BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Emi Bodybuilder Gym, a homegrown fitness centre, does not only serve as a place to weightlift and pump muscles but as an avenue for aspiring athletes to grow beyond the four walls of the gym.
Manager and co-owner of the Lambak-based establishment Mohamad Rahemi Hj Abdul Manaf first opened the gym in 2011 after receiving positive support and enough capital from running his home-based gym.
“Before this place, I had a gym at home but bodybuilding was a newfound interest. I was intrigued about it when I see my friends lift weights and had a nice physique. So, I decided to venture into the field and from then on, I never looked back,” he said.
For Rahemi, he did not have professional training on bodybuilding but merely learning from friends who have been in the scene for quite a while as well as based on in his own experience and knowledge.
Talking about his business journey, he said that the demand and number of clients back then were better than today.
“There were not many gyms opened before and of course the demand was higher. Business slows down now since there are newer gyms but we still have people coming in,” he said, adding that the gym received about 30 to 40 per day.
He added: “My gym may not be so different than other places but I guess people who come here likes the familiarity and comfort. Most of them are my loyal customers who have been here since day one.”
Despite having an older place, it does not deter him from continuing his passion turned profession – he is a full-time entrepreneur and trainer who is also retired army personnel.
Emi Gym has given birth to many athletes participating in tournaments and championships held locally and regionally with Rahemi acting as the manager.
One of the most successful athletes who is also a long-term client of Rahemi was Zorizal Hj Johari who recently won two titles at the 16th Southeast Asia Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships in Yangon, Myanmar.
“Being a bodybuilder is not about showing off your body and acting like you are strong wanting to find trouble. It is a sport and beneficial to our health if we do it right. Doing this (bodybuilding), we must watch what we eat, lessen sugar and oil intake which can help reduce fats and cholesterol level,” said Rahemi, adding that the commitment is 70 per cent on food intake and 30 per cent on workouts.
For Zorizal, he has been doing the sport for eight years and participated in many tournaments and won titles.
“My first win was during my first bodybuilding years which I did not expect because I was still new. What gave me the advantage was I guess because of my ripped natural built,” said the 41-year-old.
At the recent competition in Myanmar, Zorizal won the 70kg lightweight category making him eligible to enter the finale Champion of Champions category and to his surprise, he brought home the champion trophy.
“The competition was tough and I did feel demotivated for a while when I saw their bodies. They were all big and tough but then I gained my motivation back and to just push through with my training there. Alhamdullilah, with all the support and prayers from friends and family, I persevered and succeed,” said the army personnel.
“In this field, it is important for us to support one another and do not be arrogant with those who are new. The old help the new and by doing that, we can go far and succeed,” concluded Rahemi.