For folks who consider ‘round’ as being in shape, well, personal trainer Chan Wai Teik is here to change your mind. The 46-year-old is a competitive bodybuilder and an award-winning fashion photographer who had cameoed on reality shows such as SuperModelMe and Asia’s Next Top Model as the designated lensman for the contest’s glamazons.

When he’s not juggling photo projects like his first solo photography exhibition titled ‘Offerings’, Wai Teik also runs an eponymous personal training business (@waiteikfitness on Instagram) where he transforms people like office folks from flab to fab. So whether you are thinking of getting into #beastmode or simply just want to survive climbing your office stairs, this 1.69m-tall, 94kg hulk has some hacks for fitness noobs to get started on working out.

1. Having the right genes is half the battle won
Yes, it is very unfair, but if you want a ripped physique, being blessed with athletic genes helps a lot. According to Wai Teik: “There are people who spend a lot of time training certain body parts like the calves, but they just can’t develop [muscles]. When it comes to bodybuilding, half the [result] is due to genetics.” So if you have naturally skinny legs, you know to spend extra time on #legday, okay?

2. Don’t work out just for the sake of looking good
While Wai Teik admits that “posting a topless photo of myself on social media gets me more personal training business”, he avers that fitness is not just about that swole ‘gram. “A lot of people are concerned about their physical appearance, but in order to make fitness their lifestyle, they should actually like the process of sweating it out at the gym and muscle ache. If not, they will only [get into the fitness craze] for a year or two and their enthusiasm won’t last,” he says.

3. The mirror is your best motivation buddy
Even though he’s more jacked than a WWE wrestler, Wai Teik has his lazy days too. He shares, “If I lack motivation, I will take a break and rest. But when I look in the mirror I’d think, ‘Hey, how come I don’t look as healthy or fit as last year?’ It motivates me to do something. I also look at other people who are fitter than me and think about how I can do more.”

4. Figure out your mental barriers
For folks who want a #revengebody but dread working out, Wai Teik advises them to consider why they dislike exercising. “Usually I sit down with [my clients] to chat and address their issues,” he says. “Some of them don’t like sweating, or are afraid of being laughed at in the gym. So we figure out their goals, and once they get started and feel their core muscles being activated, they realise it is [not that difficult to be fit]. I’m not a drill instructor. I don’t force them to do things they don’t like! But I’ll coax them into training. A lot of my clients hate core exercises, so I will slowly introduce those exercises to them at a later stage.”

5. Give yourself homework to do
If you want to make fitness a lifelong commitment, ingrain it in your lifestyle by giving yourself reminder homework. Says Wai Teik, “Once I have taught my client the skill sets, I’ll text them reminders like, ‘Hey, are you still working out?’. Some people are motivated enough to continue working out. Others need a personal trainer to coax them to train. I had a client who was very stubborn; he needed a pep talk every week to do something. I would give him homework like, ‘Do some planking’. Ironically, he was a teacher. I’d tell him, ‘If you give your students homework and they don’t do it, they’d fail!’ Working out involves mental strength and discipline.”

6 Say goodbye to dirty, dirty hor fun
“I told the kopitiam auntie I didn’t want MSG or soy sauce in my hor fun and she asked, ‘Are you sick?’” laughs Wai Teik. A typical day of meals for him includes “five slices of wholemeal bread and 12 egg whites” for breakfast, “the usual Chinese-style stir-fried or steamed chicken, fish and veggies with brown rice that my helper cooks for me” for lunch and “the same for dinner”. Oh, and “KFC once a year”. If you must have your fried grub, go for something a little bit healthier, like tempura.

Wai Teik’s solo photography exhibition ‘Offerings’ is open from now till Apr 29 at Chan + Hori Contemporary, #02-09, 6 Lock Rd, S108934. More info about his photography and fitness work at