Fitness who's who

Meet Santina Philips, coach, athlete, strong woman, addicted to the thrill of a new challenge

Meet Santina, or better known as Bam, the co-owner of URSUS Fitness – Hong Kong’s only Strongman Gym, located in Sai Ying Pun. Originally from the UK, she moved to Hong Kong 4 years ago with dreams of starting her own gym, which unfolded after meeting Gary Manwaring and finding the sport of Strongman.

Now two years on URSUS Fitness is booming and Bam has several titles under her belt: Under 63kg Arnold Asia’s Strongest Woman and Under 65kg Arnold Asia’s Strongest Woman with recent invites to compete at the World Arnold Classic Strongman and The World’s Strongest Woman, both held in the US.


What inspired to start your fitness/competition journey?

I’ve always been into fitness and tried numerous sports but nothing has made me enjoy competition more than Strongman. I’ve competed in lots of team sports but never as an individual and even though it scares me, I love the thrill of being challenged.

What is your weekly training regimen?

This depends on what I’m training for, but it will usually involve 3 strength focused days using lots of barbell and dumbbell work, sometimes finishing with shorts bursts of cardio, 1 or 2 Strongman Event training days, and 1 sprint day at the track. I’ve been invited to compete at the World’s Strongest Woman in December, I’ve just started my program which is going to get ramped up in a few months so I can peak just at the right time.

I’ve been invited to compete at the World’s Strongest Woman in December, I’ve just started my program which is going to get ramped up in a few months so I can peak just at the right time.

How do you get ready to face a challenge that you know will be hard to overcome?

To be honest I always try not to think about it… If I’m training for a big competition I won’t get nervous until the big day. The only problem with that is that then, it hits me big time!

The good thing is with Strongman, there are several events so once the first is out of the way, I’m all smiles and enjoying myself. However much the pressure scares me, I do love to compete, it’s definitely my kind of environment.

The World’s coming up later this year will be my biggest challenge yet. Each time I compete, I learn how to control my nerves a little better so hopefully, I’ll pull it together!

What advice would you give to someone to stay motivated?

Set goals! You don’t necessarily have to compete but you definitely need something to work towards. More specifically I think performance based goals are better. Rather than focusing on losing X amount of kilos or body fat, try to give yourself a goal of running 200m faster, doing a 100kg back squat, performing an unassisted pull-up… the options are endless.

What would you say to the 10 years younger you?

Lift weights as soon as possible! Don’t worry about what others think and believe in yourself!

What’s your favorite cheat meal?

Beef and Liberty’s bacon cheese burger and sweet potato fries. Mmmm… Not to mention the skillet cookie after!

A hobby that has nothing to do with fitness?

That’s a hard one! If I’m not at URSUS Fitness, I’m doing something active! I’m lucky to have my family living in Hong Kong too, so I spend lots of my free time with them and my baby niece.

A quote you live by

“I was never talented and nobody will call me talented, I am just a workaholic.” – Dmitry Klokov

Where can you meet Santina?

It’s quite simple, push the door of  URSUS Fitness, and chances are you’ll find her teaching/coaching as she spends most of her time there.

Follow Santina!

You can follow Santina on Instagram, at the account she’s sharing with her (PT) sister Christiana: @sisterstrength

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