Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Allan Wu

Cheryl Tay
·11-min read
Allan Wu is a well-known actor best known for hosting The Amazing Race Asia.
Allan Wu is a well-known actor best known for hosting The Amazing Race Asia. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more. Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook.

Name: Allan Wu (@wulander)

Age: 48

Height: 1.82m

Weight: 82kg

Occupation: Actor

Status: Single

Diet: I have never really followed any specific diet except maybe the "See Food" diet where I "see food and eat food." I have always been very active since I was young, so I believe this lifestyle has allowed me to eat what I want and when I want.

That being said, I have made more of a conscious effort to consume less as I got older, because I understand that our respective BMR (basal metabolic rate) does tend to slow down as we age. Still, I do eat all the foods I love but merely in a smaller quantity. Staying hydrated is very important to me too so I make an effort to ensure I workout and sweat.

Training: If I’m not too busy with work, I try to work out five to six days per week with certain days specifically focused on aerobic conditioning by swimming about 2km or running about 6 to 7 km. I try to swim more these days to protect and preserve my knees and joints because I’m certainly not getting younger.

I also like going to True Fitness and TFX gyms for weight training to maintain strength and muscle mass because after the age of 40, the process of muscle degeneration begins to accelerate.

And if time allows, I’ll play basketball and tennis with my kids or friends so we can hang out and also do something healthy together.

Allan works out five to six days per week, with certain days specifically focused on aerobic conditioning by swimming or running.
Allan works out five to six days per week, with certain days specifically focused on aerobic conditioning by swimming or running. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Q: You have always been a very sporty person.

A: Yeah, I grew up playing a wide variety of sports. I have always enjoyed going outdoors and being active so it was natural for me to try new sports. In primary school, I played dodge ball, kick ball and handball. My first foray into organised sports was playing baseball on my Little League Team.

In high school, I represented my high school in cross country running, basketball, soccer/football and track & field. I also trained and raced competitively in road cycling and beach volleyball. In university, I was on the crew (rowing) team before I got into snow boarding after I graduated.

How did you get into the entertainment industry?

After I graduated from UC Berkeley, I worked for a few years at a biotechnology company in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was there that I realised I didn't really enjoy what I was doing and wanted to see if I could become an actor. I knew it would not be easy for an Asian American trying to break into Hollywood, so I never really had the courage to do it.

However, on one fateful trip to Lake Tahoe to go snowboarding, I suffered a very serious accident while snowboarding, and that's when I realised everything can change at the blink of an eye, so I should start doing what I really wanted to do.

After going through extensive rehab and recovery, I took my first steps in starting a career in entertainment – I took my portfolio and approached several agents and got rejected until someone gave me a chance – and have never backed since, which was about 25 years ago.

Your career in the entertainment industry has taken you all over the world. How do you maintain your fitness regime through all the work and travel?

I have been very fortunate to have lived and worked in many different places like China, Hong Kong, the United States, and it's been an eye opener to witness how much health and wellness have become so popular and accepted everywhere. It has not always been easy to maintain a consistent fitness regime with a busy work and travel schedule. In fact, I used to be the type of person who would get a bit frazzled if I could not work out every single day.

However, I have learned through time and experience to "work smarter" now where I don't necessarily need to work out regularly and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. For example, I can go on the road for two or even three months on a project and not feel too bad because I know I can resume my fitness regime once I have completed it. I believe the key for all of us is to understand our bodies and finding the "sweet spot" where we are comfortable with who we are and what we know we can achieve.

Do you train with the aim of getting this physique?

I have always been active so I would say I started having this physique maybe not too long after I could start walking and running without falling. However, I would have to say I formally started working on my physique in high school around 17 years old when I watched the "Rocky" and "Rambo" movies and started adding weightlifting into my workout regime.

When I got to university, that is when I really started to work even harder on weight training and building my strength. I don't think I ever particularly trained to look a certain way or build a certain muscle, but I could see the positive results and gains from a consistent weightlifting regimen.

Allan's first step into the entertainment business came after a serious snowboarding injury about 25 years ago.
Allan's first step into the entertainment business came after a serious snowboarding injury about 25 years ago. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Being in the entertainment industry, do you face pressure to look a certain way?

I don't think it's absolutely imperative to look a certain way in the entertainment industry. We see actors, singers, hosts, models, etc of all shapes and sizes so there is a market for everyone. However, I have always found myself categorised as the more "athletic and healthy" option so that has worked out well for me because I look this way anyway. 

