Combining fitness and fashion, Nike Master Trainer Utah Lee shares her tips and tricks for staying motivated and beating the heat, while looking and feeling your best.
With a background in fashion, Utah Lee is one of Hong Kong’s most stylish fitness influencers and can frequently be found in the gym or hosting a class at some of the city’s most luxurious locations including Asaya at Rosewood Hong Kong.
Could you tell us a bit about your life in the fashion industry?
My first ever job was garment merchandising for international brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, and NEXT. This propelled me to explore the design side of the industry, where I'd travel back and forth to our factories in China. After four years I grew tired of the constant travelling and decided to step down from that role.
How did you initially get into fitness?
After leaving my job in fashion, I bumped into an old dance buddy on the street and he mentioned that the gym he worked for was looking for staff. I had nothing to do at the time so I thought I'd give it a go.
I initially started by cleaning machines, taking memberships, and greeting customers, but soon ended up programming fitness schedules, and one day I was asked if I could teach a class. While I didn’t have much teaching experience at the time, I’d previously been on dance teams so I started teaching Jazz Funk, and HipHop. Members enjoyed my classes so I decided to take every fitness course available back then; personal training course, group fitness instructor course, pilates, kickboxing, and yoga. This led me to my career as a fitness instructor and as they say, the rest is history.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you’re not feeling up to exercising?
I usually call up a friend to do a workout together or I’ll try a new workout routine, something that I’m not familiar with. This learning process helps me to turn that negative feeling into a positive one. The fact that I’m able to use my influence to encourage others to live a healthier lifestyle keeps me going!
How has fitness/exercise helped you overcome challenges in your life?
Doing fitness and training not only strengthens my body but also my mind. Because my body is strong, I injure less than most people. Even when I am injured, my journey of recovery isn’t as difficult to handle physically and mentally due to my training.
What does a healthy lifestyle mean to you?
A healthy lifestyle to me is keeping everything in moderation:
If you want to party, don’t party too hard.
If you want to train, don’t push yourself too hard and hurt yourself.
If you want to eat, don’t eat so much that you feel sick.
If you want to work hard, don’t work until it’s the only thing you think about.
If you can’t change the facts, change the way you think and move on.
Hong Kong’s unpredictable weather and heat make it difficult to exercise outdoors. What tips do you have for people wanting to spend time outside during these months?
What?! I love the heat and especially training outdoors, you can get a tan while you train!
Find a location that's close to the water so you can clean yourself after training or merge a training and a swimming session to help you cool down after.