Three Winter Looks With BK Fitness Babe | MISSBISH Jess Tran
Gathering the motivation to hit the gym when half of the sidewalks in New York are frozen is difficult. While many of us have lofty New Year's resolutions of health and fitness, it's hard to find a starting point when going to the gym isn't already part of your daily routine. It's easy to get caught up in the winter blues, but we spoke with Jess Tran to give us three inspiring gym looks and some tips that are bound to help some of us get up and get active.
Current location: Brooklyn, New York
Currently listening to: Wait by NoMBe
Guilty pleasure: Smelling my hair, lol, this is a weird residual habit from when I was a kid and loved smelling the shampoo in my hair after a shower.
Favorite workouts: Powerlifting anything - deadlifting is my favorite day.
Song stuck in your head: Migos "Bad and Boujee" featuring Lil Uzi Vert
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you want to get into fitness?
I'm 23, working in communications for a cricket protein bar (yup) and originally from Sydney, Australia. Honestly, when I was 14, I had some vague idea drilled into me from years of P.E. class that exercise was going to make me more of an adult or something, so I downloaded a couch to 5k app and, surprisingly, stuck to it. The next permutation of my fitness journey was getting introduced to weights through a friend of mine, where I quickly learned that I could lift far more than I thought I could - the beginner gains were addictive.
What are your current fitness goals?
Currently, I'm trying to be more balanced in general, but I'd love to hit a 3 plate deadlift next year (315lb) and hit 15 pull ups (currently at 8).
“Realizing that you could be so much happier doing what you want, rather than what you think others expect you to do, is so important."
Can you share 5 tips to stay motivated during the winter?
1. Schedule the gym in. I find that seeing it as an actual standing calendar invite before or after work kind of tricks me into thinking that I need to stick to it more.
2. Be social! I tend to have far less social plans in winter when most people can't be bothered to leave the house, let alone go out, so combining exercise with being social can be a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Think rock climbing, group runs, or even just hitting a class together with someone you wanna hang with.
3. HOT YOGA. One of the reasons I love riding the subway in the winter is because it's a brief reprieve from the icy hell that is the outdoors. Hot yoga in summer is almost unbearable for me, but in winter it is the BEST. It keeps me warm and gets me moving.
4. Buy yourself some dope winter activewear. Being Aussie, the winters here in New York are so hard sometimes, so I make it easier on myself by making sure I have winter coats that I actually like. Otherwise, I go through this giant 4-month slump of looking and feeling like a slob. It doesn't always have to be sweatpants (but it also can be, if they're sick sweatpants of course).
5. Go in the morning. The sun sets so early in Winter that post-work gym sessions can be a huge pain in the ass to motivate yourself to go to, a lot of my friends take advantage of this and go in the morning.
What are your thoughts about the health and fitness industry - specifically about trendy workouts or new diets?
I'm enthusiastic about getting people excited about being healthy or active, and if it takes a fancy new workout or a special new food product, I'm all for it. What I'm constantly frustrated by is fad diets (e.g. juice cleanses) or workout plans that require exercising for 60 mins a day, 5 days a week. It's not sustainable, it's not healthy, and a lot of the time, it doesn't actually do what it claims to do - it's just a series of false hopes that lead to bad habits and low self-esteem over a long period of time.
How does fitness culture differ from Sydney to New York?
It's not extremely different - both cities have a strong fitness culture weaved into its identity, but in different ways. Sydney-siders and Australians in general grow up with this awesome, glorious year-round moderate weather, with huge backyards and exercise ingrained throughout childhood. I think there's definitely an emphasis on being outside - running, walking, swimming and surfing. New York is obviously more indoors, and there are more studios and definitely more fads. The fantastic thing about New York is that I've found, a lot of the time, I can combine my social life with working out and there's such a variety in what you can try out and explore.
How do you deal with the pressures of looking/acting a certain way when living in New York?
These pressures extend way beyond New York - it's the internet! I feel like putting my head down and catching myself feeling those pressures and letting those feelings go really helps. Half the time you don't even understand that you're forming behaviors because of certain expectations. One of the biggest pressures in New York is going out and eating badly all the time. Sometimes I just want to squat, eat a nice healthy home-cooked meal, spend no money, light a candle and read a book - and that's okay. Realizing that you could be so much happier doing what you want, rather than what you think others expect you to do, is so important.
How do you maintain a balanced lifestyle?
Balance for me is allowing my body to rest, allowing myself time to do other things - skipping a workout, eating something a little unhealthy. There comes a point where chasing after your ideal body or being too intense about the gym changes who you are and the kind of girlfriend/friend you are. I always remind myself that I'm working towards being the kind of woman that I would love to know and be friends with, and putting an inordinate amount of stress into what should be enjoyable (fitness / health) is not my cup of tea at the moment. Learning to come to terms with yourself and loving what you have, and finding happiness in the process is another aspect.
Is there any advice you would give to someone moving across the world to live in New York, or are just beginning their fitness journey?
Moving across the world to live in New York:
Find a neighborhood and a home that you love. Don't just settle on the cheapest or most convenient place you can get your hands on - my home is a place where I can escape from the craziness of New York and just chill, and it's so important to make that space yours in a city that's always on the go. Secondly, don't underestimate your first winter. Wear every single piece of clothing as soon as the weather goes into single (celsius) digits. Lastly, it takes time to build a group of friends you genuinely love. Be patient, and don't settle. There are so many amazing, crazy people in New York, there will be so many people that vibe with you, they're just hard to find.
Beginning their fitness journey:
Hold yourself accountable by documentation. For me, this was in two ways: when I started lifting, I followed a simple beginner's program (starting strength) and kept an excel spreadsheet that allowed me to write down what weight i was lifting at what date. Second, I took progress photos. I took a photo Day 1 (which wasn't fun to do, but necessary) and then took regular photos (make sure its normal lighting, the same pose and time of day etc.) three months in, six months in, a year in, etc. Being able to see progress and committing to documentation every week is such a huge motivator - you don't even realize how much your body changes because you see it everyday. Having those photos helps with understanding how much your body responds to a workout program. I wouldn't recommend this with weight - I don't like being held to numbers that don't mean anything to me - I like seeing progress based on how i feel and how I look. Remember - being heavier doesn't necessarily mean being bigger!
What are your goals for 2017?
Be a better friend, be more consistently mindful every day, hit 15 pull ups and be better with the fitness blogging better.
Who is your MISSBISH?
There are so many petite lifters on Instagram that fulfill this for me. One of my favorites is @alyssaur.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Doing things that move you (literally and figuratively).
Photos by: Yumi Yamsuan