Personal training allows me to be in tune with my passion for exercise and for helping others. I am also training to be a psychotherapist, and hope to one day integrate physical fitness into mental health treatment programs. I truly believe beyond its physical benefits, exercise can also improve mental health, relieving anxiety and reducing symptoms of depression. As for my decision to work at J+K, I really connected with the studio's personalized approach toward its clients as well as Jae's compassion for everyone who walks in the door.
I am originally from Memphis, TN and I came to the Bay Area, knowing that a place so unique and accepting like San Francisco would push me to learn more about myself, others, and the world. I also went to graduate school at the University of San Francisco, earning a degree in Counseling Psychology.
Growing up in Memphis came with its own ups and downs as the city dealt with economic hardship, crime and poverty. I saw my own family try to stay afloat despite a decent income and endure through hard times. Yet my family always set the tone that we would always be okay. For me this was a life lesson that I carry with me always...that no matter what struggle, set back, or failure happens, hard work, a hopeful attitude, and the acceptance of things beyond our control can make one stronger.
Exercise is my therapy - - It is the the one time of the day when I can relieve stress, feel empowered, and be my own superhero. I've always loved to run but it wasn't until college when I discovered weightlifting. Dumbbells and barbells were intimidating to me at first but over time, they became a staple of my routines. Now my heart is in Olympic lifting. The feeling of pushing my body through a clean or snatch is exhilarating.
When I come to the studio to workout, I’m mainly trying to condition myself for some outside activity, like trail running, climbing, surfing, skateboarding, or vacuuming the endless supply of dog hair in my house. In other words, I use the studio to develop skills that will hopefully translate into some real-world situations. With this in mind, I try to identify what motivates my clients, what sort of activities they enjoy doing outside of the studio, and if possible, what types of activities they want to try or goals that they want to reach. Regardless of whether someone needs to jump higher, lift more, run faster, or just lose weight, I try to keep workouts fun and interesting. I’m especially fond of full-body movements that include hitting, throwing, and crawling, as they have been shown to improve power, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and so much more. Plus it just feels great to breakdance and swing a sledgehammer in the same workout. I also incorporate plyometrics, HIIT, and resistance training into programs, depending on the need of clients. Most of my clients end up finding a knack for some type of movement that they never thought they would enjoy.
I’m originally from a small town, just outside of Olympia, Washington. It was a pretty blue collar place at the time, so most people didn’t need to worry about fitness, because they were probably doing some sort of manual labor each day. It was a similar situation where I went to University, and the Exercise Science program was mainly designed to help Athletes improve in their sport, or to prepare students for careers in Physical Therapy. When I moved to the Bay Area, I realized that my knowledge and passion for movement could be applied to help the general population. Many Bay Area folks work in tech, finance, or other industries that don’t provide as much physical movement as many careers in the Pacific Northwest. However, these types of mentally demanding jobs absolutely take a toll on the body, manifesting in musculoskeletal problems, poor cardiovascular health, decreased immune function, and general fatigue. In order to combat these problems, I try to provide a creative outlet for people to improve in some aspect of their health.
I’m always nerding out to some kind of podcast or lecture series on my phone. My dog and I love to hike or take long walks in the middle of day, and guaranteed if you saw me on one of those walks, I would have my headphones in, listening to either Human Biology, Ancient History, or Philosophy, or trying to learn Spanish. My girlfriend, the ultimate nerd-babe, opened my eyes to fantasy books, which have been fighting for my time. I also recently started taking Graduate classes in Exercise Physiology, so whatever time I have left goes to homework and updating my exercise knowledge bank.
I grew up skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding, so I never did any sort of conventional athletic training that would accompany team sports or competition. In my early 20’s I started running, rock climbing, and bicycle touring. Around the same time, I started volunteering with the Fire Department. While the first 3 activities didn’t require much training outside of just doing the activity, I wanted to look and act the part of a Firefighter, so I started doing traditional gym workouts: heavy weights, almost no cardio, and no weird looking body-movements—basically nothing of real use on the job, unless you plan on emergently bench pressing a car. Unfortunately my efforts to gain muscle mass and superhuman upper body strength actually detracted from my other activities: big Pecs didn’t help me climb better, large forearms didn’t make me run faster, and huge biceps could never help me pedal for 50+ miles a day. So I eventually gave up on the weight room, and started focusing on general fitness and flexibility. During my last couple of years in Bellingham, I was introduced to Circular Strength Training, which is a great holistic fitness program that improves strength, endurance, and mobility, using pretty creative and even primal human movements, such as crawling and swinging clubbells. These types of movements easily translate into work as a firefighter, especially in the way they produce a significant stress response. While I realize that most of my clients won’t be working in physically dangerous situations, everyone experiences stress in some manner. Whether your stress comes from work, family, or even traffic, we all physically react in biologically predetermined ways, and if you don’t learn how to perform fundamental movements safely and properly during times of stress, you are more likely to suffer from injury or disease. In a nutshell, the quality of a person’s movements, and any resulting gains in health/fitness, are totally impaired when they’re under stress. So I like doing things that may seem ordinary or even easy, while all sorts of obstacles are thrown my way.
Initially I had dreams of working in multimedia design after graduating from undergrad school. I logged in long hours at a corporate design job, hunched over a computer with very little human interaction. It hit me quickly...this was neither the job nor lifestyle I craved especially since fitness had always been an integral part of my life and identity. I decided to make a career change, and worked as a trainer at a corporate gym. My parents – who are on the extremely conservative side and wanted me to work behind a desk for any established company– didn’t know about my career change for a long time.
When I was growing up, sports like basketball, tennis, soccer, and tae kwon do had a huge impact on me. As one of the only Asian American kids in the neighborhood, I was able to use sports to forge relationships and make friends. I also learned a lot about discipline, teamwork, and perseverance. To this day, they are still things I value in my personal life and work life.
Working at a corporate gym helped me understand what I wanted j+k to be, it was going to be the antithesis of that. I didn’t want people to feel like they were being herded into the same workout regimen because at the end of the day, people aren’t the same. Their bodies aren’t the same. I wanted to offer training in a private and inspiring space that gave identities and bodies back to our clients.
I also envisioned j+k offering a judgment-free environment, so that people could feel comfortable and confident working out.
Both demand savvy problem-solving skills, the ability to find creative solutions, and an endless supply of passion. For an experienced designer it’s not just about making things look beautiful. He/she needs to assess clients’ tastes, preferences, and overall vision before producing results. The same goes for fitness training to a certain degree…you listen to a client and what his/her goals may be. You consider their background and with all this information come up with a solution you’ll execute over the course of time.
Ironically enough I work with a mixed martial artist trainer to fine tune and learn the naunces of striking with both my hands, knees, elbows, legs and proper footwork. It's been the most cathartic experience punching and kicking a pad. I'm a firm believer in mixing things up so my body is always guessing. Sometimes a trainer needs a trainer....