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Saigon’s young professionals make gym workouts part of daily routine

Monday, February 24, 2020, 15:26 GMT+7
Saigon’s young professionals make gym workouts part of daily routine
Nguyen Duc Dang Khoa works out with dumbbells at a gym in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in this provided photo.

In pursuit of good looks matching those of 'hot boys' and 'hot girls' lauded by tabloid magazines, young people in Ho Chi Minh City are hitting the gym to sculpt their bodies and seeing remarkable benefits in their physical and mental health, careers, and social status.  

As more and more gyms pop up throughout Ho Chi Minh City’s 24 districts, young professionals working in the city are hitting the weights in an effort to mold themselves into a desirable body shape.

Hit the gym, keep your job

After Truong Viet Phong, a television anchor based in Ho Chi Minh City, reached 30 years old, he began to notice his stamina and strength were in severe decline. 

“As an anchorman, I felt that I might soon become redundant [because] to appear in a news report you have to look good,” Phong said.

“I had destroyed my outward appearance and it took me a whole year of procrastination before I actually set foot in the gym,” he explained, adding that he knew his body and career simply could not handle his indulgent life of nightly partying and extravagant dining.

Comments from his friends were not exactly boosting his confidence either.

“Your face fills the whole screen,” they told him.

Phong is no rookie in Vietnam’s entertainment industry. He knew that his relationships with local media moguls would only help sustain his career for a short time if he continued to let himself go physically.

For Phong, it was time to hit the gym.

“I knew I had to get back to the way I used to look. With a nicer looking face and figure, I could be more confident about finding new opportunities,” he said.

“The experience I had accumulated over the years simply couldn’t make up for the damage done by my terribly ugly appearance.”

In August 2019, Phong began working out daily from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm after leaving the office. In the first five months, he went from 73kg to 66kg.

“People have always said that it's natural for the human body to become fat once it's past the age of 30. I wondered why we had to follow such a law?” he said. “Why couldn’t we say ‘no’ by altering our lifestyle?”

Now, feeling better than he has felt in years, Phong is cautious about his approach to social situations.

“I can’t hang out with friends until late anymore. Partying late into the night just undoes the efforts I made the previous day,” he explained. “We make our own choices in life and I believe health is the most important choice we can make.

Television anchor Truong Viet Phong (sitting) works out with dumbbells at a gym in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in this provided photo.

Television anchor Truong Viet Phong (sitting) works out with dumbbells at a gym in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in this provided photo.

A truly healthy lifestyle

At 24 years old, ‘hot boy’ Nguyen Duc Dang Khoa has been a regular gym-goer for the past six years.

In the first three years of his fitness journey, Khoa was able to jump from 57kg to 78kg – a decent weight for his height of 1.72 meters.

“I eventually realized I was doing it the wrong way. I had put on too much fat,” he said.

Just before college graduation in September 2019, Khoa launched a new workout regimen with a personal trainer and in just four months dropped down to 62kg.

“I used to work out every day of the week, but it was all unplanned. I didn’t control my diet either. It wasn’t a truly healthy lifestyle,” he explained.

"My coach is the one who helped me understand what it actually means to be healthy."

For Khoa, that healthy lifestyle means waking up each day at 4:00 am and spending an hour lifting weights, followed by 30 minutes of cardio in order to improve his heart rate and burn excess fat. By 7:30 am, he is ready to go to work.

“It feels really good because I’m able to accomplish something big right at the beginning of a new day,” he shared. “With such a fresh start, I've already geared up for a positive day. I’m also much more confident since I have a better-looking body and much better health.”

On days when he does not need to head to the office, Khoa spends his time reading, cooking, or relaxing with friends and family. And, from his account, going to the gym actually enriches all of those other life experiences.

“I have developed the habit of maximizing the effectiveness of my time management to the very second in my daily workout. That habit has manifested itself into other aspects of my life as well,” he further explained. “I feel like a billionaire all the time!”

While many think that working out at the gym means an extra amount of money wasted on foods, Khoa believes proper dieting is the best way to spend appropriately on such foods.

“Now that I’m more conscious of what to eat and how to eat it, my diets are better planned. I don’t just eat whatever I see as I did before. That is truly how so many people wind up wasting money and damaging their health,” he argued.

According to Khoa, working out is not about looks.

“I don’t work out to be a ‘hot boy’. I merely want a healthy lifestyle. The ‘beauty’ that comes is simply a by-product.”

David Pham, a Vietnamese actor, works out with a high cable fly exercise at a gym in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Me Thuan / Tuoi Tre

David Pham, a Vietnamese actor, works out with a high cable fly exercise at a gym in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Me Thuan / Tuoi Tre

‘Exercise helped me beat asthma’

David Pham, a male actor in Vietnam, possesses a figure many deem as one of the most attractive in the country.  

“I suffered from asthma when I was a kid and the physical education teacher always had to let me take breaks,” he shared.

“When I got to eighth grade, I decided to try working out to improve my stamina.

"It actually relieved me of my asthma.

“My classmates were surprised by the abs I got.

"I was strongly aware that I had built the six packs that so many people desire so I have continued to do intense workouts daily.”

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