She stepped into the national limelight as arm candy to a matinee idol and the President, then graced magazine covers and bagged commercial endorsements.
Shod in killer heels, she turned heads with her poise and impeccable style.
For her shoot at Options Studio, stylist and commercial model Lizelle Venelli Uy, 30, arrives on time, with an assistant carrying her LV Daimier and white Hermes totes. Her hair is neatly pulled back into a slick ponytail and her makeup is seamlessly natural. She wears a black top and stirrup pants by Tonic, a Canadian workout apparel.
Behind the camera
The media has portrayed her as a larger-than-life character, but Uy would rather shy away from being called a “celebrity.”
“My work goes behind the camera,” says the beauty and fashion maven whose prominent clients include Kris Aquino, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Zia Quizon, Anne Curtis, Bea Alonzo, Toni Gonzaga, Marian Rivera, Rhian Ramos and Vice Ganda.
She describes herself as a media personality who made a crossover from styling to endorsing products, and from publishing to show biz.
Like many women, she’s got figure concerns, such as having a pear-shaped figure, and she loves to eat. Standing at 5 ft 5, she wears a size 2 top and a size 4 bottom.
And she has difficulty sleeping. The sleepless nights started in college when she would stay up late to watch DVDs and cable TV.
“My friends joke that I need a lover, someone beside me,” she says. “I just think too much—and work too much.”
Aside from doing the cover shoots for Preview and Esquire as their editor at large, Uy says her time is dictated by her clients’ schedules. “I’m an alipin, a fashion slave. People think it’s glamorous. But for as long as the talent is awake, so am I.”
Still, talent agencies and companies view her as a tastemaker and style heroine. She used to be managed by Boy Abunda, and is now under Viva.
With her erratic schedule, Uy’s challenge is to find Me time, especially when it comes to fitness.
In college, she experienced difficulty in breathing and was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse; apparently, the valves in her left heart chamber don’t shut properly to control the blood flow. Although the doctor said it was a common syndrome, Uy was advised to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle.
She took up boxing and bikram yoga, but when they became routinary, she researched on Pilates, a discipline that integrates core strength, control and awareness.
Last February, Uy became one of the pioneer clients of Options Studio at The Podium, which teaches Stott-Pilates. She liked that it emphasized lengthening the muscles, which could help improve her body shape.
“The instructors made me move so that the fat could turn into muscle,” she says.
Although she enjoys boxing, its concentration on arm strength and leg work doesn’t do much for the other connective muscles.
Options conducted a postural analysis and based a program to correct Uy’s form.
Now, Uy feels Stott-Pilates has improved her sense of well-being. The exercises rely on the core muscles (between the ribs and the pelvic bone), and she makes an effort to keep them engaged for good posture. While her clients are having their hair and makeup done before their shows or their shoots, Uy says she also tries to hold herself up.
Since Pilates works a good range of muscles in every movement, it also saves her time. Uy says she gets a total workout in an hour compared to her other workouts that last for 90 minutes.
Another Pilates principle—concentration—has helped her fully commit to each exercise. The coordinated breathing helps her reduce stress.
“I feel good after a workout,” she says.
Her goal is to perfect the Spread Eagle, an advance exercise that articulates the spine and strengthens shoulders and arms. For some cardiovascular conditioning, the instructors also provide a Cardio-tramp workout, wherein Uy jumps on the trampoline while lying down on the Reformer.
“I love it! I feel the burn on my thighs and I sweat a lot,” she says.
Her program also includes a lot of lunges to firm up her derriere and inner thighs.
Options Studio also guides Uy in making lifestyle changes. She admits eating almost anything—rice, junk food and sweets in particular. Eventually, whenever Uy posted food photos on Facebook—which she did frequently—the people at Options would rein her in.
On a trip to HK accompanying her sister, fashion blogger Loreen Uy, Liz avoided excess carbohydrates and sweets and did Pilates at the Options Studio branch. It was the first time she didn’t put on weight on a trip.
Alain Buenaventura, certified Stott-Pilates instructor, says his client has gotten stronger. When Uy started, she had a strong upper body developed from boxing, but she needed to strengthen the bottom half.
She has acquired better flow, focus and improved flexibility, especially in her abdominal muscles and back. The workout is slowly improving the muscular imbalances in her body; her movements, in fact, have become less wobbly.
“When Liz comes to the studio, she’s tired from work. Yet, she finishes the session. Just cue her and she would know how to activate her muscles properly,” says Buenaventura.
Uy admits that fashion gets her to work out eagerly. “It’s like being at work. When I’m wearing the right outfit, I’m more enthusiastic.”
Her exercise workout consists of Tonic apparel and some Lululemons. She trades capri styles for stirrup pants to de-emphasize her thighs and give her a longer line.
In all, Uy feels the Pilates principles have put some order in her lifestyle.
“I’m a changed woman. I’ve learned to control,” she says. “When I’m sad, single and lonely, I just think of exercise and I’m fine.”
Options is at the following: RCBC: 5533314/ 5851404/ 0917-8746888; Power Plant: 9079825/ 0917-8216852; Podium: 6953263/ 0917-5293307
Photos by BJ PASCUAL