Share Affair at Supahands is all about sharing one’s interests or knowledge with everyone. More often than not, the things they share would usually leave us all in awe. This time around, Juinn Tan, our Marketing Analytics Nerd shared her passion for Olympic Weightlifting. Who would have thought that this beautiful and smart lady has some strong muscles on her! With the general attitude of the public that women’s sports cannot be taken as seriously as men’s sports, she’s proof that there’s no such thing as doing things “like a girl”. Read on to know more about her experience in this arena.
When did you start with fitness and decided to start weight training?
I went through phases of being active and sedentary throughout my life. No particular sport really made me want to stick to it until I was introduced to The Vanguard, a Kuala Lumpur-based Olympic Weightlifting gym in 2014. It was my first real experience with weight training, as I used to find it intimidating. After I started, I was hooked and I just couldn’t stop.
Are you very strict with clean eating? What does your diet look like? Do you have a regular cheat day meal?
I’m only strict with my diet when it’s competition season (roughly 3 months before the day of a competition). Outside of that, I don’t overindulge nor do I restrict myself too much – moderation is key. As for a meal that I usually treat myself with, it would definitely have to be ‘nasi lemak’. I just can’t say no!
What does your training schedule look like usually? Are there any rules that you follow? How do you manage your time between training and working?
During non-competition periods, I typically train 4 days a week and I make sure to have a day off for every 2 consecutive days of training. For competition prep, I amp it up to 5-6 days a week and make sure that each session is carefully planned so I don’t end up burning myself out. I’m an obsessive planner so I wake up already having an idea of how I want my day to pan out. That helps me make sure that I’m on track with whatever I need to do in the office before I take off to the gym.
What’s your favourite exercise?
This is tough one! I guess it depends on how I feel on the day. Olympic weightlifting requires athletes to have really strong legs and a solid back. So we typically squat at least 4 times a week and I have grown to love every bit of it. I guess if I had to choose, I would say squatting is my favourite exercise.
Do you use supplements? What role do they play in the big picture?
I take fish oil daily because the sport can be tough on the joints in the long run. So it helps me keep my bones healthy and save my joints from deteriorating. I also end each session with a protein shake if my training volume is high as it promotes faster recovery.
Does it get even much more intense since you’re participating in a competition which will take place soon? What motivates you to train hard?
Everything feels more intense leading up to a competition. You’re constantly watching your weight to make sure you stay in the category that you want to compete in, whilst making sure you’re getting enough training in so you give your best performance on the day, on top of making sure you rest and eat well enough to recover. It really ends up being more of a mind game than anything as it is your mental tenacity that will help carry you through at least 3 months of this practice.
Do you have a role model?
I try and find inspiration everywhere. I’m driven by my gym-mates who work just as hard, if not harder. I put a lot of trust in my coach who plays a huge part in my progress. And I’m thankful for my fiance who puts up with all the complaining and breakdowns (yes, it does happen) when certain days feel a lot tougher than most. Everyone around me is a role model in some way.
Can you share some insights about what it’s like to be weight training that people may not realise, or understand from the outside?
We’re not just a bunch of brutes throwing weights around and grunting like animals (although I can understand why we can be perceived as such). The community spirit is really strong and you’d struggle to find unconditional support like that from anywhere else. It’s a tough sport to master, but definitely not impossible as long as you put your mind and time to it.
What would you suggest for girls who have not much experience in training with weights to start with?
Finding the right coach is very important, as it can get dangerous especially when the weights get heavier. You definitely don’t want to be hurting vital parts of your body like your back because it may lead to long term damage. Many gyms offer trial sessions for lower prices, so give them a shot until you find a place that you’re comfortable with.
A lot of girls are scared of weights because they’re afraid of getting bulky. What’s your opinion on that?
I’d love for girls to widen their horizons and not be blinded by stereotypes that they see in the media. In terms of clothing size, I’m the smallest I’ve been since I was 14. That should be an example of whether weight training will make a girl bulky or not.
How has weight training changed you as a person?
It has definitely taught me a lot of discipline and the value of mental grit. Your mind can easily decide whether your time at the gym is going to be good or a bad. Going through competition prep can push you to your limits even in your head so I’ve learnt a lot about my own determination and tenacity just from doing the sport regularly.
It is said that physical exercise help boost productivity. What are your thoughts on this? Has it boosted yours?
I 100% agree! A lot of people think that exercising a lot tires the body out. But what they don’t realise is that you get a rush of euphoria in the midst of the panting and sweating after exercising. Just knowing that you’ve accomplished something even as simple as a 20 minute workout is enough to give you that boost in your mind and your body actually does feel a lot fresher. The day after a good training session, I find myself more alert and less sluggish throughout the day.
Do you have any other upcoming gigs?
All the competitions that I’ve joined so far have always been a test of strength and not so much on cardiovascular ability. I’m curious to push my endurance and stamina to see how long I can last. So who knows, maybe I’ll be checking out a competition like that sometime next year!
Lastly, what are you hoping to achieve by getting involved in weight training?
A strong body and a strong mind that will last for at least 50 years. I look at my parents and how they’re so full of life at 61 years old and I realised that they’ve exercising on an almost daily basis since I can remember and I want to be just like that, if not better.
That’s great stuff, right there. If you want to know more, just give her a nudge. Juinn loves to share and talk to different people about their experiences in life from work to video games, from nerdy jokes to Olympic weightlifting. She mostly updates her fitness journey on her Instagram @justjuinn and to get in touch, add her on LinkedIn or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .