For some it's difficult to imagine bodybuilding as a serious physical pursuit. It can seem like a lot of effort to choose to change the way you eat, lift, and move to pack on those muscles. As it turns out, for people like fitness trainer Ralph Matthew Chan, it's the route from A to B that is most rewarding, and the simple, straightforward discipline you attain as you reach your goals. "My fitness journey began in college. Right now I’m 22, so I’m in my best package in terms of physique. When I was growing up from high school to college, I was bullied a lot. Super insecure talaga ako before with how I looked. I was very thin that time." He continues, "So, I decided to start training for MMA. It was my first taste of fitness. I liked it pero masakit. After a while I started training for bodybuilding which I really enjoyed."
Bodybuilding for all its external gains is actually a battle of mind over matter, says Ralph. In a sense it's about taming the flesh and mastering your willpower and happens to be a constant war between what you want right now and what you want to achieve. "Bodybuilding changed my body drastically, and it was not too long to me to realize na iyon pala ang passion ko. Eventually, it also became my career. So I guess I can say na bodybuilding changed my life talaga."
In 2016, Ralph received the Mr. Manila Novice 2016 award from the Philippine Committee Of Bodybuilding and Fitness. He has also won gold for 2017's Mr. Philippines Physique in the junior category and is a Physical Culture Association officer. For a young trainer in his early 20s, he's certainly more than off to a good start.
Before and after Ralph discovered training for professional bodybuilding.
Today, aside from bodybuilding, Ralph also divides his time between that and being a professional fitness trainer. When it comes to many clients' aims to get fitter, Ralph noted the one hindrance that often trips them up or gives them the wrong mindset. "It's being impatient, fitness is a not an overnight success, it takes years and years of being consistent with your training, nutrition and all the different factors. People always want that instant result or the easy way out which is the opposite when it comes to being fit. Being impatient is what usually holds people back from achieving something great."
On the way to greatness, there are a number of folks Ralph shares who do tend to get ahead of themselves, sometimes quite dangerously. "The funniest thing I encountered was when a guy asked me if he could lose 40 pounds in a month. That’s the strangest thing I've ever heard because it’s impossible to lose that kind of weight (safely) in that time frame. The body will not produce that kind of result."
When it comes to eating clean, Ralph immediately shares the food culprits that certainly won't be on your side when you're working hard for those muscles to show up. "First is soda. This is very high in carbs and sugar. Second is cakes, cupcakes, and muffins. Just avoid sugary foods because they will make you fat."
Ralph stocks up on the good stuff, and he definitely knows the one major food he tries not to run out of in his refrigerator. "Chicken breast because it’s cheap and it’s my primary source of protein. Sometimes people tend to cheat because dieting is hard, you don’t get to eat the food that you love." Healthy eating with high protein intake is the key for Ralph, flexible and clean eating instead of extreme dieting.
Bodybuilding, "fitness influencing," and professionally training others to get fit are Ralph's passions side by side. He believes that while others may not think much of working and sweating it out at the gym to bulk up as something great to achieve, there can still be a deeper meaning and purpose when perfecting and doing all of it wholeheartedly. "I feel like i have a big responsibility in the fitness community especially with the younger generations. We often see millennials do dumb things. I just want to be an example to them especially when it comes to fitness, to send a message na its not an excuse to say na, 'Oh okey lang gumimik everyday kasi bata pa naman ako, or okey lang hindi mag-exercise.' Young or old it, causes the same stress sa katawan natin. Hopefully, I would be able to help some of them or motivate some of them. As long as I keep spreading the message of fitness, then I'm good."
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Photography by Vyn Radovan. Other photos from: Instagram.com/wreak.ralph, lookbook.nu