City Weekend

‘You never get too big as a woman’: Hong Kong female bodybuilder prepares for final major competition

Anna Christianne Ho plans to travel to Seoul for another stab at winning the top prize in the Asian championships, and says it could be her last major event

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 April, 2017, 4:03pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 April, 2017, 4:03pm

Fitness trainer Anna Christianne Ho is about to enter what could be her final bodybuilding competition.

The mother of two, who hails from Hong Kong and lives in Happy Valley, last won gold at the Hong Kong bodybuilding championships in 2013 and silver in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) and Asian bodybuilding championships the same year.

This August she plans to travel to Seoul in South Korea for another stab at winning the top prize in the Asian championships. Just one month before that on July 1, on the same day Hong Kong celebrates 20 years as a Special Administrative Region, Ho will mark a significant birthday, although she prefers not to disclose her age.

After that, she says, she may retire from the sport.

“As a competitor, I always have the aim to get a medal, but after 2017, I think I will look at this year by year,” she says.

Ho started training as a bodybuilder in her mid 30s, shortly after having her second child, Joaquin, who is now 13 years old.

Her father, an engineer, and mother, a housewife, were far from fitness freaks when she and her six siblings were growing up in Mei Foo, although Ho remembers her mother enjoyed tai chi and swimming.

She says she was encouraged to play team sports while attending Diocesan Girls’ School, but fitness was still not an obsession for her.

During her 20s, she initially worked as a stewardess for Cathay Pacific and later as a buyer and merchandiser for an Italian fashion brand, after studying fashion merchandising in Hawaii. She later enjoyed stints in Australia and Paris with her French husband, before a chance meeting with a trainer at a Fitness First gym during a holiday to Hong Kong left her pondering whether to take up bodybuilding.

“People commented on my physique at the gym and asked if I was back for a bodybuilding competition,” she says. “I said I wasn’t, but I started training harder.”

Soon after she moved back to Hong Kong, she began training seriously for the Hong Kong bodybuilding team, lifting weights three times a week and undertaking at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular training every day.

She also practised yoga almost every day, a habit which she keeps up these days in her role as a trainer at Infiniti Fit studio in Central.

She says she has always been comfortable with the way she looks, even when her muscles became more prominent.

I was not concerned about people judging me

“I always explain to people that you never get too big as a woman,” she says. “I was not concerned about people judging me, because even when I was training, I was still relatively small. I always wanted to be a bit bigger, and that meant strong too. It is beneficial to your health.”

As she gets closer to a competition, Ho also increases her calorie intake to about 2,200 daily, but says she prefers to consume natural, high protein food like egg whites and chicken breasts, rather than eating supplements to bulk up.

She admits that her husband found her bodybuilding strange at first.

“He was a bit taken aback,” she says. “In some ways he thought it was quite ridiculous. He asked me what I wanted to achieve, and I would say I want to be strong. I think he understands that now. I did not want to be a monster. In my opinion, I was never too big.”

She says both her son Joaquin and 18-year-old daughter Cristina understand her commitment to her body.

“I think my daughter is quite amazed by what I am doing,” she says. “When she was young, I was not doing so much, whereas my son has always known me like this; I’m just the same as I’ve always been for him.”