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Susie Lin, 53: Strong Body, Strong Mind

Strength — of mind, body, and spirit — is what makes Susie Lin an inspiring example of how to live your purpose and show up for others. Not only an exceptional trainer, for novices and athletes alike, she is committed to the constant improvement of both her physical health and her knowledge, and uses her skillset to empower her clients to approach life with confidence.

Susie Lin is living in her flow, doing what she loves, and getting better at it everyday. We’ve known her for many years, spotting her in the sea of activity that was Gold’s Gym Venice, as the one trainer who was really on point, who really cared and paid attention. There was a level of respect that she imparted to her people — so that when they left the gym they were walking taller in both spirit and body — that was unique. Strength is about more than being able to pick up heavy things; it is a mindset of how we think about ourselves.

Having been born in Taiwan, then having moved to the US at age 3, she learned English through TV, watching Sesame Street and Electric Company, which was the beginning of her life of study. Constantly upping her game, endlessly curious about how to be a better trainer for her clients, Susie Lin is a lifelong student of human physiology and psychology. Unlike some people in the field, think all hat no cattle, there is substantial mastery here. She works with people who run the gamut from shy and new to fitness, all the way to professional athletes. There is no one-size-fits-all with Susie; she carefully observes, and coaches to the exact level of what a person needs. 

More than anything, she walks the talk; she is a powerful example of what it means to be strong of mind, body, and emotion — which is what it takes to be truly present with others, living in one’s purpose.

susie lin, photo by David Harry Stewart
Photograph by David Harry Stewart.

“Once I experienced the highs from “the pump” of the muscles and the way it transformed my physique, I was hooked.”

How old are you? 
53 years young.

How long have you been training?  
28 glorious years.

What interested you in fitness that led you to creating your career?
In 1996, I was nominated to be an official torchbearer in the 1996 Summer Olympics torch relay. I started running and training to build strength and stamina to take part in the great honor of carrying the flame that ignited the Olympic cauldron.

Once I experienced the highs from “the pump” of the muscles and the way it transformed my physique, I was hooked. Also, from becoming stronger physically, it gave me confidence and grit to handle whatever came my way.

“There is no better feeling than facilitating another’s wellness and wellbeing”

susie lin, photo by David Harry Stewart
Photograph by David Harry Stewart.

I believe I exuded self-confidence because people would approach me while I was training to ask me questions about what I was doing and if I would help them get in shape. There is no better feeling than facilitating another’s wellness and wellbeing.

You are constantly studying and adding to your knowledge. What have you learned recently that you found particularly interesting?
As committed to my physical health as I am, I am equally dedicated to expanding my knowledge base in neuroscience and psychology. I hold a BA in Psychology. I am very interested in how exercise has been incredibly helpful to individuals struggling with PTSD and anxiety. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, MD is a great read for anyone interested in trauma and the body.

We are all so different; how do you, Susie Lin, determine what a new client can and should do?
Yes, we are all different, yet our bodies all require proper alignment of the spine for good posture. The focus of my training is to improve and maintain clients’ correct posture – to maintain the three natural curves of the spine, at the neck, mid back ,and low back, with a solid core. Strength training to increase lean tissue and fast twitch muscle for power are of utmost importance. I meet clients at their level and encourage them to go to their edge. We all can use the motivation to do better. To ameliorate clients’ cardiovascular health, I keep clients aerobically challenged by working at higher intensities. Of course, this may be according to the clients’ RPE, rate of perceived exertion.

“With proper core strength, we can prevent injuries and improve posture”

susie lin, photo by David Harry Stewart
Photograph by David Harry Stewart.

What would a first day with you look like?
A first day training with me would involve movement patterns to let me assess the client’s ability to stabilize their core. How well are they able to stabilize and control the hips, pelvis, and spine. I like clients to perform unilateral and cross body movements to challenge their core. With proper core strength, we can prevent injuries and improve posture.

How do you layer strength, aerobic capacity, balance, flexibility, and mobility?
By prioritizing core strength and having clients perform compound movements, which are multi-joint and multi-muscle, all those aspects are enveloped.

For example:
A squat, performed with proper technique, addresses strength, balance, flexibility and mobility of the hips/pelvis and core/spine. Since the larger muscles of the body are utilized in squats, they increase aerobic demand.

