An interview with Chengdu’s fiercest fitness fanatic

A year ago I wrote a post about the fitness scene in Chengdu, which informed people: where who and what was available in the city.  One year later, a particular fitness guru has continued to excel in her niche. Her name is Dani. She’s a pastors daughter with a slight potty mouth and unabashedly sarcastic but she’s strong, beautiful and knows her stuff. I’ve been attending her classes for a year now. My strength, body and mind have seen an immeasurable improvement. I can always count on her to kick my ass and push me to the max.
I wanted to delve further into the inner psyche of this power house. So, I arranged a one on one interview to find out how she maintains such a well oiled rig and what makes her tick.

Q and A

So, lets start off basic. What's your A/S/L?

[laughs] 31/Female/Chengdu



For real though, where are you from?

I am from Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A.

First and foremost, what inspired you to get into fitness?

Not wanting to be fat [laughs] just kidding!
 Were  you ever fat?
Haha. No. [inhales deeply] I played soccer in high school and I was a runner. I started running at 16 but then got tired of it. I started lifting weights when I was 18 and then gradually, I got into strength training. I also worked all types of different jobs but never felt truly fulfilled.

Did you study exercise science at University?

Initially I started studying photography at college. Then I transferred to ODU (Old Dominion University), to study Kinesiology which is exercise science, for 3 years. During this time I decided I wanted to be a personal trainer so I got certified as one with NASM

What brought you to the home of the pandas and land of abundance

My husband Jeremy, was offered a job in China, so naturally I went with him. First I lived in Chongqing, which was awful. Everyone thought I had fat arms and there was no likeminded fitness community. I went home to do a 200 hour yoga teacher training, came back and started teaching yoga out of my apartment, to anyone I could find. Then we moved to Chengdu.

How was your footprint into the Chengdu fitness scene born?

Power Hour started in Poly Centre BACTIVE. Annie was the first person to come. The classroom was-no s**t- the size of this chair [points to Starbucks chair]. And then the class grew and grew. For yoga, someone knew I was a yoga teacher and the Temple House wanted to start a community yoga class (+ brunch). So I assumed downward dog position.

I am so ashamed that I can't touch my toes. Have you always been super flexible?

No. I had a client cancel a session one night. We had yoga classes at the gym, so I thought why the hell not. I had never done yoga before, I was a pilates person. Well. I hated it, I couldn’t touch my toes, I thought “this is awful”. But I kept going and I started getting better and better and I saw improvements.

You're so driven and full of energy, what's your secret?

LOTS OF COFFEE [sips coffee]. Im very passionate about what I do and it drives me. Going to work and loving what you do is a lot different than going to work and hating what you do. Working for myself inspires me to be the best version I can be of myself. I’m energised by seeing people push themselves.

What's you biggest achievement in regards to your own body?

“I built my deadlift game and I grew an ass”. Plus now I can do 3 pull ups which I couldn’t do when I first moved to China.

How do you stay so motivated?

“First of all, motivation is fleeting. Consistency is key.”
I’m not motivated everyday. If you aren’t feeling motivated. Go to the gym anyway. You will find if you spend a few minutes in the gym you start to feel motivated. Workout first thing in the morning because then its done. Find people that inspire you and spend time with them, find a partner to encourage each other. Go to classes.

What's your typical workout routine?

I workout 5-6 days a week. I ride my bike every where, everyday. 2x days of HIIT (20-30 minutes at the most). 1x day of sprint training. My legs are my favourite thing to train. I don’t do endurance training anymore. I also do a cross-fit style workout once a week with Jeremy and a lot of demonstration during workouts too.

What's one piece of solid advice you can give to the fitness newbies out there?

“Don’t give up!”
Don’t get frustrated when you don’t see results immediately. You have to be consistent. Find someone that knows what they’re doing and work with them. “I’m available” [grins]. 
"You can't pour from an empty cup to share energy with other people. You need to create energy first, for yourself"
Dani Bulgrien

So, recently you've become an ambassador for LULULEMON. Amazing and congratulations! Is there anything exciting coming up up in the pipelines that you can share with us?

Not much right now. Just continuing to branch out and open more stores. My goal is to become an International Ambassador and teach around the world [daydreams of ambassador card].
You should come to ‘The Party’ event hosted by LULULEMON at Taikoo Li this weekend. There will be yoga, dance, workout and training. I’ll be there in the evenings on both days and it’s totally free!

As well as fuelling our bodies its important to feed our minds. How do you stay healthy, mentally?


Ive struggled with anxiety and depression in China. There’s no outlet or place to go in China. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t think you’re crazy cause you feel a certain type of way. Seek other people to support you and build you up. 

Follow this Instagram account: Cleo Wade

In regards to being healthy and eating well. What type of way of eating do you recommend?


“Don’t eat like an idiot” 

80% / 20%

80% = quality whole nutritious foods

20% = letting yourself live a little

I’ve experimented with Keto and intermittent fasting. I like experimenting with diet stuff to keep up to date for my clients.

Thumbs up to: Avocado, coconut oil, salmon, nuts

Thumbs down to: Dairy

Check out this article I read recently:

OK. Now it's time for a cheeky 'Quick fire question' round. You ready?

Favourite ab workout? Leg raises
Favourite tooshy workout? Elevated single leg tempo deadlifts
Favourite back workout? Rows
Favourite leg exercise? Lunges
Favourite workout brand? Lulu Lemon [Duh]
Go to training shoe? Converse
Shorts or leggings? Leggings [a look of regret]
Deadlifts or squats? Deadlifts
Kettle bell or medicine ball? Kettle bell
Treadmill or cross trainer? [rolls eyes] Neither.
Yoga or HIIT?  Probably HIIT
Cake or ice cream? Ice cream
Beer or wine? Champagne! Best of both worlds. [smiles]
Solo or partnered workout? Solo. I prefer workout alone because it gives me my much needed me-time as I’m always training other people. 
 Workout pet peeve? Pick up your s**t. Don’t hog the squat rack.
A fitness fad you CAN’T get behind? Hot Yoga – I hate it.
Go to healthy food– I love eggs sweet potato and avo with sriracha on top + dark chocolate.
Guilty pleasure food – Ice-cream and fries (Not together)

Workout song that gets you LIT? 17 (6am Remix) – MK

Would you rather: Never see your dog again or never do a days exercise again? Dude I would die. But if I die because I’m not active then there’s no one to take care of the dog. SO. Is it really responsible for me to not workout? Is walking exercise? Cause the dog needs walks. Im just saying. 

Dani. Just choose one.

Ok. I choose the dog. [sighs and shoots evils]


POWER HOUR: Wednesday & Friday mornings at 7:15-8:15 (BACTIVE)

ASS Class: Thursday Evening 19:00-20:00 (BACTIVE)

YOGA + Brunch: Saturday morning  at 9:00-10:00(TaiKooLi) 

Wechat: DaniBulgrien if you want to come along and have a try out class. You won’t be disappointed.




Click below for Dani's

"The only thing that you have control over is your reaction to things outside of your control "
Dani Bulgrien