Chantha Thach, personal trainer and a queen of hearts
What smell or smells remind you of your childhood?
Lemongrass. My mom cooks a lot with lemongrass and she would make everything from scratch. So there would be this aroma forever. And we'd wait forever to eat so you get so excited. Saturday mornings, my dad always cuts the grass, so there was always that fresh grass smell, kind of citrusy. That reminds me of childhood. I still like it now as an adult.
What feelings arise when you go onto social media?
When I scroll, it does give me a little bit of positive and negative, depending on who and what pops up. With the trend of girls looking a certain way as a fitness person, it feels hard to be myself. You see things and think oh, should I be getting lip injections? Should I be getting Botox?
I'm all about being fit and healthy and loving yourself the way you are. I do get those insecurities, but for the most part, I like being on [social media] to help people be more authentic. To show, yes, I'm a fitness person, and you know what, I'm eating pizza on the weekend.
I feel like depending on who you follow, it could change your perspective. But the world's going virtual, so you have to kind of find your way. I do get excited because I think people come to my page for positivity and anything around wellness and nutrition. I’m all about self-love and I feel like that's what I want to put out.
Is there something about yourself that you used to be embarrassed about and now I've learned to accept or even like and embrace?
My legs. It started in the fifth grade – the boy that I used to be in love with, one day, grabs my calf and he's like, You have the biggest calves I've ever seen. It crushed me. I didn't wear shorts [again] until high school.
As an adult, I'm like, Oh my God, I love my thighs, I'm so happy. They're thick and strong. So it's silly, but it was really just accepting that's who I was.
I also grew up shy. The more that I found myself, through bodybuilding and accepting who I was as a woman: a strong, competent person – that really changed me being open and talking to people. I accept every stage that I'm at. And I just feel like people are just wanting to connect too, but everyone's scared. So if I'm the first person to say, Hey, then they're more likely to say, Oh hi!
Has the pandemic awakened a spiritual side of you that you didn't know you had?
I grew up Buddhist, but I've always practiced a higher being. We went to temple when we were younger, but as an adult, I'm like, Oh, there's this higher being. I always feel like what you put out, you get back, and the universe has your back. I think the pandemic really slowed me down. I was always like, Okay, I'm gonna run here to this client and do this. And if I didn't have 10 clients and was busy, then I wasn't successful – that was always my mentality. [The pandemic] helped me slow down and believe that everything will be okay. Even though it was crazy that year. And now it's March already.
I had no other choice to continue to be positive. I was in a healthy home, with my love, my husband. My career was able to switch remotely. Once I did that, I was like, I'll be okay, you know. There is a reason why this is happening. We all need to come together.
I think it was important for me to be grateful of every day and write that down. That became my practice of spirituality. I'm trying to get into meditation as well. So the Headspace app on Netflix was my thing. I was like, Okay, 20 minutes. I can totally sit down for that.
Is there something that you feel like women are supposed to do or are expected to do, but you don't or have no interest in?
In 2013, I had a really bad breakup. He cheated. I had a choice to either leave him or stay with him. So I said, you know what? I'm a nice person, I didn't deserve that. So I left, not knowing what was going to happen. People were like, Oh, you'll be fine. You'll find someone else. And I was like, I don't want to find someone else.
I'm not happy with myself. He made me feel like crap. And why am I questioning everything about myself when he's the one who cheated, you know?
So I think sometimes people feel like, Oh, you need to find a man that supports you and pays your bills. And to be honest, I've been independent ever since then. I came to New York with a thousand dollars and didn't have anyone helping me. So after that breakup, I was like, I don't need a man.
What part of your personality or your passions connect you most with the well and kind community?
I get so inspired every time we're in a session, it's therapeutic and it's creative. I think all these women want to do great in their careers and with themselves. And we're all trying to do that, but it's very hard. It’s like every stressor that comes at us and then on top of that we're women. I think the first meeting with the girls, I was like, this is just a bunch of women: super strong in their careers and we all just want to be great at everything we do. And I feel like the relationship we have with ourselves is lifelong.
