Behind the Glow with Martina

Hong Kong

"If I can help even one person not to have to go through what I've had to go through, be that person to take away their bad feelings, then that would be the best thing that I could ever do." This is Behind the Glow with Martina.

I'm Martina, originally from Finland but I’ve been in Asia now for about 10 years. I met my husband here and ended up staying here for a little bit longer. I was supposed to be only six months but 10 years later I’m still here.


In the fitness industry, it seems like everyone has a story of what’s led them to become trainers. What’s yours?

Do you remember the moment when you realized you want to be a trainer?

I've always been quite active. My family were competitive snowboarders and my whole family is quite active in that way. So I started with a dance background, I was a dancer, and then I was a cheerleader and then I did a leap from there to Crossfit. 

I started doing some competitions and corrective exercise, and I compete  in powerlifting at the moment. 

For me, it's an accumulation of a lot of things I've always loved.

Working with people has always been number one. I just like that human interaction. 

Also, if I was stronger physically, it would have made me feel better and a lot a lot more in control of situations. Like, I was attacked in China or mugged in China and stuff like that, so if I was stronger physically, I probably could have helped do that better and gone through all of that a little bit better.

Also, when I was younger, I was severely depressed and on medicaid and then I realized that exercise was the only thing that was keeping me  positive and making me happy. 

So I thought, if I can learn that from myself, if I can get somebody else to not have to go through all the ups and downs, that I can be that help for someone else to get through things. 

I've alway seen myself as a big girl, I'm short and I'm curvy so I was bullied at school. I had anorexia, I had issues with my body, and then on top of that obviously it's usually the slippery slope for depression. 

So, I always wanted to help anyone who even thinks of that, to not have to go

through that. If I can help even one person not to have to go through what

I've had to go through, and even if I can  just listen to them, be that person to take away their bad feelings, then that would be the best thing that I could ever do. 


What are some of your favorite parts of the fitness industry?

Working with people obviously. I think personally for for me is the fact that

I'm surrounded with amazing knowledge, if you stop learning then you're not doing it for the right reasons.  So you're constantly getting better every day.

I write articles and I get so excited, or somebody says something and I'm like oh wow I didn't know that, and then I start doing research, and I write an article. And even if nobody reads it, I write it for myself, just because I love learning about stuff. The more you know the more you realize you don't know.

And then just being surrounded by such inspirational people, especially where I work now, we're very open about mental health and all that because our general managers also have had issues with that. And with corrective exercise there's a lot of emotional issues, and the best thing I've learned about how to train women is that you have to train them differently than men. 


What are some of the main struggles you think fitness trainers face? And how do you think they can be solved?

I think one of the biggest issues is that there are so many celebrity trainers or so much misinformation. 

I don't know how to say it in a not so negative way, but information that's maybe not the best for everyone.  

Sometimes it's just complete misinformation, and it may be not because they want to put it out there, it's just not knowing and not having that education behind and knowing about hormones and how they affect females and know males and why certain things are not good for those kinds of people.

So I think that's one of those things that is a day-to-day struggle, trying to tell your clients that they can trust you, that there's a reason why certain people can be trusted. And you have to make them believe in what you are.That you actually know what you're doing. Because there's so much fluff out there.


How are you pivoting or dealing with everything as a trainer right now? And how do you think it has shaped you as a trainer?

I think it just made me even more passionate about the industry and realize how important it is to stay healthy. 

Knowing how to eat healthy, how to stay healthy so your immune system stays

strong so you can stay as healthy as you can and your body's ready to fight whatever you need to fight, and if it can't fight at least your body is strong enough to be in that fight a little bit longer.

And if you're mentally and physically stronger, you're able to do a lot more and get through a lot more.

I also feel like training outside is not a not bad thing for a lot of people in Hong Kong right now. One day we might have 94 percent humidity and it's like 30 degrees and we're training outside and it's 100% mask rule so we have to wear masks on all the time, and it's tough. But I love the fact that it helps us  move the clients a little bit better. 

You realize that you don't need that fancy equipment all the time to make people get a good workout. You can do a lot of stuff with just one dumbbell or with whatever you have around you.

And it makes everyone realize that you can do a lot more with little things. You don't have to have an hour at the gym, you can do five minutes of that and then later on that. I think the hardest thing is to make people do stuff, and

keep them motivated when they don't have that routine of going to the gym.


How do you think COVID will affect our industry in the years to come?  

I'm hoping that it'll change a little bit in the way of these crash diets and stuff like that, and moving more from only aesthetic based to more of like a wholesome health base look.

I have a feeling that the zoom sessions are here to stay, and online personal training is here to stay as well, but I do want to say, as a person who works in this industry, that I really hope we can find a way that we can still do in person sessions and classes as well. I just love that energy when you have a group of people doing a class and everybody's just pushing each other on. So it's really fun online as well but I do hope that we can find a way to still do it in person.


What are some of the fitness trends and mentalities in your country?

Hong Kong is such a diverse place, so we have a lot of different trends, it depends on your nationality and background and all that, but I feel like local people are starting to get more and more into weightlifting, women as well, which I really like.

People also love to hike and run outside  because we have nature, which a lot of people don't know but Hong Kong is 70%  uninhabitable. 

Training wise, functional fitness, strength and conditioning, MMA, Muay thai, bjj is huge here, yoga is I guess everywhere and spinning and stuff like that. So it's a mix of everything.


What is the greatest piece of advice you can give other trainers from your experience?

Never stop learning. Even if it's not about what you're interested in. I was doing only crossfit once, I was like crossfit is life, that's all there is, there’s no other way of doing things. 

But you learn other things, and the fact that I have clients that could say like oh I never knew I could do a deadlift without my back hurting,  it's just ridiculous that 

trainers don't make that effort to learn how to coach. So I would say just never stop learning,  and get a mentor. 

Try and learn as much as you can from as many pieces of industry. It doesn't have to be about only training. 


Favorite workout song -  Oh it changes, but let's say in basic anything like. One of my favorites is Post Malone Wow, that will get me excited for anything.

Favorite cheat meal - Number one thing would be Bun Me. They make it so good here. 

Fitness trainer that inspires you - Jordan Shallow.

Your motto - That is my motto in life in general, if it doesn't challenge you it doesn’t change you. 

never take the road that's the easiest, take the road that's the hardest, and that'll show you your true colors and get you stronger. 


Find Martina on Instagram @martina_edge

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