I Am Her: Laila White On What It Means To Be Fit | Clozette


Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.


There's no denying that Laila White looks incredible. At 51, she still flaunts six-pack abs and rocks a bikini like no other. She's the very definition of a fitspiration. But what we see right now — her incredible physique and success story — is just the end result of a long journey. We all aspire to be fit but we often forget that it takes hard work, discipline and unwavering perseverance to achieve. And once we remember that, getting fit suddenly becomes a daunting task. This is where Laila comes in. "I want to show young women that they can achieve their fitness goals while still being true to themselves," she says. "It’s going to take time, hard work, commitment and dedication, but in the end, it’s worth every moment."




Her own fitness journey started with inspiration as well. After seeing her brother's body transformation during his national service in Singapore, she became curious about exercising. Fast forward to 20 years later, she's now a personal trainer, wellness coach and a fitness icon in her own right. Ahead, our interview with her about what it means to be fit, her recommended exercise routine for busy gals and the biggest challenge she faced in her career. 


Fill in the blank: I am a fitness coach, a teacher and a __________.


Student of life.


What made you decide to focus on a career centred on fitness and wellness? How did you start?


It started 20 years ago after seeing my brother’s body transformation during his National Service in Singapore. As a mother of two daughters, I wanted to be fit and was inspired to be lean like him. He taught me a few exercises with a pair of dumbbells to do at home. Every night when my daughters Xaviera and Bianca were asleep I would workout. Back then, I could only manage five minutes as I was very unfit. After three months, my curiosity was piqued, and I decided to take a course on Basic Exercise at Sports Council. At that time, it was still not for a career move but only a mere interest.




When I passed the course, I took another and then another. Twenty years later, I'm now a personal trainer, a global gym designer for a luxury hotel chain and residences, a wellness and fitness events creator, managing director of an inaugural Fitness Best Asia Awards, and a fitness and wellness coach and judge in Miss Bikini Universe Singapore (MBUSG)


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a fitness and wellness coach?


To convince clients that healthy living is possible takes a lot of nurturing. The first and most important muscle that we have to train is the brain. You have to have the right mindset. Fitness is a journey but many people want to get to the destination at a very high speed without taking the time to know and embrace who they are. My job as a coach is not just to guide them through the exercises but also to keep them focused on their goals.


What does being fit really mean?


To be able to smile and realise you are alive when you open your eyes the next morning. It means to be able to move with our five senses fully functioning. It means being able to be at peace when things get tough and having the ability to find solutions instead of just indulging in a problem. It means to be able to love yourself enough that you will spend an hour to exercise, whether it’s walking, swimming or dancing. It means feeding your body with care. Most importantly, it means to be alive by feeling alive!


What’s a misconception about fitness that you always hear?


From women, I often hear the misconception that you will build big muscles if you do weights. If only it were that easy! Trust me, it’s easier to build fat than muscle. With the exception of some people who take illegal enhancements, it's scientifically proven that women do not have enough testosterone to build big muscles. What amazes me is that with all the knowledge at the tips of our fingers, I literally still hear this every day.



What kind of fitness routine would you recommend for women leading busy lifestyles?


Keep it short and simple. Set your time to what you are able to accomplish. Focus and remember that you are strapped for time and your aim is to conquer the task so you can feel better afterwards. If you don’t have time to get to a gym or other facilities, your best gym can be at home, a hotel room or outdoors. Be creative but be mindful of your form and safety.




You’re the definition of looking good while doing what you do. What keeps you inspired and empowered?


The Active Agers (Seniors). When I started 20 years ago, I would see them at the park or in gyms, exercising early in the morning while everyone is snuggled up in bed. Now that I am 51, I am still inspired and empowered by them. I am a great believer that I am the keeper of my health and body. I have to be responsible for me as I would hate to be a burden to my family later in life. I will try my best to achieve a healthy mind body and soul.


On the other hand, when I meet young women like the contestants in MBUSG, I am inspired by their motivation and determination to conquer a healthy lifestyle. In turn, they will be a positive influence on other young women and that is why it’s important that we celebrate their efforts.


Share with us your five Clozette essentials.


A little black dress, Cetaphil facial soap, a pair of black heels, makeup remover and mascara.



This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.


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