63, an influencer and she’s had ‘no Botox, no fillers’: meet an Asian TikTok star who looks effortlessly ageless. How does she do it?

This despite not having had any cosmetic enhancements, which are common in influencers and models half her age.

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A fashion industry veteran, she moved from Singapore to Hong Kong in 1989 to work for clothing retailer Esprit.

She lived in Hong Kong for 26 years and it was there, in her late 30s, that she met her American husband – who also appears on her social media but prefers to remain unnamed.

A mutual interest in fitness has helped Tan and her husband maintain a close bond for more than 26 years. Photo: Instagram/@californiaistoocasual

Both lifelong fitness fanatics, they did a 5km (3.1 mile) run along Bowen Road in Mid-Levels on Hong Kong Island for their first date, and were married within a year.

Their first child, Mya, prompted the family to move to California a decade ago so that she and her brother, now 18, could eventually attend university there.

Mya also got Tan to start posting photographs of her outfits on TikTok in December 2021.

“She said, ‘This is something you can do with your eyes closed, Mom. You’ve been in the fashion business for so long and you have this amazing wardrobe. I have a funny feeling people are going to like you.’ ”

She was right: Tan’s following soared from zero to 10,000 on TikTok in just three weeks, and as it did, so did her confidence, which, she admits, wobbled when she hit 55 and had a brief existential crisis about getting older.

“When I turned 50, I looked 40, and felt I still looked pretty good,” she says.

I literally look younger today, and my skin looks better than when I posted my first video. Is it [skincare] products? Yes. But it’s also this new-found confidence

Gym Tan

“When I was approaching the next milestone, 60, I started to go, ‘Oh my god, what’s going to happen?’ Because with Asians, you always think you’re going to look good only till you reach a certain age.

“But then nothing happened when I turned 60, or when I turned 63, and so on. And you can relax again, because it’s actually not that bad.”

The boost in self-esteem that has come with her popularity online has not hurt, either.

Tan and her husband are very much in love today, just as they were from the start. Photo: courtesy of Gym Tan
“I literally look younger today, and my skin looks better than when I posted my first video. Is it [skincare] products? Yes. But it’s also this new-found confidence.”

Thus ageing well is, at least in part, a mindset, she believes.

“When you have everyone telling you how gorgeous you are, you feel like you’re beginning to own your space, when at first you’re not sure if you can sit at the table.

“I feel that really affects your aura.”

With many now looking to her as a role model, Tan has grown more thoughtful about “the messaging, which has to be a bit more serious now”.

“So many women have written to me saying: ‘I saw your running video and now I’m running too, or using a trainer, and I’m in the best shape of my life.’

“I think they saw a 60-something who was not a model and thought: ‘It can’t be that difficult.’”

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Invariably, people want to know if Tan has any diet, fitness or wellness secrets.

She insists she is not doing anything special, only the lifestyle habits that everyone already knows they should adopt, such as regular exercise, reasonably healthy eating, adequate sleep and good stress management.

And Tan knows she has an advantage here. “I’m very fit for my age,” she says, and this has always been the case.

“I was always out running in Singapore and Hong Kong, and my nickname was ‘Gym Rat’.”

Tan often features her daughter, Mya, in her social media posts. Photo: courtesy of Gym Tan
When she lived in Hong Kong, she completed the full Macau marathon twice – her best time was “just under five hours, nothing to write home about”, she says; on November 5, she will attempt her first New York Marathon, running alongside her daughter and husband.

“I’m not a competitor and I don’t need to prove anything to anyone – I just want to finish, not get injured, and have a new experience,” Tan says.

When she is not training for the marathon, she averages more than 9km of running or walking a day. On an Instagram reel of her running, she writes: “Running reminds me to never ever give up and to keep challenging myself no matter what age. It keeps me strong physically and mentally and it’s just a part of who I am.”

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She will sneak in a few sets of sit-ups while watching television, and has a TRX – a suspension training system that uses straps and body weight – at home.

Occasionally her husband will urge her to do more sessions at the gym, she says, but she will usually just reply: “No, hun, look at this”, and drop a few sets of push-ups.

“I’m lucky because I’ve stayed in shape throughout my life, so it’s just maintenance.”

She also eats pretty much “everything”, she says – but “keeps to my meals” and does not snack.

“I’m Asian and from Singapore, and we love our food and a huge variety of it.

“But I was raised hearing my Cantonese mother, who grew up in Hong Kong, telling me, ‘ Don’t eat the chicken skin and all that fat’. So I always cut that off,” says Tan, whose father is from the Teochew region in mainland China, and whose name in Teochew was spelled as “Gym” on her birth certificate.

An Instagram reel of her daily breakfast smoothie reveals that she has at least one diet rule: “to have protein at every meal”.

Her smoothie contains plenty of sugar and fat – ice cream, a big bowl of fruit, orange juice, maple-flavoured yogurt, milk, almond butter and a scoop of protein powder.
Tan has not jumped on wellness trends such as red light therapy, sauna, cold plunges, meditation or intermittent fasting.

“Everything I’m doing is [part of] normal life, and I think: do you really need to take all those extreme measures?”

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She is also refreshingly honest about perhaps having simply won the genetic lottery when it comes to ageing.

“I could just be very lucky. I’m Asian and my DNA is probably such that I’m naturally slim, and I was always athletic growing up.

“I do look my age, though. I have a lot of friends around my age and I think we all look about the same.”

Tan with her daughter. Photo: courtesy of Gym Tan
Also essential is managing sleep and stress. “ I need seven hours and I don’t always get it, but I can see the difference in my skin when I do.”

More important than any of these things are her family relationships, which she also credits for her agelessness.

Daughter Mya is like “a partner in a lot of ways, and we have so much fun together”, Tan says.

The close mother-daughter bond seen in Tan’s posts “is real, and I’ve got a lot of followers who love that we have such a great relationship because they want to have that with their daughters, too”.

She and her husband are also “very much in love today, just as we were from the start, and we are very much partners”.

“I work at these relationships,” she says.

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And although many online commenters gush about her preternaturally youthful appearance, Tan says: “I just look like I’ve taken good care of myself.”

“That’s a really important message – that, actually, it’s achievable.”

The Post 63, an influencer and she’s had ‘no Botox, no fillers’: meet an Asian TikTok star who looks effortlessly ageless. How does she do it? Originally Posted on www.scmp.com

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