What is Allan Wu’s secret to a super bod?

The 43-year-old exercise fiend says he’s never not had abs and is on a perennial natural high from working out.


How do we start this story about Allan Wu and his penchant for exercise and his dislike for shirts? While some male celebs worry about being viewed as airheaded meatheads if they aren’t fully-clothed, Allan appears to be more secure. It’s true that he is topless in a lot of his shoots and shows, but it doesn’t seem to bother him much, and certainly isn’t gonna make him stop working out so he can be taken seriously as an angsty, pale and lumpy thespian. Here’s why he bothers to maintain his abs all the time.

Some say sports is the answer to all your problems. What do you think?

Allan Wu: I totally, absolutely, unequivocally agree. A lot of times, people’s perception of me is that I’m a guy who must really, really love myself, ’cos I’m always working out and wanting to look good, but in reality, I’ve just always enjoyed being active. I feel most alive when I’m exercising and just being physical. And what really got me through the trials and tribulations of life and all of my personal stuff was sports. When you have a lot of mental stress or angst, it’s cathartic to go out and exercise and displace some of that pressure and sadness and negativity — to literally burn it off.

Is it the endorphins, or is it a distraction from the bad stuff?

It does take your mind off stuff and the adrenaline and endorphins make you feel good, but for me, it’s also a way to break up the day. You work so hard at your desk all day, so why not go out there and take a commercial break from life? It’s important to go out and be active a few times a week, so you can strike that balance in your life.

Any examples of how exercising ‘saved’ you?

When I did my very first Chinese drama, Bukit Ho Swee, in 2001, I couldn’t really read Chinese. I had a huge headache all the time ’cos I was trying to get through all these lines and I was so stressed out. What kept me going was going for a run and clearing my head for a while. And I wouldn’t say it was a lifesaver, but exercise was a huge help when I was going through my separation from Li-lin [in 2013]. It was really tough, trying to grasp the concept of uncoupling and not being together. For a time, she was away, so I’d get up early in the morning, get the kids ready for school, get their breakfast and uniforms, and then go running on the track. It was freezing cold, I was trying to figure out what was going on in my life, and I’d be going 15 to 30 laps. I wouldn’t say I was running my sorrows away, but the exercise gave me a natural high, kept my head up, helped me stay focused and made me realise that even though one facet of my life wasn’t working out, at least the kids and I are still healthy. It’s like, it was time to move on. Literally, to just keep on moving.

Why didn’t you become a professional athlete?

For a while in high school, I was running cross-country and doing a lot of competitive cycling. I would have loved to get into cycling more seriously. But my parents, who are first-generation Chinese immigrants in the States, were like, “No, you’re gonna go get your college degree.” But I’m kinda thankful I didn’t go down that route, ’cos when you’re a professional athlete, I think your whole life would just be about cycling or swimming or whatever. But I got to see a lot more things in the life I’ve had.

Would you encourage your kids to go down the sporting route?

I’d like a more well-rounded environment for my children. If you want to be a tiger or lion mum and be super kiasu and have your kids go for enrichment classes all the time, that’s great. For me, it’s not just about having the grades, but also that exposure to athletics. I want to help them develop their self-esteem not just academically, but also from an athletic standpoint. My daughter [Sage, who’s 10] is a good swimmer. She’s within the top 15 in her age group, but I don’t know if she will be a professional. I’m letting her follow her own path. She’s a really good sprinter too.

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