Jean Hu is a Masters of Physiotherapy student at UBC, a yoga teacher, a competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder. Last month, she broke the squat, deadlift and three-lift total provincial powerlifting records for her weight class. At 5’1 and 105lbs, she’s also Gold’s Gym UMP’s first ‘Member of the Month’.
What’s your fitness background?
“I’m one of those people who grew up playing sports, but I was never a very strong endurance athlete. When I started my undergrad I wanted to challenge myself. I ended up doing around a year and a half where I ran a lot — a couple half marathons, Tough Mudder. From there I was your typical gym goer. I took a two-year hiatus from the gym in my third year at UBC and dove into my yoga teacher training. It wasn’t until about March last year when I actually started going to the gym more frequently and started working as a personal trainer. I think that’s when I started getting more serious about lifting. In September I did my first mock meet at UBC for powerlifting — that’s where it all took off. I started training at Gold’s Gym at UBC and met a lot of wonderful people.”
It seems like you take a fairly holistic view toward fitness?
“I try to do it all. I never really wanted to be really great at one thing if it meant having to be not as good at something else.”
Do you find you perform better by having a broad focus?
“There’s definitely give and take. I really value a more holistic, well-being approach.”
What kind of competitions do you participate in?
“I just did a powerlifting competition out in Abbotsford. I competed in the 47Kg weight class and did pretty well there. I’m going to be competing in the Kelowna Classic in Bikini in a week.”
How has it been changing gears from powerlifting to bodybuilding?
“For me, one thing about bodybuilding and competing in Bikini — I never wanted to lose my strength. The fact that I was prepping for both helped me maintain my strength and work at a higher volume. I did that probably three weeks before the competition really dialled down. It was hard to transition. I wasn’t used to doing 15 reps of an exercise — I was used to doing three. It’s a new experience, though, which I’m excited about. Dipping your toe in the water is a good way to figure out what you’re really interested in continuing with.”
What’s your favourite workout or exercise?
“I’m a Bikram girl. It’s something that’s been in and out of my life for different reasons and has always filled the gap of whatever is missing. Whether it’s rehabilitation while playing rugby or general health and fitness — or right now for the mental well-being — it’s always been what filled the gap.”
How often do you work out?
“That’s a bad question to ask when I’m on prep. I work as a yoga and pilates instructor Saturday and Sunday… I pretty much work out every single day of the week. Just because of the intensity of being on a double prep. I do Bikram every day. Then — you see me at Gold’s — just under two hours at the gym at UBC almost every day.”
“When people hear about this regimen — they have to understand, it’s for competition. It’s in no way sustainable or a lifestyle. A lot of people get thrown off when they see competitors — no, you don’t need to be at the gym for three hours a day. The right program for you is the one that you’re able to keep up with.”