Singapore actor Zheng Ge Ping may be 49 but his ripped body will put younger men to shame

Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at and on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (cheryltay11). She also happens to be a recent gym and fitness convert. Here, she speaks to 49-year-old local actor Zheng Ge Ping about his physical transformation.

Just one year away from turning 50, popular MediaCorp artiste Zheng Ge Ping has proven that age and injury is not a barrier to keeping in shape.

Despite suffering from a permanent neck and back injury, Zheng regularly hits the gym and boasts a ripped, six-pack physique that will put younger men to shame.

His newly-launched book “Star Fitness” reveals all the training and diet regimes that he went through for weight loss and body building.

When the former chef and taekwondo instructor spoke to Yahoo Singapore recently after a busy day of filming, he admitted that he has a big appetite – he can wolf down up to 15 pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In 2000, Zheng -- who is married to fellow MediaCorp artiste Hong Huifang, tipped the scales at 87kg when his son was born.

He admitted that at that time, he was even finishing up his wife’s confinement food so as “not to waste food”.

When he hit the age of 40 in 2004, he was in the worst shape of his life and his career was slowing.

“I told myself then, if I want to prolong my career in the entertainment industry, something needs to change,” Zheng recalled.

Going on a zero-carb diet, he started doing a lot of running and callisthenics (bodyweight training with little or no equipment) and lost 14 kilos in three months.

That got him noticed and he was part of a five-man bare-bodied tower stunt on egg shells for the 2005 National Kidney Foundation fund-raising show.

A major milestone in his acting career was when he won the Best Actor Award at the 2007 Star Awards for his role alongside Joanne Peh in “Like Father, Like Daughter”.

“It is a cruel industry in entertainment and as age catches up, you need to maintain well to keep up, especially when there are so many up and coming young actors,” he said.

He decided it was time for a change again and coincidentally his buff physique and martial arts background saw him being selected for “Kampong Ties”, a tribute to Bruce Lee, where he had many bare-bodied fighting scenes.

The role was a 28-year-old with a body like Bruce Lee’s and Zheng, then 40, felt it was “now or never” and took on the challenge and show the public the best he can be.

Through a good friend he got to know famed bodybuilder trainer Joey Chua and with only four months to make it happen, Zheng worked really hard – he did weight training four times a week and would run hard for 20 minutes after each session.

He was eating clean as well – plain oatmeal in water, banana, broccoli, protein shakes, up to 24 eggs a day, tilapia fish, chicken breast and lean sirloin beef steamed with no salt, sugar or oil.

The change at the end of 16 weeks was fantastic and Zheng built up to 80kg (from 72kg) and seven per cent of body fat.

“Kampong Ties” was aired in 2011 and was a huge success, launching Zheng into ‘hunk status’.

After he wrapped up the production of “Kampong Ties”, he was posted to Malaysia again for the filming of “Code of Honour”.

With the lack of time, sleep and proper nutrition, he lost a lot of muscle mass and his weight dropped to 75kg.

It was at this time that the idea for a fitness book came about, so in preparation for the photoshoot for the book, Chua put him on a bulking phase and Zheng beefed up to 87kg.

He then went through a cutting phase to get the definition and was ready for the book’s photoshoot in 2011.

After running into some delay, his book was released in Malaysia in August this year, before being launched in Singapore on 17 November.

Choosing to hold the launch at Woodlands Galaxy Community Club, the objective of the book is to share, not teach, his experience and promote a healthy lifestyle.

“Learn to treasure your bodies. There is no point in earning so much money, but not having a healthy body to enjoy life and what you have,” said Zheng, who still maintains a body fat percentage of about 7 to 8 percent.

He will also be donating out his share of the book sales to charity.

At the moment, Zheng trains about three times a week, stating that “working out has become a lifestyle”.

His next goal is “to hopefully set up a one-stop wellness centre targeted at the masses next year”, that may not be in Singapore.

There is “no one size fits all” when it comes to fitness and Zheng pointed out that every body responds differently.

His book shares in detail what worked for him, but “do manage your expectations and feel free to improvise”.

The greatest takeaway he got from his entire journey is: “When you have the vision, you must create the passion; then to make it work, you must take action.” – applies to everything in life!

(Star Fitness is available at all Popular stores for $16.90.)