If you've ever had the pleasure of being killed slowly by Stephen Cheuk of S10 Training in TriBeCa, you most likely limp away, broken by his original style of training, and think to yourself "why the f*ck do I keep paying to let myself be tortured?"
Stephen has a magical power. He has you laughing, crying, swearing and sweating while he stands there, chiseled arms crossed, quietly commanding you to do ridiculous things with your body in his subtle Australian accent. You go through massive ranges of extreme emotion; love, hate, anger, determination, fear, and the list goes on. As a fitness junkie, I have exercised my way around the world and he tops my list of personal motivators and inspiring friends. Stephen has built an amazing network and community around S10 and he's taken his business to the next level, having been featured in Teen Vogue and listed as a top spot in New York Magazine. He's the bomb and so is his outlook on health.
What does S10 stand for and why did you choose Tribeca, New York for its first location?
S10 stands for sub 10% as in sub 10% bodyfat which is a standard we recommend for males, not females. I pickedTriBeCa for the first location because I'm a downtown kid and wanted to open a trendy downtown gym. The TriBeCa area holds a certain point of prestige being a very affluent downtown zip code, so it aligned perfectly with my branding and ethos with S10 being a luxury boutique gym.
Have you always been a personal trainer? Tell us your story.
I studied design in university, or college, as they call it in the States. I tried working in design, but it wasn't my true passion. I can't sit still and I have too much energy for a desk job. I taught martial arts (Wing Chun Kung Fu) on the side to friends and I really enjoyed instructing people so I figured I'd try personal training part time and that it would be something I could travel with while I pursued photography. Fast forward a few years and it has become my full-time job and passion.
“There is no secret. Making fitness a part of your lifestyle and having fun with it is the key. Also, surround yourself with like-minded people.”
How did you end up being the "cool guy" trainer in NYC? How important is that to your business?
It happened very organically and wasn't something premeditated. I was just hanging with the right people and going to the right events and aligning with the right brands. It definitely does play a part in my business as it's something you can't buy and it helps set us apart from other gyms.
What's the split between men and women at S10? How do yu differentiate the workouts?
It's probably around 50/50; our workouts are very individualized to each client. In general, women recover a lot quicker than men, so less or no break between exercises is given and they respond better to more tension under a time constraint with exercises.
How do you perceive fitness trends like CrossFit, spinning, power Pilates, etc? Is S10 trendy?
There are some good ones and there are some terrible fitness trends. I try to just focus on what we are doing. According to the press, S10 is trendy. Haha.
In your opinion, what is the secret to being healthy and fit?
There is no secret. Making it a part of your lifestyle and having fun with it is the key. Also, surround yourself with like-minded people.
“I always try to seek out the best in the industry and I try to learn from them. This has me flying all around the world every year to attend seminars or courses.”
What do most clients expect from you? Is it realistic?
They all expect results and yes, it's very realistic. After our initial assessment at S10 we break it down for them and tell them what we expect them to achieve and by when.
Tell us the most annoying thing you deal with in your industry.
It's frustrating to have to re-educate the general population on fitness/health fallacies like girls that just want to do juice cleanses thinking it's detoxing them, or people that equate sweating with a good workout, and woman who think if they lift more than 3lbs weights they will bulk up.
Do you have a mentor? Do you see yourself as a mentor to other fitness trainers?
I always try to seek out the best in the industry and I try to learn from them. This has me flying all around the world every year to attend seminars or courses. I have a circle of friends who's brains I constantly pick, they unknowingly are my mentors. For instance, Jeff staple, waris ahluwalia, Samuel Amoia, Steven Rojas and Brendan Fallis always give me opinions on business, social media and dealing with brands and press.
Yes, I do see myself as a mentor, not just for the trainers that work for me, but for random trainers all around the world. I constantly get emails asking for advice even from people in other industries.
Being Australian, having roots in Hong Kong but living in America, what is your perception of ideal beauty and body image?
Being brought up by a tiger mother, I find beauty in strong, independent woman who are doing inspiring things with their lives. I have a warped sense of body image being a personal trainer that specializes in body composition, but my ideal body image is lean (flat stomach and skinny legs) with curves.
“ I find beauty in strong, independent woman who are doing inspiring things with their lives.”
How do women exercise differently than men? How do you manage those variables and adapt your programming?
Women generally focus more on their lower body more than men. Women, like I said before, recover quicker so they need less rest time, they respond better to more time under tension for exercises and variation. But at the end of the day, they are basically doing the same exercises.
What's your personal exercise regime? Who are you inspired by?
My regime is constantly evolving, but a week generally looks something like this:
Monday - gymnastics
Tuesday - strength training
Wednesday - conditioning work
Thursday - strength training
Friday - strength training
Saturday - mobility work
Sunday - an outdoor activity like hiking, biking, track work or running, followed by the steam room and an ice bath
Tequila and chocolate.
Hidden gems in New York City?
1) S10 of course (Listed top 10 luxe experiences in NYC)
2) Paul's Cocktail Lounge and acme (the club/bar downstairs)
3) Kura and Gorbals for food
4) Berlin War in Midtown or the free kayaking in the Hudson River in Tribeca/battery park are great tourist attractions
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
I respect the hustle and to me MISSBISH is a new company started by three woman on the hustle. I'm excited to be the first male BISH.
Photos by: Paulsta Wong