Tiffany Chin: The Lean, Mean, Bodybuilding Machine


Senior Tiffany Chin in a hurdling pose.

By Stephana Ocneanu, Staff Writer

In a sea of blondes and brunettes, Niles West senior Tiffany Chin stands out with her striking purple hair and icy blue eyes. Her lilac colored curls bounce on her shoulders as her infectious laugh can be heard from down the hall. With a height of 5’8″, Chin’s impressive build is accentuated by colorful GymShark activewear and the latest limited edition trends. Once she passes you by, your head cannot help but turn to get a closer glance at this lean, mean, bodybuilding machine of a girl.

As a freshman looking for an extracurricular activity to join, Chin was attracted to the ‘no-cut’ — no tryouts, everyone makes the team — aspect of Girl’s Track and Field. Although each of her friends signed up as long-distance runners, she gravitated towards hurdling and short distance running almost immediately. This decision, however, proved to be quite the challenge for an inexperienced athlete amongst 90 other girls of all sorts of skill and ages.

“I didn’t think I was good enough to be noticed by the coaches; they put me in some JV relays, but no one ever spent much time practicing with me, so I had to learn it all on my own,” said Chin.

At the time, Chin was only able to jump 4-5 hurdles with a 5-step (or sometimes 3-step), compared to the 10 she can easily go through now. Nevertheless, she hardly went unnoticed her freshman year. Girls Track and Field Coach, Mark Medland, recalled the first time he realized Chin had amazing potential as an athlete.

“Tiffany struck me as someone who could be an excellent athlete in the first week of practice during her freshman year.  She is a hard worker, often spending extra time (especially in the hurdles and weight room) in order to improve,” said Medland.

Alyssa Pagan
Tiffany Chin completing her hurdles for the competition.

After falling in love with the sport, Chin devoted the next three years in more intensive training to improve her times as a runner and hurdler. Spending hours at summer camps, the school track, and the gym (whether it be her home-gym or the Morton Grove park district) Chin strived for nothing short of a transformation. Thanks to friend and teammate, senior Alba Note, she was encouraged to spend a few hours of each week in the school’s weight room as a form of preseason training.

“We became lifting buddies our junior year and we always push each other to be our bests in the weight room and on the tack,” said Note.

Afterschool lifting for the sole purpose of strengthening what she describes as her “noodle arms” quickly spiraled into a passion of Chin’s over time. She had seemed to catch the ‘lifting bug’ and essentially became addicted to it after seeing major results within 3 months of starting. This side hobby of hers later became a lifestyle for Chin as she devoted her time to every aspect of physique training — the practice of training your body for aesthetics, not for actual movement or sport.

“People say it’s 70% diet and 30% training; I had the training part down so my older brother (Matthew Chin) helped me fix my diet. Once I started eating double my meals than before, I gained 12 pounds within the first 3 months and I could see the muscles really kicking in and showing definition. It was really fun to flex and look at myself as I got stronger,” Chin said.

Unfortunately, with intense training comes inevitable injuries. Because of the conflicting relationship between weightlifting for sport verse aesthetics, the body is much more vulnerable to the risk of injury. Chin learned this the hard way as she faced her 2018 track season for the first time since embarking on her physique training journey simultaneously. During what was supposed to be her first preseason practice of senior year, but was later canceled, Chin fell while hurdling. Keep in mind, this was while she was still recovering from tearing her latissimus dorsi and upper pectoralis earlier. With the fear that she had also torn her meniscus, Chin worried for the success of her final high school season as was setback by injury after injury, but yet she still persisted.

“She’s been through a lot of rough patches but she still overcame her obstacles and still overcame her obstacles and devotes all her passion to become a better athlete and that’s extremely admirable. She sets such an impressive example to younger athletes as a captain, and even for me as a co-captain,” said Note.

Despite her success, Chin’s Track and Field career is one that will be short-lived. After her final season in high school, she will retire her role as a hurdler and runner to focus on the aesthetics aspect of physique training in college. Following after the footsteps of her older brother, Matthew, she will shape her meal plans and exercises according to her goals as a bodybuilder, hopefully later participating in a competition side by side.

“Matthew is my biggest inspiration when it comes to bodybuilding. My sibling dream is to compete with my brother on the same stage, at the same competition, taking oily-tanned pictures with the caption, ‘siblings who lift together, stay together,’” said Chin.

Along with her older brother, Chin places GymShark athlete Karina Elle, Instagram fitness personality Heidi Somers (@buffbunny), and fitness influencer Caroline O’Mahony on pedestals as her biggest inspirations for bodybuilding. Starting out as an unmotivated freshman who simply joined Track and Field to mark it on her transcript, Chin has evolved into an aspiring bodybuilder with a hunger to succeed. By pushing herself further and further into the realm of physique aesthetic training, she holds a bright future for whatever she aspires to accomplish with her fitness. Who knows, maybe that giggly purple-haired girl you saw in the halls once will end up on the cover of a GymShark catalog.