Nicholas Wong: Nerd to Workout Star
The computer science student is a Hong Kong street workout champion, and he’ll be representing Hong Kong at the Street Workout World Cup 2016 in Moscow later this month.
How long have you been doing street workouts? It’s been four years now. I got into them when a friend demonstrated a move which I thought looked fun and cool. I was never into sports: I just loved staying at home and playing computer games. But I decided to challenge myself to perform these difficult moves. I took it up for exercise at first, but later I began joining competitions. The most challenging thing about getting started was improving my physical fitness. Now, I train three to four times a week. I started from zero, but now I have no problem doing 100 push-ups in a row.
Do you do it because it looks cool? I won’t deny that it’s a good way to show off: Street workouts are cool for sure.
How do you train? At first, I taught myself. After joining a couple of championships, I met people from all over the world and began exchanging tips and ideas with them. I’ve gotten pretty confident in my moves. I particularly like doing the “human flag” [pictured, bottom right]—It took me about a week to learn how to do it.
What do others think of what you do? My family is supportive. My mom used to say that it’s a waste of time and ask me why I’d always go out to the park late at night. She wanted me to apply for a full-time job. But after she saw videos of me competing in Taiwan, she realized that it’s not only a sport but also a career.
Has it changed you? Yes. I’ve said goodbye to bad habits. I used to be a nerd who was addicted to computer games, but now I’ve given up the habit of gaming all day long. I’ve also gone from being an introvert to an outgoing person. After winning my first championship, I became more confident, and that encouraged me to enter in competitions overseas, put myself on stage, give interviews to the media and even become a coach. Sometimes I get lazy, and I still need to build up my courage to do more high-level stunts. But overall my passion for this sport just keeps growing every day.
What can we do to be like you? Keep practising. There are no shortcuts! A lot of people fail because they give up easily. A street workout relies on muscular coordination and your own body weight. A single move may take a few months to perfect. Exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day, regardless of whether you’re doing push-ups at home or running outside. The sport is suitable for everyone, regardless of sex, age, size or even the place—all you need is the space! In Hong Kong, you can easily find parks to work out in, especially at public housing estates. I particularly enjoy working out in Tsz Wan Shan, near my home.
What’s next for you? I’ll become a full-time street workout coach. I can earn $120 per person per hour, teaching a group of eight students. I’m also aiming to win more awards and championships. I’ll be competing at the Street Workout World Cup 2016 late July in Moscow and my goal is to become one of the world’s top 10 street workout athletes—I was 17th last year. To me, being famous is one of my life goals: It will prove to history that I existed. I think I’m one step closer to achieving my goal.