Standing 5’4″ and weighing in at 65 kilogrammes, Jackie Chan Yong Heng’s compact yet powerful build is undeniably one of a man who’s spent time bruising with a barbell – although exactly how much isn’t fully apparent at first glance.
Spending a few minutes in pidgeon-like yoga stretches, he swiftly slaps on two 25kg plates onto a 20kg barbell racked at standing height at his gym in Lumut, places it onto his back and descends until his hamstrings press on his calves – before standing up with unerring ease. Jackie is 41.
“We call this the full squat,” he says with a polite smile.
Within minutes he’s doing repetitions with 130kg, before jumping over to deadlifts – where after warm-ups at 70kg, 120kg, 160kg – he proceeds to load 190kg on the bar, and after a little struggle off the ground, comfortably stands up with the weight.
“Got a good picture yet?” says Jackie, pausing to hold the weight up, as the veins running across his forearms bulge.
Without the aid of straps or a lifting belt, Jackie – or JC as he’s known to family and friends – has just lifted a few kilograms shy of three times his bodyweight, but it’s far from his recent best of 500lbs – or 227kg.
Not only has the 41-year-old remarkably managed to stay injury free despite decades of weight training, but he’s arguably just hitting his stride, bagging Brunei gold last March in the Under 66kg Master’s category of the Malaysian Powerlifting Open in Kuala Lumpur.
JC’s more interested in showcasing his small wall of honour that hangs on his gym’s wall, where his most outstanding clients, some who have lost 30 to 40 kilogrammes, post their testimonials of progress.
“First I believe in understanding, and mastering the techniques in each exercise,” says JC, who began training people out of the Brunei Shell Recreational Club – which he later served as the president of – back in 2009.
“The second is to understand nutrition, and how it plays a role in weight loss and how it can help you increase muscle and performance. When we understand the basics and foundations of both – and are patient as well as consistent with our effort – we will get solid, sustainable results.”
For the past three years, JC Musclebuilding & Fitness has run out of a single unit located in a nondescript building tucked away in Lumut, quietly earning followers through word of mouth. JC, who works in the oil and gas industry full-time, opened the gym after moving into the Lumut national housing scheme nearby, and has since expanded into selling supplements and supplying gym equipment.
In an industry of fad diets, gimmicky exercises and two-week programmes, JC preaches a more long-term approach rooted in improving biomechanics, prioritizing the body’s ability to move through full range of motion safely and effectively, before subjecting it to increasing intensity or resistance.
“If you rush the intensity (repetitions) or weight before you’ve established the proper flexibility or learned the movement patterns, you will not get results for very long because you’ll get injured,” says JC.
“And once you’ve learned to do the movements/exercises safely – you must plan out how you will improve in them gradually over time. If you’re moving the same weight – or doing the same exercises for the same amount of repetitions in the same amount of time without change then your body will not change either.”
JC Musclebuilding’s gym has walk-ins for $8 and monthly memberships at $55, but it’s the PT packages beginning at $160 a month that form the bulk of the gym’s business.
“The majority of our customers are women who prefer to have private training or really need dedicated coaching since they’re new to exercising or weight training,” said JC’s wife and marketing manager Phyllis Jong. “As a smaller gym, we are really focused on the quality of our PT training and achieving real results and transformations for our members.”
PT clients get eight hour-long sessions a month for the $160 package, with unlimited access to the gym as well. JC pulls out a detailed survey they help their clients fill in, from body fat measurements to dietary habits to weight loss goals, with each client then given a customized meal and exercise plan as well as a direct line to their trainer who they can contact at any time throughout the day.
Azrin Salalu, a 27-year-old aspiring powerlifter and JC’s trusted right-hand, now mans the gym full-time, with JC arriving straight after work ends at 4pm.
“I don’t see him stopping anytime soon,” says Phyllis. “Even if there are just a few clients turning up he will usually stay to close the shop,” says Azrin. “That’s his commitment. It’s his passion. It’s why I joined him.”
JC Musclebuilding & Fitness is located at Simpang 72, Unit 11, Kompleks Hj Bujang Hj Kikil dan Anak-Anak, Kg Sg Liang Kechil (Lumut) and opens from 2pm to 9pm from Monday to Friday. To learn more to shop online for supplements or gym equipment visit www.jcmusclebuilding.com and contact +6738953222 to get in touch directly.