On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
It’s not every day that you see the words fashion model and Muay Thai fighter in the same bio, but that’s exactly what Mia Kang juggles for a living. To add to that, the international model has completed a master’s degree in finance and financial law and spent time working as a commodities trader.
Born in Hong Kong to a British father and a South Korean mother, Kang studied at the international Island School as a teenager, but has revealed in interviews that she never felt like she fit in with other kids. “I grew up as an obese kid and teenager,” she told Yahoo Style. “I was heavily bullied in school. When I was 13, I cut my weight in half — I stopped eating.”
Losing weight led to Kang being scouted as a model, and she soon appeared in one of her first jobs for a Levi’s campaign. After graduating from high school, Kang signed with London Models 1 agency and started modelling around the world, in London, Tokyo, Singapore, and Milan. Despite her success in the modelling world, Kang developed eating disorders and body image issues, undoubtedly exacerbated by industry pressures to maintain a certain weight.
“At 27, the industry wanted me to look how I looked when I was 17, and my body was fighting,” she said in an interview with Self. “I was resisting more. I was emotionally resisting, mentally resisting.”
During a low point in her career, where she even contemplated suicide, Kang booked a holiday to Koh Samui, where by chance, she discovered a Muay Thai gym. “I was driving down the road my first day there and saw a Muay Thai gym, pulled over the car, tried it, and fell in love with it,” she revealed. “I just loved how it made me feel.”
The initial 10-day holiday turned into a 9-month training camp with workouts held six days a week. Discovering her love for Muay Thai led Kang on a journey to body positivity and self-love.
As a model you’re treated so preciously, almost like a doll. When I stepped into a Muay Thai gym, it didn’t matter what I did or how I looked. Everything’s just about hard work, heart, skill and knowledge. You find out a lot about yourself when you practise Muay Thai, and I believe this is true of all martial arts. You’re in a continuous dialogue with yourself, because there’s no one else accountable for your progress and your mistakes.Mia Kang: Journey From Self Loathing to Self Love | Prestige Online
These days, Kang continues to model while juggling her Muay Thai training. She was named winner of Sports Illustrated’s 2016 Model Search, and won her first professional Muay Thai fight in 2017 when she beat her opponent via technical knockout.
On a typical day, Kang is up at 7am and has breakfast (“muesli, granola or oatmeal with some honey, blueberries, yogurt and coconut”), before heading off to training. In addition to Muay Thai, Kang also regularly trains jiu-jitsu, Pilates, Crossfit and yoga.
“I train about three hours a day when I’m in New York, and about six hours a day when I’m in Thailand,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “It includes everything from cardio, to technique and drills, to strength and conditioning.”
For me, mixing up my workouts is key, so they don’t ever get tedious and stale. They vary from simple running, sprints, hill sprints, spinning, Barre, Pilates, yoga, boxing, Thai boxing, and body weight gym exercises. Muay Thai is my all-time favorite workout. When you hit pads, you are doing rounds of high intensity with one minute breaks in between. Amazing for your fitness. It’s a full body workout as you’re punching and kicking. There is a lot of foot work and balance involved, requiring a ton of core strength and control. My favorite part of the sport is the requirement to be mentally switched on and engaged.Sports Illustrated Model Mia Kang | The New Potato
Having such an intense training routine means Kang has to consume a lot of calories to recover and replenish her body. “Depending on how hard I train that day, my diet varies,” she said. “If I’m having a day at home I don’t need a lot of carbohydrates and fuel and can stick to lean protein and vegetables. If I’m training for five hours in a day I need protein for recovery and carbohydrates for fuel. I also try to eat as clean as possible, I avoid processed and packaged foods.”
I’m an athlete and a model. I live in two worlds that do not collide together at all. My Muay Thai changed my body to become much bigger and more muscular, which the fashion world rejects. Muay Thai often leaves me with bumps and bruises that I can’t have while I’m modelling. Even just simple things like as a model I really must be watching what I eat but while I’m training I have to fuel my body to train. It’s difficult to balance my time between, essentially, two full time jobs. But honestly at this point I love it, and I need both of these worlds in my life.Asian Model Mia Kang Reveals Her Top Diet Tips & Her Secret To Staying Fit | Harper’s Bazaar
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