40 Under 40 honouree and owner of WOW Fitness, Karl Cheung reflects on how his competitive past helped make him the person he is today.
As a youngster active in sports, winning has always been on Karl Cheung’s mind. Now the owner of WOW Fitness, a successful chain of personal training centres in Hong Kong, Cheung recalls days of competing in the track and field, as well as basketball, and discusses the discipline required for training – day in and day out.
Karl Cheung speaks to Prestige about fitness and staying consistent.
Do you think sport made you a more resilient person?
I was involved in track and field; I ran cross-country and later I started to play basketball competitively. I think it taught me a lot about endurance and persistence. As a student, you had to juggle school, training and studying, it wasn’t easy but it taught you about time management. And through basketball, you learn not to rely on yourself, but the importance of teamwork and being a team player. Winning required good strategy and communication with your teammates, and having a smart training routine, and this mentality is important to me today as a business owner.
What did you want to achieve with WOW Fitness when you opened your first location in 2014?
At the time, gym culture was predominantly male-focused, and there were very few fitness studios targeted at women. When we opened eight years ago, we wanted to change the perception women had of fitness. We had a lot of clients who were models or actresses and many of them didn’t have any knowledge of how to stay fit – some had never even stepped foot inside a gym. They grew to enjoy fitness; they were the original influencers before influencers became a thing. Now, we also have specialised pre- and post-natal programmes for expecting mothers.
Why is women’s fitness important to you?
My mother is also a huge part of the reason why, from the beginning, I already wanted to focus on women’s fitness. My mother is super important to me, and she became ill with cancer. When she got better, it became my mission to continue to help her stay healthy through consistent exercise and a good diet. Because of her, I decided to help other women to achieve their fitness goals too.
What’s the most important factor in staying fit?
Everyone has their lazy moments. I have an advantage because so many of my colleagues are physically very fit, so spending every day with them gives me the motivation to train harder. It’s important to surround yourself with hard-working people. Secondly, aside from getting a good body, staying fit is also about building healthy habits. Consistency is key to building a habit. Start slowly and build up your habit – even half an hour of exercise can make a difference.