Name: Marja Chow
Competition weight: 112 lbs
Current weight: 116 lbs
Current city: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Occupation: Personal Trainer, Holistic Nutritionist, Yoga Instructor
Name: Shana Marlayna Chow
Competition weight: 123 lbs
Current weight: 127 lbs
Current city: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Occupation: Actress, Model, Personal Trainer & Writer
Have you both always lived a fit lifestyle? What got you started?
Yes, we have both been very active since a young age. Our parents put us in gymnastics as toddlers, which allowed us to develop coordination, balance and good body awareness very early.
When we were young children, our parents also put us in swimming lessons, ski lessons, and dance.
Shana, tell us a bit about your love for soccer and do you still play?
I started playing soccer when I was 7. Funny enough the reason why I started playing was because I was at my best friend’s house and saw all of her shiny trophies from her first year playing soccer. I remember I came home and told my mom, “I need trophies!” I must have started a love for shiny things at a young age!
But after the first soccer practice, I was hooked. As a child I loved playing striker and scoring on my opponent. But as I got into my teenage years I started to play defense. Something about stopping a player right before they “think” they are going to score makes me very happy!
My favorite time to play is in the pouring rain, and slide checking the ball right out of the feet of the opposition. I played on the senior team at Burnaby South High School (when I was a junior), and played on my leagues team as well. I made B.C. Provincial’s 3 times, getting silver once and bronze twice. After I graduated high school I stopped playing as I was too focused on getting my Bachelor’s Degree.
I did go back for 2 years to play on a Women’s team. Since then I do occasional drop in’s on a co-ed team, but I would really like to play more. However, you can definitely catch me on the beach kicking around the soccer ball in the spring and summer!
How do you two manage to stay motivated and consistent throughout your training and eating right? Do you think it requires a lot of sacrifices?
We keep each other motivated to stay on top of our training and eating right, as we both are extremely competitive athletes. When we come up with a new recipe we immediately call one another or invite the other over for dinner!
For Shana at any moment she can be booked for a swim wear shoot, or cast in a film or television production, so she needs to be fit year round.
Marja stays motivated by leading by example with her clients and learning new delicious recipes that are supportive for long term health. She shows her clients that training and eating right is attainable through a lifestyle change.
Anything in life that is worthwhile requires sacrifice. If leading a healthy lifestyle is what someone wants, then they need to put in the time. Balance is key when it comes to health and fitness.
Not depriving yourself from your favorite foods, but living a life of moderation. If you want a piece of cake, have a piece of cake and truly enjoy it! Just don’t eat the whole cake.
There are no simple fixes when it comes to fitness, it is all about CONSISTENCY. Long term results require meal planning, making time for workouts, and being educated on what you are consuming.
What are your future plans?
We are continuing to work together as the “CHOW SISTERS”, by creating a platform where we can promote health and fitness together.
We recently were invited to a try out for the WWE as the Chow Sisters. We flew down to Orlando Florida in early February for the 3 day try out. It was an amazing experience and we met many iconic and talented coaches and athletes from around the world.
We are awaiting their decision and are thankful for the once in a lifetime opportunity.
Further, we are in the process of creating e-books that include pre-packaged fitness routines, as well as looking into other fitness shows to compete in together (possibly the WBFF).
Have you had any major setbacks in your life and how did you overcome them?
Both of us struggled with eating disorders and body image issues in our adolescent years.
But through nutrition education, family support and each other’s support we were able to overcome these.
Shana faced excess weight gain due to a car accident in 2009, and gained 30 pounds. Through Marja’s training and support she has been able to keep the weight off for the past 6 years.
Tell us a bit about your boot camp and what sort of exercises you incorporate in it?
We offer a full body work out that builds strength and endurance.
- Olympic Lifting
- Glute Specific Training
- High Intensity Training
- Circuit Training
- Compound Movements
- Isolated Movements
What are your top Nutrition tips for the ladies for keeping in shape all year round?
Using “My Fitness Pal” is a good way to track what you’re consuming. It is important to be mindful of your macronutrient ratio, calories and food quality being consumed. Try not to eat out as much, and try to prep food ahead of time.
Every Sunday evening we prep food for the next 3-4 days. Be mindful of not “drinking” away your calories in juices, pops or alcoholic beverages.
What are some of the myths in the fitness industry that you think many people fall prey to?
- Fad diets don’t work, in order to maintain a fit physique it needs to be a lifestyle change.
- Low fat diets don’t work, they can disrupt your endocrine system thus affecting your hormones and overall wellbeing.
Do you follow quite a strict diet? Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your diet:
We both follow an organic, whole foods diet based about Macronutrient ratios. Our motto is “everything in moderation.”
We aren’t saying eat whatever you want, but be mindful of what your consuming.
We feel if you drastically cut out “bad foods” from your diet you may end up binging or over consuming. It is all about portion control, and allowing yourself the odd rewards and “cheat meal.”
Marja loves dark chocolate so she allows herself two pieces of dark chocolate a day to curb that sweet tooth craving. It is important to know your carbohydrate tolerance, caloric range, and trying to pre-plan many of your meals.
If either of you are vegan or vegetarian, what do you tell people when they ask you.. “where do you get your protein?”
Marja has done a vegan diet twice for 30 days. She does it to help support and enhance her digestive capacity, as animal proteins require more digestive energy to be broken down.
