When it comes to living a healthier lifestyle, motivation is fickle: one moment you’re packing healthy lunches and busting workouts throughout a busy work week, next you’re mindlessly devouring your way through a bag of chips (at least, I know I’ve been there). The occasional indulgence can be key to your sanity no matter what your goals are, but the tricky part is getting back on the horse and continuing to keep at it. The right daily inspirations, therefore, can make all the difference.
From wellness gurus who lead by example with their tasty and nutritious meals and positive mindsets, to heavyweight trainers who show how they sculpt Adonis abs; pretzel-like yogis who practice against the Hong Kong skyline to gravity-defying bodywork by acrobats and dancers: here are 10 inspirational fitness gurus to follow on Instagram right now.
James Gannaban is Marketing Manager at city perks app the Entertainer, but in just under two short years he has dived deep into the world of yoga. Now teaching yoga part time at WeWork and leading LGBT community classes for Lululemon, Gannaban shows the world his inspiring progress with his frankly humbling stretches and arm balances — made to look like a piece of cake with the consistent smile on his face!
Numbers crunching engineer by day and healthy-living advocate by, well, every waking minute, fitness influencer and YouTube blogger Susana Tsang’s IG will motivate you to eat your greens, wake up early for your morning workout, and take excellent care of your skin. All so that your next sunny beach getaway is more than worth it, and to rest assured that indulging in a little sushi and bread as treats never hurt anybody.
Co-founder of Warrior Academy, fighting fit Tricia Yap is one of the OGs of the female gym movement in Hong Kong, starting with her work co-founding the city’s first women-only fitness programme, Bikini Fit (which later became Pherform gym in Central). This kickass lady is now the fitness director of Goji Studios’ coaching arm, Goji Elite, and is outspoken about all kinds of topics under the sun regarding women’s health. These days, you’ll find her feed chock-full of inspirational quotes as well as humbling and educational gems as she re-navigates the world of fitness as a new mum.
When trainer Jason Sinarwi isn’t pushing students through several levels of training hell during Sunday Shred HK — his weekly community classes held at Tamar Park — you’ll either catch him on Instagram stories perfecting his clients’ form, or spitting bars to perform at local clubs. And in all those hours you’re not hitting the weights room and instead just scrolling through Instagram, you might at least learn a thing or two about discipline and dedication when you visit his feed.
Catch Bamboo Yoga founder Aleksandra Milewicz soaring through the air above the lapping waves of the Sai Kung coast, or equally, chasing waterfalls in Bali, or spooning colourful morsels from coconut acai bowls (she founded her own Hong Kong brand Off the Chain). A scroll through her Instagram profile will instill a serious need to ditch the concrete life and head for the hills to be surrounded by serenity and nature.
Hong Kong Ballet dancer Vanessa Lai may live the life of the stage, but she’s as comfortable in her Nutcracker costume as she is throwing shapes on foreign shores. As physically demanding a ballerina’s job is, she certainly makes it look achievable and undeniably graceful — whether it’s en pointe in the middle of the city or flying around a pole dance studio in glittering garb.
Anyone who holds a title such as Spartan Race Pro Athlete and Global Ambassador can easily be considered a force of nature; a beast, if you will. New York transplant Johnny Tieu is not only that, but the Nike trainer has run nine marathons to date, plus multiple triathlons, ultras, and trail races along the way. He also came first place at last year’s District Race Hong Kong, the first-ever urban exploration race in the world (no big deal). He’s known to challenge his clients and training groups to push beyond their limits. Case in point, he once claimed “burpee sprints” were one of his favourite workouts. If that’s who you aspire to be, you’ll want to check out his regular workouts on his IG.
Without the regular stead of heartwarming family photos on her feed, you would never have guessed that financier-turned-fitness-maven, Christiana Lewis — with her enviable physique and hardcore heavy-lifting, kickboxing and yoga-ing — was a proud mum of two. Together with her husband, she co-owns day spa The Skin Gym. The couple also started Hong Kong’s first protein ice cream brand, Ice’N’Lean. She teaches postnatal fitness classes regularly at Ursus Fitness, a strongman gym ran by her sister, Santina (“Bam”) Philips.
Co-founder of Aerial Arts Academy and Trybe, Vee Lea has been a major force in making acrobatic arts mainstream in Hong Kong’s fitness scene. As master trainer, coach and choreographer, Lea also works and performs with international circus arts troupes such as Aerial Angels, Viva Circus and Circus Arts International. You’ll find her equally at ease swinging on a silk hammock, swirling around the pole, slinking around an aerial hoop or making lights and colours pop with hula hoop performances.
Behind Amanda Cheng’s bubbly personality is an iron woman’s strength and a feline penchant for balances, backbends and gravity-defying stunts. Whether it’s a vinyasa flow or powerful partner-based movement, Cheng’s feed will have you wishing you practiced way harder. She teaches at Lemon Drop Studio, The Practice Group, Trybe and Aerial Arts Academy.