Tell us your thoughts on recovery and preventing burnout?
Exercise does wonders for the nervous system, but rest and recovery are majorly important. During training, we tax our bodies, creating microtraumas in the muscles. During rest, honoring the body with proper nutrition, hydration and sleep, is when growth happens — the healing of the tears in the muscle.  It is important to give the body time to rest, to prevent burnout.

Yoga and breathwork are two great modalities to incorporate into one’s fitness routine. They can be quite restorative.

susie lin, photo by David Harry Stewart

“Exercise does wonders for the nervous system, but rest and recovery are majorly important”

Some people place emphasis on what they can do in the gym but, for most of us, the gym is a way to live better, to be able to move better, and to feel better — we are athletes of life. What are your thoughts on that?
I believe the world is our “gym.” We can find beaches to run on, benches to do pushups or dips on, parks with tree branches to hang from. Look at your environment with a child’s eyes — get playful, stay playful. Be athletic for life!

Beliefs are very powerful. What are the biggest mental obstacles your clients face and how do you help them overcome them?
Whatever personal or professional challenges my clients face, they tackle well. How? They build fortitude by getting through the tough reps/sets. This “I can do; I will do” attitude transfers into the rest of their daily encounters.

What does success for you with a client look like?
When I see that their “outsides” match their “insides.” Their strong body matches their strong mind; that is success.

I remember when we first met and you were training at Gold’s Gym in Venice, The Mecca of Bodybuilding. That was a super intense place. I recall during one of the Olympics they kept a tally of the medals won by gym members, which was more than most countries. This is where I learned that comparing ourselves to anyone other than ourselves is foolish. Social media seems to have made the comparison game so much worse. How do you help people get over that?
I have the clients look in the mirror. The image they see…THEY are important; THEY matter! Prioritize that person! That is who they want to beat. Every single time.

susie lin, photo by David Harry Stewart
Photograph by David Harry Stewart.

“Their strong body matches their strong mind; that is success”

One of the things I have seen you do is help people, often women, overcome their anxiety about gyms. Walking into that original Gold’s was not easy. What is your strategy?
Women tend to think about others before they think of themselves. I point out that I am proud of them for taking the time to do something for themselves.  Then, I reiterate that this is their “me time.” Own it!

Gotta ask, since you spend a lot of time in athleisure wear, what is the “Susie Lin style”?
Nike sports bras and sneakers. Bombshell Sportswear and Ultracor leggings. Blanc Noir jackets.

What are your non-work days like?
Ah, those are my own training days. Then, some reading, journaling, napping, meditating, recovery, red light therapy.

“Nutrition-wise, I keep things simple”

What are you eating?
Nutrition-wise, I keep things simple.  

Breakfast: Eggs (hard boiled), steel cut oatmeal with chia seeds, organic peanut or almond butter

Lunch/snack: Homemade Beef jerky (salt only)

Dinner: Bison steak or ground bison, Japanese sweet potato or Lamb shank with brown rice and salad

Dessert: Dark chocolate

All day: Green tea, Yerba Mate and water with LMNT

susie lin, photo by David Harry Stewart
Photograph by David Harry Stewart.

So much of fitness is what we eat. How do you deal with that with your clients?
I have them focus on quality protein sources, non-starchy carbs, a variety of veggies, no added sugars, and avoid alcohol.

“By late spring, I will be launching my fitness app: FitnessInspired”

We understand you are working on an App. Tell us about that?
My passion is to help people to connect with their bodies.  If you have a strong body, you really do experience vitality. I see clients in-person and also online via Zoom/FaceTime. By late spring, I will be launching my fitness app: FitnessInspired.

Stay tuned and I would love everyone to sign up to take their fitness level up!  I will be sharing the link via @fitnessinspired.susielin on Instagram

If someone wants to train with you, how would they connect with Susie Lin?Instagram: @fitnessinspired.susielin
X: @SusieLinFitness

What are the 3 non-negotiables in Susie Lin’s life?
Cultivating practices and activities that bring about wellbeing.

Prioritizing kindness and respect; not tolerating toxic behaviors.

Being free to keep developing/bettering myself.

Images by David Harry Stewart.

Connect with Susie:
Instagram
LinkedIn
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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

AUTHOR

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

 

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