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CrossFit Exclusive Interview

PushMore for CrossFit Malaysia

How hard could this be?

‘ Fran ‘
21 – 15 – 9
Thrusters @ 95lbs

It was 2006 when I first heard the term ‘CrossFit’. Curious, I searched Google and stumbled upon something called a WOD (Workout of The Day). It didn’t seem that difficult.

12 minutes later, I was knocked out lying flat on the ground – completely crushed and utterly demolished.  Despite being barely able to crawl away, I left with a newfound respect for the sport

Regardless of the brutally painful experience, I kept going back for more.

It’s been 8 years. In addition to having a sub-4:00 ‘Fran’, a lot of things are different today.


Jonathan Wong is a force to be reckoned with. Founder and Head Coach of Pushmore @ CrossFit Malaysia, CrossFit regionals athlete, Olympic powerlifting competitor, is there anything he can’t do?

Surprisingly, he recalls a time when a deceptively simple workout left him floundering for air, embarrassingly redfaced, and reduced to a quivering mass of pulp. Astonishingly, that incident led to a moment of revelation which saw the birth of the first CrossFit box in SouthEast Asia.

ToughAsia hears all about it.



You have quite a number of endeavours in the fitness industry. Could you share some of what you do?

The majority of my time is dedicated towards managing Pushmore. I also teach and develop educational courses at FIT (http://www.fit.com.my/). I travel a fair bit to conduct talks, seminars, and workshops. Furthermore, I provide online coaching to a steady number of clients around the world.

Have you always been this fit?

Growing up, I was never very athletic. In fact, I was quite the nerd. Getting picked last during PE classes was nothing out of the norm. I never cared much anyway as I was more likely to be found in the library than the track, more likely to be in the newsroom editing the school magazine than the basketball court.

After I left high school, I followed a pretty conventional path. I enrolled in a local private college as expected, graduated as expected, and found a job as expected. However, I left after a year as I didn’t envision myself staying for the long run.

How did you get started in the fitness industry and what’s the journey been like so far?

I quit my job in 2002 and bummed around for a while before getting bored (and broke). I decided to take up a part time job with a gym nearby. It was from there that I developed a keen interest and started getting serious about fitness. I read everything I could get my hands on and devoured all the information I could. When FIT opened their doors, I was the first person to sign up for their ACE (American Council of Exercise) certification course. I started giving Personal Training sessions in addition to teaching many group exercise classes. However, I wondered if it there was a more effective, faster way for me to help others reach their goals.

CrossFit was the answer to my prayers.

I discovered CrossFit in 2006. It clearly summarized and soundly validated everything I knew about fitness. Despite getting my ass kicked by Fran, I realized that if something could challenge me so significantly it must also be worth doing. I started practicing CrossFit on my own. It garnered all sorts of responses, from “ Who’s that crazy person in the gym? “ to “ Can I join you? “ Soon, I had a keen group of enthusiasts training with me.

How did you decide that you wanted to open your own box?

We made certain modifications to the existing conditions of the gym to cater to how we wanted to train : such as rigging up our own gymnastic rings, bringing in our own kettlebells, and so on. As you can imagine, the management of that particular gym was not very happy!

CrossFit reaffirmed my calling for fitness and ignited a determination to keep doing this against all odds. The objections I faced helped me realize that if I wanted to pursue this seriously both as a sport and a career, I would have to carve my own path. That’s how Pushmore was born.



What was the initial response when you first opened?

Pushmore was born in 2008 as the first CrossFit affiliate in SouthEast Asia. Initial response was… interesting. As CrossFit was still so vastly unknown, most people were apprehensively scratching their heads. They didn’t know what to make of us.

We started out with no business model, no market research, no financial evaluation – absolutely no idea what we were doing! There were only two things that we did right: we were the first and we were different.

Having minimal experience in running a business, the first few years were a huge learning curve. That said, we’ve improved significantly since then. We now have a very solid member base and the name ‘Pushmore’ is synonymous with CrossFit.


I’ve never done CrossFit before. What should I expect when I start at Pushmore?

