Photo: Vee Chin
And if you watch cable TV, you’d have seen her hosting Discovery Channel travel shows, like Passage to Malaysia, and Expedition X: Silk Road Rising, in which she journeys from China to Turkey along the ancient Silk Road, and discovers how a new generation of explorers, entrepreneurs and innovators is making it relevant again.
Fast forward to today, this TV producer and presenter spends more time on her yoga mat than behind the camera.
“After a decade in showbiz, I decided to slow down and find a balance between work and my passion for wellness,” she says, letting on that she’s become more mindful about spending time with her family after getting married in 2015. So far, that work-life balance has paid off.
Denise had yoga teacher training – 1,500 intensive hours, to be exact – and now teaches Yoga Jam (yoga flow to music) at TripleFit Singapore. She also has private students, including expectant mums.
Besides teaching, she works out at least six times a week for two to three hours each time, doing a mix of yoga, gymnastics, calisthenics and running. “I like to switch things up. Some days, I’ll run 5km around my neighbourhood, other days I’ll just do a yoga flow on my mat till I’m drenched. There are also days when I want to do all the things I used to do as a kid, like jumping around. I need my playtime!”
With her crazy active life, it’s no surprise that Denise scored an ambassadorship with Under Armour, and recently made her foray into fitness fashion by collaborating with local brand Vivre Activewear to launch an exclusive collection, which is available on www.vivreactivewear.com and at the #B1-04 Wisma Atria store, while stocks last.
Truth be told, the Denise Keller we see today is much more self-assured than before. She’s also glowing – and it’s not because of makeup.
“I feel the youngest I’ve ever felt,” the 35-year-old confesses. Still at her average weight of 52kg, she has gained significant muscle tone in her arms, abs and thighs, and lost some body fat. Her skin is just as taut and spotless as we remember. And there’s an unmistakable sparkle in her eyes whenever she talks about yoga, fitness and wellness.
She’s definitely on to something.
How did you get started in yoga?
Denise: I’ve been doing yoga since I was 15. My then-modelling agency suggested I try yoga to maintain my weight and rehabilitate my old injuries from gymnastics. Due to my left knee injury, I was struggling to walk in high heels for fashion shows and needed to learn to strengthen my legs. There weren’t many yoga classes back then, but I found one in a community centre. I’ll never forget my first class because the women in the room left such an indelible impression on me: so strong, elegant and poised. I was hooked.
How has your yoga journey evolved over the years?
Denise: Yoga’s the one constant thing in my life. I’ve always had a hard time controlling my monkey mind and yoga gave me focus and concentration during my TV days. Whenever I felt anxious before the camera rolled, I would find a quiet spot and do prayanama (breathing exercises). On the road, whenever I felt tired, I would do yoga at the airport to recharge.
What made you decide to become a yoga teacher?
Denise: It was a natural progression for me. I had a pretty strong self-practice and read many books about yoga. Arun Rana, Hee Boon, Sandy and Punam from Pure Yoga gave me my first foundations as a yoga teacher and I will always be grateful for their wisdom, support and love.
Who are your yoga trainers and mentors?
Denise: Tiffany Cruikshank will always be my pillar in yoga training. She inspires me to learn more, study more and observe more. Lisa Low from Sagehouse, who introduced me to Tiffany, mentored me throughout my teacher training. She is my go-to for when I don’t know or understand something about the body. Lastly, Firdaus Fidrishah from TripleFit, who coaches me from the heart in gymnastics. I never knew I would return to my gymnastics roots at this age!
What inspired you to teach Yoga Jam at TripleFit?
Denise: Yoga Jam was inspired by my love for music. Having been in the industry for so long, I always enjoy a good playlist or jam session. The other inspiration came from a class in Los Angeles, where the teacher taught us simple vinyasa sequences and then allowed students to flow and play to music. It was simply awesome!
Who are your favourite music artists for yoga?
Denise: James Brown, Al Green and Curtis Mayfield are some of my classics, but I can hype a class with Eminem or Red Hot Chili Peppers. It varies on people’s moods, too.