Feature Story – Darren Chai



Say, there were no rules. And you could dictate how you want to spend your time, do what you want to do and still make a good living from it. What would you choose to do, and what would your life be like, if you were given that chance? Welcome to the life of Darren Chai; fitness trainer, athlete and restaurant owner.

From a very young age, Darren exhibited traits that would one day, take him places. He was fiercely determined, focused and clear minded. Darren had a precise idea about the things that interested him. As a school boy, Darren had a natural talent for sports. In fact, at various stages in his life he was on the national swimming, tennis and basketball teams.

At one stage, Darren was headed towards a career as a professional tennis player. His talent and tenacity saw him compete against the best in the region. However, at the age of 16, he soon realised that at five foot nine inches the odds were against him making it as a tennis superstar.

Thereafter, Darren was introduced to the game of golf and fell in love with the sport in Australia. He was able to convince his father to enroll him in a golf academy to learn the game because the family understood how serious he was about sports. His parents knew from the beginning that Darren would end up with a career that was related to sports, the only question was which sport? It took him just one year to achieve a handicap of 9; a result which any golfer would consider to be extraordinary.

Darren working out on the rings at Fitness Zone

While the idea of making a living as a professional sport player was alluring, Darren also understood that being good and talented was not enough. He would have to be included in the top 1% in the world. Besides that, he did not have access to the kind of support and environment that would enable him to reach such great heights as a professional in this field.

Over the course of the next three years, Darren went on to complete his business diploma. He then completed a series of specialised courses in personal training and nutrition and he even took up French cooking from Le Cordon Bleu in London. Darren did all this in order to satisfy his growing interest in the idea of holistic living – an idea which he would go on to pursue in the future.

While in the UK, Darren worked part time as a personal trainer while pursuing his courses. With his in-depth understanding of the specific sport disciplines, he was able to effectively customise programs for his clients giving them a competitive edge in the sports. As such, he was able to develop a unique reputation for specialised sports training. His reputation attracted many interesting clients, Darren trained from sports personalities to models and celebrities.

Darren’s quest for personal training didn’t end there. He also participated in many fitness development programs all over the world. One of his qualifications is from Gym Jones in the USA, a renowned institution that produced the trainers who trained the actors for the movies, ‘300’ and ‘Man of Steel.’darren4

Now back to Brunei less than a year, Darren has kick-started his career as a Personal Trainer at Fitness Zone, The Empire Hotel & Country Club and at various other facilities. He now has a local client base that includes CEOs, athletes and people who want to achieve a better level of fitness.

He usually starts his day at 5am and by 10am, he would have trained at least three clients and would also have completed his own a vigorous workout regime. At lunch time, Darren wears the hat of the restaurant owner for Danes in Batu Bersurat this is then followed by more personal trainings sessions in the afternoon.

Darren explained that his biggest satisfaction comes not so much from the physical transformation of the client’s body, but from the positive psychological impact that his clients gain from their sessions. His greatest joy comes from seeing clients gain mental fortitude; and a greater sense of confidence and self respect from being able to do the challenging and sometimes, grueling workout programs. “When the client begins to feel healthy, energetic and good about themselves, it is then that I feel what I am doing is worthwhile.”

Back in school, Darren knew that he did not want to have a business or engineering degree and end up in a 9 to 5 job, earning a fixed salary, living an average life. It was a pretty difficult thing to convince others that such a profession existed.

But today, he is the master of his life – he chooses how he spends his time and who he sees as clients. Not only that, he is doing much better financially what he could have gotten for, had he pursued a traditional 9 to 5 career.

Besides the many perks, one thing that Darren knows for sure is that he is loving what he does and is making the world a better place.

This article was published in the Jan-Mar 2015 issue of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!