Even though I have had to make some body transformations for certain roles in the past, we will naturally gravitate towards our own personal natural state of order based on our own personal lifestyle preferences.

Do you think your body has stereotyped you into certain roles? 

Absolutely. I think my body has definitely helped and hurt me with certain roles and projects. It is a double-edged sword and works both ways when it comes to our look and physical appearance. This is also a profound difference between being an actor and host. As an actor, we are asked to physically bring a character to life and "flesh" it out. While as a host we are essentially portraying ourselves and can look and do as we please.

For your age, you look amazing. Is it hard to maintain this physique as you get older? Do you have to keep changing up your training and diet?

Thank you. It has never been that hard to maintain a physique as long as we enjoy what we are doing AND know that it is good for us. That being said, I must confess it does get more challenging as we age as we aren't able to always do what we could do before. For example, running has always been a cornerstone for me to burn quality calories and keep the aerobic fitness up.

However, I have been experiencing knee and joint issues for years now so I know that I cannot maintain the same volume of mileage as I did five, 10, 20 years ago so I have learned to do other sports such as swimming. The key for me is to continue to stay active and find activities I enjoy doing.

As for dieting, I still do eat and drink what I like although I do make more of a conscious effort to consume less and stay away from late night suppers. Those are the absolute worst for gaining unwanted weight.

Do you ever worry about women getting attracted to your physique and overlooking your personality?

I think it comes with the territory for all of us. We all hope who we are attracts the right person because the first thing we see is the physical. From there, we hope the opposite party cares to see and learn about the person inside. But of course, it doesn't hurt to stay active and take care of ourselves so we are happy with the way we look because self-confidence is a very attractive trait.

Was there ever a time where you felt the least confident about yourself? 

I would say my very first season of The Amazing Race Asia really tested my nerves as I was traveling essentially every one or two days and didn't have anytime to maintain an active fitness regime. I remember trying to run on an old treadmill in New Delhi, India, after finishing work late one day. My clothes and shoes were drenched in sweat, and then I had to pack it all up a few hours later for the next international flight.

Having to travel a lot without time for workouts during the first season of The Amazing Race Asia made Allan feel insecure about his physique
Having to travel a lot without time for workouts during the first season of The Amazing Race Asia made Allan feel insecure about his physique. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

I learned I didn't enjoy having my clothes and shoes all soiled and sweaty so I told myself to focus on work and getting rest when I could during the demanding filming schedule. After finally wrapping up the first season, I would focus on getting back into a regular fitness routine.

I wasn't exactly sure how my body and mind would go, but the world didn't come crashing down so I was happy to see I could stay sane and focus on work without having to overextend myself with working out on the road and filming. It was a mini epiphany for me and I have used this method ever since for all my projects thereafter.

Are you satisfied with your body now? Are you afraid to lose this physique you have now?

I have always been active and understand that my body is merely a vessel of what I love to do so I am content with it now and back then. I have never really given extensive thought about losing my current physique and probably won't dwell too much on this topic because I know exactly what I need to do to maintain it. 

That being said, if I do somehow lose this physique when I am even older, then I would like to hope I won't stress out too much because I am already grateful with all that it has allowed me to do and perform from a physical and athletic standpoint.

What type of comments do you get about your body?

I have received all kinds of comments through the decades, both positive and negative. I remember some female classmates back in high school would comment I had a nice rear, and I was actually a little shocked because I never thought about that. It was maybe my first experience into what being objectified felt like.

Since then, I have received comments for various parts of my body from my arms to shoulders, to back to chest to abs to legs and calves to, of course, my butt. I have been in the public eye for quite some time so I take all comments both good and bad in good stride.

Any anecdotes to share about people's reactions to your body?

Since I was in university, I would always be asked to take off my shirt and display my physique. These requests have never really ceased through the decades, and I used to feel very self-conscious about doing it. However, I have reached a point now where I am more comfortable with myself and don't think as much about it.

If we have put in the work and are proud of what we accomplished, then we shouldn't feel bad about sharing it once in a while. And hopefully, someone will see what hard work can accomplish and be inspired to do the same for himself or herself because I truly believe we can all achieve our own personal fitness goals with hard work and dedication.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Allan Wu (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Allan Wu (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)