Fitspiration: Louie Manguiat on lifting at Hong Kong’s first 24-hour outdoor gym

Updated on April 10 2017

If you saw Louie Manguiat five years ago, you wouldn’t have expected him to be able to lift 30kg weights on each arm without breaking a sweat. Growing up in Manila, Manguiat spent a lot of his free time playing online video games, which contributed not only to a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle (all too familiar to those of us sitting in front of computers right now), but also a widening waistline. It was around the time that he was receiving his nurse’s certification in 2013 when he decided to make a permanent change. “We have diabetes in the family, and I was afraid to get it, because it started getting hard to tie my shoes,” he says.

These days, he’s the lead trainer at Gymbox24, Hong Kong’s first 24-hour outdoor gym in town, powered by meal plan supplier Gymbox. “I had passed my nursing board exam in Manila, but I started to prioritise being a personal trainer because I didn’t want to be confined in a hospital,” he explains. “I wanted to find another way to help people — and that way was through fitness.”

Guns out at Gymbox24, Hong Kong’s first 24/7 outdoor gym.

I became a trainer… because when you’re in a hospital, you’re focusing on rehabilitating people. You’re on the curing process. But if you’re in the fitness industry, you’re more on the preventive process. So why not try to prevent it [being unhealthy], so it will never happen in the first place? I don’t want to just change how people look like, I want to change how they feel, their mindset. The most important thing is to find fitness holistically, not just physically.

My fitness philosophy… is that fitness is not only about getting a big body. Fitness means you need to strive on different paths — integrating different forms of fitness such as flexibility, balance, resistance, strength, and everything into one.

The key to staying motivated… is to actually push yourself. What pushes me is, if I can’t do something, how can I teach people?

Manguiat demonstrates a flexibility exercise using a ViPR tube.

When I work out… I cannot reiterate more how much flexibility would help people in whichever stage of fitness they are at. For people who do hypertrophy training [building muscles], their muscles are encapsulated in connective tissue called fascia, which stay the same until we’re old. But as you fill up [the fascia with muscle], that’s where problems arise: we cannot build more muscles, because the fascia inhibits muscle growth. Stretching is very good. Back when I started training by myself in 2009 as an amateur, I didn’t know I needed it.

The best five-minute exercise for weight loss is… total body conditioning. Anything that makes you stay in the right heart rate zone, in a condition where you’re trying hard. When I get there, I try to exceed that by 5-10%. When you’re at 80%,  you’re in the burning zone.

Chilling out on a peg board, no big deal.

My favourite exercise is… working my biceps. Curls, hammer strengths, shoulder workouts. With shoulders, I can lift 30kg dumbbells, no spot, eight reps.

For power food… whey proteins, my omega-3’s, my pre-workout and my supplements. I normally eat one hour before I workout, and take my pre-workout 30 minutes before.

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I believe in eating… less input, more output, in terms of the usage of energy. I needed to eat less, but work out more. It really depends on the individual goals of each person.

Cheat day usually includes… Yoshinoya. Before I worked at Gymbox, I used to love Yoshinoya. The Yoshinoya rice bowl and a Gymbox meal will provide you with the same energy, but the difference is that the by-products it will produce is different than the healthier option. 

Always look forward to your reward at the end of the workout.

When I’m not working out, I need… something to reward myself. For instance, after I finish a six-day workout streak, I let myself buy a t-shirt. So that is how you make your goal sustainable. Sometimes you need to unwind. Sometimes I play online and mobile games, but not every day, just occasionally. Three years ago I played 24 hours a day and it made me that fat! I don’t want to continue that anymore.

My workout playlist includes… Screamo. I don’t want to work out without music. Normally, the genre for me is metal, because I want to keep myself awake. Sometimes, motivational music from YouTube actually helps a lot. It’s electronic dance music, but they will include words of success as well.

Gymbox24 is set to launch a 90-day Transformation Program, where one male and one female candidate will be chosen to take part in three months of hugely discounted workouts and meal plans, and their progress will be filmed for the entire duration. Interested? Applications end 10 April, email workout@gymbox.com.hk to apply or click here for more information.

Follow Louie on Instagram @louiemrn, and sign up to pump iron at Gymbox24 (@gymbox24), 4/F, 300 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan, +852 2558 1288, gymbox24.com.hk