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Malaysians are the fattest in Asia. And this survey will tell you why

A few years ago, news came out that Malaysians were the fattest people in Asia. So couple weeks back, us chubby chonks at Cilisos ran our first ever ‘Jaga Diri’ survey where we asked Malaysians just how fit they were. We were always curious cos we’ve always tried to be more fit ourselves… and thanks to our friends at Fitness First, we’ve finally made it happen! Before we run you through the findings, here are some prelim info:

ff logo

  • Survey period: 3rd Sept – 18 Sept 2018
  • Total respondents: 3,779 (So many! Thanks for taking our survey ugaiz! Cilisos readers are AWESOME!)
  • Top 5 locations: Selangor (40.2%), KL (25.6%), Penang (7.5%), Sarawak (5.2%) and Johor (4.1%)… but we had respondents from each state
  • Top 3 relationship status: Single (58.8%), in a relationship (21.6%), and married without kids (6.5%)
  • Top 3 age groups: 21-29 year olds (40.7%), 30 -39 year olds (23.2%), 18-20 year olds (14.2%)… but we had respondents from all age groups even 60 and above.
  • Gender breakdown: Male (52.6%), female (46.7%), others (0.7%)

Ok ready? Lesgo!


1. 17.5% of men sign up at fitness centres to… look at hotties!

From YouTuber Fit Rebelle

From YouTuber Fit Rebelle

Aiya… actually, girls oso la! Just not as many (6.1%) or mebbe shy to admit. Funny thing is, it could even be a motivation… because our survey showed that the No. 1 goal of Malaysians when they work out, regardless whether guy or girl, is to look lean and slim.

If you’re there to oogle, err, just do it discreetly. Most importantly, DON’T KACAU la k? “Creepy people hitting on me” was one of the top 10 annoyances of Malaysians who go to fitness centres. Anyway, don’t worry about these cuci-mata fellas cos they’re only the minority! Why? Because…


2. … most men go for the equipment (72.1%) while women go for the classes (52.4%).

From our data, it pretty much seems like Malaysian men prefer doing things on their own, like using dumbbells or cable machines… while women prefer someone else guiding them or participating in group fitness classes. In fact, more women (24.3%) than men (10%) said that they prefer having a personal trainer to guide them!


“Don’t mess with me you creep!” Fitness First’s new ‘BOOM’ class (boxing) is popular among women too

If you didn’t know already, Fitness First is pretty much the expert in all of these. They have the largest number of personal trainers and group exercise instructors, and 1,500 different classes a week so you can choose one that suits your need at any time. If you prefer doing your own thing, they also have a wide range of equipment, including those with newer technology and weird names like SkillMill, Torque Tank, SkiErg… aduh a lot la, just click here to know more.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it for what men and women like. But what about annoyances? The top pet peeve for women is seeing sweat-drenched equipment (38.2%), while men said it’s people leaving equipment lying around (57.8%). Disregarding gender, the top 3 biggest annoyances in fitness centres are…

  1. People who leave weights/equipment lying around (46.2%),
  2. Equipment hoggers (39.8%)
  3. People who spend more time on their phones than working out (38.5%)!

#fitfam #gymlife #bodybuilding #challengeyourself


3. Taking the lift to Level 3? Better make sure nobody is around to see you…

Unedited photo from

Unedited photo from

Everyone has their own little threshold of the number of stairs they’re willing to walk up instead of taking the lift. In this case, most of our respondents (33.3%) said 3 flights of stairs! So if you’re going to level 1 or 2, maybe it would be a better idea to just walk.

Actually, you ALREADY know that it’s a good habit to walk up the stairs la. Fitness First personal trainer, Wai San, says that you can burn up to 15 calories by walking up ONE flight of stairs… considering 1 pisang goreng is about 117 calories, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take the stairs more often juuust to offset some of that 🙂


4. Can you do more than 18 FULL pushups? Congrats, that’s more than the average Malaysian

Gif from

But not like this k? Ini main-main punya. Gif from

Going into the specifics, we also found that the average number of full pushups for men is 25, and 11 for women. 

Now push-ups are not just to impress people… they’re actually really good for many muscle groups, so even if you don’t have the time or space for a full workout, it wouldn’t hurt to do push-ups when you wake up or before you sleep.

But trainer Wai San warns that a lot of us don’t actually know the proper technique for a pushup. The chances of you getting injured increases if you have bad form, and skyrockets if you add more weight. If possible, just ask an expert or take advantage of the many resources available online on how to do it right.


5. The older you are, the MORE motivated you are to exercise

The real #fitfam. Unedited image from

The real #fitfam. Unedited image from

Respondents who said that “nothing is an obstacle for them to exercise” were mostly those above 50 years old (52.2%). There were only 13.8% respondents who were 17 or younger.

Overall our data also showed that older folk exercise to FEEL good, while younger folk exercise to LOOK good. In fact, the younger you are, the more goal-oriented you are.

Younger people have more challenge-driven goals in life, like running marathons, triathlons and overcoming personal fears. Older people mainly exercise so they don’t need to depend on others to help them. That’s also probably why our survey showed that they REALLY jaga diri baik -baik…. all these uncle-aunties-ahpoh-ahkongs typically do more stretches, eat more supplements, eat more vegetables, and eat less fatty foods.

Actually don’t play play with old people wei… Fitness First personal trainer Zec Lau said that he knows of a 65-year-old old-timer who could bench press 50kg! Cilisos staff can’t even do 30kg lor..


6. 97.1% of Malaysians said that they NEED veggies in their food!

Malaysians not as constipated as we thought :)

Malaysians not as constipated as we thought lor.

Surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of our respondents told us that they NEED to eat vegetables! 54.9% of them said that they need it in EVERY meal, 27.7% said at least once a day, and 14.5% said few times a week ok la. The other 2.9% just found veggies gross and crossed them out of their diet. Eyer.. these fellas sure buntut sakit one.

On another note, can you guess what are some of Malaysia’s favourite tea-time snacks? The top 3 are:

  1. Biscuits (43.9%),
  2. fruits (30.7%), and…
  3. ……… LEKOR! KUIH! GORENG PISANG! Local delicacies la basically. (21.9%) Yay this one also Cilisos favourite.

Thankfully, most of us feel some sort of guilt if we eat a lot of unhealthy food. Majority (36%) would exercise and eat something healthy the next few meals, while 10.1% would exercise to punish themselves and 13.5% would make sure their next meals are healthier. Trainer Zec suggests: “Drink more water, increase your fibre intake and exercise more. The key here is to keep your metabolism running.”


7. Hmm…. Not sure why but more Chinese-speakers (19.1%) wanna be big and muscular Abang Sados!


Lu suka boh?

Despite the fact that popular term ‘Abang Sado’ is in BM, we found that it was actually the least popular among our BM-speaking respondents (7.8%)!

Overall, we found that being bulky and muscular isn’t the No. 1 goal on everyone’s minds… it’s looking lean and slim. While that’s not a bad thing, there are actually a number of misconceptions surrounding building muscles.

“Many women think that building muscles will make them look like a muscular man. Men, on the other hand, only focus on upper body instead of lower body,” Trainer Wai San tells us. Muscles aren’t for vanity… it actually for HEALTH. “Building muscle is really important because the muscles help hold your bones to support your body better,” she adds.


8. 24.2% of women actually consider shopping as… exercise?!

If you’ve ever thought that walking around shopping malls for 4 hours is a form of exercise, well, you’re not alone. In fact, 15.9% of men also agree with this! Say what you will, but a study in the UK found that British women burn as much as 15,000 calories yearly by shopping. Unfortunately, a lot of it go to waste because 33% of them snack while they shop, hehe.

Screengrab from Lobak Merah

Maybe you lose more calories during a sale… Screengrab from Lobak Merah

On a somewhat-related note, more women (39.63%) also felt that house chores were a form of exercise compared to men (24.32%). Ok la not bad… after 2 hours of cleaning you get a clean house and Serena Williams’ arms. Win-win.


9. Wanna live like rich people? Have more healthy habits in life.



So we looked through the differences between higher-income earners (monthly household income of RM15k and above) and lower-income earners (RM3k and below) and here’s what we found.

More higher-income earners seem to practice healthy habits – they meditate more, take more supplements, eat clean, drink at least 8 cups of water, and eat their meals on time. That’s probably why more of them consider themselves to be either ‘very healthy’ or ‘healthy’ compared to those who don’t earn as much. Oh unsurprisingly they’re also the ones who track their fitness levels with a tracker… well they can afford FitBit la duh. Cilisos staff only wear MiBand… that one also buy 2nd-hand from Mudah wan.

We also found that they’re generally more independent than lower-income earners, as more of them can work out without someone temaning them.

Actually, you don’t need to be rich to be healthy la. You just gotta cultivate healthy habits in your life, and be motivated enough to STICK to them. Research says that it takes 21 days to form a new habit… so before 2018 comes to a close, why not pick up a good habit? (Good ones like doing daily push-ups, sleeping earlier and making wiser choices with your food la, not smoking ok pls?)


10. Malaysians sure have all sorts of funny excuses NOT to exercise

First off… can you guess the top 3 reasons to why Malaysians don’t exercise? *drum rolls*

  1. No motivation! Lazy! (51.32%)
  2. No time (40.92%)
  3. No teman to exercise with them (33.98%)

When we pried further, we also found that there were some other p-r-e-t-t-y interesting responses:


Cannot wash hair?!! Cue Lil Jon– WHAT?!

Besides some funny ones, it was kinda sad to read comments about being judged and feeling shy… but you know what, often times it’s just in our own heads. A lot of people who go to fitness centres – yes, even the good-looking ones – are more conscious of THEMSELVES rather than the people around them. Working out ultimately benefits yourself, so why deny yourself that opportunity to live a healthier life just because of what others may think? 🙂


But if you ever needed the help to get fitter, now’s the time

Everyone has ‘that moment’ when they realise that a change is needed in their lives. But sometimes, like in the point above, our own insecurities, fear, disadvantages, situations or habits make it almost impossible for us to progress. That’s precisely what our friends at Fitness First want to help you with.

They’ve come up with a new contest, called #ThatMoment, with the goal to inspire and encourage Malaysians to go further in life with fitness. 2 lucky winners will be rewarded with an exclusive fitness transformation journey, an all-expense-paid fitness trip (Angkor Wat Half Marathon or Mount Kinabalu Hiking Trip), 1 year gym membership, and other prizes worth RM10k. 

Winners won’t be doing this alone either. Fitness First will pair you up with a fitness buddy/expert: single-armed runner CK Loh (for Mt Kinabalu hike) or local personality Davina Goh (for Angkor Wat run) so you’ll be trained and supported all the way.

Photos from and

Photos from and

Here’s how to participate: 

  1. Fill in the contest form here.
  2. Record a short video or snap a workout photo. Share your fitness story and why you should be chosen to be part of this transformation journey. Please also mention which activity you would like to win.
  3. Upload your video/photo onto your Instagram/Facebook. (Make sure it’s set to public!)
  4. Include the hashtag #THATMOMENT, tag @fitnessfirstmalaysia in your post and submit your entry.

Like we said, if you ever need help in bettering yourself, this is that moment – but hurry… contest closes 7th October 2018! 🙂 

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