The release of Physical: 100 back in late-January proved once again that the recipe for pitting humans against one another in series of physical tests still works. It worked so well that the show rose to become the most popular non-English show on Netflix on its third and fourth week of release.
The competition-elimination format reality show saw 100 athletic individuals face off in a series of challenges like tug-of-war, keep-away, and even one test modelled on the punishment of Sisyphus. One winner was eventually crowned and awarded a cash prize of $225,000 USD and the bragging rights of beating out 99 of the most fit contenders.
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Celebrating the fifth anniversary of GO24 (Hong Kong’s 24-hour, hassle-free gym) Physical: 100 winner Woo Jin-yong was flown in from Seoul to give a demonstration of some of the techniques he used to win the competition. Weighing at roughly 175 pounds, Jin-yong attributes his success largely to his background as a snowboarder, CrossFit training, and doing the “Murph” workout.
The “Murph” is a work out dedicated to Lieutenant Michael Murphy who died serving in Afghanistan in 2005. Practiced by both CrossFitters and Navy SEALs alike, a “Murph” workout consists of the exercises below all while wearing a 20-pound weighted vest:
-A one-mile run
-A final one-mile run
While Jin-yong mainly trains CrossFit these days, opening his very own gyms in Seoul, he’s developed an amazing core during his time as national snowboarder for South Korea, where he even eventually went on to coach South Korea’s national snowboarding team.
Curious to learn some of the techniques he applied in Physical: 100 and some other movements that were useful, we joined Jin-yong at GO24’s Shau Kei Wan location to see if we could learn any secrets from the athlete himself. He also teased that there may be a second season on the way, so try some of these workouts yourself in case you wish to audition for Season 2.
What brings you to Hong Kong?
GO24 is celebrating five years of community and fitness, and so they figured they would invite me to share some of my expertise with some of their members. I am here to celebrate with them. I was introduced to this gym by one of the writers on Physical: 100.
What is your first memory that you can recall where you fell in love with fitness?
When I was young, I was told that I could excel at track and field and sports like soccer. Some trainers at school picked up on it and decided to invest their time in developing me. To be honest, I didn’t know if I could have a career in sports as I was small growing up and didn’t think I had the size for it, but as I grew, so did my athleticism.
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If you could train just one part, what would it be?
Core. Every performance-based movement involves the core. It is essential.
What is your favourite exercise?
Did you train differently in your 20s Vs. 30s?
I’ve never stopped or changed the way I’ve trained. I am stronger now that I am older than when I was in my 20s. I will do CrossFit forever. I continue to push and grow and do not use age as an excuse. I am 38 this year.
During all the years of training, what’s the best advice someone has given you?
Eat well, sleep well, and never stop training. I don’t like bodybuilding because you need to cut and do diets, but for where I need to be, it is more function rather than aesthetics.
They say a body is made in the kitchen. Do you believe this to be 100% accurate?
Everything is about balance. You would think the guy that is shredded with zero fat looks healthy, but a lot of people don’t know what diet it takes to get there. Nutritional balance is important, but just reducing fat with foods for a six pack is not the end-all be all. You need to account for mobility and function. The body is made through hard work and being ripped is not always indicative of that.
What was your most enjoyable moment on Physical 100, and what was the most challenging part of the show?
The hardest challenge was the “Team Boat Challenge.” This was also the most enjoyable part of the show as there was just so much teamwork involved. We all supported each other.
How has life changed since winning?
Life continues to go on. There were some challenges faced due to some controversies with the ending. A lot of people support me on the street and take pictures with me, but there is also another side where it has brought a lot of unwanted attention. It has two sides to it. I am more popular as a result but that is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. This is part of my journey as a sportsman.
Can you go into a little detail on how you maintain your athleticism i.e. do you have a specific split or cardio regimen?
CrossFit is about engaging your whole body and balance so I try and hit all muscle groups with rest on the weekends. I usually split it up like: upper body, lower body, arms… it is really hard to say because I always do weightlifting right before doing CrossFit-focused movements. CrossFit has to be mixed in with all muscles. I don’t care so much about the targeted muscles but more on just being there. I love exercise and the point is to just tire myself out and increase performance.