’d ask too.
E: There are only advantages. We don’t share the same passion in the gym but we use our skills and knowledge to help each other. Both of us were trained in zen therapy by his father, so we often could do bodywork on each other when we need it. I get bodybuilding and powerlifting tips from him, and he gets assisted stretches from me.

Mika, how did you get into powerlifting?​

I got into powerlifting because my brother became stronger than me. Quite funny to say, but this lit a fire inside me because I didn’t even know doing squats, bench press and deadlifts was a sport. I trained briefly with him before he moved back to Australia after his NS, and became so inspired by him.
Also, my injuries from all the prior years competing did not affect these three movements. This was a sport I could push myself in, and from the very start I wanted to compete in the IPF World Championships. I watched Clinton Lee on YouTube representing Singapore in the U-74kg class, I looked him up, went to his gym and hired him immediately as my coach.
I paid him with a note saying, “Take Me To Worlds.” We did just that. I won the U-93kg Singapore Nationals 2022 and got to represent my country in 2023 IPF World Championships in Malta. I also hold the current U-93kg National Deadlift Record and will hopefully break it again at the Worlds again.
Mika was inspired by his brother to take up powerlifting.

Mika was inspired by his brother to take up powerlifting. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Yoga and fitness helped transform Elise from being skinny to becoming strong.

Yoga and fitness helped transform Elise from being skinny to becoming strong. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Elise, how did you become a personal trainer?​

I transitioned from a 10-year career in design, marketing, and events to personal training and fitness coaching. During a low point, someone laughed off my idea of becoming a trainer, doubting my potential, as most people didn’t know about my active side back then.
Years later, I turned that vision into reality, surprising those who knew me when I was extremely skinny. Unaware of my years-long battle with depression, fitness transformed me from skinny to strong and negative to positive. Yoga and fitness became my passion, leading me to empower others. I pursued YTT in India in 2015, obtained ACE certification in 2017 while working full-time, and eventually quit my marketing job in 2018.
Coaching diverse clients, including elderly individuals, is fulfilling, especially witnessing their improved daily lives. Challenges include income instability during client travel or cancellations due to illness or emergencies, but the overall fulfilment makes it the best decision I've ever made.

When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?​

M: When I was younger, I had a lot of issues with my body. I was always a bit chubby so I never felt good taking my shirt off. I had moles on my stomach and chest, and I wanted to be like other kids without moles so much, that I went to my grandparents bathroom, got scissors and cut the moles off myself.
I still remember being so ashamed and afraid of being judged by others that I felt like I needed to do that. This evolved into my teens as I became obsessed with bodybuilding and wanted to be as muscular as possible, but I still was ashamed to take my shirt off because I had gynecomastia. Puffy nipples made me very self-conscious and I still didn’t like people seeing me without my shirt.
Through the years of maturing, I am no longer so affected by these kinds of things because we are all human and no one is perfect. I think time does really help in learning to accept yourself. The mentality of “no one really cares” at the end of the day really resonates with me. Do you really think the people around you at the beach judging you will care or even remember you tomorrow? No! So, who cares.
E: I faced teasing for my height, chest size and hormonal acne throughout my younger days, experiences that persisted into adulthood. In primary school, during the early hours on my way to school, some creep came up to me and said, “suck my ****.” I went home, told my mother and we went to the police station immediately.
When I was 17, I was molested, assaulted and robbed outside my house. Additionally, I experienced molestation during a Christmas countdown party. I felt more vulnerable than others due to my petite stature. These incidents involved men, leading to a general mistrust in men. After getting tattoos and piercings, I began to feel that my physical appearance deterred me from being a target. I also believe that striving for strength allows me to better protect myself from predators.

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?​

E: Between the ages of 17 and 24, I embraced an alternative lifestyle, including smoking and partying, while feeling pressured to stay skinny due to prevailing norms. A crucial person in my life at that time expressed distaste for muscles or any hint of fat, intensifying my insecurities. This led to a fear of gaining weight and struggles with bulimia in my late teens to early adulthood due to a long term toxic relationship, reaching a low point of 32kg. I even had high cholesterol then! I also struggled with my skin and had acne since a young age of 12.
Multiple betrayals in past relationships and friendships made me trust people less, and my life took a dark turn. Alongside struggling with bulimia, I felt utterly worthless during that period. Despite being unable to see the negative changes in myself, my mother and best friends consistently reminded me of my past happiness and confidence. I'm incredibly grateful for their unwavering support, especially my mother, my pillar of inspiration, who navigated through much tougher challenges while always focusing on spreading love and helping others. The turning point in my life came through yoga and these influential people.

Are you satisfied with your body now?​

M: Currently, I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life. My waist is way thicker than I’d like, but that’s because I needed to gain weight to be the strongest I can be. I still suck my tummy in every now and again, especially when I’m slouched over and around people, but it’s alright, I’m not perfect, but my mentality has improved, that’s the main thing. Keep trying to get a little better each day.
There are certain things I can change to improve myself, but it is not because I need the approval of others. I think powerlifting really helps how I view my body because the sport is based on strength, not based on how you look. So I don’t mind seeing how my body changes as I increase weight and decrease weight. I also think this mentality is positive as our bodies are always changing, so you can always play around with decreasing or increasing your fat or muscle. This is one of the coolest things about our bodies.
E: Absolutely content now, but I'd be lying if I said I don't complain about aging once in a while, lol! It took 10 years, but I gained 10kg, mostly in muscle. Since becoming a trainer, my high cholesterol went back to normal. Feeling strong, confident, and healthier than ever. My skin is also in its best shape—not perfect, but way better than it used to be. Couldn't be happier!
Singapore #Fitspos of the Week: Mika Kise and Elise Teo. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Singapore #Fitspos of the Week: Mika Kise and Elise Teo. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)