Pushmore has a Foundation Course for all beginners which comprises of 6 sessions and covers the basic fundamental components – bodyweight movements, kettlebell training, barbell training, mobility work, etc. More importantly, the Foundation Course also allows smooth integration into the community and better understanding of the culture at our box.


What happens after I complete the Foundation Course? How do I continue from there?

We conduct WOD sessions every morning and evening (weekend schedule differs). Participants walk in and book their slots by writing their name on the whiteboard hanging. On average we have 10-12pax per session, with one lead coach and one assistant coach overseeing the group.

If you can’t make it according to the schedule, the gym floor is still open during operation hours for you to come and WOD on your own. However we strongly encourage members to sign up for sessions as we emphasize the importance of community and team spirit at Pushmore.


If I feel that I need more guidance, can I request for Personal Training? Who would be a good Coach to work with? What are your rates?

Yes you can. Our coaches each possess their individual unique strengths and good coach is one who would be able to help you achieve your goals. Members of our team and their specialties include Lynn Kong (Endurance), Jonson Tan (Gymnastic Movements), Eric Koh (Powerlifting & Figure Competition), myself (Olympic Lifting & Prenatal Fitness) and more. Depending on who you work with, rates range from Rm100 – 200 per session.


What does it take to be a coach at Pushmore?

As Head Coach, I select my team carefully based on criteria more than paper certification. The following qualities are essential and present in every coach at Pushmore. Passion: our coaches are positive, enthusiastic, and believe in what they do. Experience: it’s essential that they must already be practicing and familiar with CrossFit themselves. How else are you going to guide others if you don’t walk the talk? Dedication: towards others and themselves. If you want to coach others to get better, you first have to make a commitment to improve yourself.

I’m someone who is already proficient in CrossFit and I want to sign up with Pushmore. Is there any sort of evaluation I have to go through?

All parties will have to undergo a compulsory Physical Assessment where we run through common movements such as the Deadlift, Clean, Press, Front Squat, Back Squat, Clean & Jerk, and so on.

I’m a visiting athlete who wants to drop in and WOD. Is there anything I should prepare in advance?

We require all visiting athletes to produce an email / letter of acknowledgement from the Head Coach at their home box. One-time drop in charges apply.

I’ve been safely cleared to do CrossFit but I have my own programme and I just want a place to train. Can I do so at Pushmore?

Yes, but priority is given to those who already have booked their slots at our sessions.

Besides classes and Personal Training, what else happens at Pushmore?

Every once a month, we have an open day where we invite the public to WOD with us and check out the box.


From time to time we conduct seminars, workshops, and host competitions. We have visiting speakers and athletes who drop by when they travel to South East Asia.

Besides that, we also collaborated with various organizations and other boxes to organize events and competitions. Parties we’ve worked with include CrossFit VidathaEpicHomesFITDistrict 13 CrossFit gymx45 CrossFit, and more.

Why do you collaborate with other boxes? Don’t you view them as competitors?

CrossFit is taking off tremendously in Malaysia and seeing an exponential increase in followers. As much as we’re delighted that the sport is growing, we only have the space to accommodate so many people at our box. The more boxes there are in Malaysia means more people being able to get involved, hence the sport is able to grow. As it is something we love and are passionate about, we say the more the merrier! We are open to discuss collaboration with parties who are interested.

Would you ever open another box?

We did consider the idea, but we already have such a close knit community here – everyone is very attached to each other. Opening another box would potentially serve to divert our attention and also our people. Hence, we have no foreseeable plans to open another box as our focus is on nurturing and caring for the community here.

We have something incredible at Pushmore and we’re going to take good care of it.




Pushmore Fitness Center @ CrossFit Malaysia



Address : B-GF-23-23A, Block B, Merchant Square, No. 1, Jln Tropicana Selatan 1, PJU 3, 47410 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Website : http://www.pushmore.com.my/

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/PushMore-Fitness-Centre-CrossFit-Malaysia/97197522971

Article by Cheryl Moy