#FITSPO: Joshua Tan

Ah Boys to Men actor Joshua Tan proves he’s as tough as they come.
Joshua Tan Ah Boys to Men RUTE R U Tough Enough Singtel
Photo: ZYRUP/Joel Lim

When moviegoers saw a Joshua Tan that was 20kg heavier in last year’s Ah Boys to Men 4, they were shocked. It is not every day that a local heartthrob is willing to give up his chiselled good looks just to satisfy the demands of a role.

After all, Tan is a self-professed fitness enthusiast – be it playing football, doing Muay Thai or going to the gym.

But as Joshua puts it, doing so was a challenge he was more than willing to take on. In fact, it was his idea entirely to put on an excessive amount of weight for the role.

“At that point of time, I felt restricted with the roles I was getting. I felt that people did not see me beyond a certain stereotype, so I wanted to push the limit.”

However, that transformation did not come easy. There was the teasing and negative response to his weight gain, and the physical change took a toll on him as well.

“I fell sick more often and became more clumsy. It got to the point where I did not like looking at myself in mirrors too.”

However, he was soon cast as the lead in live action comedy production, Flying Through Time. Just as quickly as he had to gain it, Joshua had to lose the weight in order to play the role of a military general. He even spent two weeks in South Korea for intensive training sessions.

His days being out of shape are finally behind him, and he refers to that period as an eye-opening experience – one that he does not regret. Joshua explains taking on that “gamble” has paid off.

“I’m glad I did it,” he says proudly.

Joshua Tan Ah Boys to Men RUTE R U Tough Enough Singtel
Photo: ZYRUP/Joel Lim

For his sheer determination and possession of both physical and mental toughness, it comes as no surprise that he was revealed to be the ambassador for the Singapore edition of R U Tough Enough (RUTE), a nationwide search for Singapore’s toughest.

Organised by KIX HD and Singtel TV, RUTE is a competition that seeks contestants who are not only physically strong, but also mentally and emotionally resilient. A winner will walk away with $10,000.

Referring to a Thai contestant who had lost his memory and psychomotor skills in an accident, Joshua explains that it was this emotional element of the competition that got him hooked, as individuals with inspiring stories of toughness and resilience now have a platform to share them.

“These human interest stories appeal to me,” he says. “They are a lot more dynamic.”

But what exactly does “emotional and mental toughness” constitute?

“Someone who is [emotionally and mentally] tough has a lot of resilience and composure under pressure,” Joshua explains. 

“My father is the embodiment of [that] toughness.” 

“He’s one of those guys who has ‘silent strength’. He doesn’t talk a lot, he doesn’t complain. He gets what needs to be done, done. In my book, that is toughness to me.”

Perhaps it is true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. There’s no denying that he is one tough guy, as his astonishing physical transformation within a short period of time has demonstrated.

He has proven that he is an Ah Boy no more, and here are three tips from the man himself on how you too can embark on your own fitness journey and physical transformation for the better.

Joshua Tan Ah Boys to Men RUTE R U Tough Enough Singtel
Photo: ZYRUP/Joel Lim

Tip 1: Be Logical about Diets

One thing you won’t find Joshua partaking in? Fad diets. For him, following a diet plan that is sustainable and achievable is more important than attaining short term rewards from extreme dieting. He recommends eating just what you need and being disciplined enough to say no to foods are obviously not good for the body. However, there is also a need to be realistic about dieting.

Everyone has to have a cheat day once in awhile. You can’t be having salad all your life, right?” 

Tip 2: Just Take the First Step 

They say the first step is always the hardest, so it’s really all about overcoming the initial inertia.

“I’m like every other human being; there are times I don’t feel like working out. However, I find that the more you procrastinate and think about it, the less it’s going to be done. Just step out of the house. Once you’re there, you’re already there. What else you going to do? Are you going to go home? The very act of stepping out of the house is a win.”

Tip 3: Intimidated? Seek Help from the Internet or a Friend

The gym can be pretty intimidating if you’re a relative newbie. All you need to do is to go online to find out more about exercises and proper usage of gym equipment, says Joshua. Refer to tutorials on YouTube, or simply approach a familiar friend for advice. Fun fact: Joshua used to work out with fellow actor Shane Pow back in their polytechnic days. 

“Most people are more than happy to help if you ask.”

Joshua Tan Ah Boys to Men RUTE R U Tough Enough Singtel
Photo: ZYRUP/Joel Lim

Registration for R U Tough Enough? is open until 27 July, and participants can apply online at singtel.com/RUTE. The competition is open to all participants 18 years and above residing in Singapore.