Never mind my muscles, find me a mate

PHOTO: Never mind my muscles, find me a mate

Hhere's the irony: She cared so much about her body that she spent years carving, sculpting, perfecting a body that most men would want - for himself.

Maybe care is too mild a word; Obsessed, perhaps, would be more apt.

Obsessed enough to resort to steroids to alter her body. Obsessed beyond what most men would do.

And now that Miss Elaine Lye, or El, as she prefers to be known, has achieved near physical perfection, she has become a physical oddity - as a woman in a man's body.

The result: Curious stares, crude remarks, sniggers.

Never mind. The 29-year-old gym owner from Ipoh claims she has become accustomed to the unflattering attention.

But she hates all the questions about her sexuality and sexual preferences.

But can anyone blame her critics?

If she were a man, she'd be considered attractive - boyish face, sinewy body and bulging biceps.

Miss Lye told The New Paper on Sunday: "Yes, I have the body of a man. But I have the heart of a woman."

A woman's heart that yearns for a man's love.

"I just want a man to accept and love me as I am," she added.

Her wish? To walk down the aisle, with a man.

Miss Lye is not a transgender.

She was petite and girlish until two years ago, when she underwent an intensive bodybuilding programme.



"That's when my appearance - and life - changed," Miss Lye said.

The 1.54m-tall woman went from 42kg to 62kg, and her voice turned hoarse.

Steroids hastened the transformation.

It was a deadly gamble. Sportsmen have long been known to resort to the illegal use of steroids to boost performances.

Bodybuilders often resort to steroid abuse as a short cut to a perfect body.

But because of the deadly side effects, steroids are banned in competitive sports.

Miss Lye began taking steroids in 2008 but claimed that she had done so for only a cycle of 12 weeks.

She admitted that she was aware of the risks. "Of course, it was important to use (steroids) in the right way and not abuse it," said Miss Lye.

"That's why I stopped after that one cycle as it's important to let the body 'rest'."

But her desire for a perfect body led to the break-up with her boyfriend of seven years.

He could not accept her obsession.

Another irony: They met when they were working together in a gym.

Her sacrifice

Miss Lye said: "We shared the same keen interest in sports, yet he could not accept the changes (to my body).

"He wanted a woman who could keep fit but not one who had gone from petite to gigantic."

She also felt that he would not be able to take care of her as "I seemed to be the stronger of the two".

Miss Lye admitted: "I don't blame him for feeling like less of a man. I knew he wanted to end the relationship but somehow, he couldn't bring himself to do it perhaps because we had been together for so long."

In the end, it was she who initiated the break-up. She said: "You could sense his immense relief." They remain friends. He recently got married in China, where he now works.

She turned down our request to speak to him, explaining that she didn't want to intrude into his privacy.

Miss Lye's love affair with bodybuilding began when she was just eight years old. She'd seen a man doing weight-lifts and was mesmerised by "the sheer beauty of his physique".

"I used my pocket money to buy a set of dumbbells and began practising religiously," she revealed.

Gender, she added, should not matter. Said Miss Lye: "It's doing what you like and doing it well that matters."

Which explains the mantra she adopted for the 100-odd regular members of Muszle Warrior, a gym she opened in 2007.

She said: "I always tell them, it's 'go hard or go home'. It's about giving it all you've got."

The fact that she is a woman does not bother members such as Mr Chua Wei Ken, a psychology undergraduate, who has trained with Miss Lye for nearly three years.

Mr Chua, 23, told The New Paper on Sunday: "When I first knew El, she had not started on her intensive programme, but she looked tomboyish because of her fitness.

"She's a hardcore trainer who's tougher than some male trainers.

"El has good knowledge of sports science - she's able to come up with the right programme suitable for my body make-up."

Miss Lye, who completed only Form 5 education (equivalent to Secondary 4), boasts a list of credentials that include diplomas in various forms of fitness training and a degree in Sports Science.


Her biggest dream is to take part in a professional bodybuilding competition for women.

She said: "It's a good way for me to determine where I stand, and it'll serve as a form of recognition for all my sacrifices."

But even using public toilets now requires some sacrifice.

"My friend and I had gone into a women's toilet, only to be confronted by another woman," she recalled.

"She ranted at us and threatened to call the security officers because she thought we were up to some hanky-panky.

"She didn't believe me even when I told her that I am a woman."

Finally, Miss Lye decided to leave. Now,she uses the men's toilet.

She said: "No one bats an eyelid when I walk in. I guess you're right when you said, as a man, I'm quite good-looking."