Cindy Lai – Muscle Is Empowering

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“Women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes, but a skinny woman does not have the same effect as a woman with lean muscles and curves. Such a physique gives an image of strength and beauty while still being feminine and sexy. ”

Cindy Lai

Activities: Crossfit, Crossfit competitor, surfing

Q: Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in New York

Q: Do you come from an athletic family?

Partially, my father was a gymnast. My parents always made sure we stayed active through recreational activities such as swimming, biking, and anything that would keep us from sitting in front of the T.V.

Q: When did you start incorporating resistance training into your workouts and why?

I never had a weight issue, but in college I became “skinny fat.” I wanted a better lifestyle and joined a gym for the first time before my 21st birthday. I had just ended a long term relationship and was at a turning point in my life. Once I started dabbling in weights, my body completely changed and I loved the way I felt and looked with my new muscles.

Q: When and How did you get involved in sports?

I’m always looking for a way to push myself and challenge my body beyond its limits. I didn’t get involved in the sport of Crossfit until several years ago when I entered my first competition. I was immediately hooked and haven’t looked back since, I compete on a regular basis.

Crossfit comp circa 2014

Q: What drives you to stay in shape?

What drives me is the fact that I’ve never felt stronger or more fit in my life. I can do things now that would give my 20 year old self a run for her money. I’m accomplishing feats of strength and endurance I never thought would have been possible! Staying strong and healthy keeps me young and also on my toes. I feel amazing. It’s empowering since I have gotten better with age and I have learned how to improve my lifestyle in a healthier manner. Not only do I do it for myself, but also for my clients and students for whom I have to set a good example.

Q: Do you believe what society deems attractive when it comes to the female body is changing? Why or Why not?

I believe society is slow in changing what it perceives attractive when it comes to the female body. There is still a heavy influence from mass media as to what the ideal perfect body of a woman should be; from supermodels to celebrities where being unrealistically thin is favorable. On the other hand, there are more fit and curvier women such as Beyonce, JLo, Jennifer Lawrence, and Serena Williams who have become positive role models in promoting a healthier body image for females. Ever since Crossfit has become a worldwide phenomenon, where toned and muscular women make up a big part of the community, this has empowered women of all shapes and sizes to love and accept their bodies for who they are. I have been part of this community for several years and have seen such strength and support within the community where messages like “strong is beautiful,” “train like a beast, look like a beauty,” and “strong is sexy,” are widely accepted.

Q: What is your opinion of beauty when it comes to the female body and why?

I love the toned physique of a female. Women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes, but a skinny woman does not have the same effect as a woman with lean muscles and curves. Such a physique gives an image of strength and beauty while still being feminine and sexy. It’s empowering to see strong and self-confident women in all walks of life and the way in which they carry themselves.

Kettle bell workouts

Q: How would you describe yourself and how much of the description would be different if you were not active?

I have a lean physique with muscles and curves. People always think I weigh less than what I look because I seem like I’m “ripped” in their eyes. It’s really the muscle, where I carry most of my weight. If I were not active, I would not be shredded and would probably get chunky because of the way I love to eat.

Q: Give me 5 benefits to weight training that you have experienced?

*It builds lean muscle mass and a faster metabolism which keeps you lean and toned

*My strengthened ability overall has increased, not only with weights but with other great types of training such as bodyweight and gymnastic movements like pull-ups, push-ups, ring dips, planks, etc. I have never felt stronger in my life!

*An improved and changed physique while building self-confidence and self-esteem. I have worked very hard to build a shapely back, shoulders and legs

*An improved quality of life in performing day to day activities as well as for athletic and recreational activities

*Improved sleep

Q: Give me 5 disadvantages to weight training that you have experienced?

*Injuries due to improper technique

*Overtraining which led to fatigue and plateau overtime

*Not listening to my body when rest and recovery would be much more beneficial in my fitness gains. It’s been a big learning experience to put my ego aside and take a rest day when necessary

*Not having a spotter when using a large amount of weight to help assist when my muscles begin to fatigue

*Muscle imbalances due to the wrong program

Q: Is your physique well received in the Asian culture?

I defy the Asian stereotypical physique, I am neither petite nor what people call “skinny.” Since I have muscles and curves, this is not considered the norm and most people do not think I’m Asian because of my physique.