Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Desmond Lee and Gladys Leong

Desmond Lee and Gladys Leong run the Hercules Fitness gym together. (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: Desmond Lee (@desmond_lee_hercules)/Gladys Leong (@gladyshf80)

Age: 34/39

Height: 1.80m/1.58m

Weight: 98kg/42kg

Occupation: Gym owner/Fitness trainer

Status: Married to each other


Desmond: My diet is basically high in protein, with normal servings of carbs and low in fat. For example, I eat a lot of half-boiled eggs, chicken, fish, seafood, basmati rice, sweet potato, banana, green mango, dragonfruit and berries.

Gladys: I eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and meat. During off-season I take outside food but choose wisely to make sure I don’t take too much oil, sodium and sugar. During competition season, I only take my self-prepped meals.

Before taking up bodybuilding, Desmond Lee was into competitive road cycling. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)


D: I do weight training six times a week, stair climbing twice a week and cycling once a week.

G: I train six times a week focusing on a different muscle group a day. Cardio and tanning will be done once a week during the off-season, usually on our day off.

Q: How did you get into bodybuilding?

D: I was an accidental bodybuilder. The gym club of Singapore Polytechnic asked me to join a bodybuilding competition in 2006. Back then I was a competitive road cyclist.

G: My first competition was NutriGirl 2014 (a fitness pageant) and thereafter I trained and competed in physique competitions as my passion in this sport grew.

Gladys Leong was a swimming instructor when she was in her 20s. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

What were your backgrounds in sports?

D: I was in competitive road cycling from 2004 to 2006. My weight was only 79kg, so I decided to start weight training to get more mass.

G: I was in competitive swimming and was a swimming instructor in my early 20s.

What was your first competition and how did it go?

D: My first competition was Muscle Storm in January 2006 at Clarke Quay. I was lucky to come in first place and got scouted to be in the national youth development squad for Team Singapore.

G: My first physique competition was in 2014 after NutriGirl. I was super nervous as I have never worn a competition bikini and glass heels in my life. I was skinny, with minimal muscles, but it went well and I got fourth in the show.

What is it about the sport that you like so much?

D: Bodybuilding is the mother of all sports. We will have an advantage when we play any other sports.

G: I guess it's the results that spur us to keep going; seeing our body transform and making sure we produce a “better package” every year and improving on our weaker areas.

Both Desmond Lee and Gladys Leong have taken part in international bodybuilding and fitness competitions. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

What are some of the highlights of your journey?

D: In 2012 I represented the country at the world bodybuilding championships and came in sixth. I stood beside the top athletes around the world from Iran, Ukraine, Malaysia and Thailand – it was an eye opener for me. My most memorable competition however, was MuscleMania in December 2018 when I achieved the bodybuilding pro status as a MuscleMania Pro.

G: I would say it is our Korea show in Oct 2018. It was an amazing experience competing with all the professional athletes in Korea and wandering around trying to get food for our loading. It is the most challenging show we both did for sure.

What are your goals now?

D: I will be focusing on transforming others rather than myself for now. Helping others will give me a lifetime of happiness.

G: I am now training up for my MuscleMania Pro Debut in Las Vegas this year. I am looking forward to compete in Vegas and having the experience of a lifetime competing in a world show.

Are there any advantages or disadvantages being in the same sport as a couple, as well as running the Hercules Fitness gym together?

D: The good thing is that we can keep track on each other's progress. The bad thing is when we have differences in opinion about our business, and the stress and fatigue from competition preparation are not helping. After a few competitions though, we have learnt how to cope, along with running the gym together.

G: There are both pros and cons for sure. We can diet together for competition but there’s definitely tension when both of us diet and get cranky. Hence, we need to be more mindful of the telltale signs and avoid clashes when we start getting cranky. Running the gym together is awesome as we both have a different scope. He is more technical and I am more to the marketing side so we make a good team.

As a couple, Desmond Lee and Gladys Leong feel that there are pros and cons doing the same sport together. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

D: I was trained to teach one to one in personal training. There was a time when I needed to conduct a HIIT class for an event. I went to engage an aerobic trainer to give me a crash course so I can deliver the job well. We pulled through smoothly and all went well.

G: For me it's my posing, but with time I learnt how to do it my own style and to be more confident on stage. It takes time but it can be done for sure.

Are you satisfied with your body now?

D: In the field of bodybuilding, the body is never good enough, but I'm contented that I’m healthy and fit. Nothing much to ask for now.

G: I guess we are never satisfied as we want to keep on improving so it's a never-ending process.

Do you get any comments about your body?

D: There will always be someone who dislikes your body. I just take all the criticism as a form of positive feedback so I can improve on it more.

G: Oh yes… some ladies and even some men will say they don’t wanna be like me. Honestly they only say that when I am in sleeveless tops and gym wear, as I look tiny once I am all covered up. I don’t really bother about these comments though.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Desmond Lee and Gladys Leong. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)