There is no need to tell Allan Wu that we need him to go shirtless for a shoot. It’s understood. The man peels off his shirt with zero self-consciousness the minute he steps into our studio, because why waste time, right? He’s here today to chat about fitness and about hosting Fitness Super Star 2018, a fitness competition which “incorporates whimsical elements of fitness, fashion and style.” While the strapping young dudes in our Shirtless Guy of the Week columns pump and starve for weeks prior to their shoots, all Allan has to do is turn up. Okay, maybe he also skips lunch on that day and decides to dehydrate a little by not drinking water in the hours before the shoot. Not that it makes any difference, ’cos according to the man himself, “I’m usually pretty cut regardless.” Somehow, it’s not braggy when Allan Wu says something like that, or if he’s booming in our studio, “I’m always taking off my shirt ’cos none of the other guys can do it!” Because it’s true. Also, if you know Allan, you’ll know he’s half-joking, but only half. Why have false modesty when you have the goods to back it up?
8 DAYS: It’s hard to be ripped all the time — most people have cheat days and off seasons. But you’re always shirtless shoot-ready. How?
ALLAN WU: Honestly, it’s about understanding yourself and your body and being realistic about your goals. For me, I’ve always been very hyperactive and people know I’m very energetic and animated, and that allows me to burn a lot of calories even when I’m not doing very much physically. It’s a combination of genes and also lifestyle. I grew up playing basketball and football and doing cross country and track, and in college I played rugby and beach volleyball and did rowing. I just love being outdoors and doing sports. I’m not like a lot of guys who exercise to look good. I’ve been blessed [with a love for sports] and [my body] is a byproduct of that interest.
So it’s the fact that the genetic gods have smiled upon you, along with a sporty lifestyle since young.
My parents are not that that fit. My mum is obese, and my brother who lives in the US is pretty chunky. But I’ve been lucky. If I go overseas to shoot like on The Amazing Race, and I’m not eating well and have less time to work out, what happens is I get thinner and thinner, and more cut. I lose muscle mass but I don’t get fat. Someone else may start getting fat. It all depends on your body. There’s never an absolute answer, like this diet or this exercise will work for you. The key is to find out what works best for you and what you enjoy doing.
Do you watch what you eat at all?
If I’m filming a lot and don’t work out, I will eat less. But I’d never starve myself. As we get older, our metabolism slows down. Everyone’s always shocked when I eat pizza or hamburger, or if I drink beer, like from my beer brand Brewlander. I put the calories in, but I know I’m gonna burn them off. Some people eat a big bowl of pasta, and the next day, they really feel it. But whether I eat a really healthy meal or an oily and fatty meal, there’s no difference, so I’ve been really blessed.
And you have your abs all the time.
Yeah, yeah, if I don’t, I just draw them on. (Laughs)
Normal people have to starve and try really hard to get abs.
(Laughs) Yeah, like Geping would be like, “Bro, I have to work so hard and I’m eating steamed chicken.” And I’d just be eating all this food on set. And Huifang would say, “I can’t eat with this guy! He eats like a bird!” I couldn’t do that — it’s a lot of discipline.
What do you think of the dad bod? You definitely don’t have it.
Yeah, once you become parents, it’s hard. You just don’t have time. At work, you sit at your desk all day, and you’re tired after work. I think you definitely have to prioritise — ask if keeping fit is important to you. I have friends, these girls who were former beauty queens or really pretty in their 20s and they pop out a couple of kids and they can never get the bod back — it’s just too hard. One, your body has changed and two, there’s just no time, and your priorities are different too.
Any tips on incorporating fitness into family life?
When Sage and Jonas were really young, I used take a double jogger and take them running. It depends on how old the kids are, but you can take them out for a walk or just playing tag outside, or kick a ball around. When the kids were about 4 or 5, I’d make them run like 2km by running ahead of them and making them chase me. For young kids, it was pretty far. My ex-wife would flip out. (Laughs) Back then, they’d complain it was hot but they’d still listen to me. Now, they’re don’t listen to me and they don’t wanna do anything at all. But at least they had a good 10 years of foundation.
Are they good at sports now?
Yeah, Sage is the star athlete in her school. She set records in Track and Field in the 100m and 200m events. She was on the way to becoming a national swimmer and now she’s a star basketball player. Jonas is a bit smaller. He’s very talented but too involved with video games. (Sighs) Sage is 14 and Jonas is 12, and they’re still in the international school. Beyond sports, being healthy and having an active lifestyle helps raise your self-esteem. When you look good, you feel good too. It’s worth the investment.
There’s being fit and healthy, then there’s pushing to the next level and joining competitions to show off a bod you’ve worked hard for. What do fitness competitions like Fitness Super Star achieve?
Personally, I’d never sign up for competitions like this, but I have the utmost respect for people who do. I would never say I’m not vain but that’s not for me. I think it takes a lot of courage, discipline and motivation.
What’s your workout regimen like?
Unless I’m busy filming, I try to exercise five times a week. I’d run once a week for like half an hour or 45 minutes, swim twice a week for 45 minutes, and go to the gym twice a week for an hour or an hour-and-a-half. I understand my body and I work out efficiently. If you’re exercising a lot, like running for three hours with no results, maybe you’re not running fast enough, or walking too much, or maybe it’s not the right exercise for your body.
You’re fitspirational, so what do you think of the fitspo stars and videos on social media?
Social media is so curated. These people would show all these exercises, but you know the average person will do these exercises and are not going to lose any weight. These girls are skinny ’cos they’re naturally super skinny. They’re not toned at all — they’re skinny-fat. They’d do just enough to post a one-minute video on IG to say they exercise. If you’re gonna do these little squats and four little push-ups… please. I might as well do housework.
I’m all about integrity and being the real deal. I don’t just lift a dumbbell and look like this, it’s a lot of hard work. I’m just trying to separate what’s real and false expectations.
What else are you up to at the moment?
I just finished a Mandarin Toggle original with Zheng Geping as the executive producer called Cover Your Eyes. It’s about these four kids, including Edwin Goh, and I’m like the only old guy. (Laughs) It’s my first big drama role in Chinese in like 10 years. I’ll also be shooting the fifth season of The Amazing Race China: Celebrity Edition. Previous season contestants include Fan Bing Bing, Jordan Chan, G.E.M, Ekin Cheng and Eric Tsang… and Allan Wu. (Laughs)
How about life on the personal front? Do you see your kids much?
The kids are growing up and they don’t really wanna hang out with me anymore. They have their friends and they play video games. I can’t force them to hang out with me ’cos they know when they’re with me, they have to go out running. (Laughs) They’re at the age where they are all independent. Unless they get a really hard Math problem that their mum or no one else can do, and they gotta use what’s inside here (taps head), then they will call me. I can help them out. I’m pretty good at Math — I’m smart!
How about your love life?
So I found someone. Her name is Yvonne Lee and she’s an emcee and host [and 30-year-old ex-beauty queen] based in KL. She comes to see me, and I go to see her. It’s not new new — we been seeing each other for almost two years now. If you Google her, you’d probably see a bunch of pics of me. She rides on my fame. (Laughs) Just kidding! Would I get married again? I don’t have plans but I’m open to it. It’s not like I’m dying to do it. Obviously I’ve done it that one time and it didn’t work out — I think all of Singapore knows that. (Laughs) I’m open and she’s open too but we’ll see how it goes.
Fitness Super Star 2018 is on August 25 at Resorts World Theatre. Tickets from Sistic. More info at www.fssasia.wixsite.com/home. Toggle drama Cover Your Eyes debuts Sept 6.