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Perfectly imperfect: christine’s journey from gymnastics to yoga

Christine may have known that her gymnastics career would come to an end one day, but this didn’t stop her from training.

She measures her success not by her performance, but by how much she gives back to others. Despite having a rare genetic condition that gave her an extra build, she knows that it is this imperfection that makes her so unique. Find out how she gets to know and accept herself better by yoga.

Her Strength - Christine - Decathlon

Christine fung

Exposed to a wide range of sports from a young age, Christine was a member of the Hong Kong gymnastics team and currently works as a  Senior Marketing and Communications Manager for the sports charity InspiringHK Sports Foundation. She is a yoga instructor and believes yoga has helped her to discover her true self.

Her Strength - Christine - Decathlon
Her Strength - Christine - Decathlon

What’s behind your passion for sports?

When I was little I tried all sorts of sports – I was a member of the Hong Kong gymnastics team, and I also played volleyball and participated in track and field events at school. After leaving university, I found a job opportunity in the sports industry, and I’ve been working in this field ever since. My younger brother also loves sports. He recently graduated with a degree in psychology, which is pretty amazing given that he has ADHD. He plans to become a children’s football coach after returning to Hong Kong. His plans made me realise that sport isn’t just about selling shoes and clothes – you can also use your talent to give back to society. I therefore decided to leave my job in a big organisation and work for an NGO, because I wanted to do something more meaningful. 

Her Strength - Christine - Decathlon
Her Strength - Christine - Decathlon

Do you like to share your experiences with friends?

I don’t go out of my way to, but I do share things that I like on social media, just like everyone else. I was among the first generation of sports bloggers – I used to buy sports bras from overseas websites and post online reviews, or write about my day-to-day exercise routine. There was no Instagram back then, so blogs were still very popular. I had lots of followers, and many of them were inspired to get active.

You’ve been working in the sports industry for a long time – how have local sports trends changed over the years?

There was no such thing as ‘athleisure’ before – walking around in sports leggings or a sports bra would have definitely raised eyebrows. Now, however, people think nothing of it – when you go hiking you see loads of women dressed like that. Buying your first sports bra is a real motivation for getting into sport. However, discovering a passion for sport takes time. It’s not about how good you look, posting photos of yourself on Instagram or losing a certain amount of weight – the most important thing is that you enjoy yourself. After all, you do sport for your own benefit, so you have to enjoy it.

One of the biggest reasons people do sport is to stay in shape. what do you think?

What other people think definitely has an impact – people often ask me why I’m still so ‘fat’ despite exercising so much. I don’t agree with that statement. Just because your size is large, doesn’t mean that you are not active – there are also plenty of thin people who are unfit. This strange way of thinking has led to stereotypes of ‘sporty’ people. I recently discovered that my family has a history of a rare endocrine disorder called gigantism, which made me gain 50-60 pounds in just three years. Even though I was doing lots of exercise, I continued to gain weight.

I’m not obsessed about my appearance, but my weight had a definite impact on my performance and there are lots of exercises which I am no longer able to do. However, the extra time meant that I could train to become a yoga instructor, which has been a whole new experience for me.

Her Strength - Christine - Decathlon

What’s your strength?

Faith and perseverance – both physically and mentally. Gymnastics training is really gruelling – when I was in the Hong Kong team we trained 6 days a week for 3-4 hours each time. The routine was very demanding, but I enjoyed it. It was a very competitive environment – out of a team of 20 people, only the best would be selected. When I was 13 or 14 years old I realised that I had no chance of being selected, because I was too tall and stocky. Nevertheless, I kept on training until I was 19.

One day, my dad told me that I don’t need to be so tough all the time. I cried hearing that.  As the oldest child, I often felt that I had all the weight on my shoulders. I never told my mum that I wanted to give up, because she had enough on her plate with my two little brothers, and I didn’t want to create any extra trouble. Despite my size, I do have my weak points mentally. When I’m down, I feel weak. Strength isn’t about how much you can lift – it’s about having the right mindset. That’s why my mum is my idol – she’s been through so much, but she’s always managed to keep her head above water. She is a really strong person. I’m quite emotional, and I often cry. However, my mum has taught me the importance of perseverance – she’s always been there for me throughout my life.

Her Strength - Christine - Decathlon

Has yoga helped you to learn more about yourself?

In the past I was too busy – I always needed to do something or meet someone. However, yoga has taught me to slow down, and even made me realise that I didn’t know how to breathe properly. I used to force myself to run the half marathon and participate in relay races, but I never enjoyed long-distance events because I always struggled with my breathing. Yoga has taught me that you have to train your breathing technique. It’s not as easy as you might think, but it’s the first thing you need to learn in order to meditate. I always have lots on my mind – when struggling to sleep at night, I count my breaths to slow down. I would never have guessed that I would have to wait until 30 years old to re-discover my true self!

How is yoga different from gymnastics?

Yoga is an attitude – it aims to connect the body, mind and spirit. In addition to physical exercises, it’s also about training the mind, whereas gymnastics is essentially a physical sport. In the past I focused too much on training my body, but now I’m trying to find a balance and regain my inner strength.

Gymnastics has made me what I am today. Gymnasts always aim for perfection –  it is an individual sport, so I’ve always set high standards for myself. With gymnastics, the good thing is that the sky’s the limit – once you complete a movement you can continue to make progress. It’s the same with yoga. You don’t have to follow a particular routine, so there are always lots of surprises.

What’s the most important thing that yoga has taught you?

In the past I was easily affected by stereotypes – I didn’t think that I was good enough to become a instructor, because I thought that you had to wear sexy clothes and nail all the difficult poses. However, I gradually realised that yoga is much more than stretching – it also requires a lot of mental effort to keep your students motivated. Maybe there are others like me who think that they’re not good enough to become a yoga instructor. No two people are the same. There are some poses that even yoga instructors can’t do! I’m not perfect, but my struggles might help my students feel more confident and motivates them to learn in this journey. I’ve always been too hard on myself! 

Her Strength - Christine - Decathlon

“I’m not a perfect yoga instructor, but maybe this makes my students feel more confident and motivates them to learn to be imperfect. ”

What are your favourite decathlon products?

I guess that would be the yoga products, such as the cork yoga brick or yoga strap, because they can help beginners with basic stretches and balancing exercises. They’re great for teaching and my own practice. They are also made from eco-friendly organic cotton or recycled materials, which resonates with yoga’s philosophy of harmony with nature.

Decathlon’s yoga knee & wrist pad is also a really good product, because it relieves the strain that some exercises place on the joints and helps to secure a more comfortable position.

CORK YOGA BRICK - Decathlon

Yoga block

Support you as you get more grounded from start to finish.

有機棉瑜珈繩 - Decathlon

Yoga strap

Move into your asanas comfortably and improve your practice over time

YOGA KNEE & WRIST PAD - Decathlon

Yoga knee & wrist pad

Support and comfort for sensitive knees and wrists when practising yoga.

Sport is competitive, and people are always looking to improve. For Christine, however, the most rewarding thing about sport is learning how to let go and accept yourself. Explore Decathlon’s women selection and make new discoveries today.

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