Instagram influencer and personal fitness trainer Susana Tsang, who began exercising to lose weight — a process she documented in a YouTube video that attracted more than one million views — considers hiking one of her favourite forms of cardiovascular workout. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of the city’s gyms were closed during successive lockdowns, she found herself exercising outdoors more frequently while discovering many of the stunning nature trails Hong Kong has to offer.
Tsang’s concerns that being overweight might harm her health sparked her desire to get fit — and she ultimately became a fitness trainer. She changed her eating habits and lifestyle and was soon hooked on the post-workout rush of dopamine — which left her feeling happier, more energetic and motivated — as well as the results she noticed as she continued to lose weight. Tsang’s regular workouts and a healthier diet led to her losing 21kg (46lbs) over a four-year period. “From then onwards, I just kept pushing and never stop,” she says.
Tsang, who was born in London, moved to Hong Kong after completing her studies to start work in an office, but soon realised it was the wrong career for her.
“I was literally sitting there waiting every day to get off work so I could do my workouts and training,” she says. “So eventually I signed up for a personal trainer course and then left my office job. I never looked back.”
The full-time fitness influencer and personal trainer fits in her own workouts around her regular sessions helping to improve the health and fitness of her clients. Her classes often feature cardio workouts, mostly involving high-intensity interval training — the main focus of her own workouts when she started to lose weight — which help to burn a lot of calories in a short time.
“Aside from just losing weight, my work with one client also involves things such as monitoring and improving heart rate and blood pressure changes, which are also a good indicator of health,” Tsang says.
“It’s very satisfying when a client says, ‘Instead of taking the lift today, I was able to climb three flights of stairs without being short of breath.’ When the client is happy, it makes me happy, too. It is a fulfilling job to match myself up with people who actually want to train with me to achieve greater all-round wellness.”
Tsang says the pandemic has inspired many people to spend more time exploring the city’s countryside areas, while doing regular exercise to improve their health.
“People want to get outside more because everyone was cooped up indoors for so long, which is not ideal for your mental health too,” she says. “I think there is growing awareness among people to get fit, not just to look good, but to actually move better and feel better.”
Tsang’s favourite places to hike include the Lau Shui Heung Country Trail in Pat Sin Leng Country Park in the northeast New Territories. Her first visit to the country park left her stunned by its breathtaking scenery. This striking upland area encompasses two emerald-green lakes: the beautiful Hok Tau and Lau Shui Heung reservoirs.
“It’s a place where I’ll go to relax with my partner or a friend and maybe bring a picnic,” she says. “There are chairs for you to sit by the lake and just enjoy the view. I can do a pretty good workout there as well. There’s open space and flat ground, which is ideal for doing shuttle runs or laps around the lake.”
Working up a sweat along Lau Shui Heung Country Trail is always a welcome treat, she says. “At first, I didn’t think you could find this type of place in Hong Kong. The reservoir has a mirror effect of the nature around it. You can see stunning reflections on the water.”
One of Hong Kong's most Instagrammable spots, the trail meanders its way past the heavily wooded surrounds of the reservoir, often referred to as the ‘mirror of the sky’ for the picture-perfect reflections that can be seen on the water.
IG fans also often post pictures of the lush wooded valleys near Lau Shui Heung Reservoir, which are home to many colourful native and exotic flora species, including impressive spring-flowering azaleas, while elegant weeping willows and evergreen Fortune's keteleerias line the lush slopes beside the water’s edge.
“Going to Lau Shui Heung feels like you’re transported to another world,” she says. “It’s a stunning place — and great for photos. There’s one spot where you get a panoramic view of the lake, and I love the placement and formation of the trees lining the pathway.”
“In the autumn, I love seeing all the leaves of the trees here turn orangey-red,” Tsang says. “After the really tough COVID-19 period, when travelling has involved a concerted effort, it’s great to have this kind of outdoor area where you can just clear your mind and focus on yourself and your wellness.”
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