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Feature Story


Iya Villania applies the discipline and energy of an active lifestyle, developed in her youth, to succeed in showbiz.

by Rhea Manila Santos


Although she has basically been on cam everyday throughout her nine-year showbiz career, Iya Villania has yet to be the subject of any gossip or intrigues. The 25-year-old is a recognizable face on local television, with regular hosting duties on shows like Umagang Kay Ganda, Us Girls, ASAP Rocks and I Dare You. But this celebrity still makes sure to keep some parts of her life away from the public eye.

At 16, the pretty Fil-Aussie beauty originally moved to the country to become a singer. But fate had other plans for her. “I came here to try it out talaga in showbiz. I actually came here to be a performer. That’s what I wanted in life, pero hindi yun ’yung ginusto ni Lord para sa akin (laughs). My first [jobs] were ads for a telecom and I also did something for a soda drink. He made me a dancer, an actress, a host, everything but what I actually wanted to do,” she admits.

In between jobs, Iya finished her studies on time and graduated with a Psychology degree from De La Salle University. “School was something I promised my parents and myself. I wanted to secure that first talaga. Kasi sayang lang ’yung nasimulan ko eh. Kaya talagang napilitan akong pagsabayin kahit mahirap,” she says. After landing her first regular gig as the host of Game Channel in 2003, Iya says it didn’t take her long to get settled in Manila. “I was never really scared because I look[ed] forward to new experiences,” she says.

Healthy lately

Gifted with a fast metabolism that most girls would envy, Iya admits she still makes it a point to always watch what she eats. The Myx veejay also counts as an advantage growing up in Australia, which encourages its young people to have an active lifestyle. “Sa Australia, you’re not in if you’re not active. And also … my sisters were team captains so napilitan ako to also become sporty,” she shares.

Confessing that she turns to desserts as her favorite comfort food, Iya has since curbed her cravings by listening to the advice of her long-time boyfriend Drew Arellano, a triathlete. “I used to love eating fries, desserts, or anything with cream. But now, na-realize ko na you can eat those things, but just in moderation, [so] your body knows how to deal with it,” she stresses.

Iya can proudly say that she and Drew have never been a sedentary couple. “The two of us have never really been bums just stuffing our faces, but … he was always more conscious than me … about intake. Kasi dati he’d watch me eat this and that and then he’d say, ‘Sige enjoy-in mo ’yan, it’ll catch up with you.’” Iya pauses then laughs in acknowledgment, “Until ’yun nga, nag-gain na ’ko when I went to the States. I gained like a good four kilos. Almost 10 pounds!”

The newbie health buff then decided to watch her diet and get more active after coming back to the country. Although she’s not on any specific diet, Iya eats healthier and in the right portions to be able to get back to her ideal weight. “ … I’m careful with what I take in. I avoid the foods that have high calories kasi hindi ako nabubusog tapos ang dami kong nakakain. So I prefer low caloric foods now.”

Active artist

Iya always seems game to do any challenge, whether it’s shooting a new segment in Us Girls or helping celebrities finish their tasks in I Dare You. You can trace her motivation to a youth consumed with sports like swimming, track and field, basketball, softball and ice skating. She elaborates, “Kasi sa Australia ang dami-daming choices eh. So [the available sports depend] on the season. The last sport I played in Australia was touch football. I’m so competitive, sobra!”

Iya has tried a combination of workout variations that have piqued her interest and complemented her hectic schedule. “When I’m here, I have the shows, so I’m more active. So even though I’d eat, okay lang. Now I make time to go to the gym as much as possible, every day. But if not, four to five times a week. I do a mixture of core kinesis, Plana Forma, and Power Plate. Sobrang nawiwili ako ngayon sa mga workouts.” She enthuses, “I enjoy trying new things so I’m also going to schedule a CrossFit session, circuit training session, whatever fits into my work schedule and whatever I feel like doing. If I just have two or three hours, I’ll pick one of the shorter workouts.”

She may look like a girly-girl, but Iya says she’s definitely a go-getter no matter what field she’s in. “I think I’m an aspiring athlete because I’ve always been into sports. I really look up to athletes like runners, especially track and field and those with good endurance. I’m trying to improve my endurance. I can run 5k and I want to up [it] to 10k, but no specific time [target] because that’s not my priority. My priority right now is to just make it a lifestyle,” she discloses.

Working (it) out

As part of the daily morning show Umagang Kay Ganda, waking up before dawn and adapting to the show’s grueling early morning call time on week days have become second nature to Iya. “I’m more productive because I wake up so early. I’m in bed by 9:00 p.m. the latest… With my personal life, I don’t have a problem because Drew is also a part of a morning show, so we have the same body clock.”

With a relationship as steady as theirs, Iya admits that marriage is not far in the horizon. “We’re getting there, of course. ’Yun na ’yung direction namin. But there’s really no deadline,” she says.

To know more about Iya’s life and loves, grab your copy of HealthToday February issue, out now in major newsstands and bookstores.

Iya Villania - Fit and Focused

Iya Villania - fit and focused

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