Michelle Hong, a global figure skating coach, choreographer, content creator, consultant, and activist in the Bay Area, is on a mission to make figure skating accessible. Striving to leave all athletes empowered, Hong has curated an online coaching space where figure skaters can access daily training tips, tutorials, and advice. Her “Coach Michelle Academy” has helped thousands of figure skaters to date accomplish their personal and professional goals.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt daily life, figure skaters nationwide continue to feel the effects and struggle to afford lessons or have access to the skating rink. In response, Hong pioneered the “Stretch with Michelle” and “Skate with Michelle” series, multimedia libraries that contain over 40 full-length tutorials on figure skating elements. Today, these platforms proudly support a community of over 400,000.
“My Cambodian American heritage played a huge role in my success,” remarked Michelle Hong. “My parents are Cambodian refugees who survived the Khmer Rouge Genocide, a mass-murdering of more than two million Cambodian civilians. Despite not having the financial resources my competitors had, my parents reminded me that work ethic and grit were just as much an integral part of my journey.”
Hong started skating when she was just seven years old and has been active in the community for the last 20 years. She started coaching at age 16 to pay for lessons and out of a passion for seeing others excel and fall in love with the sport.
Recognizing the figure skating culture is known to be elitist and exclusive, Hong is empowering a new generation of skaters with mental and emotional support to breakdown the traditionally toxic narrative. Growing up, she felt that mental and emotional support was hard to come by. In order to gain respect you had to skate a certain, look a certain way, and wear specific costumes in order to fit the ideal mold of what a skater “should” be. This toxic narrative still lives on in skating culture as she receives the constant questions from followers including, “Am I too fat to skate? How can I start if I don’t have the money? Am I too old to start skating?” In addition, many BIPOC skaters find themselves to be heavily marginalized. Disrupting the figure skating culture of the past, Hong’s authentic and welcoming community of skaters have access to the tools they need to become the skaters they want to be through passion, work ethic, and grit.
She added that she wants people of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds to have a place in this sport whether it be recreational, competitive, or professional.
“In order to be the athlete you want to be on the ice, it is crucial to develop agility, endurance, balance, and power on the ground,” added Hong. “You can train to be the skater you want to be by signing up for Coach Michelle Academy today and joining this empowering global movement.”
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