Jaime Teo started her career as a fresh-faced Miss Singapore Universe 2001 (remember that?), but look how far she’s come now. She later became a Mediacorp artiste, married ex-DJ Daniel Ong, and had a bubbly daughter called Renee. Together, the power couple built the popular Twelve Cupcakes brand, which was eventually bought over.
Since their divorce in 2016, Jaime has become an Instagram #fitspo mum with her energetic routines, while pursuing various interests. We took a look inside her home and found that it is also her gym, art room, music studio, and food experiment lab where she bakes up a storm. She tells us how she does it all.
Jaime just turned 42 in April, but you would never guess it from her taut, glowing skin. And from the way she jumps and planks and twists in the slew of workout videos she’s put up on her Instagram page (@jmeteo). If you haven’t seen her account before, log on now for some serious fitspiration.
Warning: It’s gonna be addictive. You won’t just see her burning a year’s worth of calories, but also her pretty bakes, awe-inspiring paintings, and envy-inducing music making that involves playing the piano and guitar, as well as singing.
If all these sound like superhuman achievements, it’s because they are. Many of us plan fancy bucket lists, only to chuck them because “there’s no time” or “it’s too hard”. In Jaime’s world, nothing is too time-consuming, or too hot to handle, as we find out during this shoot and interview – done at her house, no less, because that’s where all the magic happens for this self-declared homebody.
First, special mention needs to be made to Jaime’s hosting skills. Not the event hosting that she does as a Fly Entertainment artiste, but actually hosting us, kaypoh media (who have nothing much in common with her except for our love for fitness and good food), in the immaculate, Pinterest-worthy three-bedroom apartment she’s been living in since mid-2018.
During the nine hours we were there on day one, she pulled out all the stops to make sure everyone was at ease – making coffee and hardboiled eggs, offering drinks throughout, demonstrating her favourite Les Mills Sh’bam dance routines, letting us move furniture freely for the shoot, serenading us with her guitar, doing a spontaneous show-and-tell of her latest paintings… it was almost like catching up with a long-lost friend, or that celebrity neighbour we wish we had.
Jaime Teo’s dance challenge
On day two when we went over for a workout and dance challenge shoot (those moves!), Jaime even offered to cook chicken nuggets on the spot for our starving makeup artist (who rejected vehemently and ordered McDonald’s instead), after already baking us a banana cake and a lychee Swiss roll. Heavenly, by the way.
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Havent made a successful roll in awhile! yay! Thank you those who guessed correctly that I was attempting to draw lychees on my roll cos…. can do better 😅 . . I added a few drops of lychee flavouring, red colouring and pieces of lychee into the whipped cream – makes for a very refreshing dessert 😍 . . Recipe is in the “Recipes” IG highlight above #dontsayinehshare . . #jmebakes #drawyourcake #fun #bakingisfun #instabake #dessert #yummy #swissroll #patternedswissroll
It’s our first time doing a shoot and interview at a celeb’s house. Should there be a next time, can we just say, Jaime you’ve set the bar so high?
In case you’re wondering, the pictures you see here are indeed what Jaime’s house looks like on a typical day: clean, tidy, and in tip-top condition. Consider this your most intimate preview of Jaime in her private space. You’re welcome.
Your house is the stuff of dreams, Jaime. Very impressive.
Jaime: Thanks! I’m a homebody, so my house has to be very comfortable. I renovated this place by myself, without an interior designer. The house-moving I’ve done over the years – 10 times in 10 years – has helped me develop a good eye. I sourced and bought everything myself, from tiles to drawer knobs. Really, it’s all in the soft finishings. Have a wooden flooring, put some plants around, buy some nice throws and cushions, and the place will look done up.
We see you have different zones for your favourite activities: working out, painting, playing piano and guitar, and baking. Which of these spark the most joy for you?
J: Everything that I do successfully makes me happy. A good cookie makes me happy. Yes, I have baking fails – but I don’t post them. A nice painting makes me happy. It’s about trying every day. I’m in a very special and fortunate phase where I can do the things I enjoy, and get an income from it. Honestly, I’m at the happiest, most independent point of my life. I feel most centred now.
(Also read: Singapore celebrity parents who fell in love on set)
Jaime regularly posts videos of herself singing and playing the piano or guitar.
How were things on the personal front three years ago, when we first interviewed you?
There were many changes at that point. Daniel and I had already separated, but I didn’t talk about it. We were also selling off Twelve Cupcakes, so there was a lot of closure in my life. Working out was my way to destress, and I felt I had to be stronger then. I’m glad to still be on this fitness journey. I’ve seen how physical fitness translates to emotional strength that I didn’t know I had.
