By SARA HENDAWY
Certified CrossFitter Edmund Tan is proof that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. Tan injured his shoulder in 2007 in a rock climbing competition, after which he spent over a year in rehab following a shoulder reconstruction surgery.
The outdoor lover had to refrain from physical activities for a year and a half, and his body weight dropped from 63kg to 49kg. Then, a friend suggested he try CrossFit in order to help him get back into shape for rock climbing.
CrossFit is a high-intensity fitness programme that incorporates elements from several sports and types of exercise. The 33-year-old fell in love with the sport, competing in his first Crossfit event at the CrossFit Games Asia Regional in 2011. He took part in the same event the following year.
In 2013, he was asked to be the head coach of a CrossFit box (training centre) in Hong Kong, where he has been based ever since. Tan went on to compete as part of a team at the CrossFit Games Pacific Regional in 2014 and 2015.
“CrossFit has helped me with self-exploration physically and mentally,” says Tan, currently a freelance coach at several CrossFit boxes in Hong Kong. ‘Get comfortable with the uncomfortable’ is also the CrossFit motto.
“Through all the training, I found myself adapting quickly and physically. I became fitter, faster and stronger, and my mental toughness has increased so much that I am able to keep a calm mind when dealing with unforeseen situations,” Tan adds.
Recently, Tan surpassed his own expectations by qualifying for the challenging 2019 CrossFit Games held in Wisconsin, United States, in August. It also marked the first time that Malaysia was represented at the Games.
“It was my first time competing in this international CrossFit Games. I ranked 104 globally. I did not do as well as I wanted but I made a right decision to be in the Games as it was a rare opportunity to be able to compete with all the strong athletes there,” shares Tan, who holds the title of ‘Fittest Man in Malaysia 2019’.
“The atmosphere of the Games is so much more intense compared to smaller scale Crossfit events, mainly because you get to witness the fittest athletes from around the world going head to head. I can only describe the vibe in the coliseum as amazing. One must be there in person to feel it,” he enthuses.
Tan, whose idol is American CrossFitter Chris Spealler, explains more about his passion. “CrossFit and bodybuilding are similar but in addition to lifting weights, CrossFit is a sport that also requires gymnastic skills and endurance,” he says.
As a whole, Tan hopes that more can be done to boost the fitness industry in Malaysia.
“I hope that people can see the benefits of CrossFit, not just how aggressive and intense the workouts are, but the progression, the results, the fun and the support from the community too,” explains Tan.
“The supportive community is what sets CrossFit apart from other sports. At more than 15,000 affiliates around the world, athletes encourage and motivate each other to work towards their goals.
“I also hope that the government will see the benefits of promoting CrossFit to the public. With government support, there’s so much more we can do to improve the health and fitness of our society.”
In the future, Tan hopes to set up a training ground in Malaysia for athletes who wish to take their performance to another level. “I wish to set up a CrossFit box for the general public and an education centre which will hold fitness related courses for people who are interested in fitness,” he says.
“When all that is done, I would also like to be able to host one of the CrossFit competitions in Malaysia which will attract many well known athletes all around the world.”