I was introduced to strength training during my freshman season of collegiate volleyball in 2013. We would have morning weight sessions that were mandatory and at first, I absolutely hated them. I didn’t understand why it was important to lift weights for volleyball, I thought that I would get big, bulky, and manly looking if I consistently lifted heavy. I learned it was actually quite the contrary. The more I spent time in the weight room, the more I felt my body becoming stronger, the better I became at my sport and the shapelier my physique began to look (in the right places). I felt empowered and confident the better I became at weight lifting and the more I wanted to learn about it. I was fascinated that you could control where you could add shape to your physique and I wanted to take my fitness to the next level. After a year of consistently lifting in the gym, I decided to step onto the NPC bikini stage for the first time and I instantly fell in love with the sport. Since then I have done 11 NPC bikini shows, competed in 3 powerlifting meets, and obtained several personal training and nutrition certifications, along with finishing a Ph.D. in chemistry.
Los Angeles, CA
Online personal trainer.
In your opinion, is weight loss more of a fitness issue or a health issue and why?
I would say it’s more of a health issue even though they do go hand in hand. The majority of healthy and sustainable weight loss will come from a balanced, well-rounded diet, while the fitness/workout aspect serves to maintain and add shape to the physique.
If you have 100 tokens in total and you could apply them to the following categories, how many would you apply to each?
- Fitness level: 50
- Health level: 50
Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, others?
All of these have their time and place depending on the level/goal of the client I am working with. Specificity is the key component I keep in mind when working with an athlete.
For example, if I am prepping an athlete to compete in a powerlifting meet, the premise of their training should revolve around the main movements they will be showcasing on the platform, the squat, bench and deadlift. Therefore in meet prep, accessories for this athlete will focus on supplementing their weak points in those movements and peaking them to work well in the low rep range. This is a client I would not be programming HIIT. To give a counter-example, if I had a client that had broader fitness goals revolving around the overall health and weight loss, HIIT may be a suitable option if they are short on time, have a tight schedule, or simply just enjoy getting a quick sweat session in. All these methods can be a tool in the trainer’s toolbox.
How did your passion for fitness start? And what was the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey?
The biggest challenge I have faced on my fitness journey is being a female in a male-dominated field. It can often be uncomfortable and intimidating for a woman to step into the weight room for the first time not knowing much about how to lift. Being surrounded by a bunch of buff dudes can make you feel uneasy and very self-conscious. What I always recommend to my female clients who are new to lifting and feel this way is to
- Go in with a plan so you know what you are doing.
- Educate yourself on the form, what muscles are working and why you chose that specific exercise to do that day.
- Own it, everyone pays the same gym membership fee, you deserve that space as much as the guy benching 405 does.
Share your unique training/coaching methods?
My goal as a coach is to inspire and empower as many women as possible to feel confident and strong with a barbell in their hands. I typically utilize a hybrid power building structure so my clients get to build their physique in the right ways, along with learning what they are capable of from a strength perspective.
Balance and sustainability above all. What’s the point in obtaining great results if you can’t keep them for the long term? My goal is always to educate my clients on why they are doing what they’re doing and always make health a priority.
I am currently in my bodybuilding off-season so I enjoy more flexibility in my training:
- Monday – Quad-focused leg day. Main movement: high bar squats.
- Tuesday – Upper body day. Main movement: Overhead strict press or push press.
- Wednesday – rest
- Thursday – Glute focused leg day. Main movement: Barbell hip thrust.
- Friday – Upper body day: Main movement: chin-ups or weighted chin-ups.
- Saturday – Full body: Main movement: Pause squats.
- Sunday – rest
Flexible dieting, I stick to counting macros and choosing ~80% whole foods, high protein choices, and ~20% fun foods (I love my donuts). My current intake is 2165cal (155p/240c/65f) but varies throughout the year depending on my goal at the time.
PEScience creatine monohydrate (5g/ day), select protein powder (cookies and cream), prolific pre-workout (sour peach candy), multivitamin, fish oil.
Do you prefer to take and recommend all-natural (no sugar, no artificial colours/flavours/sweeteners) supplements or supplements with artificial flavours and sweeteners? And Why?