How has life been for you and your daughter Renee post-divorce?
I get a lot of me time, now that we’re co-parenting Renee (Jaime announced her divorce from ex-radio DJ Daniel Ong in December 2016.). She’s with him on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. With Dan, she gets to do a lot of fun, outdoorsy stuff that I don’t do with her, like catching worms, playing with spiders, learning to ride the Segway… she loves it. It’s a good balance, I suppose. He’s the fun parent, I’m the policeman. So far, this arrangement has worked out well.
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You are 9!! Thankful you came into my life 9 years ago this day and thankful you are the happy girl you are because You, my little angel, are Godsent – daddy and mommy loves you very much! 😘😘😘 #thisisreneeong #birthday #veryloved #smiles #coparents @daniel_ong_singapore @thisisreneeong
So what do you do with Renee? Do you guys work out together?
J: We do everything indoors, because I don’t like being in the sun! Sadly, we don’t work out together. Renee’s always been her own person. She likes singing, drawing comics, making slime, and editing videos on mobile apps. I’m quite easy with what she wants to do, as long as she’s not always on the iPad. And oh, ting xie (Chinese spelling)! I spend a lot of time coaching her on that.
Speaking of time, what does a typical day for you look like?
J: On a regular weekday, I wake up at 6.30am, prepare Renee for school and send her off at 7ish. I’d go back, do my social media stuff, and then work out. That would be either squash, dance, HIIT or a strengthening workout. For lunch, I’d cook or head out to eat. In the afternoon, I’d find something to do, like paint, cook, bake or play mahjong. Sometimes I’d go to Fly for work. I’d also schedule meetings with my mum. My days are very free-flow, but one thing’s for sure: I cannot sit still.
About your paintings… how did you get started?
J: I’d never been interested in painting before. I’d always thought I couldn’t draw until my friends brought me to Arteastiq one day to try painting. Then I realised that it was actually quite fun. A blank canvas became something I’d never imagined I could do. Painting opened up so many possibilities. It’s so empowering, knowing that I can do anything I want if I set my mind to it. Since then, I’ve sold more than 100 paintings (via @thejmespace), and I now have a gallery in *Scape to showcase my works. That’s quite a milestone for me.
On the kitchen front, what are you up to these days?
J: Nowadays I like baking rum cakes, banana cakes, cookies and Swiss rolls. I love creating things, so I bake every other day. I’d usually give them away.
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Is my feed very confusing? There’s all that working out and then…. Cakes and Cookies 🍪🎂!! 😅😅😅 . . I think everybody is multi dimensional so while it might be more convenient to stereotype, Im sure most of the people around you have many sides 🙂 Ok but back to todays topic : Butter / Shortbread Cookies. . . May be more addictive than the choc chip ones! 😱 #ownselfsabo . . I’ve made this 4 times in the last 3 days (because obsessive) trying to perfect it and I’m finally happy. Modified from allrecipes.com . . 225g unsalted butter softened 70g icing sugar 1.5 (20g) Tbsp brown sugar 30g cornstarch 190g AP Flour 1.5tsp vanilla extract 1/4 tsp almond extract Whip butter on high for 10mins. Fold in everything else and then mix on high for 3mins. Preheat oven to 170C, bake for 14mins (or til cookies are brown, depending on size) . . I piped cos prettier and faster than dropping by the teaspoon (dough is very soft). You can pipe without a tip too – just cut a hole of any plastic bag 😉 Just be sure that your piping bag doesnt break or you’ll have a mess on hand (happened to me twice). Swipe to see how easy it can be when you have the correct equipment on hand and cos piping anything is satisfying to watch 🤪 . . #jmebakes #shortbread #yummy #dessert #addictive #buttercookies #shortbread #dontsayinehshare #lovethese #giveitaway
S: Is that how you stay in shape? Do you eat your own bakes at all?
J: I do, in moderation! I watch my diet closely, and have a rough calorie counter in my head. If I have had a couple of cookies, I’d eat less carbs at the next meal, or skip the meal entirely. It’s very easy to overeat, especially after a workout. Having been through eating disorders when I was younger, I must say I have a much healthier relationship with food now.
(Also read: 10 kid-friendly snacks to make)
Having tried your hand at so many things, is there anything you absolutely wouldn’t do?
J: If there’s something new to learn, I would. But as I get older, I’m more concerned about staying injury-free. Because once I get hurt, it’d throw my workout routine out of whack. Unlike my younger days, when I felt invincible and learnt to do handstands and other gymnastics moves from YouTube, I don’t seek that adrenaline rush anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m on my own now, and I have a kid to look after.