To hit protein requirements it isn’t difficult by adding seeds such as hemp, chia, pumpkin as well as beans like lentils chickpeas and blackbeans.
Supplementing with protein powders such as vega, garden of life, or iron vegan absolutely help to hit protein requirements for the day.
Marja always feels light and energized after her 30 days and encourages people to try to do even a week or 2 without meat.
What are the key points for a good diet, for someone starting out and wanting to lose weight?
Know what you are consuming; track your food for at least 2 weeks, then consult with Marja who can make you a killer nutrition plan!
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your training routines and on average how long do you workout for?
It’s completely dependent on the individual and their goals. We both work out 5 days a week doing a split workout routine, averaging about 1 hour a day.
Do you do much cardio or other forms of exercise with your training?
Shana enjoys long distance running, and we both enjoy hiking or anything outdoors. But during our 5 days at the gym, we do HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) 1-2 times a week to get our conditioning up, such as battle ropes, burpees, jump squats, tuck jumps, skipping, etc.
Marja, what sort of process do you follow when you start to get ready for a competition?
I don’t eat “ junk food” so there is no need to cut it out! For a show my macronutrient ratios and calories change every few weeks or month depending on how far away the show is.
I would add another HIIT session closer to the date of the show and maybe once a week of steady state cardio, it just depends how my body is responding to my protocol.
What are your 3 favourite exercises?
- We both love to squat (any kind), we are both trying to “build our booties!”
- Hip thrusters are also a favorite, as well as kettle bell swing for Shana.
- Marja enjoys doing a lot of the Olympic lifts and pull ups.
Shana, What are your top training tips for building strong and firm arms?
I would say changing the exercises.
For example, day 1 (I will do shoulder, biceps, triceps), but day 1 (on my second week), I will do different exercises for each muscle group. Also starting off with lower weight, high reps and increasing to higher weight/lower reps (for every second exercise of the muscle group).
One of my favorite exercises are posterior, anterior and lateral arm raises. I will do 15lbs dumbbells each arm 12-15 reps each for 3-4 sets.
Marja, how often should someone practice yoga to gain its benefits, and what tips can you give someone wanting to become more flexible?
The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere, all you need is yourself and a mat! The meditation component of yoga is what helps to balance people and give them the stress release they need.
Practice can be done every day; most people are generally very tight so a little extra stretching can never hurt! Start off slow if you’re new to yoga, begin with a hatha class. If you want a more meditative, deep stretch try a yin or restorative class . If you want a stretch with a more vigorous movement try a power class.
Go at your own pace and make it your practice, no one else’s!
Marja, when it comes to stretching, which do you think is more effective for becoming more flexible; doing yoga flows regularly OR stretching regularly and holding each stretch for a period of time?
My favorite style of yoga is yin. Yin yoga consists of holding deep stretches from 2-8 minutes. When holding stretches for this period of time we travel into the deep connective tissue (fascia). So coming to a class like this will improve range of motion throughout the body while also calming the mind.
Going to a yoga flow or holding stretches for a period of time can improve flexibility it just depends on what each individuals prefers to do!
When training your abs do you believe in lots of reps or low reps with weight?
We focus on building a strong foundation first. So making sure we have strong core muscles, which are the muscle that protect the spine and pelvis, creating stability within the body. We do isolated movements to engage the transverse abdominius and pelvic floor muscles 1-2 times a week.
We will also do exercise’s using our own body weight (planks, for example), or we will do weighted abs (Russian Twists with a 15 lb medicine ball).
With weight we do fewer reps then body weight, but we both do a combination of both weighted and non-weighted abs.
Favourite male Fitness models or bodybuilders?
Favorite female fitness icon(s):
- Paige Hathaway
- Trish Stratus
- Rhonda Rousey
What is the most common question that you get asked?
Are you twins? And we sometime say yes! (As long as Marja is wearing heels)
We also always get asked, “What’s your ethnicity?”
We are half Chinese, and half European (Greek & Finnish).
“Where there is a will, there is a way.” ~ Shana
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates Marja
What is the one thing you see people do in the gym or when training which really annoys you?
Texting while sitting on equipment, and loud inappropriate grunts! Wait…that was two! Well one for each of us then!
What is your advice to young girls who want to start working out but are afraid to get “too big or bulky?”
It is a complete myth, women do not secrete as much testosterone as men. Start slow with lighter weights and higher reps if you are a beginner, overtime increase the weight and reduce the reps.
Focus on proper form and technique before adding a load. In order to build muscle you have to traumatize the neuromuscular system and progressively overload it. Do not be afraid to lift heavy weights as muscle does not grow over night! It takes time and consistency, coupled with proper nutrition!
Have you competed before?
- INBF | 3rd
- IDFA | 1st Pro Bikini | 2nd Sports Model
- NPAA | Bikini | 3rd
- FMF | 3rd
- Tropic Beauty World Finalist | British Columbia | Canada 2014
- FMF Vancouver | Finalist 2015
Where can people get hold of you?
- Email: sc[at]shanachow.com
- Website: shanachow.com
- Instagram: smarlayna
- Facebook: Shana Marlayna Chow
- Email: mc[at]marjachow.com
- Website: Marjachow.com
- Instagram: marjachow
- Facebook: Marja Chow