My philosophy here is everything in moderation. I don’t think there is enough scientific literature precedence to say consuming artificial sweeteners is problematic at this time. (not to say my opinion won’t change in the future if new high-quality studies come out) I personally enjoy drinking zero-calorie drinks here and there.
Please describe the importance of mental health?
Mental health is everything. This is why I preach balance in everything we do, whether that’s doing a style of workout you enjoy, eating a balance of fun and healthy foods, and of course taking breaks from the lifestyle when you are burnt out, sick, on vacation, or spending quality time with friends and family. There are many different ways to be “fit” and that looks different for everyone.
Take us through a typical day in your life for you?
8:00 am: wake up drink some cold brew and do my first working block for the day (tasks that require the most mental capacity).
11:00 am: get ready for the day, meal 1.
12:00 pm: calls with potential or current clients, meal 2.
2:00 pm: take a nap.
3:00 pm: small meal 3, go to the gym to train.
5:00 pm: shower, meal 4.
6:00 pm: Second work block of the day (usually tasks that require less mental capacity).
7:00 pm: hard stop on work, enjoy social media, reading, or Netflix.
10:00 pm: go to bed.
What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
Status is really focused on actionable steps and seems to encompass a variety of different coaches and athletes with broad perspectives which is refreshing to see.
If you could ask Status Fitness Magazine Editor in Chief Rodney Jang any industry question, what would that be?
What does it take to be successful in the fitness industry and what would he define success as?
Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover. As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you about this opportunity?
Sounds like an absolutely incredible opportunity, very very excited to be considered!
Describe your coaches and the impact they have on you?
I have learned from many different coaches both growing up through sports and navigating my fitness journey. Every coach I have had has drastically different styles and education values. I have taken valuable lessons from each and every one of them and they have all made me both a better athlete and coach. I think it’s very important to learn from many different coaches to explore a variety of viewpoints.
Do you have a sponsor? List them and what they mean to you?
I am currently sponsored by PEScience and Free Spirit Outlet. I value both sponsorships greatly as they both have values I really align with. PEScience values education and science which as a Ph.D. in science, is definitely something that is important to me from a supplement and nutrition perspective. Free Spirit Outlet is also very important to me as I was one of their first athletes and have been with them for over 2 years now. I have had the opportunity to watch them grow and do amazing things as a company and it’s special to be a part of a great company that really values its athletes as they do.
Can you share with us your goals for fitness and life?
My current goals are to get my IFBB pro card and compete as a professional bikini athlete internationally. My current life goal is to grow my coaching brand as much as possible to reach, educate and inspire as many women as possible.
5 things people don’t know about you?
- I grew up in a tiny rural town in the middle of nowhere (52 people in my graduating class).
- I used to be a band geek, I played clarinet for 8 years.
- I have over 100 plants in my apartment.
- I originally moved to California to pursue my Ph.D. in chemistry and work as a professor as my career goal.
- My go-to cheat meal is curry udon and a donut from the sidecar.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is not every day will be perfect or optimal but as long as you are striving to do the best you can with your circumstances, planning ahead for success and aiming to get 1% better every day, you will always see progress.
5 most important attributes you see in a person?
- Work Ethic.
- Good communication skills.
- A desire to learn and be open-minded.
If you could inspire one person, who would that be? And why?
I aim to inspire the young woman who has a desire to start training and live a healthy lifestyle but is lost and intimidated about where to begin.
Who inspires you? And why?
I have many role models in the fitness industry like my current coach Jennifer Dorie, Katie Sonier, Marisa Inda, Maddison Pannell, and Stephanie Buttermore. These women are all extremely hard-working, and great examples of what is possible for others.
What is your number one tip for people on their fitness journey?
Progress over perfection, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes years to overhaul your lifestyle to replace old habits with new healthy ones. Don’t get frustrated if you miss a day, a week, or even a month. Just pick back up as soon as you can and get back to it.
What does success look like for you?
I define success by the lives I am able to improve.
What is your favourite quote to live by?
Progress over perfection
Connect with Erin: IG | Website
Cover Photo By: Emily Wang