Teen Amateur Of The Week: Muscle Mission

Jae embraced his small stature from childhood and laughed when kids called him Chopstick. There was nothing he could about his height, so he focused on building muscle!

How did your fitness journey begin?

My nickname in elementary school was "Chopstick" because I was so small and skinny. Although it was funny back then (because I'm Asian), I realized that I needed to work out and gain some weight. In seventh grade, I started doing push-ups in my room. During summer, I walked to the nearest park to do pull-ups and other exercises I saw on YouTube. After a few months, I could do 30 push-ups and decided to go to the gym. I started lifting at the gym and was hooked from there.

During my sophomore year, I saw a few bodybuilders posing in front of the mirror for contest prep and was inspired to try competitive bodybuilding. At that point, I saw results from lifting and wanted to see how far I could push myself. Thanks to my trainer, John, I competed this summer and brought home some trophies.

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

Training, eating right, and perfecting each motion is impossible with a vague mindset. It was only my first year of competitive bodybuilding and I was nearly knocked out by the end. There was something captivating about bodybuilding that motivated me even when I was throwing up from fatigue. The rewarding feeling of achievement and the adrenaline rush onstage keeps me going. That's why I'm crazy enough to stay in the gym.

Who motivated you to be a fitness guru?

My dad led me to become who I am. He was the one who took me to the gym when I wanted to get big and kept me disciplined. Most of all, he taught me to make the best out of my time in the gym. I want to do the same for others one day.

Where did you go for inspiration?

This video really pumps me up when I'm feeling down. Going to the gym and looking at people lifting and trainers yelling wakes me up also. Photos on Bodybuilding.com make me feel small and motivate me to hit the gym.

What are your future fitness plans?

Depending on how I do academically during my junior year (this year), I'll compete again next summer or spend time gaining more weight until spring of my senior year. I'll compete every summer when I'm in college. Although I won my way to nationals by placing first in my division, I won't be able to compete in teen nationals because I don't have US citizenship.

What is the most important fitness tip?

Enjoy every second of what you're doing because that sets you apart onstage and in the weight room. I'm still a beginner when it comes to bodybuilding, so I should be the one getting the advice.

Who is your favorite competitor?

Unquestionably, it's Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I also like Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, and Lou Ferrigno.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

Although I'm not really active on Bodybuilding.com, I find great motivation from photo galleries. When I was competing, the contest prep articles helped me a lot by providing extensive explanations and strategies. It's also a great place to shop for supplements.

Thanks: To my parents, my trainer, John, and Loomis Chaffee community.