Korean fitness model weighed 58kg at 13: 'No one dared to bully me'
As an overweight child, the irony that her mother was a model wasn't lost on Miss Jun Minji.
But the 26-year-old South Korean has blossomed into a beauty and is also a personal trainer, fitness model and World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) Asia Pro Card holder.
Set to take centre stage in Singapore for the first time on April 30 at Marina Bay Sands, WBFF Asia 2017 is a fitness modelling competition that rewards winners with exclusive modelling contracts, cash prizes worth US$3,000 (S$4,200) and coveted certificates called Pro Cards that show participants' entries into the WBFF world.
The WBFF is a diverse global lifestyle platform servicing the fitness, beauty, fashion, competitive sport, health and wellness industries.
Over 100 people have signed up for WBFF Asia 2017, which features categories like Male Muscle Model and Diva Bikini Model.
The WBFF Asia held in Korea last year marked Miss Jun's professional debut. She clinched first place in the Commercial Model category and second place in the Diva Bikini Model category.
She also took part in the WBFF Worlds (Canada) and was among the top 10 finalists.
Miss Jun was in town last week with fellow WBFF Asia ambassadors Ahn Jaesung and Kim Jiyeon to promote the event and lead a mass workout and posing workshop at The Arena SG.
I used to eat non-stop and would eat any food that was placed in front of me. I could even finish one pizza on my own.Miss Jun Minji
Miss Jun - who weighed 58kg when she was 13 years old - told The New Paper: "No one dared to bully me because I was the biggest in class.
"I used to eat non-stop and would eat any food that was placed in front of me. I could even finish one pizza on my own."
Currently single, she said that when she was 17, she wanted to be as beautiful as her mother.
Miss Jun said: "I decided to change and adjusted my eating habits.
"I made it a point not to open the fridge myself for three years and there was once when I even went two days without food."
Her efforts paid off and she slimmed down from 58kg to 45kg. She is now 1.63m tall and weighs 53kg.
Miss Jun was studying arts and design in university but her passion for fitness consumed her and she decided to switch her major to fitness education.
"At first, my parents did not approve... but after seeing my desire and effort to become a fitness model, they are now very supportive of the career path I chose," she said.
"Since the day I decided to change my lifestyle, I have maintained (my figure). After I started exercising, my metabolism changed and even if I ate a lot, I did not grow fat."
But Miss Jun rates her fitness level a six out of 10.
"I compare myself to people in the fashion industry and am constantly training (to build up) my abs and glutes."
Her fitness regimen sees her working out six days a week, with two hours of weight training and 40 minutes of cardio training.
And as she wants to put on more muscle, she eats four small meals a day, consisting of rice, roast chicken, beef, oatmeal and sweet potatoes.
She hopes to some day launch her own fitness apparel line in Asia, one that is inspired by American lingerie brand Victoria's Secret.
She said: "(WBFF Asia) is similar to the Victoria Secret's Fashion Show and it's also trendy. It's like a fantasy for women to participate in a competition like this."
From the skinniest guy in class to one of Asia's most muscular men
It is hard to imagine that one of the most muscular hunks in Asia used to be the skinniest guy in his high school class.
Mr Ahn Jaesung, a personal trainer, fitness model and World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) Asia ambassador, said he was 1.75m tall and weighed 65kg when he was 18 years old.
With his father's encouragement, the introverted Mr Ahn, who has a degree in physiology, decided to step out of his comfort zone.
The 34-year-old South Korean told TNP: "Although I stayed home to play video games all the time, I always wanted to gain some mass and muscle. My father suggested that I go to the gym. He used to tell me, 'Be a man'."
Mr Ahn's efforts paid off in 2013 when he took part in his first competition, MuscleMania, in South Korea, where he was crowned overall champion.
Shortly after, he went to Toronto, Canada to join his first WBFF competition.
After three years of competing in the WBFF, he finally won the North American Champion title in 2016.
The avid swimmer and snowboarder, who is 1.85m tall and weighs 93kg, said he prepares his own protein-heavy lunch box, comprising chicken breast, brown rice and sweet potatoes.
"I eat four meals a days, within four-hour intervals, all meals the same every day.
"But Sunday is my cheat day, so for one of my meals, I indulge in fried chicken and junk food."
Landscape architect turned professional model
Despite her parents' unhappiness and disapproval, Miss Kim Jiyeon quit her job as a landscape architect in 2011 after three months, when she decided to pursue her dream of being a model instead.
Six years later, her parents finally accepted it after seeing her achievements in the industry.
But Miss Kim, a World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) Asia ambassador who also models for Samsung, used to lead an unhealthy lifestyle by skipping her meals and going on a liquid diet for about five years.
The 24-year-old Korean told TNP: "I thought that skipping meals was a convenient way of keeping myself in shape so I used to eat just one meal a day."
Now 1.74m tall and weighing 57kg,her big break as a fitness model came during her competitive debut at WBFF Asia 2016 Korea, where she won the Diva Bikini Model category.
She rates her fitness level five out of 10 even though she does weight and cardio training five days a week and yoga twice a week.
"I don't have a lot of experience in fitness yet and I'm not satisfied with my body as I always look at younger models and aim to be more beautiful than them."