Name: Tina Tang
Location: Jersey City, NJ
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
When I think of Girls Gone Strong, I imagine a world of women flying in capes, saving lives with their strength, and embracing the strength of other women. It represents rebellion and support. Girls Gone Strong means permission granted to be as we wish, and not as we are expected to be.
How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
As Louis CK said, “Divorce has been the best part of my life.. Divorce led me to strength training! (Love Tina’s shirt? She made it!)
As I was going through a bitter divorce, my jewelry stores were taking a hit from the 2008 financial crisis. I needed to find other ways to make a living. Inspired by my love of fitness and questions I had for myself in the gym, I took a course on personal training. From there, I started as a trainer at Equinox where I still felt insecure about my knowledge of strength training. Lifting heavy things was new to me.
Unlike many men who have been lifting since they were teens, I was 42 and just learning.
I wanted to learn how to lift barbells and teach that to my clients. I hired one of my colleagues to train me in powerlifting. Since 2013, barbells have been an essential part of my week.
What does your typical workout look like?
For my starter lifting years, I stuck to Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program. Right now, I am sympatico with all of Jill Coleman’s programs. Jill’s programs are condensed and intense. My current workouts follow her most recent Fast Physique program.
Like so many in the GGS community, the deadlift is my favorite! Picking up heavy sh*t makes a gal feel like a badass queen.
Most memorable PR:
Eight months of training to pass the StrongFirst instructor test. When I started as a personal trainer, my first certification was with StrongFirst. I had never swung a kettlebell, let alone snatched one before that preparation. Training three times a week for eight months was the first time in my life that I had devoted myself to training for a physical exam.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
I don’t have top songs, I have top genres; ACDC radio and 80’s Rap. A child of “tiger” parents, I played classical piano and was ignorant of most pop and rock music. I only discovered ACDC in college! Strangely, rap was a huge part of suburban teen life in the 80’s. That’s why it’s ACDC and 80’s rap radio when I lift!
Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:
Wireless earphones, my laminated program for the day, my old-school paper weekly planner – I never go anywhere without it. It’s my security blanket.
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Alone, but near people. I’m a loner who likes people.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
Running on the treadmill, tripping and falling off onto my ass. Oh, how it must have been hard for those around not to laugh.
Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
“What are you doing? Your arms look great!” (Thank you, Jill Coleman!)
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
“I love you and appreciate you. I always notice that you try to show me you care and make me feel loved.”
Braised short ribs. Followed by an extra large chunky cookie that has nuts and chips. It is easier to find good short ribs than it is to find a good homemade chunky cookie!
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Brazilian wax. I was full bush until I got divorced. I didn’t even know people shaved or waxed their pubic hair until I hit the dating world. I was in a time bubble for 10 years of marriage. A Brazilian wax makes me feel like I did something secret and special for myself.
“There are no short cuts; its reps, reps, reps.” – Arnold Schwarzenneger
Clementine Churchill: The Biography of a Marriage by Mary Soames. Little do people know that she was Churchill’s rock. Without her, he would not have been the fearless leader we know. She was his closest political confidant and often massaged relationships with diplomats on his behalf. He had a reputation for being brusque. Clementine is the untold foundation of the Churchill political legacy.
What inspires and motivates you?
People who inspire me: Girls Gone Strong (Molly), Neghar Fonooni, Jen Sinkler, Jill Coleman.
In each woman’s unique writing style and perspective, I am reminded and encouraged to be a better woman and coach. They each remind me how to love myself.
What do you do?
I find happiness in my mission to empower and celebrate strong women! I manifest my mission in my dual careers as a jewelry designer and personal trainer. I founded IronStrongJewelry.com and Iron Strong Fitness to pursue this heartfelt mission.
After hours… after 10 years as a child being forced to play piano by my loving tiger mom, I am back at piano! I recently purchased a keyboard and have started playing again. The last time I touched keys was at age 16. It took me 30 years to get back to the piano. Mom does know best. I am grateful to have the skills to read music and understand how to play. God, I hated practicing as a kid. Now that childhood practice has brought joy later in life!
Describe a typical day in your life:
Early morning: Train 1-3 clients
Mid morning: Work out myself. I love a mid-morning lift session!
Midday – Afternoon: Go home or to the jewelry district to work on my jewelry business
Early evening: Train 1-2 clients
Your next training goal:
I have yet to devote myself to my new training goal. I want to take dance classes! Strength training makes me harness tension and feel strong. I want to start dancing again to move differently. I need a kick in the ass to get started.
For what are you most grateful?
- Having a best friend to whom I can text a vagina picture to ask, “is this a pimple or herpes?”
- Having two loving parents who sacrificed much so that I could have a life to follow my passions.
- Having the chance to restart my life again and again.
Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
- Having had three of my own jewelry stores in NYC for 10 years.
- Winning second place in the Rising Tide Capital business pitch contest
Which three words best describe you?
Animated, introverted, and straight-laced.
Tell us about a time when you overcame fear or self-doubt.
I was not excited to win $10,000. Last summer, I was hesitant — actually, resistant — to entering a small business pitch contest. For the winners, first place $10,000, second place $7,500 and third $5,000.
I told myself that I was too busy focusing on my business to enter a contest where I would have to spend time getting people to vote for me for the two levels of the competition. This would be a waste of my time, I told myself.
My business coach asked me to answer three questions. I had to answer with “Excited or Not excited.”
- Are you excited about winning $10,000. Answer: Not excited.
- How do you feel about telling your friends and family about your business? Not excited.
- How do you feel about promoting yourself? Not excited.
My answers illuminated to me, that I was simply scared!
I realized what I thought was a practical answer of “I don’t have time,” was actually a mask for fear.
I knew that I had to enter if it was only fear that made me resist.
So I did — and won second place!
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
Being able to say, “I got this. No need for you to help me carry that box.”
How has lifting weights changed your life?
Today, while I was lifting, I looked at my arm muscles in the mirror. How can I ever go back to being weak and “scrawny?” Lifting makes me feel like a strong, capable woman. I do like my muscles.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Do you want to be able to open your own jar tops? Isn’t it amazing to put your own suitcase in the overhead bin? Do you like thinking, “Gee, I am a strong woman!” All of that, and the awesome feelings of badassery come as a result of strength training.