What about workouts? Anything you wouldn’t do?
J: I like efficient workouts, those that burn a lot of calories in a very short time. When it comes to slower-paced stuff like yoga, I cannot… Recently I tried hatha yoga with (celeb friends) Michelle Chia and Jamie Yeo, and it felt like a stretch for me. Even aerial yoga didn’t give me a burn. My idea of a good workout? I’ve to perspire, and my heart rate needs to go up.
(Also read: Why this Singapore mum ran a marathon while pregnant)
Who are your fitness inspirations?
J: Popsugar Fitness, Fitness Blender and BodyRock are still my favourites. I admire how they have managed to sustain their platforms for so long, unlike fads. The consistency of their content is very praise-worthy.
Would you be producing your own fitness videos anytime soon?
J: I’ve thought about it, but it’s going to be quite time-consuming and intensive. For those workout videos I upload on Instagram, it takes at least 15 minutes to edit and add captions, depending on the duration of the actual workout. I’m working with Fly to launch a workout segment on their video platform FlyFlickz, so I’ll get support in video production. Workout videos are aplenty on YouTube, but I hope to inspire my followers to do those moves along with me when they watch my videos. It’d be closer to home.
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Not sure what happened midway but the cam lost focus. But the good thing is, I didnt 🤪🤪 finished the workout and am rewarded with achey thighs today – dont you just love a gd ache 😏😏👍👍💪💪 . . This is a full body workout that requires no equipment – have posted the link in my IG story! As always, I edit the videos so you get a gist of the exercises to expect 😊 . . I think in and out jump squats are fantastic for raising my HR through the roof. So are skaters….. or anything you try to do very quickly with good form, come to think of it 😅😅 . . #jmeworksout #livingroomworkout #noequipment #bestrong #doitforyou #remindertoworkout #popsugarfitness #burncookiesburn
You got your personal trainer certification in 2016. Have you done anything with it?
J: Not really. I went to get certified in the hope that I could give more informed feedback to my Instagram followers, who were asking me all sorts of exercise-related questions. Ironically, being certified has taught me not to dispense advice, because I’m missing a lot of background information. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and everybody should get assessed by a professional if they’re concerned about an injury or trying a new workout. My advice: If your knee or ankle or hips hurt, go see somebody. Don’t try to do or modify my routine – you might harm yourself in the process.
Has your attitude towards fitness changed?
J: To be honest, I don’t feel as strong now compared to three years ago. I recently did the 12-minute circuit training workout that I recommended to Shape, and died the next day! I was more unforgiving when I started out. Now, I hold a more relaxed mentality, and a longer-term view of fitness. Fitness is for life. I won’t force myself to work out if my body isn’t feeling up to it. Nor would I beat myself up if I miss a HIIT or strengthening session. I’d just do it the next day. Having said that, I wouldn’t stop exercising for too long for fear of the inertia to start. The longest I’ve gone without a workout is three days! I like being strong and able to do things for myself, like pick up a table and move it to the side effortlessly.
How do you squeeze in a workout when you’re travelling or super busy?
J: When I travel, I bring my TRX suspension trainer or jump rope along. Or I’d do 20 reps of whatever bodyweight exercise comes to mind – usually those I hate, like burpees, switch lunges and reverse plank toe touches. When I was chatting with Michelle and Jamie on how we stay fit, I realised that there’s one thing we all do when we have been inactive that day: squats in the shower while waiting for our hair conditioner to take effect! It’s funny how we are all closet bathroom exercisers! I usually do three sets of 20 reps.
Whoa whoa whoa. This is a whole new level of working out. Are there any other exercises you do while in the shower?
J: On a wet floor, I’d do squats, standing side crunches and wall sits – nothing that requires big movements or jumping. On a dry floor, I’d do plank variation exercises and push-ups. Trust me, there’s a lot of pain you can inflict on yourself when you’re alone in the bathroom!
Hold on. Why do you even work out in the bathroom?
J: I hate to wash my hair when I don’t work out. So, I’d make sure to do something just before my shower, to break a sweat or get warm. In the bathroom, I can exercise naked or in my undies, without having to change into activewear. Less laundry! Of course, I’d avoid bouncing or jumping movements since my chest is not supported. And I don’t do this every day.
Okay, TMI! We get it. What’s your fitness message to followers then?
A version of this article first appeared in Shape Singapore.
(Photos: Darren Chang)