12 comments / Posted by Tze Yin Wong

The weight-loss business is a multibillion dollar industry. Every year, women subject themselves to fad diets, funny pills, and fat-burning electric belts in pursuit of an ever-changing notion of an “ideal” body size. At the end of the week, we pray to our weighing scales, hoping for that little needle to move just a smidge lower than what it showed last week. And when it doesn’t, we slink away and gorge on ice-cream to cheer ourselves up.

sherlyn before and after

 “Back then, the weighing scale was my television – I was glued to it. I thought I had a good idea of what my ideal weight was supposed to be, so I often went on crash diets,” explains Sherlyn Tan, founder of Twenty3. Uncomfortable in her own skin and often picked on for her size in school, she suffered from low self-esteem, equating her weight with what she perceived as how people judged her. Although it is a common fear among women, Sherlyn went a step farther than most, resorting to just eating a single egg and a bowl of Campbell’s soup every meal, to the point of collapse – her father carried her in his arms to the nearest clinic when she fainted one day.


“That was my life for years. My weight would balloon up and crash down frequently, often with a 10kg swing each time. I thought it was normal,” says Sherlyn. That was until she was hospitalized with dengue in February 2015. Vomiting daily, her weight quickly fell away. There was also the mental burden of leaving her rapidly-growing business on its own, as well as the emotional depths when she came under attack from cyberbullies who called her a fraud and a slut, among other things. “That was absolutely the lowest point in my life, and I just wanted to end it all.”


She was discharged a week later, at her lightest weight in all her life, but a physical and emotional wreck. “I hated how weak and lowly I felt, so defenceless and allowing myself to be trampled by a mosquito and a bunch of anonymous bullies. I wanted to change all that, but didn’t know how,” says Sherlyn.

A month after, fully recovered, she tagged along to her first gym session with her boyfriend. It was an eye-opener, and while digging deeper into the world of fitness, she discovered Instagram fitness sensation, Kayla Itsines, and her world-famous Bikini Body Guide (BBG). “I’m a very structured and regimented person, so having a guide really helped me. The community aspect of it was also very encouraging, and they all shared their progress pics, which inspired me further,” she explains. “I wanted to look like those girls – fit, lean and happy.”

Sherlyn started her Instagram account, @sherlyn_fitness, to keep up with the BBG community and to keep herself on track. Her single-mindedness pushed her to keep improving each day, with the memory of her lowest point driving her on. She knew her mind would make excuses each morning, so she started sleeping in her workout clothes, sometimes even with her ponytail, so that she could jump out of bed and straight to the gym!

sherlyn barry handstand

Her Instagram account grew quickly, attracting support from like-minded people from around the world who love to work out. “It’s a two-way thing – I share my workout routines and my clean-eating meals to help educate and advocate a healthy lifestyle, and the encouragement from my followers inspires me to go further!” she says.

Fellow Malaysian devotees of the BBG phenomenon began congregating on her Instagram. This gave her a lightbulb moment to hold the very first BBG community meet-up session in Malaysia. “I'm an ultra-introvert, and especially just recovering from the lowest point in my life, it was extremely difficult to get myself to do anything like this. However, I knew I had to overcome it just like my previous challenges – the small victories do count!”


The first BBG meetup was held in October 2015 at KLCC Park, spread out over 2 weekends to accommodate over 100 girls! Boyfriends, sisters and even mothers of the BBG girls were present too to show their support. 

 She has organized BBG meetups each month when able, paying from her own pocket to rent gyms and once, even to host a clean eating meetup and discussion. The response has been overwhelming from women all over Malaysia, and once, even a Singaporean virtually took part in the workout!



Within these few months of healthy living, Sherlyn realized the importance of the adage, ‘mind over matter.’ “It's our mind that limits us. My advice to those looking to start fitness is the same as what I tell every budding entrepreneur – don’t overthink it. You don’t have to be great to start, you just have to start to be great. Go ahead and test your limits, then break them.”


Inspired by her own fitness journey, she created a new sportswear line called MOVE by Twenty3. “New, cute workout outfits – especially sports bras – always pump me up! I wanted to create a line that was equal parts functional and fashionable. Most big sportswear companies neglect the latter,” she explains.

"As for the name MOVE, I hope more people realize that fitness isn’t a destination. It’s not a bikini body, it’s not a flat tummy, it’s not a number on your weighing scale – once you’ve achieved those goals, it becomes easy to lose the initial motivation. Fitness is about motion, the movement, and the journey. I started my journey because I wanted to be as slim as what society demanded, but now I just want to be better and stronger than I was yesterday. The last time I stepped on my weighing scale, I was 5 kgs heavier than before I fell sick due to my growing muscles. But when I look in the mirror and at the things I am able to do with my body now, I realize that I really don’t care about my weight anymore. I just want to keep moving and breaking my limits!”

sherlyn tan move

Note: MOVE by Twenty3 is launching in Atria Shopping Gallery on the 19th of March 2016!

The next BBG meetup is happening on April 2, 2016 at Bangkung Park, Bangsar. If you’d like to be a part of a warm, friendly, and supportive community of MOVERS, drop Sherlyn a DM @sherlyn_fitness. Beginners are absolutely welcome!


  • Posted On April 01, 2016 by Twenty3

    Sorry about the delayed reply, girls!

    Caroline, Ivy & Wei Th’ng: Sherlyn hasn’t planned for the next one yet, beyond the upcoming April 2 event. You can follow her Instagram (@sherlyn_fitness) and the BBG Facebook page (facebook.com/bbgmy) to keep up with the group!

    Mello: That’s a long answer that can’t be explained in just one post! Why not follow her Instagram account, she shares tips there!

    Zety: Thank you for your kind words! We’ll pass them on to Sherlyn!

  • Posted On March 30, 2016 by wei th'ng

    hi , i would like to know for the latest updates after the 2nd april. can please email me ? thanks

  • Posted On March 28, 2016 by Ivy

    Give me details of bbg. Would like to join. Thanks.

  • Posted On March 26, 2016 by Zety

    Hi Sherlyn, I just found out bout your fitness journey and BBG meet up. andddd…the active clothes line. They are awesome. Shame I only found out after I just moved to Australia now. But I just wanted to let u know that it’s good to see Malaysia now being more active/productive nowadays and to have people Lille you u to motivate each other. Keep up the good work ??

  • Posted On March 21, 2016 by Mello

    Hi Sherlyn,

    Your stories has been a great inspirational for any girls who crave to work out and be like you. Mind sharing more on how do you started off when you have zero fitness previously? Like what kind of exercises you did for beginners and do you meal prep your every single meals?


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