"It's really warm in Singapore, so I usually try to be as naked as possible."
Previously a competitive swimmer and rugby player during his high school and university days Lenny Kong took up wrestling in 2009 to “get back into shape.”
After nine months of training, he attended a course for the National Coaching Accreditation Program, where he met coach Kevin Lim from CrossFit Singapore. On the last day of the course, Lim invited Kong to join him for a workout: five rounds of five deadlifts and 10 burpees.
This was the first of many times Kong would come to hear “3, 2, 1, go.” What appeared to be a relatively simple workout shocked and humbled the “fit” wrestler, and he quickly told Lim he wanted in. Eighteen months down the line and now a Level 1 trainer, the business development executive by day is one of CrossFit Singapore’s top athletes. And this is only the beginning.
What is it about CrossFit that keeps you coming back for more?
Not since my swimming days have I been driven to better my own efforts, constantly improve personal records and celebrate my accomplishments. I can feel and see the difference, and being at the forefront of one’s personal abilities is what brings me back to the box time and time again.
How did the Level 1 Seminar affect you?
It was a good solidification of my understanding of CrossFit, which is unique in that it is constantly evolving and so there is always something new to be learnt. Being shown not only how to observe movement, but also how to cue it, really opened my eyes to just how comprehensive and potentially effective the CrossFit methodology is.
How do you manage to juggle full-time work, travel and CrossFit?
It’s extremely difficult at times, but thankfully I have the support of those around me and I take control of my training times as much as I can. When I’m traveling, I will always try to hit the gym in the hotel, or in the worst-case scenario, do a ‘Tabata’ workout or some skills practice in my room. Handstand push-ups against the hotel room wall, coupled with burpees or squats always work out well.
What have you been doing in order to prepare yourself for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games?
I’ve been playing around with a lot of different things. Primarily, I have been working on my ‘goats:’ handstand push-ups, muscle-ups, pull-ups. I’ve also been doing lots of additional rehabilitation work to get my shoulders stronger, as well as trying out intermittent fasting, which seems to be going well.
Any particular dietary regimen you stick to?
When I’m not fasting, I stick to [convenient] paleo-friendly food choices and I will typically have two cheat meals a week.
Do you have any recovery or maintenance tips?
Fish oil, foam rolling and stretching – all highly important. When I have time, mobilitywod.com is a great addition too.
What would be your most dreaded exercise or movement to come out of the hopper?
I don’t like handstand push-ups, nor am I a fan of muscle-ups.
Favorite benchmark workout?
‘Grace.’ It’s got that nasty combination of demanding good lifting technique, never-say-die conditioning and the will to grind through the last few reps.
Toughest workout to date?
It’s got to be the partner WOD ‘COACHIE:’
Two rounds for time:
32 deadlifts 230/160
32 overhead squats 100/70
32 kettlebell swings 2/1.5 pood
32 wall balls 20/14 (10-foot target)
32 thrusters 100/70
Both partners had to complete the 32 reps before each run that followed. We did this for [my] coach’s birthday and I was paired with him. It came to a total of one hour, four minutes and 58 seconds of hell on earth.
What music do you like to listen to while you’re working out?
I am a metal head, but unfortunately, there aren’t many people at the box that appreciate my kind of music. If I’m working out on my own, it’s almost always ‘Lamb of God.’
How do you mentally prepare yourself for a workout?
It really depends. Most of the time I try to stick to a game plan, stay calm and grind through it. Other times I just try not to think about it.
Lucky wristbands/socks/pants for workouts?
It’s really warm in Singapore, so I usually try to be as naked as possible during workouts. I’ve recently been wearing a headband that keeps the sweat out of the eyes.
Athletes you admire?
I really look up to Coach [Kevin] and Alistair Boyd. They are highly knowledgeable and I have learnt plenty from working out with them.
Any Games athlete(s) you'd like to train or rub shoulders with?
I really admire Mikko Salo. The guy is a machine and I marvel at his work ethic. Pat Barber as well – those two beasts are scary good.
Do you have any advice to anyone competing in the Open?
I hardly feel qualified to be giving advice. I would say give it your best shot and use it as a litmus test for your own personal level of fitness. Whatever else happens, just happens.