In The Gym With Ant Haynes of Coastal Fitness

By Dervla Louli

We head into the gym with Coastal Fitness co-founder Ant Haynes to find out his top fitness tips and tricks 

Tatler Asia

On rare occasions, you meet someone who makes you want to be better, fitter and stronger; and that’s exactly how we felt when Ant Haynes welcomed us into Coastal Fitness, his CrossFit gym in North Point that he co-founded with his brother, Ed. Ant was the standout wellness candidate on our Generation T list which highlighted Hong Kong’s brightest connectors and influential innovators. Here, the Hong Kong-born, half-English coach walks us through a day in his life, how to fight through the pain cave and what it takes to set up a successful fitness business in Hong Kong. 

Can you sum up your fitness journey in two sentences?
I’ve been working at Coastal Fitness for the past eight years, and I'm currently using my trade in CrossFit to compete overseas in various competitions. I enjoy rugby, too: I was previously a Hong Kong Fifteen and Sevens player, and I’ve played in seven Hong Kong Sevens, two Asian Games, two Rugby Sevens World Cups, and more. 

What does your typical day at Coastal Fitness look like? 
I wake up at 4am and start the day with a black coffee and breakfast (four scrambled eggs, two cups of oatmeal with 20g vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, and eight raspberries). I like to read the daily news and sport before I open up Coastal Fitness for our first 5.15am class, and then I train with clients for four hours. I have a protein shake (40-50g protein, and 100g carbohydrate) and then begin my morning training session between 10am and 12.30pm, followed by a team meeting, and then my afternoon training until 4.30pm. I’ll train with clients again for another two to three hours and then head home to have dinner, chill out with friends and plan programmes for the week ahead. I go to bed about 9.30-10.30pm. 

What were the hardest obstacles you faced when you opened Coastal Fitness in Hong Kong? 
You need a fairly solid financial base to open up a business and be successful, especially when starting up a health and fitness facility. The immediate overheads that we acquired when we took on the lease immediately opened our eyes to what we were taking on.  Our business model before we had our gym space was very simple, with very few overheads: but if we really wanted to grow the name and business, we knew we had to take on our own space.  

What diet rules do you live by? 
IIFYM  (If it fits your macros) is my mantra. I eat pretty 'clean', but I'm not really bothered about organic foods, I'm just interested in getting the right amount of calories and macro-nutrients in. I eat a lot in the morning and in the evening because I don’t like eating during the day or between workouts. 

Where do you go for healthy food in Hong Kong? 
I'm a big fan of sushi restaurants. I can always get what I need from them. Cali-Mex is a solid choice for takeaway or delivery: decent Mexican food for a reasonable price. I also love Vietnamese food – I avoid the deep fried stuff and stick with fresh foods. 

What are the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re trying to get ‘fit’? 
The first thing I do with a client is to establish goals and what their definition of 'fit' is.  Often people are looking for a magic pill to get them from A to B in the shortest time possible. One of the biggest mistakes I always see is people taking on weekly/monthly diets (juicing, detoxing, etc.) which don't work because getting fit takes time. The most important thing is to find a coach or mentor that you get on with and respect, and a programme that works for you. Once you start the journey with that person, it becomes a very emotional relationship, if you're serious enough about your goals. Trust the process and stick to it. 

What are your favourite fitness stores in Hong Kong and online? 
Whatever It Takes have pretty much all you need in terms of 'functional fitness' apparel and accessories. They've got more of the modern brands in stock which make you look great on the gym or dance floor. I also get a lot of my supplements from i-Herb and MyProtein. Both are really good value for money and you can bulk-buy to save on delivery.

Where do you go in Hong Kong on your 'cheat' days?  
I'm a very social person. When I’m with my friends, we always seem to end up at Oolaa and Oolaa Petite – but their menu is pretty flexible, and the staff are usually willing to bend the rules a little to help out if I need to change up meals. I'm not the biggest partier (unless it's summer time) but we usually pre-drink at dinner, then head to a bar with decent tunes and good drink options. Recently we've been hanging out a fair bit at Lily and Bloom

What mental tactics do you use to push through your comfort zone in the gym?
Everyone has their own thing they do when they enter the 'pain cave'. People always tell me that my face and body never looks tired. I try and remain as stoic as possible throughout, even if I feel like I'm about to die midway through a workout. If I start to wince or make noises, I personally take it as a sign of weakness: it feels like I’m emotionally trying to say it's okay to give up because it's hard. If you hear me making noises, give me a slap. 

You won gold with your brother at the Asian CrossFit Championships in 2015 – what are the best and worst things about working with and working out with your brother? 
We get on well and have a lot in common, so spending time together training, working or at competitions is always fun. But beating my brother at any and every workout on a daily basis is also extremely enjoyable. Especially as I'm the younger brother. 

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