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Welcome to Racked SF's search for San Francisco's hottest trainer. Over the coming weeks, we'll profile a dozen-plus smoking candidates who work at local gyms and studios. (Not only do they look hot in spandex, but if you take their classes, you might someday look nearly as good.) Then, once you've gotten to know everyone, we'll host a March Madness-style showdown in which you get to vote for your favorite. Let the games begin!
Photos by Aubrie Pick
Don't let that sweet disposition fool you. Nathan Ng is a fierce mixed martial arts professional fighter, much to the distress of his poor parents. But they needn't worry too much, their son clearly has the chops and the muscle it takes to fend off his foes. And he has a softer side: Ng has taught kids gymnastics and helped elderly folks regain mobility. And then there was his victorious pageant competition where he learned to wave like a real royal. Read on for the whole story and more photos of those crazy abdominals.
How long have you been a trainer?
"I've been a trainer for 4 years. I was a strength and conditioning coach for athletes first before switching to personal training. Before that, I taught swimming for 5 years, and gymnastics for another year. I've pretty much trained everyone in some form—from 2-year-olds learning to tumble, to professional football players, to senior citizens trying to regain the mobility and agility to play tennis like they did 15 years ago."
What prompted you to become one—did you have a different career path in mind prior?
"I think of it as enlightened self-interest. I've always cared a lot about exercise, and I've studied all the sciences related to it so that I can be better at my other career, which is professional mixed martial arts. Training people seemed to be the most reasonable thing to do so that I could share my knowledge. I'm a natural teacher, and I picked a profession where I can teach a topic I love."
What classes do you teach, and which is your favorite/why?
"I teach a class called Power Hour at Bay Club Financial District. I love the energy of the class, and everyone is always working hard. The attendees of my class are always smiling and laughing while secretly hating me. I don't know why, but they keep coming back for more!"
Describe your training style: Are you drill sergeant? More laid back?
"I'm actually both. I'm an absolute stickler when it comes to form, almost to the point of coming off like a drill sergeant. At the same time, I'm naturally very laid back and totally a type B person. I love to laugh, and I love it when people are enjoying workouts with me. We've just got to get work done in the process."
What's one piece of advice everyone should hear before beginning a new workout?
"Consult your physician before? nah, just kidding. Well, not really, but if there was one piece of advice I'd give someone starting a new workout, I'd say to go all in at your level, but be sure to be equally as strict about resting. Start at a level you can see yourself progress from over the next year or two, or even five. 90- and 120-day workout programs are good marketing tools, but people either quit because it is too intense, or feel lost after they finish the program. You never have to get back into it if you never quit, and you'll never quit if you can do something you see yourself being able to keep up."
Tell us a fun fact about you—the weirder and wackier, the better.
"I was in an all male pageant just two years ago. Seriously. I did it thinking it was the funniest thing, and I ended up winning. I remember feeling like I was going to die of laughter when I submitted for it, thinking there is no way I could follow through. Fast forward a few months and I'm doing the pageant wave to thousands of people for the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco. I still remember how to do it—elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, touch the pearls, blow a kiss. Suffice to say, I lost all street cred after that. The next day, my wrestling coach asked me "Nathan, I saw you on TV. Are you Mr. Chinatown?" It turned out to be the hardest wrestling practice of my life."
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