Ex-Manhunt Singapore winner Jason Chee turns K-pop dance fitness coach

Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. She is equally enthusiastic about health and fitness and is always on the lookout for the latest workout trends. More of her at and onFacebook,Twitter or Instagram (cheryltay11).

It’s ok for muscle-bound guys to bust out a sexy dance move or two, says former Manhunt Singapore winner Jason Chee.

The model, personal trainer and gym owner is about to add to his resume by becoming a Korean-pop dance fitness instructor – even though he once saw the activity as “gu niang”, or Singlish for womanly.

Yes, like it or not, the K-pop wave is still very much alive and kicking, judging by the rising trend of KpopX Fitness classes in Singapore.

KpopX Fitness (formerly known as Kpopdan-Z) teaches simplified K-pop signature dance moves seen in music videos, but combined with cardio, aerobic and body-toning exercises.

From its origins in a tiny room at the Singapore First Aid Training Centre back in December 2012, the classes have now grown to be available at over 100 community centres.

Nearly 300 individuals have since signed up to work out a sweat as they move to 14 K-pop songs in 50 minutes.

While majority of the participants are, well, women aged 20 to 30, the youngest is only five while the oldest, a 65-year-old man.

The workout continues to attract people from all – and unexpected – walks of life, such as Chee, who will be one of over 40 KpopX Fitness instructors when he completes his training in three months.

“Guys in K-pop are typically skinny, but that’s where I’m different. This is a good change from my regular weightlifting regime,” said the 26-year-old. “And it’s always good to pick up new skills in fitness… I don’t usually do cardio, but this is quite fun.”

Garnering fans

Chee is learning the ropes from founder Maddy Lim, who created the workout after giving up on K-pop dance moves that were too tough to master.

“I thought there must be an easier way to dance to K-pop without having to go through those difficult and complex moves,” said Lim, 36. “With my aerobics knowledge, I started to design fun and simple fitness choreographies of popular K-pop songs.”

She has so far converted over 100 songs and counting, including numbers by artistes like Big Bang, SNSD, 2ne1, Super Junior and yes, Psy.

Another of Lim's students, Christina Kok, became a K-pop convert after attending classes regularly since last July.

“What I like about KpopX Fitness is how I get to dance yet exercise at the same time. The steps are easyto follow too,” said the 37-year-old. “I’ve become a K-pop fan and I’ve downloaded all the songs into my phone.”

Videos (with instructor tutorials for a subscription fee) and class schedules can be found on the KpopX Fitness website.