Is there any negative emotion that you've learned to harness for growth or for your benefit?
I think sometimes people expect fitness to be this beautiful, scrunched up tights and crop tops, perfect thing. I mean, when you're working out, it's not that glamorous. I do bodybuilding as a hobby and it changed who I was as a person. I think when people think of fitness, I don't look like a typical fitness person that you would see on Instagram. When I do videos of me working out, I just wear whatever. I don't really think about what I'm wearing. It's never cute, per se.
Women are supposed to be sexy – all the time – doing everything. But I think confidence is sexy. Loving yourself is sexy. Holding your head up high, walking into a room, knowing that you own that presence is sexy, you can tell her aura is great. I feel like that's why I try and keep as authentic as much as possible.
What is the best advice that you've ever received from a loved one?
So this is hard, because I think of my family and they always said to work hard, but there's insecurities in that. I always felt growing up, I wasn't enough. As an adult, I’m trying to heal that. So, my husband is the best person. He really just pushes me to be myself. And honestly, the more I do that, the more the universe responds to it, the more people respond to it.
What is your favorite sense and why?
Oh my gosh. It's so funny because I like all of them. I love eating. It just brings me all kinds of emotions and memories. I love hugs. I really do because growing up, my parents didn't give me that affection. So when I came to New York, all my girlfriends would greet me with hugs and kisses. I'm like, what is this? I love this!
And now what’s scaring me with COVID, is the loss of smell and taste. To not taste your food or smell fresh flowers, fresh grass.
But if I had to pick one, it would probably be sight. I like the sight of nature, the sight of a smile on someone's face, seeing kindness, seeing the people you love.
What is your favorite non-sexual physical sensation?
Kisses on the forehead. If I'm working, my husband just pops in, he doesn't have to say anything, just kisses me on the forehead, on the neck. If I’m washing the dishes and he just comes in and kisses me. That moment I just stop every time and I cherish it. It's just like, Hi, you're there. I see you. Acknowledging my presence and love.
Do your self care practices differ on a good day and a bad day?
Yeah. If I'm having a great day, I take my time. On days I take off for myself, if I get a facial, I'll make sure I have enough time to get there, enough time to walk back home, to grab a coffee, and make sure I don't have to rush to anything. Which is especially important in New York.
What space, ritual, or practice feeds you most?
Journaling. Either first thing in the morning or when I have a bad moment, if I cry about something, I'll go to journal. I always light a candle and breathe and then I'll start journaling. I think that kind of stops time for me.
I put my emotions down and then after I read it, I'm like, Oh, I didn't know I was feeling that way. It helps me change my perspective. It's like, Oh, I was mad about this and then as I'm writing, I get better and I feel better.
I have so many journals, I'm such a hoarder in that way. I swear one day I'm going to write a book.
I can go back to each year and tell you what happened. Bad things that happen: I write it down. Good things, insecure things, proud moments. When I was doing bodybuilding, I couldn't afford my trainer at the time he was expensive, but I needed him to win. And I only worked at red lobster and a fashion job. I didn't make enough money. So then I started baking cookies and I sold them at red lobster. I made $600 in a month. I had that, nothing's going to get in my way attitude. I got to win the show. I need my self-confidence. I need this self-empowerment but I'll make some money somehow. New York builds you that way. That was a really pivotal moment in my life. That journal in 2014, I saw so many of those moments. So journaling is so important to me.
I love writing everything. I have a passion planner. Every Sunday, I write out my schedule. Even with you, I had this zoom and I highlighted in pink because that was exciting for me.
What music are you listening to these days?
I don't know why but Hawaiian music. Like Hawaiian reggae music. Because I just like the feeling I’m in when I'm in a tropical place. The sun is shining, I’m tan. There's no worries in the world. So if I'm working, I'll put on that. But if I'm working out, I'll try to listen to something like Eminem. But then he'll talk about killing people and I’m like, Oh, this is the opposite of what I want to portray! But at the same time, it brings out something in me when I'm training. But if I'm stretching out, I’ll change it to classical.