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Interview: Ant Haynes HK's former Rugby 7 captain

We're proud to announce our newest member to the Wodnut team, Ant Haynes. If you haven't heard of Ant he’s a bit of a celebrity in Hong Kong. In 2007 at the age of 16 Ant was the youngest member of the Hong Kong Rugby Seven. 5 years later he climbed the ranks and as their captain lead the team to victory in the 2012 Asian championship. However something happened in 2013. Ant discovered Crossfit and decided to place his Rugby 7 career on hold.

“When I found CrossFit, I loved the challenge that each workout presented. ‘CrossFit’ as a training program isn’t completely new but the conditioning side of it is very different.  I loved being pushed that extra 5% by others”.

True to Wodnut’s philosophy Ant is well balanced. He is not only talented in sports, he has the brains. Ant graduated with Honors in Business Marketing and started business (Coastal Fitness) only a year after graduating.  For our audience to get to know him a little better we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

Tell us a little about yourself? You live in Hong Kong but why do you have a bit of a British accent?

I was born and raised in Hong Kong. My dad is from England and mum from Hong Kong so yes, I’m half British, half Chinese. Schooling was in Hong Kong but I did my University degree in UK at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

We heard you’ve been playing soccer and rugby from the age of 5. Is sport something you’ve always been passionate about? Is the whole family athletic? Has your parents always been supportive in balancing academics and sports since it’s often a challenge in Asia?

I grew up in a very westernised family.  From a young age it was always natural to balance sports and academics. My mum and dad always pushed my and I brother to play sports, mainly football (soccer) and rugby. During my teenage years I was forced to make the decision on whether to focus on football or rugby. As I was always slightly better at rugby, the decision was not a hard one (but I do enjoy my footy too!). Since then I haven’t looked back. My rugby career has grown from strength to strength and I’ve gained some awesome experiences throughout my playing years.

As for my parents, does it count if mum does Crossfit with me?!! The hardest part of balancing sports & studies was during university years. I was constantly flown back from the UK to play Rugby 7s for HK. It was tough, as the workload was significantly higher than before. Lucky for me I was surrounded by super supportive people.  It always helps when you have parents who support your decisions.

Was it a hard decision to place your Rugby 7 career on hold?

100% very tough! But at the moment, I would say I’m more on a ‘sabbatical’ rather than fully retired! Hong Kong rugby is actually moving in a really positive direction at the moment. They’re slowly moving more and more players into the professional era, offering contracts to a few select players. However, having played at international level since the age of 16, my body had already started to feel the effects of playing day in day out. No question, I loved playing in front of 40,000+ spectators at the Hong Kong 7s. I loved every minute of the 2 Asian Games, 2 Rugby 7s World Cups and all the other events that I took part in. But having said that, I do also love not being smashed by 130kg+ blokes each weekend. I can actually manage my injuries and control how my body feels the next day!

When and how did Coastal Fitness start?

Coastal Fitness Limited was founded 4 years ago between my brother Ed and I. Ed identified a gap in the market. So we started as a small personal training company to cater for people outside the city. It pretty much grew from there. It was not until last year (2013) we decided to find our own space to offer Crossfit to the community. At that time HK only had 1 CrossFit box. Since then, there are now over 7 boxes in HK, which is awesome for the community! We've just hosted our 3rd competition, Downtown Throwdown 2. It was a huge success, attracting athletes such as former Games competitor Michael Mogard.

Interview: Ant Haynes |Wodnut

How’s it like to run a Box in Asia? Do you think it is more challenging? Are most of your client expats or are you finding the locals developing more of an interest in exercise? How do you change a client’s mindset that you aren't crazy? I'm asking from personal experience.

Haha. Yes – it can be hard in Asia, but like you mentioned, there is a huge expatriate community throughout Asia. They seem to be naturally drawn to the CrossFit community, but having said that, we have a huge Asian client base too! We now employ 7 trainers and have over 200+ members. The local community definitely seem anxious/nervous when it comes to throwing weights around with a bit of intensity, but they're slowly warming toward the idea of being healthier and fitter!

What was the highlight of this year’s Asia Regional? BTW congratulations for coming 10th. That’s an amazing effort for a rookie.

Thanks! Definitely the rope climb/sprint event. I managed to put in a good time. It helped with my overall placing too! I had a goal to crack the top 10, so I was very happy to come away in 10th. Next year is another story – a lot of work to be done!

Interview: Ant Haynes | Wodnut

Photo Credit: Norman Jaillet

What is the Crossfit Culture like in Asia? Boxes are spread over countries rather than states. Does this make it easier or harder? Does everyone know everyone?

It definitely makes it harder to coordinate events and competitions, but it also makes it more exciting, as there is constantly fresh new talent coming through the boxes. The Asian region as a whole seems to be very supportive of gyms from different countries.

What are your short and medium term Crossfit goals?

Short term – win X45 Challenge (Kuala Lumpur) and win Thailand Throwdown 2014 (Chiang Mai). Medium term – just gotta keep training! Searching for a 140kg clean and jerk, and 105kg snatch. I’m still very new to Olympic lifting, so I’m still seeing improvements every month!

How many days a week do you train and how has your training changed since rugby days? Were there any similarities and benefits you can transfer over?

I train 5 days a week. 2 on, one off, 3 on one off.

Mon – Train  Tues - Train

Wed – Active Recovery/Rest

Thurs – Train Fri – Train Sat – Train

Sun – Active Recovery/Rest

During Rugby days we did do Olympic Lifting but the technical side was never there. It was more power lifting and SAQ drills. Pretty basic.

Do you have a coach for Crossfit or do you come up with your own programming? How do you keep things constantly varied?

Yep – got my own coach! DeeJay Wickham from OPT Calgary. I found him online. We’ve been working together since Jan/Feb 2014. He changes things up for me. My intensity/volume obviously changes around competition time. He looks after me well, but also gets me to push hard!

What’s your diet like? Are you Paleo? Living in HK I’m sure this would be super difficult.

I was paleo until November 2013. However since starting Crossfit I found I needed to consume more carbohydrates. With my training volume increasing, paleo alone just isn’t the answer. I needed to start eating for performance. Having said that, I’ve never been ‘strict paleo’. I also enjoy a cheat day every now and then.

And lastly, tell us one interesting thing about you that no one knows.

I'm a softy when it comes to Animation movies. Big fan of Frozen, Shrek, Finding Nemo, etc. No tears from this guy though!

For more inspiration follow Ant Haynes on instagram.Interview: Ant Haynes | Wodnut

Interview: Ant Haynes | Wodnut


Passionate about eating healthy, training dirty and looking and feeling great. Read more on About Us.

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