Trainers of the NST Body Makeover Challenge tell MEERA MURUGESAN they are impressed with the participants’ determination and commitment
Fitness is their forte and working out, a way of life. For most of us, exercising is a chore but for Wee Seng Chen and Kelvin Arokedass, it’s a gift they give their bodies.
It’s also a practice that has changed their lives and is allowing them to help others as well. The two fitness managers at Celebrity Fitness and trainers for the New Straits
Times Body Makeover Challenge, are friends and co-workers with a similar goal — to convert more people to a healthy lifestyle.
Wee, from Muar, Johor, says he hopped onto the fitness bandwagon in his teens after watching friends working out at the gym. What started as a fun activity soon got him hooked.
“I started to see an improvement in my body and began to enjoy the sessions. I also felt more confident,” says Wee who’s stationed at Celebrity Fitness, 1 Utama, Petaling Jaya.
At that time, Wee didn’t know his new hobby would lead to career opportunities as well. The 26-year-old joined Celebrity Fitness 5½ years ago after coming across an advertisement for a job vacancy.
However, he had to convince his parents that helping people to lose weight and stay fit was a viable career. His father, a lorry driver and mother, a housewife, were initially concerned about job stability and his future prospects but they have now accepted his choice.
Wee says he appreciates every opportunity to spread the word about healthy living and to encourage people to exercise. As a Body Makeover Challenge coach, he has six participants under his supervision while Kelvin is in charge of another six.
Held in collaboration with Celebrity Fitness, the competition offers a RM20,000 grand prize to the participant with the highest percentage of weight loss. The rest are in line for the first prize of RM10,000, second prize of RM5,000 and nine consolation prizes of RM1,000 each.
Wee says he’s impressed with the discipline and determination of his team members. Even Chan Woei Yee, the participant with a prosthetic leg, is showing great spirit and commitment.
Chan also motivates the whole team. Despite his condition, Chan always completes his exercises and goes to the gym even on non-training days.
Another participant, Choong Joe Ming, goes through his routine expressionless no matter how strenuous the training.
“With the others, the intensity of exercising shows on their faces but not Joe’s. He always has the same expression and you never guess what he’s going through.”
Mohd Firdaus Mohammad, on the other hand, always has a perpetual smile on his face, much to Wee’s amusement.
He has also observed determination and inner strength in the female participants. Jocelyn Chua, for example, joined the challenge after trying and failing at various other weight loss programmes.
Her experiences would usually leave many people de-motivated but Chua is making sure her progress is on track and she will not give up easily.
As for Nor Ainsah Hashim, despite putting in 12 hour shifts at the fast food company where she works, she always shows up promptly for training.
“I hope they will be able to maintain this momentum even after the challenge is over. It’s important that they learn to enjoy exercising. Even if they don’t like it, at the very least they shouldn’t hate it.”
For Kelvin, 27, (or Achi as he’s popularly known), it was an unexpected injury on the football field which eventually led him to his present career.
An active and talented footballer since schooldays, Kelvin had always assumed he would spend his days on the pitch but an injury to his leg changed everything.
He sought the services of a respected physiotherapist, who not only treated him but also helped spark an interest in physiotherapy.
“He treated me for free and told me I could work for him after I finished school.”
Kelvin recovered, trained hard and went back to playing football but eventually another injury and corrective surgery followed. Given the situation and that he had obtained a diploma in physiotherapy, he decided to pursue a career in that field instead.
He worked as a physiotherapist for various football clubs and teams including the Malaysian Indian Football Association. His speciality is bringing injured players back to the pitch earlier than anticipated.
His experience eventually led him to the fitness line. He applied for a job as a gym instructor despite having higher qualifications.
“I wanted to start from scratch to learn the business,” says Kelvin who climbed the rungs fairly quickly, becoming a trainer, then team leader, assistant fitness manager and finally, fitness manager at Celebrity Fitness.
Kelvin, based at the Bangsar Village II outlet in Kuala Lumpur, enjoys his work because he’s passionate about what he does.
“The football injury may have taken me off the field but I’m having the kind of experiences that are equally enjoyable now,” says Kelvin, who’s also a part-time model and has appeared in television and billboard advertisements.
To stay fit, he works out five times a week and plans what he eats. Most people are impulsive when it comes to meals but Kelvin makes conscious, well thought out choices.
“If I want to eat nasi lemak for example, I plan it for a day when I have a workout scheduled so that I can burn off the extra calories.”
Kelvin says he’s tough on the Body Makeover Challenge participants and expects a lot from them because only a highly disciplined approach can produce results.
Of his team members, he describes 41-year-old Faroukh Othman as being highly determined and disciplined. Faroukh recently showed up for training even when his stepmother was admitted to the intensive care unit and another time, he continued to exercise despite having a bleeding blister on his leg.
Nurul Farhana Zainudin, the youngest in the group, also impresses Kelvin because she takes everything, even punishments, in her stride. Kelvin once made her do 100 push-ups for showing up late for training but she managed to complete it.
Tutie Masliani Ismail is another participant who has shown she can take on anything that comes her way. Kelvin says that even when she’s struggling, Tutie doesn’t give up. She continues until she completes the exercise and perseveres even when she’s slower than the others.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Hafizuddin Kamarruddin impressed Kelvin with his willingness to go the extra mile and his leadership qualities.
“I’ve told all of them that they are not like other gym members. They’re under a microscope and the whole country is watching. They are determined to do their best.”
Trainers’ observations of participants:
- Choong always has the same expression during training and you’d never guess what he’s going through
- Chan motivates the whole team
- Nurul Farhana Zainudin takes everything in her stride
The New Straits Times Body Makeover Challenge, held in collaboration with Celebrity Fitness, is a body makeover reality programme. The contest is open to Malaysians aged between 18 and 45. The participant who has the highest percentage of weight loss at the end of the contest, will win the RM20,000 grand prize. The rest are in line for the first prize of RM10,000, second prize of RM5,000 and nine consolation prizes of RM1,000 each.
To get Malaysians to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Twelve participants are divided into two teams, led by fitness trainers. For the next three months, team members work together to motivate each other to lose weight, while practising a healthy lifestyle.
Meera, M., 2011. Committed to Lose Weight. New Strait Times, [online]22 November. Available at: <http://www.nst.com.my/life-times/health/committed-to-lose-weight-1.8940>