Manhunt magnets draw clients

PHOTO: Manhunt magnets draw clients

Please show me your abs, one man had asked Mr Darren Stephen Lim.

And without hesitation, Mr Lim, 32, took off his shirt to flaunt his well-sculpted body for the 18-year-old man, who was waiting for his enlistment into National Service then.

Mr Lim wasn't entertaining a random male admirer in the street - he took off his top for a client at his gym, Bodies by D'fitness.

"I could see his earnestness, and if I can help to motivate him further by showing off my six-pack, then why not?" said Mr Lim, the director and master trainer at the Jurong East gym.

There are gyms all over the island. They have the latest equipment and the coolest look-through windows.

But Mr Lim's gym has something special to offer - Manhunt winners.

Mr Lim himself bagged third place and the Mr Fitness title at the Manhunt Singapore 2009 competition.

The gym opened in April this year and is being branded as a "boutique gym with celebrity trainers".

Tucked away in a quiet corner of yo:HA@Jurong, and measuring about 2,300 sq ft - the size of two five-room flats - the gym does not have the largest or most convenient venue when compared with other commercial gyms. But it brags the "hottest certified personal trainers", according to its Facebook page.

Mr Jason Chee, 23, who won the Mr Physique title at the Manhunt Singapore 2009 competition, as well as the first place at the Singapore Calendar Guys 2010 competition, is also a trainer at the gym.

Bodies by D'fitness is a venture between four partners - Mr Lim and Mr Chee, and two other trainers who were once models.

And Mr Lim does not deny that many of his clients go to the gym because of the fame his trainers have.

He said: "Generally at the start, they come to us because of who we are.

"And since some of us have been given the honour to wear a certain title, we may as well promote ourselves to get people to come by...while we still can."

Naturally, retaining them would require more than just a famous face or a chiselled body, he said.

The gym charges $65 per month for gym membership. Those who would like to have a little more personal attention from one of these trainers will have to pay $70 for each individual session, excluding gym admission charges.

Mr Lim said: "I have had some instances where clients come just to ogle me, and I would let them know that they should not come for the sake of seeing me.

"They have to be serious about improving their own physical conditions.

"And it's always the guys who would want to look at my body. The women are generally more reserved," headded.

About 40 per cent of his gym members are women.

Envision result

Mr Lim said that the men would ask to have a look at his body because they want to envision the stage that they want themselves to be.

But he also explained that it is indecent to go bare when one is coaching.

"If I was at the beach, then sure I will take my shirt off, no issues about it. But not in this setting," he said.

And no, despite being famous, Mr Lim said that he has not yet encountered any weird propositions in his gym.

Mr Chua Ming Kok, 38, managing director of Ace @ Work Educare Services, chose Mr Lim as his trainer precisely because of who he is.

Said Mr Chua: "I came to know Mr Lim through the competitions which he took part in. And I want to get his body.

"Seeing him in person definitely spurs me on.

"But beyond that, he is someone who has the relevant knowledge and experience to help me tone up."


This article was first published in The New Paper.