Lady Lifter: Tina Tang
By Iana Velez
“Iron Strong is an evolved labor of love. A change of careers, a finding of one’s path, becoming iron strong in body and spirit...that is what my jewelry is about…I shut the doors of my flagship store, Tina Tang Studio in 2010. I stopped everything by 2012. I felt like I failed. Even when friends tried to point out that I successfully ran a business for nearly 15 years, I felt like the end result, a closed business, was my final report card grade. In 2012, I started learning about personal training since I have always had fitness entwined in my daily life. Suddenly and unplanned, I became a personal trainer at Equinox on 19th Street in New York City. I learned more about exercise, the body, and different methods to create strength. It was here, Tina got her Tang back.”
- Tina Tang
You are a weightlifter and jewelry designer, and you used to work for Goldman Sachs. You’ve had so many diverse passions and careers, how did you become involved in weightlifting?
When I started my new career in fitness at Equinox, I was a newbie. I knew how to workout the way I had all my life, but not the way others might want to workout and felt I was lacking knowledge about weightlifting. While no one “goes to school” to become a weightlifter, I was never a sixteen year old boy lifting with his buddies. I decided to hire one of my colleagues, who was an experienced powerlifter. I hired him to be my trainer, not to “teach” what I needed to know, but to train me. By being trained, I learned the way any future clients would learn and experience.
Tell us about being a female weightlifter. What is the community like?
Oh my, the female weightlifting community is incredibly supportive! Even more so at a weightlifting meet, which is a competition! While spin classes are created so that you “compete” against others in your class, weightlifting is the opposite. Each person’s capability is affected by their age, experience, shape, genetics, so no one is competition. Each lifter aims for her own “PR” or personal record. The acronym “PR” is ubiquitous in lifting because everything is a personal record. This is why women cheer on other women. Each understands the struggle and the work, yet each wants the other to hit her personal records.
What is the best advice you would give to someone interested in trying out weightlifting for the first time.
Do you have a friend who lifts weights? Talk to her or see if you can workout with her. It will be less intimidating the first time. If it seems like something you’re still curious about, hire a personal trainer to coach you with dumbbells or barbells for a month. In that month, you will learn the proper postures and set up so that you’ll be able to do it on your own. A good trainer teaches you to be independent.
I love that you produce your jewelry locally in NYC. Tell us more about why you decided to do that.
Producing locally was a conscious relevant choice. The key reasons for choosing local are:
Making things in the U.S. is important.
Establishing long collaborative relationships in person. I’ve been working with the same people for nearly twenty years.
Quality control is best when the designer’s eye is live.
Learn more about Tina Tang: www.tinatang.com
Photos by Lisa Haefner