Fit & fab: Matthias Weiskopf
When management consultant Matthias Weiskopf arrived at work one morning with a black eye, no one in the office batted theirs. That's because the 40-year-old German has been taking boxing lessons at Impakt gym - a fact that his colleagues at the Volkswagen Hong Kong office are aware of.
Considering that Weiskopf's trainer and sparring partner is the huge, four-time muay Thai world champion Alain Ngalani, his colleagues likely expected far worse than just a swollen, discoloured eye.
The lifestyle of a globetrotting, senior executive can be stressful. Weiskopf - who has in the past decade worked in more than 20 European countries, plus Singapore, China and the Middle East - relaxes by exercising. It's the one constant in his ever-changing life. "One of the first things I do when I arrive at my new location is look for a gym and a running trail," he says.
Living in Central, a running trail wasn't "immediately accessible", but he found a gym with ease, and randomly took up boxing. He had never tried the sport before, nor was he a particularly big fan of it (although he does love the Rocky movies), but he had heard that it involves intense cardio.
Four months on, Weiskopf has fallen in love with the sport. He goes at least twice a week and almost never misses a session.
The sport has been good to him too. He says he's lost a bit of fat and gained muscle all around since starting the sessions. "I used to think running was great; that I was in shape," he says. "But really, boxing is another level - I was so sore and tired after the first few sessions."
What's a typical session like?
I come in straight from work, change, and then jump right in. I usually warm up with a jog on the treadmill, then I hit the punching bags with Alain watching and guiding me, making sure that I vary my punches and combinations. Then we spar in the weightlifting and abs training.
Alain is massive. Were you intimidated by him at first?
Yes, I was. Alain and I are the same height, but he has 30kg on me and it's all muscle. I actually signed up without knowing his background - that he's a four-time world champion. I was just looking for someone to push and motivate me. He's a very disciplined and strict trainer, which is good - it's exactly what I was looking for.
How do you stay motivated to work out when you lead such a busy lifestyle in a bustling city?
It's easy - boxing actually relieves stress for me. So in a way, I need to come after work to unwind. I missed a session once and I didn't like it; I didn't feel good.
What's your diet like? Chinese food tends to be heavy on the carbs. Do you stay away from that?
No, I eat local Hong Kong food. I love dim sum. But yes, I do try to limit myself to eating Chinese food only in the day and not too late at night. I eat a wide variety of food, both Western and Chinese cuisines.
What's the hardest part about boxing?
Mastering the footwork is tricky, but the hardest part is how much cardio it is. I used to watch boxing and wonder why a round lasts only three minutes - it just seems so short, you know. But now that I've tried it myself, I realise that boxing is the most intense cardio sport around and, really, three minutes of it is already draining enough. Boxing is the hardest cardio I've ever done and, remember, I used to be a runner.
Would you consider participating in the Hedge Fund Fight Night event that's been taking place in Hong Kong?
I haven't really thought about it. I don't plan on doing it right now, but at the same time, if it comes around and someone asks, I may not say no.
Impakt gym has recently become known for its mixed martial arts training sessions. Would you consider trying that next?
Yes, I plan on trying it next year. But I want to work on boxing more, to get my foundation right first.
You'll still be here next year?
I'm only here until next month on my current contract, then I'm going elsewhere for a bit. I'm pretty sure I'll be back in Hong Kong some time next year. But even when I'm not here, I'm going to continue boxing. I love it.